Mae Whitman Opens Up About New Show ‘Up Here’: ‘I’m Totally Exposed’
Mae Whitman has played just about every type of role during her long career – but her new one Hulu The show “Up Here” gave her something new.
“I can do anything on camera, I don’t care. I don’t even notice it’s there. I’m crying, I’m naked, I’m dying, whatever,” Whitman, 34, told The Post.
“But when it comes to singing, I feel like blocking my soul and being completely vulnerable and terrified. So, that’s why I want to do this job. There’s not much left to do that terrifies me. If I don’t want to do something, there’s probably a reason— And I have to know what it is and do it. There is growth to be had.”
Premiering Friday, March 24, “Up Here” is a musical rom-com set in 1999 New York City. It follows aspiring writer Lindsey as she moves to the city to follow her dreams, and meets businessman Miguel (Carlos Valdes, “The Flash.”). All the while, they’ve been pulling out original songs, in the style of an old Broadway production.
Whitman is a former child star who has worked on a wide range of projects, including “Arrested Development,” “paternity,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “Independence Day,” and “good girls.” Because of that, the showbiz world of Manhattan in the ’90s wasn’t new to her, she says.
“I’m a California girl, but I feel stimulated in New York in a way I can’t, here,” she said.
“I did my first movie in New York when I was 6. It was a great way to experience it, I was young but I signed up for it. It was a movie with George Clooney [“One Fine Day.”] We were running everywhere having fun, and I went there with my family. I got the full New York experience at a time when I was absorbing a lot of information. It was that sexy time when everyone wore trench coats and everything was tacky and a little bit analog.
“Because I’ve been working since I was a kid, the late ’90s were my formative time. I still have a lot of that nostalgia when I’m touring. In L.A. we tear everything down when it gets a little stale, and in New York, you can build on it. I love That feeling, there’s always something new to explore. I feel like a big character in the movie of my life.”
The show isn’t Whitman’s first time singing in public, but “Up Here” marks the first time she’s had a lead musical lead.
“I’d sing on ‘Parenthood’ occasionally, as myself — her journey was similar to mine, and the vocals were terrifying,” she said.
“I was vulnerable and scared, and that show mirrored real life. I have a scene where I turn on the mic at night and everyone comes in. And it was really like that — the whole ‘Parenthood’ family was there, the crew and some of my family and friends came [to set]. So it wasn’t like, “Go do it.” It really felt like a huge moment for me and my support system. I felt so much love, support and kindness, it was such a good way for me to break into the idea of singing in front of a camera.
“Usually after exams you’d go straight to the bar and drink, because you’re depressed, but for this exam [for ‘Up Here’]I felt so proud of myself, like, “This level is open.”