Interview with Skylar Astin & Briga Heelan from Ground Floor

groundfloorcall1114smallTBS’s new comedy, Ground Floor, is set smack dab in corporate America. The show’s lead characters are Brody, a young hot-shot banker, and Jenny, a beautiful woman whom he “hooks up with” at an office party. He soon discovers that she’s a building support specialist (aka maintenance worker) for the building where his bank is located. I’ve seen the first couple of episodes, and the show is a lot of fun. It’s a cute (not completely original, but still) premise, and the cast is fantastic (I mean, come on… John C. McGinley is pretty much playing Dr. Cox from Scrubs, which is great!).

Skylar Astin & Briga Heelan play Brody & Jenny, and they recently sat down to speak to the press about the show. First up is my question. 😉

TV Is My Pacifier: What’s the most fun thing about playing your characters?
Skylar Astin: For me, I like adding a sensitive side to a character that is normally portrayed as kind of one dimensional. And I am talking about, you know, the typical money manager, high level banker who has got a big ego and drives a red Ferrari and is normally the bully or the villain to our hero.

And it’s great that Brody is this guy with this lifestyle, yet there is such a sensitive side to him and he is so flawed and really has a sense of humor. So I find a lot of fun moments with his imperfections and how he struggles with, you know, the vanity of the job that he is in. Yet he is more insecure than most people.

Briga Heelan: For me, with [my character] Jenny, I love it that, you know, most of her personality is sort of not what I am like which is always very attractive when I am reading something, you know, the chance to be like oh let’s explore who I am not and with Jenny she is so unbelievably laid back and she is so in the moment.

And I thought – I think that so much humor comes out of like her confidence in her lack of things. And I really, really love that about her, you know, while she is still, you know, I like that she is a girl’s girl and a guy’s girl. And yes she is super different for me.
Jump with me to read more from Briga & Skylar.

On what drew them to the project

Briga Heelan: For me, I laughed out loud the entire time I read it on my laptop. So I figured if that were any indication of, you know, like the feel of the show it was something that I absolutely had to be a part of.

Skylar Astin: Yes, I agree. I mean I think I laughed as much reading scripts as I do watching things as far as out loud goes. I will chuckle here and there, but this… I was really cracking about the premise and the writing and it didn’t take me too long to agree to do it.

On bringing his singing to the first episode

Skylar: The first conversation was simple it was one way and it came in, you know, in the form of Bill Lawrence rewrite. And I read it just like, you know, all the other cast members and I went okay. Thankfully, it was handled in a very story driven, comedy driven kind of way and we didn’t hit it over the head, we didn’t do a 4 minute production number with choreography.

It was just sweet simple and servicing the story. So when I saw it in the way that Bill puts things into the scripts I was just as on board as I went to do a physical joke where, you know, the transition like a tough, you know, kind of gag. So I thought it was great, I thought it made a lot of sense and we’ve continued to interweave it tastefully and with dignity and with respect for people’s, you know, eye rolling abilities.

On now being part of the Bill Lawrence “family”

Briga: Sometimes am like how did that happen? It is kind of the most incredible family to realize that you are a part of because I think what is so special about Bill, you know, I mean he has this undeniable talent but he really builds groups of people based on, you know, love and genuinely believing that people are good people and bringing them together.

And I think that’s sort of, you know, there is longevity in that and so to feel like I am a part of that because I trust his judge of character and professionalism so much, you know, sort of to feel like I am a part of that is really awesome.

On having to bring the instant chemistry to the “romantic” relationship

Briga: I think, for me anyway, I really liked that we – I feel like I learned so much about my character and so much about Skylar’s character so quickly because we went right for it, you know, these characters when to a place of okay it is not will they or won’t they to make it work it is okay let’s try and make this work.

And where you really start to see the different colors of people is when you’re in there trying to work with somebody else to make a relationship go. So for me I think it actually – I think it made it easier. I think it is – I think it – I think I got to know Jenny and got comfortable with her and with Brody a lot faster.

Skylar: Yes I agree with all of that. I think it was really fun to just throw them into deep water and not have this really tentative thing because it is real. Like it is not the new standard but it happens, you know, sometimes people are making out, you know, first time they meet each other.

And that’s unapologetically the way we decided to tell the story. So it is – it was fun to work backwards with the characters and show them actually becoming fairly vulnerable in a different maybe less pure kind of way.

On working with John C. McGinley

Briga: John C. McGinley is – well I mean I think I think we’ve all learned so much from him. I know that I have. He is – his preparation is unbelievable and then the way that he can let it go on a tape night and just – his precision and I think consistency like as an actor on tape nights it is just unbelievable to watch at.

And so he also – building a relationship with him has also been really, really awesome. Learning about him, you know, as a father and a family man is really amazing. And I just – I mean I think we all think he is an incredible guy and we are really – it is a really important for us just as a young cast, you know, and his presence is really, really important for us.

Skylar: Yes. I feel the same way. I am lucky enough to kind of have him act as a sort of father figure on the show and that has made us, you know, I see – there were times when we were rehearsing certain scenes and the scenes had more sentimental value and while we were waiting to rehearse we just kind of dropped in and talked about life and it was like unbelievable.

I will never forget I think it was a third episode and ever since then we’ve only become closer and it is like – it is just so crazy because at first I had to pinch myself because I was doing a scene with Dr. Cox and now it is just like crazy Johnny C. who, you know, who like – we just get giddy and like silly together when we’re like rehearsing scenes.

And we just like love this project and we love – we just love like it giving each other a fist pump after like a fond or sentimental scene and just feeling like we just I don’t know played a football game together or something. I don’t know. It is really fun with him. He is just such a strong personality and he brings such an intensity and focus to his job. It is really admirable.
Skylar and Briga were fun to chat with, both funny and sweet and genuinely seemed to love their characters and the show. So thank you to them for taking the time!

Don’t miss Ground Floor on Thursdays at 10/9c, beginning tonight, with a second new episode at 10:35/9:35c.

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