Role-playing IN THE GENES

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - TV Guide - - Close Up - – Anooska Tucker-evans

IT’S in-your-face, bru­tally hon­est and con­tains some of the most awk­ward sex scenes you’ll see, but one thing HBO hit drama Girls is not – on set or off – is bitchy, says Zosia Mamet.

Mamet, who plays 22-year-old vir­gin Shoshanna Shapiro on the show, says ru­mours that there’s not a lot of love be­tween her and co-stars Jemima Kirke, Al­li­son Williams and cre­ator Lena Dun­ham are just talk.

“We def­i­nitely make each other laugh a lot,’’ Mamet re­veals. “I think peo­ple like a good story and they like drama and if they want to be­lieve that we all hate each other then they can go right ahead.”

In fact, not only do the girls like each other, but Mamet says they even hang out out­side of work.

“We’re all pretty low-key, pretty dorky hu­mans, and we all go to bed rather early so it’s a lot of tea time that hap­pens – like tea time in each other’s liv­ing rooms,” she says.

The so­phis­ti­cated “real life’’ so­cial­is­ing is a far cry from some of the wild an­tics on Girls, which fol­lows the four fe­males in their early 20s as they ex­pe­ri­ence the var­i­ous hu­mil­i­a­tions, re­al­i­ties and rare tri­umphs in­volved in life and love.

De­scribed as a Sex and the City for a younger gen­er­a­tion, the show is also based in New York City and fea­tures the same types of graphic sex scenes and sex­u­ally-charged ban­ter of its former HBO coun­ter­part. But it’s younger, more raw, and cel­e­brates its awk­ward­ness.

For Mamet, playing the role of the naive, quirky Shapiro has been a true joy, es­pe­cially com­ing off the back of her gig as the se­ri­ous and so­phis­ti­cated Joyce Ram­say in hit TV se­ries Mad Men.

“It’s some­thing we all want as an ac­tor, I guess, to be chal­lenged in that way and to get to play peo­ple that are so dif­fer­ent,’’ she says. “Shoshanna has a lot of wacky quirks, but I try not to play her too out of the box.’’

Quirks Aus­tralian au­di­ences have seen since the show de­buted here in­clude Shoshanna bring­ing cup­cakes to her cousin’s abor­tion.

They also mean she gets her share of in­ap­pro­pri­ate but hys­ter­i­cal lines on the show. While some or Shosanna’s off-beat ob­ser­va­tions are a re­sult of some clever scriptwrit­ing from Dun­ham, oth­ers are ad-libs from Mamet her­self.

“It’s an in­cred­i­ble mix­ture of ( Dun­ham) hav­ing such a pre­cise vi­sion of what she wants, but at the same time be­ing so open and so hum­ble to the idea that if we have a dif­fer­ent way she’ll let you play that out and see if it’s more in­ter­est­ing,’’ Mamet says.

Dun­ham has praised Mamet for her “wit and abil­ity to im­pro­vise’’ and cred­ited her for pro­duc­ing bet­ter lines for her char­ac­ter than she ever could.

It’s not sur­pris­ing, given Mamet’s im­pres­sive pedi­gree. The 24-year-old star is the daugh­ter of Academy Award­nom­i­nated ac­tress Lind­say Crouse and play­wright, screen­writer and direc­tor David Mamet, fa­mous for Wag the Dog and Glen­garry Glen Ross.

“My mother was preg­nant with me on stage so I think I sort of wanted to do this since birth,’’ Mamet says.

Her pas­sion for act­ing, how­ever, cur­rently sees her art im­i­tat­ing real life.

Like her char­ac­ter, she says dat­ing is just not her thing and even ad­mits pre­fer­ring to read a book than go out.

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