BWW Interviews: BUNHEADS' Sutton Foster Talks Co-Star Hunter, Ukuleles & Upcoming 'Broadway Audition'
Sutton Foster stars as 'Michelle Simms' on the hit ABC Family series BUNHEADS. The award-winning actor, singer and dancer has appeared on Broadway in Grease!, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Annie, and Les Miserables before her big break and Tony Award-winning performance in Thoroughly Modern Millie. She has also originated roles in the Broadway productions of Little Women, The Drowsy Chaperone, Young Frankenstein, and Shrek the Musical.
In 2011, Sutton starred in the revival of Anything Goes, a role that earned her a Drama Desk and Outer Critics Award as well as the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress. Her TV credits include Law and Order: SVU, Royal Pains and Flight of the Conchords.
Foster spoke exclusively to BWW about working with real-life brother Hunter, what's ahead for her character and why there's "a lot of Broadway love" going on the set of the show!
This season we are starting to get bits and pieces of your character's unhappy childhood, particularly in the episodes featuring your real-life brother Hunter who portrays your fictional brother on the show. How do you think the issues Michelle dealt with in her youth have affected her as an adult?
I think what's great this season is that you are starting to see why Michelle is the way she is, why she in many ways is a bit stunted in her journey, especially in seeing that her mother is still a child and that Michelle had no real mother figure. I think that's why her relationship with Fanny is so interesting because I think in many ways, Michelle sees Fanny as a mother that she never really had. Michelle's life and her journey in her career only took her so far. She really doesn't have a lot of self worth. She's a big talker, she loves to talk, loves to sort of deflect any real emotions or feelings, but she has a lot of walls up. She has a lot of humor and a lot of sarcasm but most of that is deflecting what's really going on.
So it's been interesting to see a window into her past and you're like, 'Oh, okay, that's why she is the way she is.' Maybe she'd be different if she had a loving mommy and daddy but she didn't. And the relationship with her brother was good and positive and they had each other but he's still a wayward, lost, kind of flailing through life, while she's trying to finally make roots and settle and change her life and he's still floating about. So it's interesting to see that.
There was a scene with your brother where you tried to explain how you have changed and are now making a commitment to your current life in Paradise. Do you think Michelle even surprised herself when those words came out of her mouth?
Yeah, absolutely, absolutely! And it's amazing. I don't think she could have said those things to anyone but her brother. And I think you are absolutely right, I think she surprised herself that she felt so strongly about wanting to commit to this town and stay here and that the Girls look up to her and mean something to her and I think all of those things were a shock to her as well.
You mentioned how Michelle sees Fanny as the mother she never had. On the other side of the coin, it seems as if Sasha views Michelle as a role model, or perhaps the mother that she never had. Do you think Michelle wants to take on that role?
I think yes, she does, reluctantly. Michelle is interesting. She's not a character who wants to have a family of her own. She's not the mother type. She's not Out There trying to have babies and be a mommy. But she sees a lot of herself in Sasha and so I think she reluctantly wants to help her and be there for her. It's not a natural instinct for Michelle to be a mothering type, but it's changing her, the more these Girls kind of turn to her and talk to her and ask her about stuff. It may not be the most natural thing for her to do, but it's changing her life.
It's so much fun to watch you and Hunter acting side by side. Do you think we will be seeing more of him down the road?