Mae Whitman has had nearly every kind of role during her long career – but her new Hulu show “Up Here” gave her something new.
“I can do anything on camera, I do not care. I don’t even notice that it’s there. I’m crying, I’m naked, I’m dying, whatever,” Whitman, 34, told The Post.
“But when it comes to singing, it feels like I’m baring my soul and being completely vulnerable and terrified. So, it’s why I wanted to do this job. There’s not a lot left out there to do that terrifies me. If I don’t want to do something, there’s probably a reason – and I should figure out what it is and do it. There’s growth to be had, there.”
Premiering Friday, March 24, “Up Here” is a musical rom com set in 1999 New York City. It follows aspiring writer Lindsay as she moves to the city to follow her dreams, and crosses paths with businessman Miguel (Carlos Valdes, “The Flash.”). All the while, they belt out original songs, in the style of an old-fashioned Broadway production.
Whitman is a former child star, having acted in a wide range of projects, including “Arrested Development,” “Parenthood,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “Independence Day,” and “Good Girls.” Because of that, the show’s world of Manhattan in the ‘90s was not new to her, she said.
“I’m a California girl through and through, but I feel stimulated in New York in a way that I just can’t, here,” she said.
“I did my first movie in New York when I was 6 years old. It was an incredible way to experience it, I was young but I registered for it. It was a movie with Goerge Clooney [“One Fine Day.”] We were running all around having fun, and I went there with my family. I got to have the full New York experience at a time when I was absorbing a lot of information. It was that exciting time when everyone was wearing trench coats and everything was tacky and slightly more analog.
“Because I’ve been working since I was a kid, the late ‘90s was my formative time I still have a lot of that nostalgia when I walk around. In LA, we rip everything down when it gets slightly old, and in New York, you build upon it. I love that feeling, there’s always something new to explore. It feels 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 her first time in a major starring musical role.
“I would sing on ‘Parenthood’ occasionally, as my character– her journey was similar to mine, which was that singing was terrifying,” she said.
“I was vulnerable and scared, and that show was mirroring real life. I have a scene where I did open mic night and everybody comes. And it really was like that – the whole ‘Parenthood’ family was there, the crew, some of my family and friends came [to set]. So it wasn’t like ‘Go act.’ It really felt like a big moment for me and my support system. I felt so much love and support and kindness, it was a good way for me to break into the idea of singing on camera.
“Usually after auditions, you heard straight to the bar and drink, because you’re depressed, but for this audition [for ‘Up Here’], I felt proud of myself, like, ‘This level is unlocked.’”