THE CARRIE DIARIES: Amy B. Harris on Introducing Samantha Jones and What’s to Come in Season 2

October 25, 2013 by  

THE CARRIE DIARIES is back tonight!

Last season, viewers got to experience some of Carrie Bradshaw’s important firsts, and tonight’s second season premiere brings in arguably the most important first to date: her first meeting with future BFF Samantha Jones. (Played by Kim Catrell on SEX AND THE CITY and by Lindsey Gort in THE CARRIE DIARIES.)

To get some scoop on what’s going down, I spoke with THE CARRIE DIARIES boss Amy B. Harris about casting the pivotal role of Samantha, how the relationship between Samantha and Carrie will develop here, what’s to come in season 2, and more…

I have to say, it’s absolutely stunning how similar Lindsey looks to Kim. Was that something you guys were really striving for when you were casting Samantha?
Amy B. Harris: You know, we got so incredibly lucky. [When we were casting] AnnaSophia [Robb], [for the] Carrie character, we saw hundreds of girls, and AnnaSophia came up as someone who was not doing television and going to Stanford, and would not talk to us, and we were like, “We haven’t found her, we haven’t found her. We have to at least get AnnaSophia to talk to us on the phone.”

And Lindsey, the first day of casting, our casting director said, “I’m going to send you like 6 or 7 people I thought did a great job in the last few days. But there’s one I think is it. And she looks a lot like Kim.” And I’m like, “Okay.”  And I looked online, and I’m like, “Looks like Kim? COULD be Kim.” My casting director is brilliant…and then [Lindsey] was phenomenal.

My whole thing is what Kim did every week on [SEX AND THE CITY] — be funny and sexy — is literally one of the hardest things…in terms of acting. And Lindsey has such a light touch. We’re meeting Samantha before she’s fully formed. Her backstory is sort of rough-and-tumble, she has Debbie Harry hair. She’s a ballsy chick, who is a much less polished version. What she’s brought to the table, it was just [this feeling] of this is Samantha, and that’s thrilling. But it was also, “It can’t be the first person I look at…” So we looked at like another 50 people, and then we were all like, “We can feel confident and safe that it’s her.”

What is this Samantha’s relationship with Carrie like?
AH: What I loved, as I was starting to write Samantha, what I realized is the first season, Carrie is incredibly responsible and nurturing and worried about her dad, her sister, her friends, and how they’re doing, and makes a lot of choices based on that. Some of that is, when you’re in high school, you become your role early on, and it’s really hard to break out. I remember going to college and realizing, “Oh, I’m this person.” But the minute I went back to my high school friends [it changed].

And so for Samantha, she’s a contemporary [for Carrie]. She’s older than Carrie, obviously, but she’s not Larissa, who is a boss and role model. [With Samantha,] Carrie can be a different person. She can be somebody she wants to be. Samantha is like, “Screw consequences, live for today.” And that’s something that’s going to be rubbing off on Carrie. And Samantha is somebody who has had a rough and tumble life and hasn’t been able to count on people, and Carrie is saying to her, “You can count on me.” And just even watching [what they filmed], it’s been blowing me away, that dynamic.

Will they be meeting in the summer?
AH: They are.

Will this tie into the season finale tease of Stanford potentially being brought into the mix?
AH: It is not! It is through a surprising connection….they meet through Donna. We have a fun way of pushing Standford off a bit, because I really wanted the splash of Samantha to be the key. Initially we had talked maybe we would introduce them both off the bat, but then I realized we can’t do that. We actually have to give Samantha her big entrance, watch that relationship develop, and then bring in Stan.

Right, because you also have to pay due to the characters fell for in the show’s first season. Is there a particular character that most surprised you in what you’ve done of season 2 so far?
AH: What I’ve been really enjoy as we’ve been building this season is been watching how the relationships are evolving based on a lot of things. Mouse has a lot of big opinions about what Sebastian and Maggie did to Carrie. Walt has a more sympathetic outlook to both of them, because I think he feels responsible for Maggie ending up where she ended up. And I’ve just been loving Walt in New York with Carrie. They’ve always been close, an intensely close friendship.

And for me, Dorrit, I didn’t know last season, I wasn’t sure how Dorrit would play out. But it sort of became clear — and that’s the fun of actors who are amazing and talented and bring their own stuff to the table — that Dorrit is the most outwardly screwed up daughter, and yet, she’s a lot less complicated about relationships, and treats herself better in relationships than Carrie does. And that’s been fun to write to. Miller was a great surprise love interest for her. You never know when you bring someone on. That’s been really exciting to play out.

I was surprised when we shot the Maggie and Sebastian kiss how much chemistry they had. I went, “Oh!” So it’s trying to figure out how to explore all those things.

Depending on how far the Maggie and Sebastian relationship goes, it could also go to “explain” why they weren’t a part of Carrie’s life in the SEX AND THE CITY series…
AH: For me, I feel like Sebastian is around for a little while [in Carrie's life on this show]. Not necessarily as a lovey-dovey love interest, but he’s going to loom in her life in different ways.

Interesting. I’m curious how you’re arcing this season, given that the order is only 13. Last year, when you had 13, you knew it was a midseason show and that would be it, but this year, you’re starting in the fall. Does that change things since you don’t know if they’re going to end up ordering more?
AH: We think we’ll always be a slightly shorter season. I have a feeling we’ll never be more than like 16. Who knows? I guess if we gangbuster it, we’ll figure it out. But we feel like our job is if we get the call telling us they want more episodes, we’ll put cards to the wall and scramble and make it work.

We know what our end point is for the season, whether it’s 13 or 16. We’re building as if it’s like 13 to 16. We’re not building it as if it is 22. If it’s 22, we’ll worry about that very high-class problem when we get to it. We had that conversation at one point, like, do we want to think about it? And I was like, we should think about it if we’re lucky enough to have it — though I don’t even know if it’s “lucky enough” anymore. I think the paradigm is changing.

[CW boss] Mark Pedowitz and I had a conversation before we got picked up, where he said, “I really feel because this show, [is] not a procedural [it doesn't need to be a larger order].” I don’t want to tell stories of her having sex with this person, and then two episodes later we’re trying to do something else. I want to tell the smaller, SEX AND THE CITY-esque stories. Small, really grounded, but outrageous and fun. But it does feel like a show that is better for a smaller season, and I would be thrilled with that. And then we don’t have to shoot through the winter; there are a lot of positives for us [in keeping it small]. But obviously if called to do more, I’ll go up to the plate.

Is the plan to keep each season to focus on one year of time?
AH: Yeah, I really love that.  I know some people felt because it was a shorter season, we passed through some stuff [in the first year], but we did that on SEX AND THE CITY, MAD MEN does that, SOPRANOS did that. Those are shows — I think it feels different on this show, on a network, where most shows are 22 [episodes]. But I think if that becomes a paradigm, people will become more comfortable — and hopefully we’ll do a better job of cliff-noting [what is missed].

Are you still planning on doing holiday episodes?
AH: We will. I think we feel like we’ll skip the holidays we did [in season 1], but I’d love to do a Christmas and New Year’s episode. It could be really fun. Homecoming, that kind of thing.

Fun! Is there anything else you’re really excited about?
AH: Yeah, this is a fun season for Carrie and learning to say yes and learning to say no. I think she’s been looking at Larissa as someone to aspire to, and someone who is making these choices along the way. But look out for Samantha and Larissa, because those two titans who might just be clashing.

Larissa doesn’t share well.
AH: She doesn’t share well, and they have very different points of view. As outrageous as Larissa is, she’s a career-oriented girl, who is always looking ahead, and Samantha’s a live-in-moment type of girl. Instead of being the angel and the devil [on Carrie's shoulder] , they’re both the devil.

THE CARRIE DIARIES returns tonight at 8 PM on The CW.

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