The Guys of How to Make It in America Talk LA
Ian Edelman, creator of HBO's How to Make It in America, and the show's star, Bryan Greenberg, volley a few questions back and forth.
IAN EDELMAN: Our show is about two ambitious best friends trying to succeed in New York City’s fashion scene. When did you know you wanted the role of Ben Epstein?
BRYAN GREENBERG: I knew you from playing basketball, and I read in the trades you sold a show to HBO—I didn’t know you were a writer. I called my manager and said, “I know this guy, and I like HBO, so just let me read.” I understood what you were trying to create, and although I’m not from New York, I have this weird connection to the city—I just become myself there.
IE: Has Ben influenced your personal style?
BG: I’ve always wanted to look nice and presentable, but fashion wasn’t something that took up a lot of space in my brain. In becoming Ben, I started to see how style permeates everything— music, movies, politics.
IE: Season two premiered October 2. Where do you think the show has gone?
BG: You’ve stepped it up. We were figuring a lot of things out during season one, but now that the characters are established, you can go in and really start telling the stories. Season two is all you. I’m going to turn this around and start asking the questions: As a writer do you feel precious about your words? Does it bother you when actors improvise?
IE: It never bothers me unless we are getting away from the essential story or the bigger picture. But other than that, I’m open to anything.
BG: You’re a writer and producer. In which area do you think you have the most to learn, and which do you like the most?
IE: I’m always learning as I go. Writing is so hard—it’s impossible. And once you have worked the scripts to a point where you’re shooting them, you definitely shift gears in your brain. I find all the producing and filmmaking stuff to be really fun—it becomes this whole other animal of casting and locations. OK, back to me asking the questions. There’s another dimension to you as Bryan—you’re a musician.
BG: It keeps me artistically moving all the time, so I’m not sitting around waiting for my phone to ring for a meeting or role.
IE: You also write music. Is it easier to write in LA than in NY?
BG: Yes, because I have my house and music room here, and I can turn my phone off and be alone. LA to me is Zen—it’s my sanctuary. I chill, ride my bicycle, go to Mammoth to ski and right now I’m discovering Downtown.
IE: What’s the most underrated thing about LA?
BG: People think LA is superficial and fake. There are really cool subcultures that exist within LA, like the art scene and the music scene. There are great people here—it’s not all about the business.
PHOTOGRAPH BYERIC WILLIAMS FOR DR PHOTO MANAGEMENT; STYLING BY JENNY RICKER AT THE WALL GROUP; GROOMING BY BARBARA GUILLAUME FOR EXCLUSIVE ARTISTS MANAGEMENT