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Allison Williams Of 'Girls' Talks Season 2, Nudity, Lena Dunham And More

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Lena Dunham and Allison Williams in 'Girls.'
Lena Dunham and Allison Williams in 'Girls.'

In Season 2 of "Girls", the show about four 20-somethings living in New York City, life gets messier for Allison Williams' character, Marnie.

The first half of Season 1 saw Marnie as the uptight, put-together foil to her disheveled best friend Hannah (Lena Dunham), but by the season finale, their roles were blurred.

While Hannah was wearing a cute floral dress and spent the night dancing with her dedicated boyfriend, Marnie messily (and publicly) rebounded from her breakup wearing a get-up another character refers to as "J-Lo at the Grammys."

The girl who had it all starts Season 2 (premieres on Sunday, January 13 at 9 p.m. EST on HBO) with nothing: no job, no apartment and no boyfriend. HuffPost TV caught up with Allison Williams to talk about nudity, Marnie's constant anxiety and how her life has changed in small but significant ways, thanks to "Girls."

(Some spoilers if you haven't seen Season 1 in its entirety!)

What was the biggest surprise returning on set to film Season 2 of "Girls"?
I was going to say Chris Abbott [who plays Charlie, Marnie's ex-boyfriend] grew some facial hair and got a haircut, but that just took me 20 seconds to get used to. The biggest surprise was that suddenly, when we were shooting in New York, photographers would be there. When we shot outside for Season 1, the paparazzi would walk by and say, "Is anyone famous in this show?" and I'd be like, "No. No one famous is in this show. You can keep walking. I think they're shooting 'Smash' around the corner." And this season they take pictures of us.

Season 1 ended with your character, Marnie, coming undone. How does she evolve this season?
In Season 1, she had a place to live with Hannah, her best friend, in an apartment that was great and a job that she liked a lot -- or a little -- or it didn't matter because it was just a paying job. And then she had this boyfriend who she also didn't really like, but it was really nice to have a boyfriend. Now, in Season 2, she has no boyfriend, she has no job, and she's no longer living in that same apartment. So you take all the things that usually describe Marnie out of the equation and it's just her in the world, trying to figure it out. She's still very controlled and closed off, but it's definitely a season of transition and a season of reckoning for her. It's a bit of a challenge to see if she can pull herself out of this.

You said in an earlier interview that you thought you're similar to Marnie, but she is "one deep breath behind" you.
Oh, that's very eloquent. Well done, Past Me!

What did you mean by that?
What I mean is when I go to play her, the only adjustment I have to make -- in contrast to Daniel Day-Lewis, who spent months assuming his physicality and voice for "Lincoln" -- is to take a deep breath and not let it out until I go home. Even when Marnie's trying to look relaxed, something inside her is still tense. I don't know if she's ever relaxed all the muscles in her face in her life. I don't know that she's ever really let loose or had no thoughts in her head. I've definitely been there, but have gotten a lot better over the years. And it was simply by acknowledging how I'm wired that I was able to get better at relaxing and easing into everything. Marnie's still very stubbornly in pursuit of perfection.

You've also said previously that you don't intend to get fully naked on screen, as Lena's character often does. But how does the nudity on "Girls" differ from other shows or movies?
Because of the way it's shot. The fact there's no glossy lighting. There aren't candles burning. The funniest thing is there actually is a sex scene with Charlie and I in episode two of Season 1 where there are candles burning. It's the closest thing we have to one of those typical scenes in the show, and it's terrible. The whole point of the scene is that it's terrible. The sex and nudity are all supposed to remind you of the worst moments you've had sexually, or the most uncomfortable stories you've heard, and that's what people are reacting to. It's not the naked body. We see those our whole lives. The newness is in the way the nudity is depicted, floating in and out of an episode like it's nothing. It's not the big crescendo of a film or the centerpiece of the scene. It's just sort of an asterisk.

Does the way the sex scenes are filmed on "Girls" make you more comfortable with the idea of being naked on screen?
It makes me feel like I'm part of a show that's aiming to portray a very real reckoning of what's going on. It wouldn't be the full picture if viewers weren't seeing the characters in in these private moments, and that's something we all signed up for at the beginning. And sometimes it means shooting a pretty challenging scene, but it's all for the good of the show. I trust Lena. We look at what she does and just follow.

A discussion erupted in our newsroom about the male characters on the show. What do you think of them?
Oh, they're so rich. I love them.

Some of my colleagues thought they were less dimensional than the female characters.
I think Adam Driver's portrayal of Adam [Hannah's boyfriend from Season 1] is one of the most genius acting performances I've seen in a long time. It is so strange. The fact that he won us over throughout the course of the first season is kind of amazing. Like it or not, you were rooting for he and Hannah as a couple in the finale and you were on his side. Everyone was. Everyone in the world. Lena wrote that scene for people to stack up against her. It's incredible. I told my friends at the beginning of the season, "You're going to like Adam in the end," and they were like, "No, his apartment is too dirty. He is too mean to Hannah." Now my friends have a crush on him and want his number.

You've said you relate to the lifestyle portrayed in "Girls," but now that the show has brought you a new level of fame, what about four women struggling to find success in New York City still resonates?
In very specific ways my life has changed, but my daily routine is almost identical to how it was before the show happened. Really other than doing work things like getting to talk about the show and promote it, everything's the same. I go to the same exercise classes. I still take the subway. I eat at the same places. I like to wake up as late as I always liked to wake up. It's all the same and I'm still trying to be in more stuff. I'm still hearing, "No." No matter what stage of career you reach, you're still going to be denied roles and that's a very important thing to realize. Everything is business as usual except this one, tiny caveat: I'm on this awesome show that changes small things in a big way.

Season 2 of "Girls" premieres on Sunday, January 13 at 9 p.m. EST on HBO and HBO Canada.

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