Annie Parisse

Almighty streaming giant Netflix premieres today its new comedy series, “Friends from College,” continuing its string of summer releases. Starring Keegan-Michael Key and Annie Parisse, the show follows a group of highly competitive friends who reunite in New York City years after graduating from Harvard. Two of the characters — Ethan (Key) and Sam (Parisse) — have been romantically involved since their Harvard years, which would make for a charming love story if the pair hadn’t actually married other people in the process.

WWD caught up with Parisse (“Person of Interest,” “Vinyl,” “Law & Order”) about her character Sam, an interior designer who loves indulging, especially in designer clothing.

WWD: Are you still in touch with your college friend group?
Annie Parisse: 
I am really close, to this day, with my freshman year roommate. I don’t know if that qualifies as “friend group,” but we both have two kids, and coincidentally, we had them three months apart in both cases.

WWD: Do you relate to the competitive nature your character Sam feels with her college friends in the show?
Between me and Dirja? No. We’re in different fields, and it’s not like that. This is making me think of a conversation that [creator Nicholas Stoller] and I had in which he was like, “You’re the only person on the show that is so different from your character.” On the show, Sam is a total clothes whore. Everything she wears is designer, like Valentino and Gucci. He’s like, “You show up to work in a dirty shirt.” I had no point in relating to Sam or the show and it was a very different experience than my personal experience.

WWD: What was it like wearing designer clothes you wouldn’t normally wear?
It was fantastic. I recognize myself as a woman who is not innately gifted in the world of fashion. You see women or men that just have style, and I feel like that’s what people are referring to as their talent in that art form. Sam is one of those people and it was really fun for me as a person that isn’t necessarily coming from that place to have people put me together in a way that made me look like I was coming from that place.

WWD: What was your favorite piece?
A.P.:  There was this blush Valentino dress. We all referred to it as “the cape dress,” because it had this cape thing. I literally looked like a fashion superhero. It was one of the most gorgeous dresses I have ever seen and at the same time, I don’t think I would ever walk into a store and be like, “Oh yeah, that’s the one,” but it was really beautiful.

WWD: What was it like working so closely with Keegan-Michael Key?
Keegan is fantastic — truly one of the funniest people I have shared a space with. It was so great and sometimes, so hard because I would struggle to get through a tape without losing it. For a person that does theater, I am not great at keeping a straight face.

WWD: Sam’s relationship with Ethan (played by Key) dates back to when they were in college. They’re essentially stuck in this 20-year hookup. What are your thoughts on college hookup culture?
At the risk of sounding controversial, I must say I’m a fan. I think it’s an important thing for people to do. I think it’s a rite of passage. You have to have that experience in your life. Whether or not it has to be carried for 20 years, I don’t know, but I think it’s a key piece of the growing up puzzle.

WWD: Anything else that you want to touch on about the series?
The really special thing that Nick [Stoller] and Francesca [Delbanco] did with the script, and that I hope we were able to bring to life on screen, is this lighthearted approach to a pretty intense topic, which is being in the middle of adulthood and realizing that you have to grow up and let go of your youth or you have to find a way to take it with you in a way that is healthy and not destructive. I feel it’s totally universal and they were able to take an approach to it that is authentic and hilarious.

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