At first glance Nico Tortorella seems like just another guy living in Williamsburg: he’s got tattoos, hair that’s perfectly coiffed and a closetful of stylish threads. It’s fitting, too, that he loves vintage clothes—you may find him browsing the racks at Buffalo Exchange—and has a rabid Instagram following. And now that he’s back to playing the role of dreamy Brooklyn tattoo artist Josh, the love interest of Liza (Sutton Foster) on TV Land’s Younger, the line between real life and fantasy completely blurs. But there’s more to the 28-year-old actor than the character he portrays on television.
Tortorella took time out to talk about the new season of Younger, which premieres September 28; his new podcast, all about love and sexuality; and to recommend a few of his favorite spots in New York City. Read on for more.
What can viewers expect to see from Josh in season 3 of Younger? Nico Tortorella: At the end of the second season Josh says he’s willing to give this relationship his best fighting chance. He’s come to terms with the fact that Liza has to play make-believe in terms of her work life, but he doesn’t want to play make-believe in his relationship at all. We see the relationship unravel. Josh is gaining more celebrity in his own work, she’s going up in her food chain at work and they’re trying to balance work and having a personal life, which is everybody’s issue in 2016.
How would you like to see Josh develop as a character? NT: One of the most beautiful things about TV is there is no end in sight, hopefully, and so we have all of this time to build up these characters. I want to see more. The core of where Josh is on this show is in his relationship with Liza and whether it’s going to work. I want to see Josh and Liza live happily ever after.
If you need a jolt, get off the subway at Times Square and walk around for 20 minutes.
How do you get into character? NT: Josh is closest to me of all the characters I have ever played. I think he’s driven by his heart, as am I. It’s one of those jobs where I show up, and as long as I’m smiling and happy and ready to work, I think the character shines.
The show films in Manhattan and where you live in Brooklyn. What’s that like? NT: I live in Williamsburg and we film there all the time, once right outside of my apartment. A couple of months ago I walked outside and everyone from the set was in my parking lot. I was like, Hey, what’s up guys? I wasn’t even shooting that day.
What do you love about the area? NT: Williamsburg is absolutely my favorite part of the City. It has been for a while and it’s in this interesting place right now. We just got a Whole Foods and an Apple Store. There’s still really cool, successful kids around Williamsburg. The restaurants are amazing; it’s a safe place to be. I love Williamsburg. I could go on for hours.
Any favorite spots? NT: I spend most of my time in South Williamsburg. I’m at Diner a lot, on Broadway. I love Loosie Rouge. There’s this little grocery store called Mr. Piña, and they have these large, fresh juices for like three dollars. I constantly frequent it.
You come from a theater background, right? NT: Yeah, I grew up on stage in Chicago.
Have you been able to see plays and musicals here? What was the last production you saw that you loved? NT: I don’t see as many as I would like. I am really excited to see Sweet Charity, Sutton’s show that she’s opening in a couple of months [November 2, at Signature Theatre]. I wish I saw more theater. I did a show a couple of months ago at Ars Nova, before we started this season. Theater is incomparable. The amount of instant gratification that you get from the audience is great. It’s a sport. It’s like the Olympics.
Other than Williamsburg, do you have any favorite neighborhoods? NT: I spend a lot of time in the Lower East Side. I lived there 10 years ago, so there’s a nostalgic feeling about it. My ex-girlfriend has a restaurant in the West Village called Gingersnap’s Organic; it’s a great raw-food spot. I was spending a lot of time in Times Square not too long ago because our podcast studio was set up there, but now we’re on 28th and Park. Everyone has something to say about Times Square. There’s just something about the energy there. If you need a jolt, one of the best things in the world to do is get off the subway at Times Square and walk around for 20 minutes.
Is there one place in Williamsburg you can’t live without? NT: Honestly, my apartment. I live, like, on top of the Williamsburg Bridge. I have a view of the entire City. To see the skyline, four bridges and the Statue of Liberty from my apartment—I wind up never leaving. It’s incredible. I feel like I’m in a master suite on the Titanic looking out onto the ocean every single day.
Have you ever walked over the Williamsburg Bridge? NT: Yeah, all the time.
Would you recommend a first-time visitor walk it? NT: Absolutely, 100 percent. It’s an easy way to get to the East Village and the Lower East Side. Also the East River Ferry is my new obsession. It’s the easiest way to get from Williamsburg to the City, depending on where you’re going. To be on a boat going across the East River on a sunny day is magical.
Any other recommendations for a first-time visitor to NYC? NT: My favorite thing about the City is the shopping and the consignment stores. The high-end shopping in New York is amazing. Everyone wants to shop Fifth Avenue but if you go a little bit deeper you’ll find Tokio 7, Tokyo Joe, Buffalo Exchange, Crossroads, Beacon’s Closet. Digging for treasures is my favorite thing to do in the city. I’m always shopping.
You have a lot of fans. Ever run into any on the street? NT: My buddy was here visiting last weekend and we were walking down the street, having an emotional conversation. This group of younger French girls was outside of this restaurant, and as we walked by this one girl screamed my name and I was like, “Oh my God, hi.” She started crying. She was so excited and was like, “You changed my life; the way you look at the world has changed my life.” That’s the biggest compliment in the whole world.
I want to see Josh and Liza live happily ever after.
You’re getting many personal views across in your new podcast. What motivated you to launch The Love Bomb? NT: We’re in a really interesting place right now, societally speaking, talking about gender and sexuality and relationships. In pop culture and media, gender and sexuality have never been more prominent. I’m having these conversations with all these people in my life all the time because I’m fascinated by love. I did my buddy’s podcast a few months ago. Immediately I was like, Oh, I get it—I get to have a conversation and people listen to it. If the medium is a platform that speaks to me, it’s straight-up therapy. When do you get to sit down with someone and talk to them for an hour about what love is to you and how beautiful the world is? It fills me with so much warmth and gratitude. Messages on Instagram and Twitter are pouring in from kids all over the world. Even if it changes one kid’s life, I know I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.
The new season of Younger premieres September 28 at 10pm (ET) / 9pm (CT) on TV Land.