High on our list of reasons to love TV Land’s Younger (and there are so many of them) is a guy named Nico Tortorella. The 27-year-old Illinois native plays Josh, the hipster love interest of Sutton Foster’s Liza, our 40-masquerading-as-26 protagonist. In season one, Josh’s equally irresistible good looks and decent heart helped keep Liza invested in her high-maintenance lie. Going into season two, she’s confessed her real age to Joshthe rest of the millennials in her new life don’t knowand he’s accepted her kooky lie. (See: the decent heart thing.) Younger returns January 13 with a special one-hour premiere, and since we’re already pumped, we talked with Tortorella to learn more about his tats, season two, and his hard-crushing Instafans.
When you went out for the part of Josh, what did you know about him? What were they looking for?
All I knew is that he was a tattoo artist who owned his own parlor. That was it. But I knew that it was Darren Star [producing the show]. I knew it was Hilary Duff. I knew it was Sutton Foster. I knew it was Debi Mazar. It was a no fing brainerthis is a project I want to be a part of. I’ve seen every episode of Sex and the City [which Star produced].
We don’t hear that from guys every day.
In my defense, my girlfriend in high school and college was a huge, huge fan. We watched every episode together.
You have lots of tattoos as well, so I’m sure you totally looked the part walking into the audition.
For sure. I walked in in a tank top with a bunch of tattoos showing. I had my nose pierced at the time and little gauges in my ears, too. I would say I was the L.A. version of Josh. When I got the part, we took all the piercings out and added a bunch more tattoos and a white T-shirt and flannel, and I became New York Josh.
So when we see your tats in the show, some of them are real and some are makeup?
Yeah. It’s a combo. I have quite a fewI started at a young age. My mom actually took me to get my first tattoo when I was 15. She highly regrets that choice now, as I have a lot more.
What are some of your favorites?
I feel like the last tattoo you got is usually your favorite. I just got a big portrait of a mother lion picking up a cub. On the arm of the mom lion is a tattoo of an anchor that says “Mom.” It’s my ode to my mother. She’s still around, it’s not anything like thatbut I have a tattoo of my grandpa and my brother’s name and the whole joke is that [she’s been saying], “When the f are you going to put me on your body?”
She got the ball rolling on this ink collection, she earned it! Let’s talk about season two. Here’s everything I know so far: Liza and Josh are still having ups and downs. And Josh’s haircut has been tweaked ever so slightly.
Yeah, he’s got that slicked-back hair in season two. It’s just like, the Brooklyn haircut.
So what else is going on for Josh?
We have more time to explore these characters in season two, so you’re going to see more backstory on everybody. You’ll get to know Josh apart from Liza a little bit. This whole season is them trying to figure out if the love they have for each other is enough to give this relationship feet to stand on.
It was unexpected, seeing Josh take Liza back at the end of season onea lot of fans thought that him discovering her lie would blow them up permanently, or at least for a while.
I mean, as much of a problem as Josh has with the lie itself, I think that what she’s doing has a level of commitment that’s sexy. He’s watching her grow up again in a completely different way, and I think Josh gets off on new experiences and complex personalities. There’s so much going on [with Liza]. He’s just drawn to it.
In some ways, Younger proves that age can be a total illusionwell, this is if we’re all as beautiful as Sutton, anyway
Yeah, I mean she looks like she’s 25, to be honest with you.
How has it made you think about age and love?
I think it’s kind of written in stone that men are supposed to have strong feelings about age, but I’ve never really thought about it. When I was 19, I dated a girl that was exactly as much older than me as Liza is older than Josh. She was 34. We dated for a couple years, and we’re still best friends. I’ve dated women older than that, too.
Work-wise, you’re acting alongside women of all different ages on Younger. What’s it like being the male lead on a series truly focused on women?
It’s amazing. I was raised by women. Most of my friends are women. Me working on a show like this just makes sense. In terms of them all being different ages, yeah, they are, but…Hilary is what, 28, but she has a kid and so much history in this industry that she seems light years wiser than her age. You have Debi, who’s older than me, but she’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever met and I relate to her like she’s my age.
Speaking of age, let’s talk about how you use a staple of the millennial generation: Instagram. You have a lot of enthusiastic female followers, and we’re thinking it has something to do with the shirtless selfies.
Here’s my take on Instagram: It’s so ridiculous that people can go on and play characters, and none of it [should be] taken too seriously. The st I put on Instagram, in a lot of ways, I’m making fun of what it actually is. Some of the things I put on there are absolutely ridiculous because parts of my life are absolutely ridiculous.
To be clear, we are not complainingin fact, we’d like to know how you stay so cut.
I’ve always had different diet kicks. I grew up in a big Italian family, kind of grew up a chubby kid, then went vegan in fifth grade. I did that for three years, then I went raw in high school. It’s always been extreme, but in the last few years I’ve gotten into balance. I don’t restrict myself like I used to. I’m mostly Paleo, but if I’m at a restaurant and I want something, I’m not not going to eat it. I work out a lotfive, six, days a week. I take yoga classes and go to the gymI love doing it and I have the time to do it. Not everybody has that option.
Well, your fans definitely seem to think it’s paying off, as evidenced by an Instagram comment we read earlier that said: “He’s so perfect I’m going to throw myself into the nearest snowplow.” That’s very specific! What do you get from Younger fans IRL?
I was walking my girlfriend’s dog about a month ago on 23rd Street and Second Avenue [in Manhattan]. This, I would say, 25-year-old girl, maybe a marketing girl, she just stopped and went, “Oh. My. God. Josh. Like, I literally can’t. I literally can’t.” I was like, “You can! You absolutely can. Have a great day.”