Mae Whitman & Carlos Valdes Tease ‘Up Here’s Musical Love Story & Embracing Y2k Nostalgia (Exclusive)
A musical romantic comedy set in New York City as the clock winds down on 1999? Count us in. Up Here follows Lindsay and Miguel's extraordinary (and very harmonizing) love story in the city that never sleeps. HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Mae Whitman and Carlos Valdes about why Lindsay and Miguel's relationship is so captivating to them.
"Both of these characters were really relatable," Carlos told HollywoodLife during the Television Critics Association winter press tour. "For me, I remember reading the scripts and feeling like, 'Oh, my God, I'm totally Lindsay.' And then reading more and being like, 'No, I'm 100% Miguel.' I think most people working on the show felt that way, that they could relate to both characters and the particular insecurities that they were carrying around with them throughout their lives and throughout their love story. I love that about it, that these characters were written so there was such a nuance about them, and there was so dimension to them that they if they felt like real people."
Mae added, "For me, it's the growth. I always look for in a story when there's genuine growth, and it really progresses. For me, what they bring to each other is so fascinating. Because the whole point is they want to be together, and they just keep missing each other at each turn because people are telling them not to or this or that. Everybody just wants to be seen and understood and to see and understand themselves. But there's the whole concept of can you ever really know someone? Can you ever really know yourself? But what they were able to find within each other and bring out in each other and sort of open the walls and the defenses that each other has put up in their own world. To me, the most beautiful thing was watching them sort of release those defense mechanisms."
Both Carlos and Mae get to flex their musical muscles in a major way in Up Here. There are plenty of epic musical moments over the course of the season. "Even though I've had a few years of experience with this particular thing, I had to enlist outside help," Carlos admitted. "I brought in this guy, Tyler Jones, to help me with all the songs and my voice. He rocked it and really got me to open up different parts of my voice that I didn't know I could access. He helped me bring my best to the songs and to the way that Miguel expresses himself vocally."
The Parenthood alum admitted that she was "starting from scratch. It was terrifying. I truly was so scared. Again, that's kind of why I wanted to do it because I was so scared. I was like, well, if I'm this scared of something, I should probably just do it."
Mae worked with voice coach Doug Peck throughout filming. "It was almost like having a therapist, like a somatic body therapist. We worked from the inside out. We built my spirit up and helped me understand my body and the power of it," she continued. "So much of this for me was about building up my confidence in myself that I could do this. I really did not have a lot of it going in, so the people that I had behind me pushing me forward literally are the only reason that I'm sitting here."
Up Here is set in 1999, so pre-Instagram, TikTok, and social media as a whole. Even though 1999 was not that long again, Mae pointed out that nostalgia exists. "I think a lot of people are experiencing that now because we've been so inundated with technology and social media," Mae told HollywoodLife. "Everybody's obsessed that it's like, wow, what was it like to just not have that? What was it like to let things unfold naturally, look at the sky, any of that stuff? We get so consumed like this is everything, and then you take a break and you're like, oh, wait, there's a whole world outside of this. I'm glad that people can be inspired and the style and the music was dope." Up Here premieres March 24 on Hulu.