Q&A: Actress Debi Mazar on Life in Brooklyn

Soon to be starring in TV Land's Younger, Debi Mazar talks Brooklyn, travel and Madonna.

She’s appeared in megahit films, from “Goodfellas” to “Batman Forever.” Now, she plays a spunky Brooklynite in “Younger,” a TV Land sitcom that debuts on Mar. 31. Debi Mazar talks life in the “outer boroughs,” travel and what it was like to do NYC with Madonna in the 1980s.

Like your character in “Younger,” you live in Brooklyn. What’s your take on the hype surrounding the borough?

It’s funny. I’ve always thought Brooklyn was hip and great, even when it was teeming with drug dealers and burnt-down buildings. It had character. These days, it’s much more expensive to buy/rent, but there’s a lot of great new stores and experiences. I’m living where I always wanted to be, my hometown. Coming from Manhattan, I cross the Brooklyn Bridge headed to Park Slope and just go, “Ahhhh!”

You have an iconic “Noo Yawk” accent. Has it helped or hindered your career?

Both! First of all, I don’t even like my accent and why it’s so heavy is beyond me. I’ve been called “bridge and tunnel.” But, hey, I grew up in Queens and Brooklyn! I’ve been typecast. Is it a bad thing? Yes. A good thing? Yes. Can I change it? Yes. Do I want to? No. Here, I sound like everybody else. I don’t get called out on it much. There are distinct sounds to the Bronx, Long Island, Brooklyn and Queens. In “Goodfellas,” I played a Long Island/Jewish type, and it launched my career.

What inspired your return to NYC from LA?

My kids. I brought my children back to NYC because I wanted them to go to Lincoln Center, to museums. I love the Met. MoMA’s The Modern restaurant and MoMA PS1 in Queens. The Bronx Museum of the Arts, even. I love museums period. I go to the American Museum of Natural History—I’m corny and love all the dinosaurs and Hayden Planetarium.  

Tell us about your party days with Madonna in 1980s NYC.

In many ways, I was like a cockroach: I knew the underbelly of NYC like the back of my hand. Remember: Then-Madonna wasn’t the Madonna we know today. She was raw, more niche. She had this crappy, little apartment on the Lower East Side. We’d go dancing: two cute girls in their early 20s, at places like Paradise Garage and The Sound Factory Bar. My boyfriend was a graffiti artist in the South Bronx.

You and your husband fly frequently between NYC and Italy. Travel tips?

Less is more when packing. I roll my clothes tightly and bring pieces that won’t wrinkle. I always stay extremely moisturized and never drink alcohol on the plane. I bring a spray bottle of rose water for misting my face and even wear facial masks onboard because—why not? Everyone’s passed out anyway.   

My Perfect Day

Morning: I wake up to my husband who brings me a delicious cup of coffee in bed. Not one, but two. Then, some exercise. Walk the dog in Prospect Park. Perhaps a bike ride. I love the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket there. 

Afternoon: To Manhattan! I like to take the subway. My husband and I love Bar Pitti in the West Village and Il Posto Accanto in the East Village. Century 21 for cheap shopping because I refuse to spend top dollar. I like to stumble upon places in Williamsburg, too. Go to the Brooklyn Flea.

Evening: I like Sheepsheads Bay down by the Verrazano Bridge. It looks like a string of pearls at night. Maybe dinner at Bushwick’s Roberta’s—love that pizza.

 

 

William Frierson
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