After five seasons of heartwarming storytelling, the beloved family drama series “The Fosters” is saying good-bye to fans with a three-day season finale event, which concludes tonight on Freeform. Star Danny Nucci, who plays Mike Foster, feels strongly that the viewers have come along with the cast throughout the storytelling process, growing as their characters have, and he relishes in the symbiotic relationship that has made his time on the show the most fan-centric project of his career thus far.
We recently sat down with Nucci to discuss the possibility of returning as Mike Foster in the future, why his time on the series was an eye opener, and where he is expanding on his career within the industry.
TrunkSpace: With the “The Fosters” coming to an end, you’ve had to say good-bye to your on-set family, but in a way, does it also feel like you’re saying good-bye to the fans? They have come with you on this journey since 2013 – are they part of the equation with it now signing off?
Nucci: Not at all. It’s more of a resounding “Thank you!” for your support through the years. Many of them are now interested in what’s next and seem to feel like part of an “ongoing” family. It’s almost as if we’ve all gone through these stories together and come out on the other side closer and more connected.
TrunkSpace: You spent over 90 episodes playing Mike Foster, which as we discussed last time you stopped by TrunkSpace, is the longest you have spent with a single character. Now that the job is officially done, is it easy to walk away from Mike knowing that you probably won’t be slipping into his skin ever again?
Nucci: There is a spinoff, so I can’t say that’s true as of yet. But it’s a feeling of gratitude that I’m left with – that I got to explore a character for that long.
TrunkSpace: Have you been surprised at how passionate and loyal the fans have been with “The Fosters” and have you ever directly experienced a group of viewers who were so invested in a project?
Nucci: I’ve never been part of any project with such a social media tie in and “exchange” so it’s all been a revelation of the affect being part of a show that people respond to can be.
TrunkSpace: Outside of starring on the show, you also had the opportunity to direct an episode of “The Fosters.” Was getting to step behind the camera an unintended side effect of your time on the series or was it always your hope to call “Action!”?
Nucci: The first time we all got together for a hang with the producers I made my pitch and they were very clear that it would be a few seasons in before I’d get the opportunity, but they made good on their promise and now I’ve got a new addiction.
TrunkSpace: Obviously you have such familiarity with the cast and crew. Does that make your job as director easier or more difficult? Do you think you would have had a different experience if you came to set not knowing anybody?
Nucci: Oh, I’m sure it would be completely different. The cast knows I’m one of them so there was an inherent trust. And the crew was rooting for me to do well and went the extra mile for me to make our day. And the execs felt like I had a great understanding of the time, story and characters, so there was an automatic trust factor.
TrunkSpace: Did the process of directing an episode of “The Fosters” give you a different perspective on your own character at all? Did it alter your own POV in terms of performance?
Nucci: No. Different mind set completely. Perhaps it would’ve been different if I had to direct myself.
TrunkSpace: We know you can’t really go into details, but you’ve been spending time developing a new series that you have been involved with on the writing side of things. Is that an area that you hope to spend more time focusing on in your career? Are the behind-the-scenes aspects becoming more interesting to you as you get older?
Nucci: As an actor, by the time I add my input most of the work has been done or prepped by the writers, producers or directors. The opportunity to be at the beginning of the storytelling process and make choices that impact the entire project is something I am really enjoying. I love exploring choices that are more “actable” and are “easier to accept” for an audience. Frankly, it’s thrilling. When we come up with a great line of dialogue or particular setting or motivation for a given character it’s as exciting as finding a great moment as an actor.
TrunkSpace: Have you ever been at a crossroads where you considered walking away from acting? Do you still get the same thrill walking on a set for the first time as you did when you started out in the industry?
Nucci: I always get a thrill from walking on a set I’m working on. It’s always that feeling of, “I snuck in – no one noticed and I’m in!” I love the challenge of acting. It’s always a risk/reward thing. I look forward to more experiences where I’m asked to have a creative voice. Sometimes, “Stand there, say these lines, thank you…” feels like a profession I have a modicum of skill to complete. It’s still a great job though.
TrunkSpace: If you could sit down and have a conversation with your 15-year-old self, what would he have to say about how your career has played out? What aspect of your life would surprise him the most?
Nucci: “Duuuuuuude,why aren’t you super famous??? C’mon!!”
I guess he’d be surprised that I’m not driven by a need to be adored or approved of, but a desire to feel all the things my characters have to feel so that the audience can just observe and relate or be entertained or in an ideal moment have their perspective altered in a positive way. And being the best I can be to suspend belief for the time I’m on screen or on stage.
TrunkSpace: Finally, as fans gear up to say good-bye to “The Fosters” for the last time, what do you want to say to them about the journey and how their loyalty to the show has impacted you over the course of its run? How have they made this a fulfilling chapter in your own life?
Nucci: I would just like to say that I appreciate the interaction, the kind words and encouragement that I’ve received. I have felt an added sense of responsibility to make Mike Foster a real person who suffers, struggles and celebrates life and love like the rest of us humans.
“The Fosters” series finale three-night event concludes tonight on Freeform.