The series premiere of ‘Sweetbitter’ is May 6, and HollywoodLife sat down EXCLUSIVELY with stars Jasmine Mathews and Eden Epstein to talk about their ‘relatable’ characters, how the show will differ from the book, and more!
Sweetbitter is one of the most highly-anticipated shows of 2018. The series, which premieres May 6 on Starz, is based off Stephanie Danler’s best-selling 2016 novel that follows a young woman named Tess, who comes to New York City to pursue a new life. She winds up working at a prestigious Manhattan restaurant and meets a number of people there who make a huge impact on her life. Two of those people include Ariel and Heather, played by Eden Epstein and Jasmine Mathews.
One of the main questions fans of the book have is how closely the show will follow the source material. The actresses revealed to HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY at the show’s press junket that season one is just the tip of the iceberg. “It’s a prologue, the first season is a slice of it,” Eden told HollywoodLife. “The book is so rich and I think the way Stu [showrunner Stuart Zicherman] and Stephanie constructed the first season was the idea to stay true to the book as much as they wanted to, and then to be able to grow with the cast because there’s the characters in the book, and then there’s us… There was freedom, it was fun.”
Jasmine added: “I love that Steph and Stu allowed us to bring what we could as actors and what we found on set. And, Stephanie was very adamant about, ‘This isn’t the book. You are the character, so bring what we have,’ and I love that. It was very relaxing and safe.”
Like Tess, Ariel and Heather are just trying to find their way in New York City. Both Jasmine and Eden can closely relate to their characters. “On the surface level, her being the only person of color working the front of house, that’s my own story,” Jasmine told HollywoodLife. “But, there’s also something about her I think I’m hoping we can get into in season 2. She comes across as very confident and sure of herself, but underneath that there’s a woman that’s seeking for approval and is trying to figure out, ‘What am I here for? What’s my purpose?’ And, that really resonated with me.”
For Eden, art ended up imitating her life. “I knew Ariel when I read her, I was like, ‘I know this person.’ I know her in lots of different people I’ve met in my life,” Eden said. “So, as far as, how to play her, it was really fun to take from my personal experiences. I waited tables for 6 years and I had my last shift before the night of call-backs actually. So, I went from working in one restaurant to working in another which was wonderful. It wasn’t a stretch. It’s fun to kind of touch on your darkness and say the things that everyone wants to say but don’t have the audacity to say because it’s mean or impolite. I really enjoyed the fun in playing her and she’s kind of mischievous.”
The actresses stressed that the first season is going to show you what’s it like to work in a restaurant. “This is often people’s side hustles. You don’t think you’ll stay there, you think it’s temporary,” Eden said. “So, people have lives outside of the restaurant. In tandem with that, your life becomes the restaurant because you’re spending so much time there and it’s incestuous. You hang out with the people there, they become your friends, your lovers. It’s really, really all encompassing. So I think the thread between all of the characters is that they’re all waiting for their lives to happen, and maybe what they don’t realize is that it’s happening right now.” To add to that, Jasmine said: “It’s like, in between the waiting the characters are asking, ‘Who am I?’ Identity was really huge for me, and I think all the characters. We’re just really trying to figure it out.”