The Oral History of Edward L.L. Moore, the Epic George R.R. Martin Spoof on 'Younger'
Beware the wrath of Edward L.L. Moore, the recurring character on Younger who's a rom-com version of George R.R. Martin. Moore and Martin have a few superficial things in common: they both write swords-and-sorcery sagas which feature female warriors (the Crown of Kings chronicles and the A Song of Ice and Fire series, respectively), both like to wear jaunty Greek fisherman caps, both use double middle initials.
But Moore is no Martin. The very real writer of the book series that spawned Game of Thrones was merely a jumping-off point for Younger's writing team to explore ideas about cash-cow authors who can sustain or destroy a publishing house like the show's fictional Empirical Press, and what might happen should they abuse that power. When he was first introduced at the end of season two, Moore's tyrranical nature merely added to the comedy -- he was the entitled author who rolled over people's feet and wrote erotica under a nom de plume. But as we learned in "#LizaToo," the fifth-season premiere episode, Moore has emerged as an antagonist in Liza's world, the man who tears her down and outs her real identity to her boss and his publisher, Charles.
We wanted to know much more about Moore. Here, executive producer Dottie Dartland Zicklin, L.L. Moore actor Richard Masur, and cast members Nico Tortorella (Josh) and Charles Michael Davis (Zane) break down how Younger's wildest character came to be.
Dottie Dartland Zicklin: During season two, we were doing this story where we wanted this relationship between Liza and Thad, who was the fiancé of Kelsey Peters, to come to a crescendo, and be very dramatic. And our showrunner Darren Star said, "I think we should just kill Thad. Just kill him off." So we wanted the publishing story to be something big that could echo these large themes -- betrayal and justice and a shocking death -- we wanted something that could also be a big deal, financially, to the company. What are the biggest books out there? And we all started talking about Game of Thrones.
Richard Masur: When I read the part, I just thought it was hysterical. I loved this character. I'm a big fan of the Game of Thrones books, and I have a sense of what the guy's like! So I just exaggerated the hell out of it.
Zicklin: Darren has actually never seen Game of Thrones. [Laughs] But the rest of us are all huge Game of Thrones fans. And Jessie Cantrell, one of our writers, is friends with someone on the writing staff at Game of Thrones, someone who knows the ending of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. And she was like, "Wouldn't it be amazing if Liza knew the ending before anybody else? And she had to keep it a secret?" We thought it would be an interesting position for Liza. That's why L.L. Moore whispers it to her and tells her he'll have to eat her. And Darren was like, "Yeah, okay. Let's make her a princess with some sexy outfit." I think we were thinking, how far does she have to go for the job?
Masur: I don't think Princess Pam Pam is quite an exact match for Daenerys Targaryen. Even though she's described as a warrior-princess, and she's got this special spear, it's not like she's the Mother of Dragons. That's a whole other level of being cool. I see her more as a beautiful version of Brienne of Tarth, where she goes at it with the guys and kicks the crap out of them, rather than summoning 50-foot dragons to do her bidding. I think the slave thing is meant to be a kind of sexual imagery, and it's the underlying baseline of what's in the Edward L.L. Moore books, and what goes on with women, is that this guy is completely obsessed with sexuality and power over women. He's compulsive. He's Donald Trump. He can't stop himself.
Zicklin: And then it becomes a dilemma for Charles: should Liza wear the fur bikini? And when L.L. Moore gives Liza the hotel room key, Charles interferes. We were trying to do a story where there's a bigger fish than Charles, and it's a question of whether Charles is going to stand up for Liza. So really, what we wanted was something epic and Wagnerian like Game of Thrones, not so much George R.R. Martin himself. Just that kind of character who had that kind of a fantasy series, and we definitely take license with it.
Masur: I think one of the reasons they offered it to me, frankly, was that they'd seen me on a couple of other shows, and I had a ponytail, long hair, and a beard -- since George R.R. Martin has this famous beard, even though his hair is not quite as long as mine. But I can't stand it. It's in my face. It's all over the place. So I keep it in a braid. But for Edward L.L. Moore? I have it all out and flowing and wild, because that's part of his affectation. So I have this hair, and I asked for the cap. I had seen George R.R. Martin wear this cap, this kind of old-fashioned sea captain's cap, and I asked wardrobe for one.
Zicklin: I remember Darren asking Richard, "Can you do a laugh that turns into a cough?" It was so cringe-y and awful. And Richard added the oyster slurping. That was all him.
Masur: They wrote me on this scooter, which I thought was hysterical. I ride the scooter in a way where I almost kill people all the time. That was all my idea. In the first episode, I start barreling into the restaurant even though the door is closed, and Charles has to dive to get the door open before I go through it. And then I almost run him and somebody else over on the way in. Everyone has to be prepared for the king! There was one time where I make it seem like I ran over Diana's foot, and that was not in the script. I asked, "Could you put something like a little wedge on the ground?" And so they did, and I ran the scooter over it, so it would pop a little bit, and she went, "Ow!" so it looked like I ran over her foot.
Zicklin: It's his power move, to run over people.
Charles Michael Davis: He drove that scooter himself. That was no stunt guy.
Masur: I said, "This guy doesn't need this scooter, right?" That's why I wanted to stand up in the scene where I say I'm the female author Aubrey Alexis.
Zicklin: He really wanted to get up out of that wheelchair: "I'm getting up!" "No, you can't do that! You've been bad enough!"
Masur: Think about what Edward L.L. Moore is doing. He's putting himself inside a woman's body, and having direct control over a woman's body. It's the ultimate fantasy projection. That's what I was thinking when I was playing those episodes: Why would he do this?
Zicklin: We thought, let's have Aubrey Alexis be someone in disguise, because that has echoes of what Liza's doing. And Darren was like, "Oh! Let's make it L.L. Moore! Because it would be funny if he wrote the beautiful perspective of a 20-year-old woman." And he's so pervy to Liza, it was fun to make him good at writing a woman. It could be just completely lascivious, but let's make him good at it.
Masur: It could have been because they knew I did Girls, so it was a wink and a nod to that. But I think Darren liked the idea that this complete misogynist troll had been approached -- as a woman -- by Lena Dunham's publishing company. The point of creating the other persona as a writer, for me anyway, was also to see if Charles was clever enough to have worked it out. L.L. Moore thinks he's the smartest boy in the class. He's so fucking arrogant in every possible way. He represents everything that's wrong with men. That's why it's so satisfying to bold-facedly put that out there, so Liza can make that face she makes every time she walks away from him, which is just priceless.
Zicklin: When we first conceived of the character, it wasn't charged with all the #MeToo sexual harassment stuff, the way it is now. We didn't anticipate that. He was just some flirty old guy, and the way Richard Masur played him made him even grosser. We definitely let legal look at it. We don't want to represent anything about George R.R. Martin, to claim that he's some sort of sexual harasser.
Masur: I don't want to start any lawsuits! [Laughs]
Zicklin: But when all the Harvey Weinstein stuff broke, we were like, we have a character here who's been doing this, and who is a heavyweight in the industry – so how can we not address it? We're doing books, the world of books, and this is a big series.
Nico Tortorella: I was at BookCon. In the living room for Crown/Random House, there was George R.R. Martin's new book, Fire and Blood, and my book was positioned right next to his! Life imitating art! I started crying.
Zicklin: My husband Eric Zicklin, who is also a writer on the show, pitched the idea that L.L. Moore comes down in a big cloud at New York Comic-Con. Because if George R.R. Martin had written an origin story of Daenerys Targaryen, that would be huge at Comic-Con, wouldn't it? We wanted to make the announcement seem like this is going to be such a big book -- and for it to get pulled from the market, it could sink the company.
Masur: When I got the script for this season's premiere, I went, "Whoa, great." Because there is nobody who is consistently just one thing. Edward L.L. Moore is the way he is because he's been in control for a long time, and when this thing happens -- when he's completely up in the air in this ridiculous rig and humiliated in front of his fans -- it's clear that he's not going to let these accusations stand. He can't bear losing control this way. And he's a writer -- he believes in the power of narrative. So he's going, how can I change the narrative so I'm still the hero of this story? In my mind, I'm saying, "You're both going to be back in my power now. If you want to protect her, shut up. If you want to protect yourself, shut up. Fix this."
Zicklin: This is legit what an author like that would do if he were accused: "Let's get dirt on these accusers and discredit them." They're playing power games in these books, so he's thinking about these kinds of moves constantly. And these things are career-enders these days. This guy is sunk. And so is the company. That's not to say that someone can't revive it. We already know that Edward L.L. Moore writes under nom de plumes, you know? So who knows what happens next! The dying beast kicks hardest.
Masur: I told them, "You left the door wide open here. I'm just getting started."