When 17-year-old Mikey Madison found out she scored the role of Pamela Adlon's eldest daughter, Max, on FX's newest comedy Better Things, she celebrated with her own mom and grandma in exactly the way you'd expect. "Pamela called me personally to tell me I got the part, and I started jumping up and down and screaming at the tops of my lungs," Madison said on a recent visit to InStyle's N.Y.C offices. "I think I scared my grandma." And for good reason—the hilarious plot from comedic geniuses Adlon and Louis C.K. follows single mom Sam Fox (played by Adlon) and her three daughters as they navigate the ups and downs of growing up, getting by, and helping each other along the way. If you haven't started watching yet, the half-hour long episodes are perfect for breezing through on a post-turkey binge. Read on for Madison's take on the show's first season.
Playing Max on Better Things is your first big acting role--how does it feel to be on a show that's seeing such success early on?
"It's been amazing since I started the audition process because I felt such a connection to the character immediately. I think the dynamic with Pamela was important. Sam and Max have an interesting relationship—they share everything but it's hard for Max to share some personal things--not only about sex and drugs but abuot being scared about the furture."
What's it like working with Pamela Adlon?
"Really, really amazing. she's been like a mother to everyone on set. She's become my second mom and I just feel so honored to be in the presence of someone as established and hard working as she is. Plus, she's hilarious every single day."
You have two younger sisters on the show--are there any parallels to your real-life siblings?
"I have two older sisters who are in their 30s, a twin brother, and another brother. So right now I'm living with two teenage boys at home. Coming from a big family, I've definitely found a lot of similar dynamics to what my character experiences on the show. Everyone has their own personality, so you see the differences, but you still connect over the family bond that you share. Me and my brothers all have different personalities and we definitely clash over living together in a small space."
You've had some amazing guest stars, like Julie Bowen and Lenny Kravitz. Any favorite moments?
"I got to spend a week with Lenny Kravitz while we were filming his arc, which was very exciting. This guy is so cool and amazing that beforehand I felt so uncool and nervous. But I got to see a nerdy side of this super cool guy. For example, he knows every single line in the movie Fame. I mean, how many times must he have seen that movie? He and Pamela have been friends since high school, so they spent a lot of time reminiscing and it turns out they are both big Fame fans. We also bonded over our knowledge of Woody Allen films. The first time person to ever tell me I was cool was actually Lenny."
What do you love most about playing Max?
"I definitely gravitate toward characters that have a lot of integrity and it's so important to be to be working on shows that tell great stories. I think you have to be a little in love with the character you're playing because that way you can't judge the decisions they make that you have to play out on screen, and that's certainly the case with Max."