Nobody puts Abigail Breslin in the corner. In fact, she’s currently center stage in the New Group’s world premiere of All the Fine Boys, which opens today off-Broadway.
Breslin headlines Erica Schmidt’s 1980s-set drama as Jenny, a suburban teenager dangerously attracted to an older man. Of course, the 20-year-old Scream Queens scene-stealer is no stranger to danger—or misguided crushes.
More than a decade after her Oscar-nominated performance in Little Miss Sunshine, Breslin shines some light on her favorite fine boys (hey, Colton Haynes!) and the reasons her upcoming Dirty Dancing remake will have all the queens screaming.
OUT: All the Fine Boys is set in the '80s, a decade in which you weren’t yet alive. Could you have survived being a teenager without iPhones or social media?
Abigail Breslin: If I could go back in time, I’d like to think that I could deal with it, because I want to be cool. But honestly, no, I’d cry.
Great music, though.
Hell, yeah, '80s music is my favorite genre ever. I love hearing those songs every night in the show. I sing a Samantha Fox song in the play that’s truly dope.
Abigail Breslin in All the Fine Boys
At 20, you’re playing a 14 year old. What’s it like to revisit that mindset?
I’m still very young, so I do remember that age very clearly, but it’s definitely strange. A lot goes on between 14 and 20. There’s a certain innocence and energy that’s hard to replicate after you’ve been through some real life shit.
Were you as boy crazy as your character, Jenny?
Boys were so important. I mean, they still are, but not as much. At that age, I thought that having a boyfriend was the pinnacle of maturity. When I was 14, I was in love with a boy who was 16. I was so enamored and wanted so badly for him to think I was cool and mature and mysterious. It’s kind of scary how similar I was to Jenny.
Is it nice to have your teen years in the rearview mirror?
Yeah. Being a teenager is really fucking hard. You want so badly to be older that you end up missing out on so much of the greatness of being young. When I was 14, 15, I thought that everything was the biggest deal in the entire world. I still think everything is the biggest deal, but now they actually are big deals.
Let’s talk about fine boys. Growing up, who was your first celebrity crush?
Remember Erik von Detten in The Princess Diaries? He was also in that Disney Channel movie Brink! I was obsessed with him. But my first big celebrity crush was Zac Efron for sure. I ran away when I finally met him because I was 15 and I’m a psychopath.
Your character in Little Miss Sunshine had a suicidal gay uncle, played by Steve Carell. At 9 years old, did you already know what it meant to be gay?
I was very aware. I grew up in New York City on the Lower East Side. The way I was brought up, it wasn’t a big deal. My parents always had gay friends. Our neighbors were a lesbian couple, and I loved their dog. So when I did that movie, I was like, “Wait, why is this such a big deal?” People, gay and straight, always come up and tell me how that movie helped their family learn to accept each other, which is beautiful. I’m so happy I was a part of that movie.
Abigail Breslin in Scream Queens
Now you’re on Scream Queens, one of the campiest shows on television. Do you hear from gay fans?
Oh, yeah. People always post pictures of their Chanels costumes from Halloween, and so many of the gay guys who dress up as Chanel #5 look better in those outfits than I do. It’s incredible.
Chanel #5 always gives a lot of look. Has her style rubbed off on you?
I’m really into the faux fur. At the end of last season, I went into the wardrobe trailer, like, “I can’t really wear this on the show again, so maybe I can just take it home with me?” But they have to control me, because I will take everything.
Related | Meet the Chanels of Scream Queens
Ryan Murphy casts a lot of fine boys in Scream Queens. It must be nice to have a little male eye candy on set.
Yes and no. It’s actually the most annoying thing for me personally. The guys I got to make out with in the show were super hot, like Colton Haynes, but they’re gay, so they aren’t interested in me. I’m like, “Why?!”
You worked with YouTube twins Austin and Aaron Rhodes in the first season.
Yeah, and I had no idea they were gay when I first met them. I asked Ryan, “Which one do you think is single? Which one should I go after?” He’s like, “I’ll say neither because they’re both gay.” But we became really good friends.
You’re starring as Baby in ABC’s upcoming Dirty Dancing remake. What was it like to carry that watermelon?
It was the most magical work experience I’ve ever had. Everybody in it is so incredible. The whole cast loved each other, and I think that really comes across onscreen. Debra Messing plays my mom, and I still talk to her every day and call her for advice. She’s such a gracious soul.
Just as they did with Fox’s Rocky Horror remake and the all-female Ghostbusters, some people will complain that you shouldn’t have messed with a masterpiece. What do you say to those critics?
It’s a reimagining, not a reenactment. I don’t believe that stories are only meant to be told once. You can tell them differently. I’m not doing an imitation of Jennifer Grey’s iconic performance in the original. Instead, I tried to see Baby as how she related to me, and hopefully I do the character justice. I don’t want to sound too self-aggrandizing, but I think the movie’s really dope. I think you’re going to love it.
All the Fine Boys runs through March 26 at the Pershing Square Signature Center. Visit thenewgroup.org for more info.