Christopher Abbott: A 'Girls' Guy
BY MEGHAN BLALOCK
photography by john midgley
Christopher Abbott plays the wallflower well. Standing outside The Bowery Diner in a dark blue T-shirt, low-slung but fitted olive-green jeans, and a matching military cap, coolly smoking an American Spirit, and watching cars swerve onto Stanton Street, he looks like any other 26-yearold on the Lower East Side. It’s a definite departure from the more traditional look he dons as Charlie on HBO’s hit series Girls.
“I think [Charlie] is a little bit more buttoned-up but not stiff,” Abbott says of his naïvely kind and tragically berated character. “I find [costuming] a big thing for informing any kind of character. If I feel too much like me in something, then I feel kind of weird. I don’t mind sometimes being uncomfortable in the clothing, because I think it’s informative to what that person is.”
His soft-spoken sartorial savvy doesn’t end there. “I like quality—things that last a long time,” says Abbott, who has already begun filming Girls’ second season, which starts in January; his feature film, Hello I Must Be Going, with Blythe Danner, opens this month. “I like to be very comfortable. I’m fairly practical, but I don’t necessarily give up the way something looks.”
To that end, the rising star and Greenpoint, Brooklyn, resident favors the rugged staple Filson, menswear master Alfred Dunhill, and Kentucky-hip line Rag & Bone. By contrast—and perhaps resulting from creator Lena Dunham’s commitment to authenticity—Girls costume designer Jenn Rogien sources most of the show’s garments from local shops like Beacon’s Closet, Atlantis Attic, Brooklyn Flea, and Geminola.
In addition to taking inspiration from Rogien’s adornments, Abbott says his initial collaboration with Dunham significantly influenced how he approached the role of Charlie. “[Charlie] didn’t have a huge part in the pilot, so there wasn’t too much to go on,” Abbott says. “Lena was good about having me try more improvisational comedic things, and the relationship with her is what made me want to do [the show]. She writes a lot from people she knows and from experience, so she gave me a lot of specific traits that informed the type of person he is.”
And despite Dunham’s attempts to shrug off the inevitable comparisons, Girls in many ways is the modern-day Sex and the City, particularly in its portrayal of New York as a prominent player. The show was shot almost entirely in the city—including on location in Bushwick, Greenpoint, and Williamsburg— and the setting, Abbott says, definitely affects how the characters relate to one another. “The show is specific to New York,” Abbott explains. “The people who choose to live in New York come here because they have this drive—there’s a certain energy to New York, and there’s something transient about it. The way people come in and out of your life is just accepted, whereas in other places, maybe it wouldn’t be.”
styling by amanda weiner; Prop styling by Anthony Asaro; Photography assistance by Luke Barber Smith, Roeg Cohen, and Noel Camardo; Hair/Grooming by Vassilis Kokkinidis/Ford Artists for Kérastase; Makeup by Janeiro/Art-Dept.com for Nars; Model: Maja/Women-Direct; Props by Eclectic/Encore Props, 212-645-8880; eclecticprops.com; Shot on location at the Metropolitan Building; Special thanks to Amanda Bruns