'Party Down' Cast on Lizzy Caplan's Absence in the Season 3 Premiere (Exclusive)
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Following two celebrated seasons starring Adam Scott, Ken Marino and others, Party Down is officially back with new episodes after being revived for season 3 on Starz. The newest installment, which comes 13 years after the series first ended, reunites most of the original cast, with one notable exception: Lizzy Caplan as struggling comedian and Henry Pollard's (Scott) on-and-off love interest, Casey Klein.
"Lizzy wanted to do it badly. We'd, of course, planned on having Lizzy be a part of the season. It just wasn't possible schedule-wise," Scott tells ET about his co-star's absence in the new episodes, referring to the fact that Caplan has been busy with a number of TV projects, including Fleishman Is in Trouble on FX and filming the upcoming Paramount+ series adaptation of Fatal Attraction.
"She was so heartbroken, as was I," Martin Starr, who returns as Roman DeBeers, adds. "We've known each other since third grade, so it was terrible news to find out that she couldn't make it out of all the cast."
But just because Caplan wasn't able to reprise her role as Casey doesn't mean the series ignored her completely. Instead, co-creator and showrunner John Enbom "came up with a great solution, which is what you see," Scott says of the season 3 premiere. (Warning: spoilers for "Kyle Bradway Is Nitromancer," which debuted on Starz Friday night.)
In the first episode back, current and former members of the titular catering company reunite 10 years later for a party, celebrating one of their own. Kyle (Ryan Hansen) has hired the team, run by manager Ron Donald (Marino), to service an event after landing the lead role in an upcoming superhero film franchise.
Among those getting back together are Henry, a struggling actor who is now in a troubled marriage and working as a high school English teacher; Constance Carmell (Jane Lynch), who went from actress to playwright to very rich after receiving an inheritance from her dead husband; Lydia Dunfree (Megan Mullally), who is now a full-time manager for her successful daughter, Escapade. Meanwhile, Roman (Starr) still works for Party Down while attempting to complete his "hard" sci-fi opus.
Shortly after checking in with the main characters, Casey's whereabouts are addressed when Henry catches a segment about her during an entertainment news program playing on a TV at the bar. According to the host, Casey is dating her Stabilizer co-star, Matt Bricker, and the two were recently seen at the Broadway revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats.
Roman then clarifies that Casey "made it big" after moving to New York to star on a comedy sketch show, deadpanning that she's "doing quips and zingers on some dumb show for boomer fascists."
"I think Lizzy's character, Casey, having gone on and been a big success and sort of haunting the show and the group is very Party Down," Scott says. "It's very of the world that the one person not there is not there because they've become a big deal in show business."
"It makes so much more sense to us. It really does 'cause she's Lizzy," Hansen adds, noting the parallels with what's going on with her busy schedule in real life, before adding that "she is, like, the biggest champion for the show."
But Casey being in New York is not the only thing addressed. In fact, the premiere takes time to poke fun at the relationship between Casey and Henry, which was so central to the series in the first two seasons.
"That's a shame. Ooh, poor Henry, right?" Lydia mentions later before Constance responds by saying that she was hoping those two "would hook up tonight, you know, for old time's sake."
"Wouldn't that have been wonderful?" Lydia says. "You know, I've always rooted for them as a couple."
Then Roman asks why, acknowledging the fact that Henry and Casey were never the perfect couple or ever "just dated" when they had the chance 10 years ago. "Why not root against them? Why root for them?" he asks.
"They could be brother and sister," Constance quips after Lydia starts listing all their similarities. "It's just so romantic," she adds, much to Roman's chagrin.
"I got to witness Jane and Megan just doing a run about how much Adam and Lizzy look like brother and sister and how that romance is perfect, and I couldn't not laugh every single time," Starr recalls of filming that particular scene.
But luckily for Henry -- and for viewers as well -- the premiere introduces Evie (a refreshingly funny Jennifer Garner), who quickly becomes a fixture in his life as the series jumps forward in time to skip over the events of the pandemic and pick up with the catering crew as they get back to work again.
"To lose that, you know, it was such a big part of the story," Starr says of Henry and Casey's romance. "But I think it helped in some ways and that became a new challenge for John to come up with something else. And to have the great fortune of having Jennifer Garner on the show only was spawned because of Lizzy, unfortunately, being unavailable."
And when it comes to working with Garner, Scott himself had nothing but praise for his new co-star. "I still can't believe Jennifer Garner actually did this show," he says, before explaining that when coming up with the role of Evie, they wanted "a Jennifer Garner type."
"The fact that we actually got Jennifer Garner is bonkers," Scott continues. "She is so funny and so great and cool. And I just loved working with her. I had been a fan and admirer for years and I am so happy to finally get to work with her."
Party Down season 3 airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Starz and is available to stream at midnight the same day on the Starz app.
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