"I follow my wife around the house turning off lights. I think she grew up in a house where the lights were always on, but she's changing," reports Jeremy Sisto optimistically. "I drive a hybrid. We've been talking a lot about making our footprint smaller. Moving from New York to L.A., it's pretty big, so we have more to do on that score. But it's important to us to focus on that in the next period of our lives."
Sisto and his family are subletting a house in the Hollywood Hills while he's shooting his new ABC sitcom "Suburgatory," which premieres Sept. 28. He plays a contractor and single dad who moves his teenage daughter from the city to the suburbs after discovering condoms in her room (despite her protests that they weren't hers). "He's an angry optimist, and I thought he had some depth," says Sisto, who was open to doing comedy after "Law & Order," and in fact, recently wrote a script for a comedy film about doubles tennis called "Break Point."
He credits a few comedy shorts he'd done with helping to convince producers he was right for lighter fare, something he wanted to do after having turned away from it after "Clueless." "The other shows I was offered this season were crime shows and I knew I wasn't going to do that. This is about a relationship, and for me that's more fun to play," says the actor, who has a daughter of his own, just 2 years old. "I feel very lucky to be able to go from a crime procedural to something like this. I think that sometimes is a difficult transition for actors, and so I feel very fortunate that I've been able to do that."
"My mom is the recycling Nazi, and I always bring a bag to the grocery store," says Jane Levy, who plays Sisto's daughter Tessa, and narrates the series. Now 21, she grew up in suburban Marin County, Calif., and though she "wasn't exactly like Tessa in high school, I was friends with some of the mean girls. Not that I was a mean girl, but I was a floater — I got along with everyone. I had the new girl experience in other ways. I went to England for five months when I was in high school, by myself, so I did experience a bit of being the fish out of water."
Levy saw the role as a challenge, "because on paper she could be read as really snarky and annoying" — she'd have to work to bring heart to it. Fairly new to Hollywood, she appeared on Showtime's "Shameless" in its first season and plays Victoria Justice's best friend in the Halloween comedy "Fun Size," due out in Oct. 2012. "I play a girl who's trying way too hard to be popular," she says.