Fans of Parenthood need not be too eagle-eyed to see that an already sweet romance is in the works between a beloved Braveman, Amber, and an Army vet, Ryan. And to hear their portrayers, Mae Whitman and Matt Lauria, tell it, their love story — which will slowly but surely blossom in the coming weeks — only gets better.
“It’s so wonderful! I love them so much,” Whitman gushes to TVLine. “Amber’s relationship with Ryan is just the best. It’s the first time we’ve ever seen her settled in herself as a person, really. She’s doing music, which she loves, and she’s on her own and doing well, so she’s in that space to receive what could be right for her. And with Ryan, what’s so amazing is just how different they are and the lessons they teach each other.”
Though things begin slowly enough — a first date happens in this Tuesday’s installment (NBC, 10/9c) — the two immediately share “such a deep connection that it’s hard to ignore,” Whitman reveals. “They’re both so honest and straightforward that their connection is undeniable; it would be hard to keep them apart.”
But all of that comes later. Amber will first need to break through Ryan’s tough exterior — one that developed after years of fighting the war in Afghanistan — and she’ll more than succeed.
“Amber is just disarmingly comfortable,” Lauria explains. “She’s supremely at ease and cool and confident… What I love about [Ryan] is that every moment is a little discovery about who he is right now and how he is fitting into this situation. Everything he knows is Army-related, so how does he integrate back into a social setting back home? And because Amber is so talented in that respect, it’s hard for him not to admire her and really be drawn to that. Hopefully, by association, maybe [he] can be that cool and comfortable.”
For Amber, meanwhile, the feelings come from a much simpler place: He treats her well. “Ryan’s so quiet and there’s a lot of fear for him, but he’s also such a gentleman and really cares about her,” Whitman muses. “She’s just so used to doing whatever she feels like in the moment… and he teaches her how it can be nice to wait and take things slowly, to really live with intention.”
While the actress concedes that the new relationship is “really heavy” at times (“There are little pieces that are already coming up about him going through something so serious and extreme, so different from anything that anyone who is here could imagine”), she shares that her “favorite thing is that they want to get through it together.
“Amber just sees this guy who she loves,” continues Whitman. “It’s hard for him to remember his place here, but then he finds this girl who is so supportive and loving and fun, and it’s a source of light for him. Ryan is so serious when you first meet him, and then you really start to see him opening up and trusting again… It’s really pretty to see them helping each other in that way.”
Putting it rather poetically, Lauria shares that the two “fill in the blanks [for] each other” as the relationship develops. “There’s a lot of hand-holding for Amber, so it’s an interesting place to see her in; for her to be the one to take someone and guide them in a hopeful or healing direction… He’s challenging her to go to some pretty deep places.”
Romance aside, the Friday Night Lights alum tells TVLine that playing Ryan truly is “the most important thing that I feel like I’ve worked on.” Why? “It’s so topical right now,” he explains. “Everyone’s reading about the suicide rates and PTSD and how [these soldiers] don’t have the right channels to find themselves again. So, I feel [the] immense pressure of really, really wanting to honor them. One of the great things about art is that you can teach an audience empathy; you can elevate their conscience in some way… [Veterans'] needs and their significance just wasn’t on my radar [before this role], and now I’ve been educated. I’m so much more empathetic, and I hope this story will do that.”
Are you loving Lauria on Parenthood? Excited for an Amber/Ryan romance? Hit the comments!