TORONTO - "Girls" co-star Allison Williams isn't surprised when strange women approach her, eager to reveal deeply personal stories.
After all, her HBO show's frank female point of view is full of painfully raw revelations from its four 20-something characters.
It's when men admit to feeling a kinship with the series that the comely brunette can be thrown off-guard — like recently when a Toronto fan displayed an intense affinity for her character's storyline.
"Just last night a guy was talking to me about the fact that he is a 'Charlie' and he's dating a 'Marnie' and he's learned a lot about how he may or may not be appealing or unappealing from watching the show," an incredulous Williams said during a recent visit to Toronto.
"And he made (his girlfriend) watch the show to get her opinion and I was like, 'That's such a Charlie thing to do.' To be like: 'There's a show. I think it's about us. I'd like you to watch it because I think it might explain why you don't like me as much as you should.'"
That "Girls" has inspired a diverse, fervent following is testament to creator Lena Dunham's provocative but real characters, says Williams, daughter of NBC news broadcaster Brian Williams.
"People feel very comfortable, they feel very close to us already, and I think it's because the show is so grounded in reality and it feels so accessible in that way. There isn't anything heightened about it, there's nothing make-believe."
The 26-year-old Dunham stars as the oft-misguided (and oft-naked) Hannah, a wannabe writer whose self-absorbed efforts to find a job and a boyfriend invariably lead to disastrously embarrassing results.
Jemima Kirke co-stars as the free-spirited Jessa while Zosia Mamet is the "virginy" Shoshanna. Williams' seemingly poised Marnie appeared to be the most put-together of the group, but began revealing some cracks towards the end of Season 1.
"It's definitely a crossroads, it's definitely a moment of transition," Williams says as the series prepares to return with 10 more episodes in January.
"If the first season was about getting to know the girls and getting to know their world, the second season is about taking them out of their element, out of their comfort zone and really getting to know them on an individual basis a little bit deeper. And in Marnie's case particularly, getting to know her when the odds are kind of stacked against her."
In Season 1, Marnie had a job, lived with her best friend from college and had a loving boyfriend.
"None of those things are true in Season 2," Williams says.
"And that was really fun for me because I've always thought she was more than just a gallery girl with a (best) friend who lives in an apartment. She feels very real to me and three-dimensional and you get to see her really be tested in the second season."
Williams says she's sworn to secrecy on most upcoming story details, but notes Hannah now lives with her gay ex-boyfriend Elijah while Marnie lives with Shoshanna.
Rita Wilson pops up in the first episode to play Marnie's mom and chances are good that sexy artist Booth Jonathan returns to tempt Marnie yet again.
It also appears that the "Girls" universe is expanding with burgeoning "boy" characters: there's the Shoshanna-obsessed Ray (Alex Karpovsky), the snarky Elijah ("The New Normal"'s Andrew Rannells) and Hannah's quasi-boyfriend Adam (Adam Driver). Meanwhile, Jessa is now married to middle-aged businessman Thomas-John ("Bridesmaids"'s Chris O'Dowd).
Nevertheless, it's the beleaguered quartet of Brooklyn girls who remain front and centre, Williams insists.
She calls Dunham "a very old soul" for being able to juggle such varied characters.
"She has that uncanny ability to channel people who are self-aware to an extent but not overly so," says Williams. "And that requires her to be incredibly self-aware in order to take that back, dial that down, if you understand what I mean."
On top of that, Dunham is clearly unafraid to make herself play the fool.
Hannah makes cringe-worthy passes at her boss, boasts a brutally unflattering wardrobe and gets the show's most awkward and revealing sex scenes.
Williams jokes that Dunham — who also executive produces the show along with Judd Apatow — is unafraid to bare all, both on camera and off.
"She's naked between the scenes and after the scenes and sometimes she'll forget she's naked," she chuckles.
"On the list of things that scare her and that concern her, I'd say that's not as high as it would be for some other people."
"I'm on the other side of the spectrum," she adds.
"Girls: The Complete First Season" comes out on Blu-ray and DVD on Tuesday — well-timed to gear fans up for the Season 2 debut on HBO Canada on Jan. 13.
Bonus features include gag reels, table reads, deleted scenes and cast interviews.