Mae Whitman, who played Amber in Parenthood, which had its series finale Thursday night, was sad to see the show go, but says she plans on keeping in touch with her cast members.
PEOPLE chatted with Whitman after the finale to hear what it was like saying goodbye to the Bravermans – and what she took from the set to remember the experience by.
What will you miss most about being on set?
Everything. Seeing everyone in the cast and the crew every day, learning about how to be a professional and how to be more creative and respectful and inspired from everyone around me, and telling stories I really felt like a big part of and believed in with my whole heart.
What will you NOT miss most about it?
There’s absolutely nothing I won’t miss about it. The hours were phenomenally short, everything always felt fresh and positive, and everyone on set was an absolute joy. I’ll miss every aspect of it.
Did you take anything from set as a keepsake?
I took a few of the framed pictures of the entire family that were in Amber’s apartment. But mostly what I took away from that show was a deeper understanding of myself and of people in general.
Which actor is most like their character in real life?
That’s a tough question! I think we all bring certain elements of ourselves to our characters, but maybe me?
In what ways are you and Amber similar?
I think we’re similar in a lot of ways. I think we both have the tendency to doubt ourselves, and I think we both feel scattered and stressed quite easily, but I also think we have a real love for life and experiences and our families.
So many fans felt like the Bravermans became part of their own family, did you feel that same way with the cast?
Absolutely. I met my best friends on the show. And everyone on that set, as a whole, will always be family to me.
Does the Braverman clan plan on getting together for frequent visits?
I mean I see Miles every day because the little brat lives with me. And I see Lauren all the time because she’s my best friend, and Dax constantly because I’m obsessed with him and his family. Pretty much with everyone, I plan on not letting too much time go by without seeing them.
Did you guys always have the ending planned? Do you feel it did the series justice?
I think a cool thing about the show is that it’s very fluid and present and I am pretty sure that even though aspects of it may have been planned, each moment was often birthed from moments that came directly before. And I think that made for a really honest and true ending. I feel lucky that we got to have a real goodbye, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I thought it was perfect.
Are you excited to go back to movies?
Yes! But I’m excited for everything, honestly. It’s not the kind of job you come off of wishing for downtime or trying to recover from, it’s the kind of job that inspires you to learn and grow and do better and take all the wonderful lessons that you learned over so many years and put them to good use in your life and your career.