Richie articulates his most vulnerable feelings in the season in that scene, I thought. And I just wanted to honor that, and what he was feeling. I just wanted to treat that moment with care. And I also was proud of Richie for facing the reality of the situation and, as much as it hurt, stepping away. I was excited, in a weird way, to hear him assert himself. And, you know, he has asserted himself throughout the season, but I think there was something really kind of incredibly human about the feelings that he articulates in that moment.
Heading into the finale, viewers were picking sides: Team Kevin or Team Richie. Have you heard some of the chatter about how people are reacting to these two characters?
Yeah, yeah. My girlfriend couldn’t understand why anyone would be Team Kevin. I told her that’s because she roots for the underdog. So do I, I gravitate to that. But that’s how it is. Some people are for the Yankees, and some people are for the Mets. I get so excited when I hear that the audience is polarized. I wouldn’t want it to be easy for Richie.
I want it to be easy for Richie!
Ha! But that’s dating! It’s about negotiating. I think the writers did a great job of portraying that.
Let’s talk about Episode No. 5, or as I like to call it: “romcom heaven.” It was an episode entirely centered on Patrick and Richie. Was that daunting? We see intimacy on a conversational level as well as on a sexual level.
Once we had a table read and we read the script, I was just excited. It shows a real special time in a budding relationship. It’s that moment where people start revealing their private lives to each other and start assessing how another person’s world goes with or against what they thought they wanted. Jonathan and I had such a great time working together.
Well, one would hope you two didn’t hate working together when you have to deliver a sex scene like that. I think some people wondered how you might feel filming that scene as a straight man. I mostly wonder if you beg your mom not to watch.
Ha! I'm laughing because my mother's reaction to me was, “esta fuerte, mijo” (you’re virile, my son). When I read the scene, I knew it was going to be intimate. Real intimate. But I’m a huge fan of Andrew Haigh’s film “Weekend,” and he knows how to shoot those kind of scenes. Because sex is often awkward and almost too intimate across the board, regardless of sexual preference. And no one talks about that. Everyone thinks it's like porn. That’s not the reality.
But yeah, filming a scene like that requires a good sense of humor when you’re sitting around in the socks you have to wear down there. It’s a totally ridiculous situation, it definitely helps when you can laugh about it.
And in that pilot episode they meet up at Esta Noche. Did you hear they’re closing it?
I did hear that! I did hear that. That’s really sad. I live in New York and I know cities go through constant periods of gentrification and tremendous change. And I know how people in communities feel about their institutions and I think Esta Noche is an institution for San Francisco. It’s really sad.
Let's talk about who you think Richie is. We know a bit about him, but who is he in your mind?
I mean, I think he’s interesting because he’s a byproduct of immigration and a cross-border life. He mentions having spent part of his youth in Mexico. That was really interesting to me. I grew up in a border town in Texas; and my parents were from a town called Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico, which is right across the border and I spent a lot of time going back and forth. And I had very much a bicultural upbringing. That’s one part of him that I connected with immediately. But he seems to be at a point in his life where he knows what he wants and he knows what he doesn’t want, and he’s very clear about that.
Should we be sad for Richie?
No, I don’t think you should be sad for Richie. He’s a fighter... He knew he had to walk away from the relationship at that moment, and a lot of people struggle with finding the strength to do that.
Have you cut hair in your lifetime? My brothers and his friends were always cutting hair in the garage growing up. I feel like it was the thing to do.
Totally! I’ve been known to cut my hair. It’s been a long time. In the past, I’ve definitely gone down with some clippers.
Do you do a good fade?
I do a good mohawk. A rustic mohawk. But only on my hair!
goodbye my love goodbye!