Jonathan Groff on 'Looking' Season Finale, and 'Let It Go' as the Ultimate Earworm (Q&A)
The "Looking" star talks with THR, teasing all that goes down in the finale and the excitement for season two, not to mention the afterglow of "Frozen" Oscar wins.
"I've been dying to go back to San Francisco," says Jonathan Groff, who plays Patrick in HBO's Looking. Now he will, with the gay-centric show from Michael Lannan and Andrew Haigh officially renewed for a second season and production kicking off this summer.
The season one finale airs on March 9, and Groff spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about what to expect, why Patrick singing would be horrendous and that drunken kiss between Patrick and Russell Tovey's Kevin. "That kiss was done in so many different ways. We did a lot of takes," Groff reveals.
First off, congratulations on season two.
Thank you. We are so stoked. We've been keeping our fingers crossed for a season two since the day we wrapped. We had so much fun, it's ridiculous. We try to get together every week and watch the episodes together. I've been dying to go back to San Francisco. I had celebratory drinks in New York with one of our producers Sarah Condon, Murray [Bartlett] and Frankie [J. Alvarez], and with our writers in L.A. and Michael Lannan. And two weeks ago in London with Andrew Haigh.
And congrats, too, on Frozen at the Oscars.
I'm in an afterglow moment of Frozen winning. "Let It Go" is still stuck in my head. I was with my friend yesterday saying, "How can we not get this song out of our heads?"
For Looking's finale, do you think Patrick ends up in a better or worse place after season one than when we meet him?
When we meet Patrick, he's awkwardly in the woods, uncomfortable but trying to expand and find a new side to himself and putting himself out there. We see a huge evolution in him reflected through his relationship with Richie (Raul Castillo), and then with Kevin, there's a lot of sexual tension. By the end of the finale, he's gotten himself into a really tight spot because he's dealing with the repercussions of letting himself go. He went from not having a boyfriend to having these two amazing men interested in him, and they are two very specific, wonderfully confusing relationships. He doesn't know where to turn.
And everybody else?
Everything definitely comes to a head, and the characters take a giant step forward. Whether that's for the better or worse, it's hard to say.
You and Russell Tovey have such chemistry. Did you two know each other before shooting?
I met Russell on Broadway when he was doing History Boys, and I was doing Spring Awakening. I met him briefly then, but we officially met at the screen cast for Looking because we were both up for the part of Patrick. They loved him and wrote him this role, and from then we hit it off. We both come from similar acting backgrounds, from the theater and the stage, and we just get each other on a certain level. Also, luckily, we just naturally get along.
And then there's the kiss from last week's episode.
We did a lot of takes of that kiss. I didn't know what was going to happen until I finally saw the episode because that kiss was done in so many different ways. I think the way they decided to do it was perfect. It's fitting, especially considering the finale. You don't want to blow your wad too soon, so to speak.
We've seen Agustin and Patrick come at each other this season. How do you think their friendship is able to endure so much?
I totally relate to their friendship. They've known each other for years, and I think, just like family, it's one of those people in your life you can fight with who call you on your shit whether what they're saying is true or not and can express openly their opinions to you. You can bounce back from fighting and be friends again.
And they bond over their love for The Golden Girls. So, Patrick is a fan. Are you?
Of course. You kind of have to be. I mean, it's on all the time.
If Patrick is Rose, which Golden Girl are you?
I would say I'm a mix of Dorothy and Rose. I'm a good hybrid. You don't want to be as naive as Rose, so you don't want to be one hundred percent her.
Patrick's confrontation with his mom, also last week, was interesting. It read a lot into his character.
That was the most rewritten scene of the entire series because everybody had an opinion of what the mom would be. It came out complex and not one-note; she's not just the mom who's completely accepting of her son, but she's also not the mom who isn't accepting. She's in a grey area, which I find really interesting because while Patrick may be getting some resistance from her about being gay, he's also projecting a lot of his issues on to her at the same time. Perhaps he sees himself in his mother.
What about the moment in episode six in the park where Patrick does that prance? Some have described that as self-loathing.
In that moment, he's expressing his version of what it means to be over-the-top and gay, but I think the bigger picture is asking, what is queer? How do we fit into the gay community? I feel like that moment was an exploration of that. We're not meant to state what gay men are like now; it's meant to start the conversation, not put anything into stone of what a gay series is.
Where would you like to see Patrick go in season two?
I'd love to spend more time with Agustin and Dom because in the first season they spend a lot of time apart. And I definitely want to go deeper into the triangle of Patrick, Kevin and Richie. They have both been upped to series regulars for season two, so I think they're going to explore more of that, obviously.
Would you ever like Patrick to have a secret singing talent, to get some singing into the show?
I think Patrick would be a terrible singer, actually. I have an instinct that he is the kind of person who would get super drunk and sing Madonna at karaoke, but it would be horrendous. So that would be fun.
You've had a lot of guest directors this season. Dream guest director for season two?
I had a really amazing experience with Kyle Patrick Alvarez on C.O.G. I would love for him to come do an episode.
In terms of the gay community, do you feel a sense of importance to the show getting renewed?
I think we do feel that. There hasn't been a show in a long time with a bunch of leading gay characters also played by gay men in certain roles. The audience is growing week to week, so I think it's amazing for the community for sure.