'The Unicorn' Star Walton Goggins: How to Throw a Viewing Party for Your Own Show

Illustration by Ryan Olbrysh

Ahead of the premiere of his CBS comedy, the actor detailed his best practices for hosting a screening shindig at home, from timing to food to drink: "You don't want people waiting around too long before the show begins."

So your friends and family have heard all the stories. Over and over and over. But tonight's the night, the moment you get to share with them exactly what you were up to during all that time. Viewing parties mean different things to different people. To me, they're an intimate affair. Assuming you've already had a big cast and crew screening, about 20 to 25 people works best. You want your cast and a few members from the crew by your side. I can get nervous hosting — I mean, like, "I'm going to wait in the closet, tell me when it's over" nervous ­— so having my work compadres around keeps me steady anyway.

Our viewing parties usually last about five hours. We begin an hour to an hour and a half before the show starts. (You don't want people waiting around for too long before it begins.) One drink, maybe two, a bite of food, then … showtime! After it's over, the next three hours are for talking, drinking and talking some more.

When it comes to drinks, we will always get a bartender, and, of course, serve a Mulholland Distilling whiskey, gin or vodka. [Goggins is co-owner of the downtown L.A. spirits company.] Plan on two drinks centered on the show, like "Magical Horse" or "Rainbow Mane" for The Unicorn. (Yes, I have a small child.)

We like to keep food simple. If you're like me, you're already stressed out, so go easy. We get platters of grilled meats from Carousel on Hollywood Boulevard in Little Armenia, falafel from Dune in Atwater Village or from Kismet at Grand Central Market. If you're at GCM, pick up charcuterie fixings from DTLA Cheese. We also like to get a pizza from Triple Beam, Nancy Silverton's place in Highland Park, or if Mexican is on the menu, you can bet it's Guerrilla Taqueria by chef Wes Avila downtown or Escuela Tacos on Beverly.

Regardless of the details, the point of this gathering should be a celebration of all the stars aligning, of all the hard work that went into making this moment happen. We only have so many firsts in life, and the birth of something new, something you're proud of, only happens once. That's always cause for a celebration. It doesn't matter if your guests love it or not, because they will always love you. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go get ready.

This story first appeared in the Sept. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.