Thomas Middleditch Reveals "Nontraditional," Swinging Sex Life in Unfiltered Playboy Interview

The 'Silicon Valley' star and Verizon pitchman opens up about career, body image and seeing men naked: "I’ve seen some dicks, I’ve seen some butts, I’ve seen some tits. It’s weird — I’ve totally gotten to the point where I can see a dick and just be like, 'Nice hog, buddy.'"
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Thomas Middleditch

While promoting the summer film Godzilla: King of the Monsters, actor Thomas Middleditch played the part of reporter for Interview magazine to ask questions of the film's screenwriter Zach Shields. The juiciest bit from their chat became the headline: "Godzilla's Zach Shields and Thomas Middleditch Bonded at an Adult Swingers Club." 

The story, published in July, detailed what Shields referred to as "a pretty good adventure," one that saw Shields and girlfriend Kelli accompany Middleditch and his wife Mollie to an Atlanta club called Trapeze for a double date (of sorts). "The first night that we’re all bonding, we saw each other naked. We didn’t do anything, but we certainly witnessed what a swingers club on Sunday night at like 1 a.m. is like. It’s pretty sparse, let me tell you that," Middleditch said at the time — and that was pretty much it.

The anecdote proved to be a bit of a tease in terms of Middleditch's relationship with swinging culture and now, as it turns out, he reveals it's a pretty serious one. Playboy just published a "20 Questions" feature interview in its "Pleasure" issue in which the Silicon Valley star tells the magazine's Ryan Gajewski that he is a "sexual" human who has experimented in swinging with wife Mollie. 

The reveal came after Gajewski asks Middleditch about the adventure with Shields mentioned in the Interview piece. Though he tip-toes toward the answer — "I don't want my wife to be mad at me," he says — the actor reveals he broached the subject: "Only after I got married was I like, 'Mollie, I’m sorry, but we have to get nontraditional here.' To her credit, instead of saying, 'Fuck you, I’m out,' she was like, 'Let’s figure this out.' To be honest, swinging has saved our marriage. We have different speeds, and we argue over it constantly, but it’s better than feeling unheard and alone and that you have to scurry in the shadows."

For practical purposes, swinging is defined as sexual activity that sees singles and/or partners engage in such activities with others and/or groups as a recreational or social activity. Per Middleditch, it's actually not called "swinging" anymore. "It's now called being 'part of the lifestyle.' The term 'swinging' is old," he says.

"I self-deprecatingly call myself a pervert, but that’s not what it is. I just like it. I’m sexual. I’d always thought I was a romantic and that when I fall in love, that stuff fades away. It does for some years — enough to be like, 'I should get married, and I’ll be different.' But it’s part of me," continues Middleditch. "If that’s part of your being and it feels important to you, find a way to explore it, because repression sucks."

Asked for his advice for couples who are interested in being 'part of the lifestyle,' the actor explains that, in his marriage, they have strict rules for how to engage. And clearly he and his wife are having fun with it — Middleditch says they're using their experience as inspiration for a comedy series. "Mollie and I have created our own rules, and compared to most of the people we’ve met who do this kind of shit, our rules are strict," he explains. "We’re not off on our own; we’re together, a unit. It’s a perpetual state of management and communication, to the point where it’s like, 'Alright, we’ve got to stop. Chill.' I’m gas, and she’s brakes. This is actually the premise for a comedy series we’re writing together."

Middleditch, who labels himself "pretty vanilla, probably cis-hetero," admits he's seen some things while exploring the sexually free scene. "I’ve also been to some weird parties that were very Eyes Wide Shut, from which I walked away thinking, 'I don’t need it, but I’m glad I saw that,'" he says, referencing the 1999 Stanley Kubrick film starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman that traced a couple's relationship through similar sexually charged scenarios. "I’ve seen some dicks, I’ve seen some butts, I’ve seen some tits. It’s weird — I’ve totally gotten to the point where I can see a dick and just be like, 'Nice hog, buddy.' (Laughs.) And it’s not weird. 'Man, I’m jealous. Good stuff.' I’d like to have gone to the Playboy Mansion, just to have the knowledge. Myself and a lot of other people who start on this journey don’t know where they’re at in it. They’re going, 'I think I just need a thing to happen. All I know is, this particular situation is hard.' I love my wife like I’ve never loved anyone before. With two people who feel that way about each other, how do you go down that road? It’s tough. Bring a therapist along for the ride."

Could Middleditch's reveal inadvertently make him the face of a lifestyle?, Gajewski asks. "I would be honored to be the face of something," the actor replies. "I don’t give a fuck, but my wife is more private, so I have to juggle that. ... My mantra is, How can I explore this with a 1960s, peace-and-love, full-understanding, everyone’s-connected-and-feels-good kind of way? Not every corner is explored, but you have to be patient. I battle my own needs. Sometimes I’m a ravenous little monster, and how do I calm that down?"

The conversation also includes a section about body image, and Middleditch admits to struggling a bit with how he sees himself. "I’m 37 now, and there are moments lately when I’ve been having body-image issues. Not many people talk about it being okay for a guy to want to feel sexy. Typically it’s 'Get fucking swole!' No, I want to look in the mirror and know that I have some semblance of a jawline and feel confident. No one really talks about the fact that guys don’t always feel that. It’s okay for boys to want to feel pretty."

In less titillating news, Middleditch also reveals that he plays "a ton" of video games, is interested in hockey and airplanes and enjoys taking psychedelic mushrooms and drinking rainwater off a tree. "It's all important," he quips. In terms of his career, the actor opens up about the fears of life after HBO's Silicon Valley, which will soon wrap. 

"When something is successful, you’re like, 'Okay, how do we figure out how to keep it going a little longer?' There are 4 million shows; we’re definitely not the biggest, but people watch us, which is nice," he tells the mag. "It’s a challenge when you’re involved in something to make the decision to end it. It’s hard to shoot [the dog in] Old Yeller — not that we’re Old Yeller, because that would imply we’re a sick dog. It’s more like crawling into your best friend’s window and murdering them. It’s hard to do that when you don’t know what comes afterward. Even if everyone who’s involved in the show is guaranteed work, will it be the same type of work?"

Middleditch is also quizzed about a 2018 Hollywood Reporter cover story that featured his Silicon Valley castmembers with the headline "Triumph of the Beta Male." The story triggered Alex Jones to rant about modern masculinity and Middleditch, who previously addressed it on CBS' The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, once again weighs in here revealing that he's met Jones: "I shot guns with him and my friend at this ranch in Texas maybe six years ago. This was before InfoWars got big, and I didn’t really know who he was. If I hadn’t later learned that he constantly spews awful nonsense, I would have been like, 'That guy was super nice.' It made me think, Does he really believe all that shit? Because if he’s really saying all that just to sell protein powder, he’s a diabolical motherfucker. I’m so glad YouTube removed him. There should be more accountability. I don’t want to censor everybody, but I want to fucking censor some."

The full feature, found here, will be included in Playboy's new issue, which hits newsstands Tuesday.