Hunter talks Sex, Drugs & Ending This Role
My very first on-camera celebrity interview was with Hunter Parrish. We met to discuss his role in Broadway's Spring Awakening when he took over for Jonathan Groff (bless those casting Gods) in 2008. Here's what I remember about our first meeting: Hunter was a charming guy who hadn't yet been corrupted by the business. Four years later I'm happy to report he is still the same affable, funny and open person.
We sat down after Showtime brought out his entire Weeds cast for their final appearance at The Television Critics Association as the series is set to wrap up an exhilarating eight season run this September. Hunter and I looked back on Silas' evolution, the massive volume of flesh he bared over the years and what he considers his best on-screen moment (spoiler alert: those last two things have nothing to do with one another).
TheInsider.com: How do you feel about the end of Weeds?
Hunter Parrish: I'm pretty sad. It's hit me hard. I love these people, I love these characters. I'm sad to never share these character's experiences again. It's way more the bitter side of bittersweet than I expected -- but we couldn’t do Weeds forever.
Insider.com: Looking back on the series, what are your favorite Silas-centric moments?
Hunter: I love anything that I did with Shoshannah Stern, who played Megan (Silas' deaf girlfriend). I loved poking holes in the condom; it was so dramatic [laughs]. I don't like my work, ever, but one of my favorite scenes was in the first season after Megan and I had been doing ecstasy. I had no idea what I was doing but it worked – that taught me a huge lesson about acting. I thought, "Whoa, I'm actually funny." [laughs] I liked season six. I know it wasn't everyone's favorite, but that was the year Silas finally got to be his own man, which started a succession of other things I got to do that I enjoy. But this season is by far my favorite and I think that's because we're taking advantage of every moment we have left to share moments.
Insider.com: Speaking of moments, last week introduced an idea fans have been curious about for years as Silas' gay tendencies were tested. What did you think about how that was explored?
Hunter: I loved it. As an actor, I crave moments – it doesn't matter what they are or how different they are from what you think your character would do. Any time something is happening with your character, it's better than just sitting around. Early on, Silas didn't feed the storyline as much – I was just there a lot. So I love how involved he has been over the last few seasons. No one told me about the RJ thing before I read the script, so my heart was pounding. That can be scary for an actor because you have to get out of social ideas and just focus on the character but I think Silas responded exactly how I thought he would -- and exactly how I would have as well.
Insider.com: Right. I think we always knew Silas was straight, but he's been very flexible sexually (recall his season six underwear storytime). What has it meant to represent such a progressive incarnation of your generation, who by and large are much more relaxed about sexuality?
Hunter: I think it's so fantastic, and such a great advancement. Obviously we have a ways to go, but it is the reality of today. I grew up in Texas, so it's great to see that in their common experience, young men and women view their blooming sexuality as less cut and dry. I don't know if that's something people always understood, grow to understand as they get older or are realizing earlier now because of the current climate. Maybe it's a mix of both. But yes, I don't think Silas is hung up on any of that sh*t. Silas prefers women, but in that scene, he wasn't disgusted by RJ. It was more like, "Oh man, I'm sorry … you just have the wrong idea."
Insider.com: As a result of Silas' sexual openness, you've become one of the most screencapped and GIF'd actors on TV. Is it bizarre that when people Tweet about Hunter Parrish, there are hundreds of half-naked GIFs at the ready they can include?
Hunter: [laughs] Yea, it is a little weird, but it can also be a little flattering. I was not the coolest kid in school, so to be 18 and on a show where people cared that I took my shirt off was pretty cool. It's part of the job, so if you don't like the attention, you have to get out. Of course it can be gratuitous at times, and I chose to not be naked this season because I want to be taken seriously. At a point, I realized I was only auditioning for things that involved nudity or a sex act. And don't get me wrong, I love being naked. But career-wise, I hope that my part in this eight year show was not just "the guy who gets naked."
Insider.com: As a result of that, Sunday's episode might feature TV's first fully clothed stripper (see clip below).
Hunter: [laughs] Yes, that's right. They wrote in a stripper scene regardless of whether or not I would take my clothes off or not.
Insider.com: That comes about as Silas tries to get his stolen plants back -- looking at the last run of episodes, what are you excited for fans to see?
Hunter: I'm very excited about the occupation he takes on this season. I don't think this is a spoiler, but the family moves into the legal aspect of weed with the dispensaries. It's so funny, when our show first talked about legal dispensaries, I thought it was a totally made up thing the writers invented. Two years later, there's a green cross on every corner in California. I found it so awesome that we did it first.
Insider.com: I'm happy to hear that because I worried Silas' trajectory was inevitably prison because he was so determined to sell weed.
Hunter: I know, me too [laughs]. Being able to fulfill his dream in a legal way changes everything for him. He loves weed but wanted to go straight and as it develops this season, he comes to terms with that, regardless of the legal issues. It ends in a really beautiful place.
Insider.com: You've also spent a lot of time performing and getting your music out there -- now that the Little Boxes themesong has returned, will we get to finally hear your take on it?
Hunter: I do! I do! I didn't think about it back then because I was young and just wanted to do my job. Then we had four seasons where we didn't have the theme song, but when we brought it back, I told Jenji [Kohan, creator] I really wanted to sing it. And they were totally game! I mean, they got over 100 submissions from artists wanting to do the theme song, so I was really grateful they chose mine. I’m sure it's not the best thing on the planet, but it's so cool to be a part of that group now.
Weeds airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Showtime.