Jim Parsons & Hollywood Castmates Talk Ryan Murphy's Very Gay Reimagining
Jim Parsons & 'Hollywood' Castmates Talk Ryan Murphy's Gay Reimagining
Parsons, Jeremy Pope, and Jake Picking talk to PRIDE's Taylor Henderson about their queer roles in Netflix's electric new series, Hollywood.
What if a Black woman led a major studio film in the 1940s? What if producers and directors didn't have to hide who they were to be successful in the film industry? What if iconic actor Rock Hudson, who died in the closet in the '80s, was able to openly love who he wanted?
These are just a few of the questions Ryan Murphy asks in Netflix's electric new series, Hollywood. Featuring some of the biggest stars of today (Darren Criss, Patti Lupone, Jim Parsons, Jeremy Pope, Dylan McDermott, Samara Weaving, Laura Harrier, David Corenswet, Jake Picking, and more), Murphy reimagines what Old Hollywood might have been like if people of color, women, and LGBTQ+ people were not only allowed to be themselves, but to lead.
"I think the whole theme and message of our show is this revision of history," Pope tells PRIDE. "What if we had given Black people equal opportunities, women opportunities, equal opportunities. What does that look like, what does that feel like?"
Pope plays Archie Coleman, an aspiring screenwriter who turns to prostitution to survive when the industry repeatedly denies his talents because of the color of his skin. Archie, who is also gay, is "trying to occupy this industry that was definitely not built for him in the 40s." Homophobia and racism still exist in this world and Archie is served a double whammy, but because "he feels like he has a place and a voice and a message he wants to share," he'll do whatever it takes, no matter the cost.
Picking says his portrayal of the real-life closeted actor Rock Hudson was "gratifying," as Murphy's reimagining allowed Hudson to come into his own regarding who he loved and how he loved them. "That's what the tragedy was for Rock in terms of feeling like he had to hide things and being socially ostracized," says Picking. "I believe he was a hero in his own sense."
And Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons plays a maniacal, self-serving talent agent named Henry Wilson, a real-life person who abused his power in the '40s much like executives that have been taken down in the current #MeToo movement.
Parsons says the role, a major shift from his normal nice-guy characters, was "very freeing" to play. "It was such a reach, it was something so different. Sometimes that can be scary and in this circumstance, it wasn't. I felt in really, really good hands. Ryan [Murphy]'s so good to his actors about giving you all the support you need to feel like this is going to fun as opposed to harrowing."
Through hair, makeup, and costumes, Parsons was even made to look like the real-life Wilson. "I felt transformed every time I left to go on the set. It really made me feel free and very playful. I loved it."
Parons summed up the message of the series perfectly.
By reimagining this supposed golden era of film and television as much more inclusive, Hollywood highlights "the powerful effect that bold and brave choices can have, and not just in Hollywood, but anywhere in the world. The way that one brave move by one brave person or a small seam of people can change lives and trajectories of those lives that they never expected to touch, that can change the arc of human history. That will never stop being true. There's always something more to tackle and more to uncover and another human being to free and make seeable and an active part of the world."
Hollywood premieres May 1 on Netflix. Watch the trailer below!