These last few days of talking about the film and going to the screening… It has been bittersweet. Bitter, bittersweet and very sad that he is not a part of this process. But his work and his legacy will live on forever.
Is there any element of his craft that you feel like has influenced you? Like, “I want try that on the next movie or show that I’m in.”
Definitely his presence. He came in looking good. The minute you show up, you’re putting on your costume, so I wear sweats to set. I wear cozies. But he smelled nice, he looked nice. And I was like, Wow. You know how you see those memes that are like, “Every day is a celebration,” or “I’m not going to wait to wear my good clothes.” That spirit is something that really stayed with me. And that generosity to show up, sit in the corner and say lines while you’re not on camera—I don’t think people understand how beautiful that is and how generous that is.
I recently interviewed John, and he also talked about how Michael smelled amazing, and how he gave him the oil.
Yeah, I’m mad I didn’t get any oils though! [Laughs] He smelled amazing.
Speaking of John, when I spoke to him and mentioned you, he nerded out about your craft. And he used the word “nuance” a lot. He kept talking about the small choices you would make, from the way you glanced to the way you slowly turned. He was taking notes.
Man, I was taking notes! All the tenderness and nuance. There were so many colors in Brian Brown-Easley and in the way that he created this character. I know people will feel that and walk away like, Wow, he did that. He really did leave everything on the floor.
When I asked him about you, he immediately also started talking about your past performance in Black Mirror. There’s a scene—
The dinner scene!
Yes, the dinner scene! Are you aware that it frequently goes viral?
I didn’t know that until this year! And then people were showing me memes from years before. I don’t understand. I’m blown away. Maybe there are a lot of people in relationships that feel unseen, or not fully loved. I don’t know. It’s really interesting. And that’s a crazy thing for an actor. To be in such a small part of that episode, which was so much fun. Working with Yahya [Abdul Mateen II] and Anthony [Mackie], oh my gosh. And we shot in Brazil. It was so much fun. But yeah, I actually just found that out this year. I thought they were using it as a joke for something else, but it’s just people being like, “We like the scene,” I guess?
It’s literally just people stanning the acting.
I think sometimes people underestimate how smart audiences are and how they really do want to feel things. The audience is usually way ahead of us as well because they’ve seen a lot of things. I feel honored to be part of any kind of conversation like that, where audience members are like “Hey, I really like that. That was real. That stayed with me.” Why would you care about my little dinner scene? That’s crazy. But it’s kind of cool! It’s this very strange thing. It’s like a fandom for a scene.
I don’t want to puncture the magic of that scene, but I am curious if you can remember anything about the process of shooting it. Was it top of day, end of day? Were there lots of takes?
No, it was so long ago! It was one scene in this huge, epic episode. Honestly, I’m humbled. It’s a dinner scene! What I do remember is they had us shooting in Brazil for all the video game stuff. I had a fantastic month living in Brazil. [Laughs] I remember that!
I also remember Anthony Mackie. He’s so cool. All his little glances. He’s saying so much while I’m gabbing. You feel that dynamic in relationships without saying that much. He’s really beautiful and powerful in that, too.
Do you get asked about that scene a lot?
One other person asked me about it. [Laughs]. I think that’s how I discovered it. Someone was like, “Are you aware…?” Because even my friends know I don’t really read reviews. I just want to do the work and have my experience.
This interview has been edited and condensed.