Happy Endings is about to get a lot happier! The ABC show will be welcoming James Wolk for a three episode arc. He has appeared on Shameless, and starred in Lone Star and the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, Front of the Class. Wolk recently spoke with reporters, including BuddyTV, about his role on Happy Endings and what fans can expect from his character.
We’re so used to you doing some really serious things when you get Front of the Class and when you did Lone Star. So it seems like there’s two things different about this one. First of all, you’re in a sitcom. And second of all, this might be the first gay character you’ve played, possibly. So tell me about both of those. First of all, doing a sitcom, does it feel different in some ways? Is there a lighter tone to it as you’re working on it? Does somehow going to work feel different and so on?
Well, yes. It does definitely differ from some of the work I’ve done in the past. And when I take a project on or go after a project or get excited about a particular show or film or something, to me it’s all about who’s acting in it, who’s writing it, who am I surrounded by and what that’s going to give me as an actor.
And this is an amazing, truly, group of writers and actors. Their comedic talent is through the roof. It’s an honor and it’s a real joy to go to work and kind of play with these guys on set and use a different skill set.
Yes. And had you ever played gay character before? And is there something different somehow about being in a romantic relationship when you’re playing a gay character instead of a straight character?
Actually, just prior to this, to Happy Endings, I did a play that I had just gotten off Broadway called Next Fall where my character was a gay male. And so I kind of went from that and then Happy Endings is shortly after it. So I have played a gay character before. And for me, it has to not be different.
And when I sit down and play this character, and we have these moments and we have these talks, Grant and Max’s character — Max played by Adam Pally, Grant is who I’m playing on the show. The moments have to be real. And so to me, it can’t feel different. And I try to guide myself with that.
It’s so interesting and different because you went from being married to or engaged to gorgeous women at the same time to being a nice guy.
That’s exactly right. And I think for me, it’s great; it’s challenging. It makes things different and, truly, Adam Pally who plays Max, he’s really a gifted actor. And I don’t know if you guys are familiar with his work. Obviously you are from Happy Endings, but this guy is incredible. And so to play off of him, it’s fun. There’s trust there. There’s a sense of play. There’s a sense of likeness. And so hopefully all that comes across on screen in the relationship between Max and Grant.
My question is, inquiring minds want to know, do you and Adam get to kiss? And if so, is he a good kisser?
Oh wow. I would say, I don’t want to give anything away. But I think Adam actually spoke to this. Let’s say yes, there is a kiss in the works. And yes, he’s a great kisser, absolutely.
How easy is it for you as a guest actor to step in and pick up on everything? That just seems to go — the patter is fantastic.
Yes. These guys, they do have an amazing rhythm and it’s like a dance that everyone does on that set. And you just have to jump in. And luckily these guys are so giving that you kind of jump in and they take you with them. I was coming off a play when I came onto the show. And that really helped because live theater, I think, is probably more likened to a comedic setting, a sitcom setting, more than dramatic television or a film. And so coming off the stage really helped me to just jump into that rhythm.
Since the show has been recognized by GLAAD and some other organizations because of its portrayal of Max and in a very non-stereotypical way, is that something that attracted you to the show at all or is that one of the reasons you might had wanted to get in on it?
When I initially read about the role – and I knew about the show; I’ve watched the show. And Adam Pally plays Max as Max. Max happened to be gay, but that doesn’t define who he is. And for me as an actor, I thought, hey, that is a great — obviously the writers and the creators of the show are creating real characters. So it excited me to take on this role, absolutely.
BuddyTV: So now that you’ve done this guest spot — it’s a comedy show and also you’ve done a lot of drama roles before — is comedy something you would want to do some more of in the future?
Yes. I’d love more comedy in the future. It’s a ton of fun, as it would seem, and it’s a really great challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed doing it.
BuddyTV: I know that on the season 1 DVD of Happy Endings, there were outtakes included. Your guest starring role here, is there anything that happened during filming that you think should be included on a possible blooper reel in the future?
Oh, yes. One of my first nights on the show, we pulled a really late night. And when you get into the wee hours on a set, people get a little zany. They get a little crazy. They get unwound. And that’s actually when you’re exhausted, but when it’s most fun. So if there’s a camera following us around the first night, I think the weather was freezing. It was like in the AM. So I think pretty much every take would have given a great blooper. So hopefully they’ll fit some of that in the show.
We know that Max is sort of like a go-with-the-flow kind of guy whereas Grant seems sort of like the perfect guy. So is it a sort of a thing of opposites attract? What is it, the relationship between Max and Grant?
Yes. It’s totally opposites attract. Max is go-with-the-flow, laid back, unkempt at times. Grant is kind of like always immaculately dressed. You’ll see he has some great vest/tie combos. And ultimately, I think what they see in each other is the complete opposite. I think Grant loves the fact that Max doesn’t care about what people think of him. And we’ll find that Grant has his own setbacks also. So I think it’ll be an interesting character to watch. And I think it’ll be a fun relationship to watch.
Can you reveal any of Grant’s flaws or anything that would seemingly tar his perfect image?
Let’s just say this. Whenever you meet someone who’s a little too perfect, you always go, wait a minute. Something’s going on here. Come on. You know it’s not all roses. And that’s certainly a play for Grant as well.
I know [Happy Endings does] a lot of improv. Did you get to do a lot of improv or did you keep mostly to the script?
Yes, there is a good deal of improv on the show. I think as a guest star, you feel like you kind of want to stick more closely to the script for the writer’s sake. And when they created this character — it’s kind of like you’re coming into someone else’s home — you want to be a polite houseguest.
That being said, it was so much fun that you end up doing a little bit of that. And so a lot of it is scripted, but we played a little bit as well and it’s great to be on a set where they encourage that.
Did you ever totally crack up because you didn’t know something was coming and someone did something ridiculous?
Yes. All I did was laugh on the show. I thought they were going to say something, but they didn’t. Every take, it’s like as soon as they yell cut, if you could see me, I’m smiling right now answering your question. That’s how funny it is. It’s great.
James Wolk’s first episode airs tonight in “The St. Valentine’s Day Maxssacre.” According to FOX: “The road to romance is rocky for the gang, as Penny has a new boyfriend she wants to dump; Dave is afraid his new girlfriend is about to dump him; Alex, an expert on all things Valentine’s, goes looking for a party in the sketchy part of town; and Brad’s hopes for a perfect night out for Jane are dashed when a dental appointment goes terribly wrong. But they don’t have anything on Max, who picks up a couple with his limo only to find that one of the passengers is Grant (guest star James Wolk), the boyfriend he broke up with a year ago — on Valentine’s Day.”
Happy Endings airs Wednesday nights at 9:30pm on ABC.
(Image courtesy of ABC)