Girls‘ Jake Lacy: “Trying Not To Be The Asshole.”

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images.
Judging by some of Jake Lacy’s recent roles, he is the ultimate rom-com hero — the nice, accepting dude who falls hard for an imperfect heroine. See, for instance, his work in Obvious Child, in which he starts a relationship with the woman who ended the unexpected pregnancy that resulted from their drunken hookup. Or in How to Be Single, in which he has no problem coupling up with a woman who doesn't tell him she has undergone IVF and is expecting. And now there's Fran, his character on Girls. In last season's finale, Hannah takes him on a disastrous date to her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend’s art show, before a small time jump reveals that they end up together, walking arm in arm through the snow. In last night’s premiere, Fran is once again by Hannah’s side, enduring the horrors of Marnie’s wedding. But as this season progresses, we will find that he isn’t as much of a doormat as he initially seems. Or so Lacy said when we spoke to him recently in New York about the whole "good guy" persona, which he was eager to deconstruct.
When last saw Fran at the end of season 4, he seemed like the most forgiving person in the world. Does this get more complicated?
“I think there is a certain assumed power in being the one to forgive someone. Maybe we see that characteristic in Fran materialize in other ways. There is an assumption that everyone feels the way he feels about the world, and so when someone is not behaving in accordance with that, they must know that they are out of line, and that he has a right to hold them accountable for that... I think there’s a positive and a negative side to that same coin, and we’ve only seen the good aspects of that.” You’ve played a lot of “good guys” recently. Fran very much fits that mold. Does he break out of it going forward?
“I think the writers in the previous season see Fran as a good guy. I think that continues into this season, where Fran sees himself as a pretty good guy and the story line would maybe indicate otherwise. There’s a certain power or self-produced status that comes from being a quote good guy and playing by the rules and doing the right thing that gives you the assumed moral high ground to then be kind of a prick.”

I don’t think I’m actually a puppy killer and getting away with pretending to be a nice guy.

Jake Lacy
Do Hannah and Fran make a good couple? Are we going to want to root for them?
“I think you want to root for them. I think it may get difficult because of both who they are and who they are together at times. There’s a feeling of, like, hang in there, hang in there...maybe don’t hang in there? If these were friends of yours, you’d be like, 'Man, I hope they work it out.' And then at some point you’re like, 'I just hope they both wind up happy, and if that’s together, that’s great and if it’s not, that’s great, but this seems like a lot to mire through to get somewhere.'” Of these characters that you’ve played recently — Max in Obvious Child, Ken in How to Be Single, and Fran on Girls — which makes the best boyfriend and why?
“Wow. Well, that’s hard to answer, because ultimately it takes two to tango. In each of these situations, it seems like these characters function well with the counterpart they’ve been given... I don’t think there’s a definitive boyfriend that is the perfect one for all of America to get behind. Or under. Or in front of. Whatever America’s into. Who knows? Lot of ups and downs there... For me as an actor, playing Fran, it’s a very rewarding experience. [But] there are parts of Fran that are not things to be championed.”
Photo: Courtesy of Mark Schafer/HBO.
So, back to you playing “good guys.” Is this against-type casting? Are you secretly a big jerk?
“I feel like most of my time is spent trying to not be the asshole I’m sure that I am. Sometimes that shows itself as being polite and hopefully thoughtful and hopefully selfless... There are days when I chew somebody out or I’m short with a friend of mine or I don’t want to take a call… But I hope that I hold myself to a standard of being better than that, because that’s how the world works, that’s how we get things done. I don’t think it’s a big con. I don’t think I’m actually a puppy killer and getting away with pretending to be a nice guy.” Do you want to get away from this type of character?
“Any actor, for the most part, can’t deny or change the way that other people perceive them. So if I have a tendency towards getting roles that involve being the good guy or a nice guy, that’s not something I can really rail against. But like this season on Girls, I am forever indebted to these writers to create a character that initially seems like a down-the-middle, stand-up guy. And over a period of time, you see some of the cracks in that. I am just going to keep going where the love is, so if people want to hire for me for this, I’m going to keep working this way. I’m not going to go broke over not wanting to be a nice guy.” There was a conversation on Twitter with users discussing what candidates the people on Girls would be supporting. I saw on Instagram that you posted a Bernie image. Would Fran be for Bernie? Where would Hannah go?
“I almost feel like Hannah and Fran would have the inverse of what Jake and Lena would have. I almost feel like Hannah would be a Bernie guy, and Fran would be Hillary, if not Ron Paul or writing in some candidate. I almost feel in Fran’s mind, he would be caught between the duty to vote and a feeling of like, well, they are all rigged and bought, so what’s the point?”

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