“I’m playing a guy who shows up knowing almost nothing about this world and how things work,” burgeoning internet boyfriend David Corenswet, who plays Hollywood leading man Jack Costello on Netflix, told Refinery29 over the phone in the days leading up to his streaming series' May premiere. Corenswet has a point. When we first meet Jack, he’s a dreamer who genuinely believes milling around the ACE Studios gate with broad shoulders and a mile-wide grin will help him become a star — the kind of a star who will be able to pay for a mortgage and comfortably raise a baby or two.
As a litany of people tell Jack, he is very wrong.
Still, by the season finale of Hollywood, “A Hollywood Ending,” Jack finds himself sitting front-row at the Oscars with a Best Supporting Actor nomination to his name. It’s a fairy-tale ending for someone who has already survived a war, joined an escort service, found out about his wife’s affair, and learned “his” unborn twins are actually the product of that affair.
Then, Jack loses. Some would be devastated for their character. Corenswet, however, isn’t broken up about Jack's Oscar stumble — and he doesn’t want you to be either.
“I certainly think one of the keys to character is, after Jack loses, he says to Claire, It’s not my night, kid,” Corenswet said. If you don’t remember the scene exactly — since your brain is likely now dominated by happy tears for Camille Washington (Laura Harrier) and her big win — Jack’s Best Supporting Actor category is one of the first races announced on the night of “Hollywood Ending.” Jack loses to Santa Claus himself, Miracle on 34th Street’s Edmund Gwenn. Jack’s girlfriend and co-star Claire Wood (Ready or Not’s Samara Weaving) is indigent. Jack just shrugs, admits it’s “not his night,” and happily whistles for his competition.
“Jack realizes that him not winning is kind of weirdly important to the greater story to the greater good,” Corenswet continued. It’s proof that Jack genuinely learned that he doesn’t have to be the central face in the mythology of Meg, the boundary-pushing film that brings the Hollywood cast together. While we all might love Jack, a poster boy for straight, white Hollywood, this Oscars race — and Meg itself — is about shining a light on the groups showbiz traditionally pushes to the edges: Black creatives like Camille and screenwriter Archie Coleman (Jeremy Pope), Asian performers like Anna May Wong (Michelle Krusiec), and queer people like Archie and Rock Hudson (Jake Picking).
“Jack knows almost nothing about the various trials that obstruct other people, depending on their race and gender and sexual orientation — everything that can throw obstacles in the way of your dreams,” Corsenswet said. “Jack’s oblivious to all of that and I get to, as my character, learn from all of these other actors who have these great perspectives and be shaped by them along the course of the show.”
Jack’s quick acceptance of his loss is the culmination of all that quiet internal growth. It's a moment that also proves just how much Jack's goals have changed over the course of Hollywood.
“Sure he’s a part of this big movie. But more importantly for him, only in losing the Oscar does he realize that’s actually not what he was after this whole time,” Corsenswet said. “What he was really after was a family, a group of people who loved him and relied on him and he could rely on. People who he could support and who would support him in winning or losing.
“He realizes in that moment he’s already got that. So he’s already won.”
Jack’s story doesn't end there. “Of course he still has to propose because he’s gotta get married and have babies,” Corenswet says with a chuckle. Claire, who quickly accepts Jack’s proposal from the Oscars green room, isn’t complaining.