Zach Woods, co-star of HBO’s Emmy®-winning tech comedy Silicon Valley, talks to Awards Daily TV about his similarities to nice guy Jared.
A conversation with Zach Woods will have you in hysterics.
It’s Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend. He discusses plans. We’ve decided to make this an annual conversation to chat about what has been revealed about his character Jared. The hit HBO series Silicon Valley, now in its fourth season, gets better with each season. Each episode we learn more and more about the quirky bunch as they struggle to get out of their own way.
Woods and I caught up to discuss candles, his fantasy of having older ladies on the show, and fan art that involves his character and Richard. It’s easy to see why Woods is a strong contender for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
What’s coming up for Jared this season?
I don’t want to give too much away, but Richard has a morality crisis. So the traditional unit of Richard with Jared as this faithful squire gets challenged a little bit. I love that this season we see Jared get a bit more aggressive in that Jared becomes protective of Richard in a way that engenders atypical behavior from him.
In the later half of the season, the moral tension of what the company is up to drives a little bit of a wedge, so that was fun to play. I think the show is good at not violating the core characteristics of the characters. It’s good at expanding every season what each of us gets to do so that it doesn’t become redundant schtick.
That was interesting at the end of last season. Of the group, he’s always been the one with the morals, and then we find out he’s been on Click Farm.
I loved that. One of the writers, Carson Mell, is a genius. He said, “I feel a character is a contradiction. Until a character violates your notion of them, they’re one dimensional.” Unless a character doubles back on their established M.O., it doesn’t feel like a fully formed person. It’s a challenge as an actor to figure out what’s motivating it. To try to integrate this new behavior into who this guy is is fun and tricky.
We also learn Jared speaks fluent German, and we’re learning more about him. Jared is an odd guy.
I like that we discover he has a prolific sex life, and I was very pleased about that. There’s some physical violence that comes up that’s interesting. I really love the Guy Fawkes revelation because it falls outside of what the expected deal for the character is. So, anytime I get to learn something like, “Oh he has a long sexual resume.” I love that.
I guess I’d like to learn about what his romantic relationships are like. Aside from that, it makes the character more interesting for me, he’s the one character in the show who is romantically successful. I feel a lot of times on television, the people who are treated as desirable are shitheads. But I feel in the real world, someone like Jared who is respectful of women, I feel he’d have people interested in him.
That would be interesting to see what happens.
I always thought Jared would be in love with a 60-year-old or just have a bunch of friends.
Old ladies naturally.
They included a throwaway joke that Jared said he was babysitting for his dear friend Muriel. He was sitting her great-granddaughter. I just like the idea that he has a dear friend in her 80’s. I feel like he would, it makes sense his social circle would be like that.
Of these old ladies like Muriel.
Yes, the women of the greatest generation.
That would be so good. They need to do a casting call right now.
Oh, I would love it. In real life, every old lady is an individual. I have chemistry with old ladies. It would be my dream to get to shoot a bunch of scenes with an older actress.
You know they’d be telling him life stories. I think this would be a great story. Is that part of his back story too? sounds like you have it carved out?
I definitely do have some sense of who he is and was. In my mind, he’s been traumatized for most of his life, but he is endlessly resilient and cheerful. I’ve thought about all the terrible things that happened so he has this chequered past. I’ve also thought about his ten commandments and what his core values are. The first thing I tried to think about before the first season even started was, “What does this guy love?” I remember improvising how he loved cinnamon brooms which are these scented brooms that you have in fall for decoration. I thought about what he loves ethically and philosophically. That’s a good place to start with characters, and it was so much fun with Jared because he’s such a weird duck.
The lines he comes out with sometimes. Do you ever think, “What are they throwing at me?”
I love it. They had a line recently where they’re having pillow talk, and I say, “That’s the best part, everything else is just foreplay.” I love that so much that for Jared. Pillow talk is just the preamble to pillow talk. [Laughs]
The Sports Illustrated line was great too.
That was improvised. I was trying to think of how he would bro down. He would think Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition would be where he talks about her melancholic beauty.
Yes, he says something like she has an enigmatic facial expression.
He would only look at their eyes. He would look at the pain in her eyes. That would be Jared.
Where is the line between you and Jared?
He is a more repressed man than I am. I’m probably more integrated than he is. There is some overlap. My friend and I had lunch, and we went shopping to three different stores for candles. Going to these shops and sniffing them and commenting on the bouquet of flavors we liked the best. I thought it was Jared’s wet dream. In the first season, TJ walked into my trailer, and I was sitting there reading a Lavender book of affirmation with candles and the Indigo Girls playing. He said I was Jared.
Oh, well you have to go to Candle Delerium.
It’s the name of the store and the state it evokes?
Yes. You have to go!
I know where I’m going. I went to Diptyque.
It’s candle heaven.
I want to go to candle heaven.
So, I didn’t realize the fandom of Silicon Valley.
I don’t read anything because my feelings are prone to being hurt. I have seen fan art, and I love it. Some of it is really sweet, and some are so bizarrely sexual. I’m really delighted.
The fan fiction is good.
Really? Is it sexual stuff or alternative stories?
It’s alternative stories, but there is also some sexy stuff. I didn’t read it.
What?! You didn’t? I saw someone once drew Richard and me in a post-coital snooze, and I’m big spooning him. They made him smaller, and they gave me these biceps. He’s this little thing. It’s my favorite thing.
There was one that had Jared and coffee and a date. That’s as far as I went.
Well, I’m going to seek it out and read it until the bitter end.
You did an animation.
It’s weird because you’re in a booth by yourself. They’ll tell you to grunt and you need to do 13 variations of it. So, you’re in this booth doing that again and again. You feel like a mental case. They recently had us do that with the group and it was so much fun.
It’s always incredible to see you do other projects. Would you like to direct?
Maybe in some distance movie. I wrote a movie, a drama and comedy mix. I’m interested in acting in things I’ve written. Directing to me seems daunting because I don’t have that much experience. I’ve been quizzing the cameramen on the show, and they’ve been so nice telling me how they set up shots, what lenses they use, and it’s such an incredible resource. They’re so nice about coughing up their wisdom.
What are some highlights of the show for you?
The last few episodes, Episodes 9 and 10, were some of the fun ones. They were so much fun and so complicated, but I loved doing them. I love the quiet scenes with me and Richard. Those heart to hearts are my favorite to shoot. Most of the show is written, but we do a lot of improvising. Even if they don’t use it, it’s still fun to shoot.
What is it like on set?
It is just so much fun. It’s funny as people ask if we make each other laugh. We aren’t witty. We’re just dumb and grabby with each other. We make sounds, and it’s just so primitive. It’s not sophisticated at all and really we’re just kids on a playground.
HBO’s Silicon Valley airs Sunday nights on HBO.