Tommy Dewey, star of Hulu’s Casual, talks Alex’s emotional moment, writing with Michaela Watkins, and the Season 3 scene he’ll always remember.
“It’s such an acting challenge,” says Dewey. “It’s cool to get to a third season and have the ability to do an episode like that. Hulu’s been so trusting, the further and further we’ve gone with the show.”
But while Episode 2, titled “Things to Do in Burbank When You’re Dead,” feels very Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy never carried around the remains of a parent while doing their walk and talk.
As Casual-tees (unofficial moniker for Casual devotees) will recall, at the end of Season 2, Val, Alex, and Laura (Tara Lynne Barr) euthanized Charles (Fred Melamed) at his request. Season 3 picks up not too long after his death with Val and Alex in possession of their father’s ashes and unsure of what to do with them, resulting in a particularly vulnerable moment for Dewey’s character in Episode 2.
Alex’s Big Moment
“It was tricky, but working up to that place becomes a little easier with a great actress like Michaela Watkins who’s just sort of taking the ride with you. Alex’s cynicism and sarcasm really are a cover for a lot of shit he has going on, even though it boils over at that point. In a way, we’ve been building to a moment like that for a long time. Those big heavy scenes are never easy, but are very fulfilling if you can get them right. It’s why you do the job.”
Emotional scenes in comedies can be challenging for actors but also for audiences, especially when fans aren’t necessarily used to seeing their leads in a vulnerable state and it might come off as inauthentic. But Dewey introduces a new level for Alex that feels real and true.
“You don’t want to betray the character. You don’t want to leave Alex behind and sort of sob your face off like Tommy. You play with the spectrum. You do one that’s even heavier. You can really find Alex in those options.”
Season 3 Surprises (Light Spoilers!)
Alex is hit with a lot of surprises in Season 3, including Episode 1’s big reveal: Valerie is not the biological daughter of Charles and has a half-brother that only Alex knows about. Dewey views Alex’s decision to keep this secret from Val as selfish.
“He may actually think he’s protecting her, but I think ultimately he’s too afraid of losing her.”
Someone Alex previously thought was lost returns in Season 3, too: Emmy (Eliza Coupe). “To have her in the first season and have her pop back in in the third was great.”
And yet for all of the Cole family’s surprises and dysfunction, audience-favorite Leon (Nyasha Hatendi) still stands by them as a devoted friend and even gets his own stand-alone storyline this season.
“He sees past the bullshit, the front Alex puts up. And I think he sees an opportunity to make a difference. He really may be able to help this guy avoid a really disastrous fate.”
Alex, The Romantic; Tommy, the Writer
Last season, Alex thought he knew what he wanted in the form of former flame Sarah Finn (Britt Lower), stealing her away from his boss, but quickly realized the chase was more exciting than the catch.
“I have described Alex as a romantic, and I don’t mean that in a good or bad sense. I think he likes the idea of falling in love and he gets seduced by the idea, you know, more so than the person. He did not think he was chasing a shiny object. I think he’s searching and keeps getting tripped up, but I think he wants the one true thing. He ain’t finding it anytime soon, though,” Dewey laughs.
One thing the WGA-nominated actor did find this season is a fellow writing partner in the form of his on-screen sister. Watkins and Dewey actually wrote Episode 8 together.
“Both of us moonlight as writers, but had never thought to combine forces and write in that way on this show. It’s an interesting experiment to play these two people for two whole seasons and then get a chance to write them. And in that way, it made our jobs a little easier.”
And like Alex and Valerie’s relationship, these two enjoy spending time together off-screen as well. “It’s nauseating to say, but she’s one of my favorite people.”
Which is why Alex’s poignant scene with Valerie in Episode 2 especially resonates.
“That scene with the two of us looking back over the city is just something I’ll always remember.”
Casual drops Tuesdays on Hulu.