Actor Paul Rust talks to Awards Daily TV about love, the Magic Castle, and the evolution of Love through the Netflix series.
The opening episode of Netflix’s Love Season 2 was perfect. In fact, this whole season was perfect. Gus and Mickey’s relationship was a journey that we all went on. There’s even a point during Season 2 where you’re rooting for them so hard to be together. This season was dramatic. It provided laughs and gave us everything we wanted.
I caught up with Paul Rust, who stars in the Netflix drama/comedy, about the evolution of the show and his character. Love is an Emmy® contender in Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy for Paul Rust.
How would you say Gus has evolved from Season 1 to Season 2?
I feel the characters have evolved by recognizing that the person that they are attracted to might not be the best timing, but one of them actually says, “Fuck timing.” Even if you feel it’s not the best time to get into a relationship with, you still take the risk. I feel that was the change.
In Season 1, they’re asking if the person is worth it. With Season 2, the timing might not be great, but I guess it is worth it.
In terms of Gus, we like the idea of what happens in a relationship when you absorb the qualities of the other person that you like and want to be. That goes both ways. I think Gus is loosening up and trying mushrooms for the first time. Mickey is becoming more responsible and making her AA program work. So, it was a lot of fun to write and act in Season 2.
Episode 5 of this season was a really nice episode to watch. It’s that episode where you realize they do need to be together.
I’m so glad you said that because that was the aim. We knew we were going to be putting them through the ringer with what they were feeling and the obstacles they face. Because of that we needed the audience to see what they were fighting for, and that one perfect day showed that.
We felt it was based on was some kind of identification the audience could have with their own lives. This one was like, everyone has had that day where you don’t want to stop hanging with that person you’re crushing on hard. That was my favorite episode of the season.
That was mine too.
I liked that one a lot because I liked how simple it was and is. It’s our sweet spot when you can mine a lot of feeling and emotion out of something that is very simple. If you can feel the high stakes of hoping that the other person wants to keep hanging out with you, I loved that.
I loved the episodes that Joe Swanberg directed. I love Episode 11, and I loved Episode 10. It showed the long-distance relationship things. I love that it showed the torturous times worth it. I went through all that pain and misery.
How much of real life comes in now that you’re in Season 2?
It’s interesting because when the show was first introduced, part of the hook was that I had co-created this show with my wife, Leslie with Judd. The idea of this is loosely inspired by our relationship was a hook that we could attach something for the show, but we were always wondering if it was the most insufferable thing to do. We got really scared.
If we heard anyone else was doing it, we’d be eye-rolling each other. We decided not to make it about our relationship but about friends and family whose relationships we’ve seen. The advantage of having a massively talented writing staff.
It’s shot here in L.A. You shot an early episode in the Magic Castle which is a bitch to get into.
It’s difficult to get into as a person. It’s harder as a production. There’s this reluctance from old magicians who think if we look closely we’ll discover the trick. That idea makes them apprehensive to have cameras there. I’ve worked on other shows where the idea had come up, but it never happened. I feel Netflix and Mr. Apatow opened the doors.
That was the fun of doing the show in L.A. – finding places that haven’t been filmed before.
I was watching Zodiac the other night and realized that was the location of Mickey’s AA meeting in Episode 5. If I had known that, I would have had the character say, “This is where they shot Zodiac.”
When you get Daniel Stern on the show. How did you get him to say yes?
He was the first person we asked after we made a big list of people as to who could work as Mickey’s dad. We sat in the writer’s room and went name by name. As soon as we hit Daniel’s name, Judd said yes.
I agreed because Judd and I are big fans of his films. There are two things you hope for when you cast somebody blind. You hope they are not a jerk, and you hope they score a bullseye and Daniel did that in spades.
What do we have to look forward to with Season 3?
We’re almost done shooting. Season 1 was “I’m not sure if this person is for me.” Season 2 was “I think this person is for me, but I don’t know if I should be in a relationship.” Season 3 is “OK, I know this person is for me, and I want to be in a relationship and it’s important I make it work.” There’s a lot of growth and it’s a challenge because growth isn’t the most interesting thing, but with these characters, a lot of it means them being happy.
I think with Love, it’s interesting because I feel the smaller and more specific and more personal it gets, the more it flourishes for other people. So, you’re always pushing and pulling with entertainment, but if we get too big, we don’t want to lose the vibe of the show. We’re slowly perfecting it. Getting to work with all our amazing actors is great fun and it’s something I look forward to. Especially, Gillian Jacobs, we are so blessed with.
We were blessed with David Spade and the whole ensemble.
Both seasons of Love currently stream on Netflix.