Michael, how did Looking come about? It was a feature film script that I wrote based on stories from the people I knew in my 20s. I just wanted to tell a story about three friends that felt naturalistic and more relevant to the gay friends I had. Are there any gay-oriented shows that you were inspired by? We had a talk at HBO about some of the shows we liked, like the British Queer as Folk and Channel 4’s Tales of the City. There hadn’t been a show centred around gay people for a long time in the US, so we had a big opportunity in front of us. People thought of Looking as quite revolutionary. Do you think it still should be in 2015? The world’s changed so quickly in the past five years and we felt it was the right time to capture the change in the culture. One of the questions we wanted to ask is, ‘What happens when we’re welcomed into the mainstream?’ Suddenly you have the old options and the new ones. In some ways, it’s easier to be a part of a When you’re the creator of one of the best-loved shows for a generation, you’re bound to be under pressure when it comes to a second series. As we all know, the gay audience is a tough cookie to crack. But when we catch up with Michael Lannan, the show’s creator, writer and producer, he’s calm, collected and, urm, “surrounded by zebras,” apparently. At least it’s safe to say there’ll be more animals the second time around… subculture and not have to deal with some of the things that straight people do. How difficult was it to achieve the sense of realism and relatability? The goal from the start was always do a very naturalistic show that felt very relatable to a lot of people. Some of the best compliments we get are when people say, ‘I totally know Patrick,’ or ‘I am Agustín.’ Well I guess not so many people claim to be Agustín. It’s always a balance to find a level of realism and to keep the story moving forward. We spent a lot of time in the details of the characters to make it feel real. Who do you relate to most on the show? I relate to all of them in some way, which I know is a boring answer, but it’s true! I can tell you who I’d most like to be which is a great new character we have played by Daniel Franzese named Eddie. That’s who I’d like to be. He’s delightful and complicated and a lot of fun. I think people will like him a lot.
Andrew, how did you get involved with Looking? Michael called me out of the blue and I was sent the script for the pilot. They’d seen Weekend and they felt it was the right marriage of the script and what the movie was. Two days later, I was on a plane to LA and it happened from there! Initially I was only directing the pilot, but then it became a lot more than that. It kinda came from nowhere – I didn’t know Michael or anybody! Jonathan Groff told us that he knew he was in safe hands when shooting the sex scenes, because he was working with you and he’d seen Weekend. How did you approach them? To me, intimacy is always the most important thing. I never like to show sex scenes for gratuitous reasons or if they don’t make any sense to me in terms of the story. If anything, sex scenes usually take you out of the story. We have sex as individuals, to be intimate with with someone – or sometimes to escape After capturing the hearts and minds of gay audiences with his modern day classic Weekend, it seemed only natural for Andrew Haigh to go on to work with Michael Lannan on Looking. After directing the pilot, he was appointed the show’s director and executive producer, with his own uniquely beautiful visual style becoming integral to the show. Oh, and he’s also the one we’ve got to thank for the superblydone sex scenes... intimacy – depending on the kind of sex you’re having. But it’s always important to me that it feels like what it’s actually like to have sex. That it feels intimate, close and sometimes tender, or sometimes not tender, whatever it is. But it’s about trying to make it feel more real. I don’t think gay sex on screen over the years really reflects intimacy at all, and that’s always been a problem. And I think it’s probably, because of that, why people tend to think about gay sex in a certain way. It’s been 16 years since Queer as Folk, and it was quite a big thing then to show that gay people DO have sex. But now it seems to be the big thing to show that gay people have intimate relationships. It’s just about showing the world that gay people have the same love for each other that straight people do. It’s only ten years since the majority of the population thought that the love two men have for each other, or two women have, wasn’t the same as with a man and a woman. One of the big things everyone loved about Looking was its visual style. How did you approach the aesthetics of the second series? We certainly didn’t want to do exactly the same, but neither did we want to change anything dramatically. For me, the visuals of something should always relate to what’s happening to the characters, so as the storylines became slightly bigger, I wanted the visual to become slightly bigger. How much did you relate to the script and the characters? Being the two Brits, the obvious comparison would be Russell Tovey’s character Kevin... That’s funny! I’ve been thinking as well, ‘Oh, people are going to think he’s based on me.’ It’s not me! But people see themselves in the characters because they all make flawed decisions. Nobody is all good and nobody is all bad. And finally, are you Team Richie or Team Kevin? I have a preference... But what’s interesting about this season is that it makes it more difficult to be on either team. I think season one, it seemed pretty obvious that someone would be Team Richie. But it gets messier this season, so it makes who you think Patrick should be with more complicated – if either of them at all!