Kevin

GT (UK) - - LOOK­ING - WORDS RYAN BUTCHER

It was like some­thing you’d ex­pect to see in the af­ter­math of a Twi­light film. Or a scene from West Side Story. When Look­ing wrapped up last year, fans from all cor­ners of the globe were nail­ing their colours firmly to one of two masts – Team Richie or Team Kevin.

Through­out the first se­ries of HBO’s tri­umph of a show, Jonathan Groff’s Pa­trick em­barked on an on-off re­la­tion­ship with Richie – a Latino bar­ber-cum-bouncer who con­stantly tried to push Pa­trick out of his com­fort zone. It was some­what an un­con­ven­tional choice of boyfriend for the usu­al­ly­con­ser­va­tive Pa­trick, with Richie not quite fit­ting up to his fam­ily’s, friend’s and, well, even his own ideals of whom he should be dat­ing.

Then there was Kevin, played by the UK’s own and for­mer GT cover star Rus­sell Tovey. Pa­trick clum­sily hits on Kevin at a video game launch be­fore learn­ing that he is, in fact, his new boss. The pair en­dure a some­what prickly re­la­tion­ship through­out the first se­ries, but in the fi­nal episode they wind up fuck­ing on their of­fice floor, de­spite Pa­trick only hav­ing just bro­ken up with Richie, and Kevin hav­ing a boyfriend of his own.

So when we catch up with Rus­sell back on home soil, and ask him to shed some light as to why he thinks Pa­trick fi­nally suc­cumb to them, ahem, for­bid­den fruit of Kevin, he’s pretty straight to the point with his an­swer...

“Be­cause he’s fuck­ing hot,” he laughs.

“No, se­ri­ously, it’s be­cause Kevin ap­peals to ev­ery­thing Pa­trick

We first fell in love with him in Be­ing Hu­man, but it was Look­ing that brought Rus­sell Tovey to the in­ter­na­tional main­stream. Series two is jam-packed full of the for­mer GT cover star, so we just had to ask him about be­ing a part of TV his­tory and, of course, sex with Jonathan Groff...

wants to be and who he thinks is ac­cept­able. Richie is a sweet guy, but he kind of needed look­ing af­ter and pro­tect­ing, and didn’t fit Pa­trick’s ideal im­age in his head. Whereas Kevin is like him – same age, same in­ter­ests, pow­er­ful, got money, ca­reer driven. And that’s where Pa­trick is too. It’s an aphro­disiac, you know? Kevin has money and power – Pa­trick has a very straight woman ap­proach to what it is he thinks he wants.”

Fans of the show will be pleased to know that se­ries two picks up right where we left off with se­ries one. Rus­sell and Raúl Castillo, who plays Richie, are both back as reg­u­lar char­ac­ters in the sec­ond sea­son. But take it from us – as you watch more and more of the sec­ond se­ries, it be­comes even harder to de­cide who Pa­trick should end up with. If ei­ther of them at all.

“Richie is a fuck­ing catch though,” Rus­sell adds. “He’s hot and he’s a hair­dresser, so you’d never have to pay for your hair­cuts. That’s go­ing to save you at least £15 a month. He’s charm­ing, he plays the gui­tar, he looks good naked, he’s funny and he’s got a good smile. But for Pa­trick, that’s not enough. He needs an A-star gay.

“And, you know, Kevin is Pa­trick’s boss AND he has a boyfriend. It be­comes sex­ual if some­one is un­avail­able and then sud­denly they’re in­ter­ested in you. There’s some­thing about that state of mind that’s sexy. Sleep­ing with his boss – what’s sex­ier than that?”

We reckon it prob­a­bly de­pends on who your boss is, but we see where Rus­sell is com­ing from.

It was like some­thing you’d ex­pect to see in the af­ter­math of a Twi­light film. Or a scene from West Side Story. When Look­ing wrapped up last year, fans from all cor­ners of the globe were nail­ing their colours firmly to one of two masts – Team Richie or Team Kevin.

Through­out the first se­ries of HBO’s tri­umph of a show, Jonathan Groff’s Pa­trick em­barked on an on-off re­la­tion­ship with Richie – a Latino bar­ber-cum-bouncer who con­stantly tried to push Pa­trick out of his com­fort zone. It was some­what an un­con­ven­tional choice of boyfriend for the usu­al­ly­con­ser­va­tive Pa­trick, with Richie not quite fit­ting up to his fam­ily’s, friend’s and, well, even his own ideals of whom he should be dat­ing.

Then there was Kevin, played by the UK’s own and for­mer GT cover star Rus­sell Tovey. Pa­trick clum­sily hits on Kevin at a video game launch be­fore learn­ing that he is, in fact, his new boss. The pair en­dure a some­what prickly re­la­tion­ship through­out the first se­ries, but in the fi­nal episode they wind up fuck­ing on their of­fice floor, de­spite Pa­trick only hav­ing just bro­ken up with Richie, and Kevin hav­ing a boyfriend of his own.

So when we catch up with Rus­sell back on home soil, and ask him to shed some light as to why he thinks Pa­trick fi­nally suc­cumb to them, ahem, for­bid­den fruit of Kevin, he’s pretty straight to the point with his an­swer...

“Be­cause he’s fuck­ing hot,” he laughs.

“No, se­ri­ously, it’s be­cause Kevin ap­peals to ev­ery­thing Pa­trick wants to be and who he thinks is ac­cept­able. Richie is a sweet guy, but he kind of needed look­ing af­ter and pro­tect­ing, and didn’t fit Pa­trick’s ideal im­age in his head. Whereas Kevin is like him – same age, same in­ter­ests, pow­er­ful, got money, ca­reer driven. And that’s where Pa­trick is too. It’s an aphro­disiac, you know? Kevin has money and power – Pa­trick has a very straight woman ap­proach to what it is he thinks he wants.”

Fans of the show will be pleased to know that se­ries two picks up right where we left off with se­ries one. Rus­sell and Raúl Castillo, who plays Richie, are both back as reg­u­lar char­ac­ters in the sec­ond sea­son. But take it from us – as you watch more and more of the sec­ond se­ries, it be­comes even harder to de­cide who Pa­trick should end up with. If ei­ther of them at all.

“Richie is a fuck­ing catch though,” Rus­sell adds. “He’s hot and he’s a hair­dresser, so you’d never have to pay for your hair­cuts. That’s go­ing to save you at least £15 a month. He’s charm­ing, he plays the gui­tar, he looks good naked, he’s funny and he’s got a good smile. But for Pa­trick, that’s not enough. He needs an A-star gay.

“And, you know, Kevin is Pa­trick’s boss AND he has a boyfriend. It be­comes sex­ual if some­one is un­avail­able and then sud­denly they’re in­ter­ested in you. There’s some­thing about that state of mind that’s sexy. Sleep­ing with his boss – what’s sex­ier than that?”

We reckon it prob­a­bly de­pends on who your boss is, but we see where Rus­sell is com­ing from.

The char­ac­ter of Kevin, how­ever, very nearly didn’t ex­ist. The story goes that Rus­sell orig­i­nally au­di­tioned for Jonathan Groff’s role, mak­ing it to the fi­nal two. Michael Lan­nan and An­drew Haigh both promised Rus­sell a role if the se­ries got picked up and – lo and be­hold – Kevin was born. “You hear them sorts of prom­ises a lot when you miss out on a role,” Rus­sell ex­plains, “and nine times out of ten it doesn’t hap­pen, so I wasn’t hold­ing my breath. I tried Kevin with both an Amer­i­can and Bri­tish ac­cent, and they loved the Bri­tish one. So that’s how he came about – I was in­tend­ing him to be Amer­i­can, but they wanted the whole kind of One Direc­tion, Game of Thrones el­e­ment to it. The Down­ton Abbey ef­fect.”

With a part seem­ingly tai­lor­writ­ten for Rus­sell, does that mean there are more than a few par­al­lels be­tween he ac­tor and the char­ac­ter?

“Well, we’re both into men, so that’s pretty sim­i­lar,” laughs Rus­sell. “And we both like Jonathan Groff!

“Kevin’s not overly al­pha male, ex­actly, but he’s def­i­nitely sure of him­self – and he knows what he wants. I try and achieve a sort of cool­ness, so that’s what I try and put into Kevin. It’s like he’s a swan on top of the wa­ter, but his legs are flap­ping about un­der­neath, you know? He’s keep­ing it all un­der con­trol. I try do­ing that when shit hits the fan or I’m do­ing some­thing bad – I try and main­tain my cool. In that as­pect, we’re very sim­i­lar.”

Tovey fans left un­quenched by the last episode’s se­ri­ously hot scene will be pleased to hear there’s much more of the ac­tor parad­ing around in his birth­day suit the sec­ond time around.

“Well we’ve all had sex and we all know what we’re do­ing,” says Rus­sell. “And we all know we want to make it look good – ev­ery­one wants to look good! I feel very, very re­laxed in the sex scenes with Jonathan. We can both go for it and at no point do I feel like I’m tak­ing ad­van­tage, or like I’m be­ing taken ad­van­tage of. When­ever I did scenes with Joe Wil­liamson, who plays my boyfriend Jon, he’s straight in real life... He’s fuck­ing bril­liant, but a part of me al­ways felt slightly guilty that he had to kiss and cud­dle and be in­ti­mate with me.

“I felt like, ‘I know this isn’t your game, it’s my game, and I don’t want you to ever feel like I’m tak­ing ad­van­tage just be­cause it’s writ­ten in the script and you signed up for it.’ Do you know what I mean? I felt like I had a re­spon­si­bil­ity with Joe. But with Jonathan, I was lit­er­ally just like, hands and fin­gers ev­ery­where – and he loved it! And vice versa, be­cause it’s com­fort­able and it’s real. That’s the most free­ing thing – it feels very, very easy to have sex with Jonathan Groff.”

We should all be so lucky to be able to make such a claim. But it soon brought us on to the topic of the way gay sex is por­trayed on main­stream TV shows. The sex scenes in Look­ing have never re­ally seemed gra­tu­itous in any way – they’ve al­ways had a place, and been used as a mech­a­nism to drive the plot for­ward. Com­pared to say, 16 years ago with Queer as Folk in the UK, when it was ground­break­ing – and nec­es­sary – to show graphic por­tray­als of what hap­pens when men who like men jump into bed to­gether.

“Look­ing isn’t glo­ri­fy­ing gay sex as some­thing car­toony,” ex­plains Rus­sell. “It’s just real life and the sex scenes are there be­cause they’re show­ing a side to gay life which is im­por­tant. You know, sex is very im­por­tant to gay men – and show­ing these scenes isn’t just tit­il­la­tion. They’re there to open up the world and ed­u­cate in some ways. A lot of peo­ple have come away from the show say­ing, ‘I didn’t re­alise you could fuck a man in the mis­sion­ary po­si­tion!’

“I re­mem­ber when I first saw Queer as Folk and it shows rim­ming

– I didn’t know what that was when I watched it. I’d never heard that word be­fore in my life. Now you hear it ev­ery day – it’s as com­mon as hear­ing the word ‘fist­ing.’ It’s not as shock­ing any­more. But Look­ing isn’t out there to shock or to make peo­ple an­gry – it’s there to cre­ate dis­cus­sions, but in a healthy way.”

Maybe the last taboo then for con­ser­va­tive so­ci­ety – on both sides of the At­lantic – is not that gay men are out there hav­ing sex. And good sex, at that. Maybe it’s that gay men are out there hav­ing re­la­tion­ships and be­ing, dare we say it, in­ti­mate?

Six­teen years ago, Queer as Folk shouted from the roof tops that, yes, we were here, we were queer and we were hav­ing sex. But now, in 2015, shows like Look­ing, Cu­cum­ber, Banana and Tofu are telling main­stream so­ci­ety a dif­fer­ent mes­sage – we’re liv­ing just like the rest of you are, we’re set­tling down, and we’re happy. Fist­ing doesn’t shock any­one any­more – but maybe the idea of two blokes in bed on a Sun­day morn­ing, with take­away pizza from the night be­fore and a shared Net­flix ac­count, does.

“Be­fore now, gay shows have only shown fuck­ing,” agrees Rus­sell. “Just fuck­ing – that’s it. There’s no in­ti­macy. You might have a kiss now or then, but it’s about the in­ti­macy, which is a beau­ti­ful part of life. It’s more shock­ing these days to see two men cud­dling and watch­ing a film on the sofa. It’s be­cause you’ve not seen that, be­fore now. All you’ve seen is two men fuck­ing in bed, sweat­ing, with per­fect bod­ies.”

Which, un­for­tu­nately, isn’t how it al­ways hap­pens, is it Rus­sell? “Well, it is in my world.” Jonathan Groff? “Ab­so­lutely.”

Series two of Look­ing is on HBO in the US now, and airs on Sky At­lantic in the UK from Fe­bru­ary 12. Series one is avail­able on Blu-ray, DVD and dig­i­tal plat­forms now, @look­inghbo

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