If you’re on trial for murder, you will most definitely want Jack Falahee in your corner. The 25-year-old actor plays slick law student Connor Walsh on ABC’s new series How To Get Away With Murder, the latest addition to Shondaland’s prolific Thursday night block. After two episodes, the show has received serious buzz – thanks in part to those steamy sex scenes — and has already outperformed sister series Scandal. The down-to-earth newcomer chatted with VH1 about getting into character and the surreal experience of working with entertainment goddesses Viola Davis and Shonda Rhimes.
He admits to prepping for the role by watching Legally Blonde (how else would one know what “mens rea” meant?) and spills on co-star Matt McGorry‘s (Orange Is the New Black) tactics for wooing the ladies. Did we mention he fought a boa constrictor? It is without reasonable doubt that you should keep your eye on this rising star, who went from waiting tables in New York City to starring in Shonda’s newest sensation, within a year.
VH1: Congratulations on the show being such a huge success! How does it feel?
Jack Falahee: You know, my dad called me this morning and he’s like, “Yeah, the show was on again last night, and I heard a lot of people watched it.” I think that knocked me down a peg. It’s pretty much the same still — but it’s good, it’s exciting. My family still thinks of me the same way, my friends still give me the same shit, so it’s not like anything has really changed.
What’s it like being a part of Shonda’s huge Thursday night lineup?
I mean it’s pretty amazing. She’s a force of nature, right? I will say that that for me has been the biggest thing, walking onto production and seeing how Shondaland is all these moving pieces but very cohesive. It’s so well run and so well thought-out. It’s been pretty unreal being a part of that machine.
Something I love about her shows is how she and most of her actors all live tweet. Do you have any kind of live tweeting ritual?
Not really yet — I think it’s a little soon. A bunch of us got together for the pilot to live tweet with the cast members of Scandal and Grey’s and that was fun. Yesterday, a bunch of my cast got together at a cast mate’s house to live tweet and I so desperately wanted to make it, but I was in the process of moving — which was hell. So it was funny, last night I was live tweeting my packing, and you know, one was more exciting. People were like, “Can you just talk about the show?!” And I was like, this isn’t going well.
Tell me what it’s like working with Viola.
It’s pretty rad. She’s incredible. Obviously people ask that a lot and I’m still like wrapping my head around it because it seems like – we use this word on set a lot – bananas. It’s just bananas that I’m on a Shonda Rhimes’ show working with Viola when a year-and-a-half ago I was catering parties in New York. From day one she’s been so generous and maternal on set, I feel like she may be starting to become more comfortable with her role as number one on the call sheet. From the beginning, just caring and [being] gentle with all of us. She’s never been — and I don’t think ever will be — some big diva that is very demanding on set. She sits with us and shoots the shit and jokes with us and is insecure with us. She’s so human; it’s really grounding, I think.
With the reverse chronology, how do you guys keep track of all these story lines? Do you shoot in sequence?
That has been a very interesting, complicated part of filming. We are unable to shoot it chronologically just how filming and production goes. We have been kept in the dark about a lot of scenarios and dramatic points, so we discover things at table reads. We’ll shoot scenes during night acts and the next script we get, we’ll see a scene, preceded the previous scene that we shot. So it’s kind of wacky. Alfred [Enoch] who plays Wes literally walks around set with a timeline and Post-it notes: He picks up one Post-it, moves it in front of another, depending on what the script reveals. It can get a little intense, and we do get frazzled at times, but, it keeps us on our toes. We still don’t know who did what.
You have already had some seriously steamy sex scenes, especially for ABC. Are you surprised by how everyone’s been reacting?
Oh, I don’t know, I guess not really. I think people are going to push the envelope a little bit as far as the homosexual relationship, and sex scenes — I guess just mostly sex scenes on screen. I think people are ready to see that, and I think they’re excited to see that.
Can we expect to see more?
I mean, yeah! [Laughs] Can you imagine if we get it out of the way in the first two episodes and then I’m celibate?
Yeah, you have a purity ring.
Right, joining the priesthood. Yeah, I think you’ll see a lot of steamy stuff from a lot of different people.