Beau Mirchoff is back to playing “the idiot” (his words, not ours) on Gregg Araki’s “Now Apocalypse” — and he’s okay with that.
As the actor explained to AOL’s Gibson Johns during a sit-down interview at Sundance Film Festival, Mirchoff, 30, has become comfortable in the comedic archetype, having perfected it through five seasons on MTV’s “Awkward.” Though he is objectively not “dumb,” it’s the core value of “the dumb character” that Mirchoff has been able to tap into time and time again.
“I’m always playing the dumb character, and I love the dumb character,” he said with a smile. “It’s so fun to play. I’m pretty genuine just in life, and that’s the core value of the dumb character.”
On “Now Apocalypse,” which airs on Starz Sundays at 9 p.m., Mirchoff takes the role to a new extreme through his portrayal of Ford Halstead, a struggling screenwriter in Los Angeles who takes himself very seriously, more often than not to comedic effect. Amping it up is Ford’s very active sex life and chiseled physique, which result in plentiful nudity throughout the series for Mirchoff.
That, combined with Araki’s storied body of work, left the actor “intimidated” to take on this latest role. We talked to Beau Mirchoff about filming “Now Apocalypse,” his love of comedy, getting in shape for those countless nude scene and whether or not his mother has seen the show. Check out our conversation below:
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 12: (Top L-R) Tyler Posey, Karley Sciortino, Avan Jogia, Kelli Berglund, and (Bottom L-R) Katrina Weidman, Beau Mirchoff, and Gregg Araki of Travel Channel’s ‘Portals to Hell’ pose for a portrait during the 2019 Winter TCA at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena on February 12, 2019 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Corey Nickols/Getty Images)
First off, what attracted you to “Now Apocalypse”? The show has a very specific tone, lots of nudity and has a pretty surreal premise.
Basically, as an actor, a script comes and you either go for it or you don’t. Down the line, it starts becoming more real and I knew I was a frontrunner. The writing is fantastic on this show. Once a year you find a script like this. So, I was up for it and they were like, “Make sure you read these ten episodes before you agree, because it’s pretty risqué and out there.” I was like, “Oh, come on.” Then I start reading and I was blushing, and I didn’t know if I wanted to do it. I was like, “This is terrifying.” Just the subject matter and everything. Ultimately, though, I also had a smile on my face, so I went with it.
What exactly made you blush when reading the script?
Dude, it just keeps progressing to the point of constant nudity and very compromising positions. It’s kind of liberating, and what’s so great about this show is that it doesn’t take itself so seriously. That’s what’s so great about acting sometimes is that it parallels your life. I’m trying to let go more in my life and not give a s–t, because who cares? It’s life, and we’re going to be dead in 50 years. I have a body and there’s something underneath my clothes, Oh my God!
There is a tone of nudity in this show. Did you have to do a lot of prep and working out before filming started?
That was another thing. I wasn’t in the best of shape. I mean, I was in fine shape, but the script says that this character is “a statue of David in impeccable shape.” I had been traveling around a lot at the time, and Gregg was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to get in shape. I was like, “How much time do we have? Six weeks? Perfect, don’t worry about it.” So, I lived at the gym. I was doing two-a-days and a diet of basically high protein and counting my calories. Eating clean.
What was it like working with Gregg Araki? He directed all 10 episodes.
That was interesting, block shooting the whole season: So day one you’re shooting episodes 10 and 2. I enjoyed it because you get to do all the work beforehand and know exactly what’s happening. I was intimidated to work with Gregg because of his previous work, and he’s an auteur and there’s this aura about him and reputation, if you will. I’ve auditioned for him in the past, and he didn’t seem too keen on me. [Laughs] Even for this, after I auditioned he just stared at me. I don’t think I was what he envisioned, but once he saw my take on the character, he saw that it could work. But, yeah, he’s amazing and the ease with which he works is incredible. He’s laughing all the time, and he’s not serious. He has the edit in his head already, too, so you don’t overshoot anything. Most scenes are two-person scenes, so we would shoot it really quickly.
Who is this show for? Who is the ideal audience?
My mother. She’s going to love it! [Laughs]
Has your mom seen it?
No, but I think she will. It’s not too… I don’t know. I told her to beware. But, I think it’s for millennials. It will strike a chord with them, and I’m not sure an older audience will get it. That’s what is so refreshing about it: It’s surreal, tongue-in-cheek and funny. Stoners will also love it.
You’ve cultivated a huge fanbase throughout your career, primarily from your five years on MTV’s “Awkward.” Have those fans been following you to other projects?
I think so, yeah. I actually just posted something on Instagram and 98 percent of [the response] is really awesome. I’ve never really gotten any hate messages. But it’s so funny because of my beard people are telling me I’m aging. They’re overwhelmingly positive and fervent fans. It’s really great.
At its core, “Now Apocalypse” is a story about struggling actors and writers in L.A. In what ways do you relate to that theme?
Zero, because I’m at Sundance! [Laughs] No, but you’re constantly searching for a job and getting rejected. I’m an aspiring writer, so I know what that’s like and wanting people to read your stuff and like it and being precious about your work. Anyone trying to climb any sort of ladder can relate to that. You have to be vulnerable.
Where did you draw from for your character on “Now Apocalypse,” Ford?
I played a similar character in a pilot called “Good Fortunes.” I played an idiot. I’m always playing the dumb character, and I love the dumb character. It’s so fun to play. I’m pretty genuine just in life, and that’s the core value of the dumb character. He’s like a puppy.
What attracts you to comedy? You seem to have a lot of fun with it and really throw yourself into comedic projects.
It’s fun, most superficially. It’s a challenge, and I like making people laugh. I also think that it gets really dark in the later episodes for Ford, and it’s not funny. In comedy, you just heighten the reality and play it serious.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
“Now Apocalypse” airs on Starz on Sundays at 9 p.m. EST