Girl Talk: Chatting with Matt McWilliams from One of the Guys

“There’s a lot of hatred out there, but we can help people change that through comedy.”

The cast of One of the Guys, (L-R) Aaron Palmer, Jeff Familetti, Stephen Fala and Matt McWilliams.

If you haven’t seen Michael C. Busza’s One of the Guys, stop reading, open another window and click here to watch the first episode. The first-of-its-kind Temple web series follows three gay roommates who accidentally invite a straight man to sublet an open room in their apartment. What ensues is a hilarious, smartly written twist on one of the most common social misconceptions — that straight men and gay men just don’t mix.

The cast comprises a mix of gay-world stereotypes: there’s the über-flaming-gay Jonathan (Aaron Palmer), the level-headed, more-on-the-macho-side Madison (Stephen Fala) and brainy Alex (Matt McWilliams), whose personality falls somewhere in the middle of the two. Ethan (Jeff Familetti), the hetero roomie, is a laid-back, no-nonsense dude who just wants a place to crash.

This week, I caught up with 19-year-old cast member Matt McWilliams to see if I could get some scoop on the second episode, which airs tonight at 9 p.m. and catches up with the lads one month after Ethan moves in.

G Philly: How did you get involved with One of the Guys?
Matt McWilliams: They held open auditions here at Temple for a series of pilot episodes being produced as part of a production class. I came to the audition … without having a spot. I didn’t have a resume. I didn’t have a headshot. But I auditioned and felt really great about the stuff I read from One of the Guys. I got picked and we started. Halfway through the production of the pilot we realized we were doing something really special. So we got permission from the department to turn it into Temple’s first full-length series.

GP: Where do you shoot?
MW: We shoot at a place called University Village, a sort of non-offiicial student living space for Temple students. They have a model apartment that they show [potential leasers]. It doesn’t have drawers or any real furnishings, but we bring our own props and decorate it ourselves.

GP: All the gay characters are played by gay actors and Ethan is played by a straight one. But is it true that Michael [Busza] wanted to cast you as the hetero roommate?
MW: (Laughs) That’s true. I felt really good about all the characters I read for, but Alex was absolutely the one I thought I wouldn’t get, because I thought he was the furthest from who I am … but its funny how it came down to being between [him and the straight guy].

GP: What are the differences between you and Alex?
MW: On the surface, Alex is probably a lot more outspoken and opinionated than I am. He’s aggressive and assertive in this really great way; he’s proud of who he is and he doesn’t care who knows it. He wears his heart on his sleeve and if you don’t like him, you can deal with it. Personally, I’m probably a little bit more soft-spoken and reserved.

GP: I bet you guys have a lot of fun on the set. Did you know the cast members before you started the show?
MW: I knew the other three guys in the cast. We’re all theater majors, we all had classes together before, but it was more of a passing acquaintance. But now we’re great friends; we’re like family.

GP: Any funny stories from the set you’d like to share?
MW: We started this thing, where, instead of sitting and talking on a couch like normal people, we’d sit in the bathroom and talk. For whatever reason, the bathtub seems to be more conducive to personal, intimate conversations. We call it tubbing. We sit in the bathtub and talk about anything that strikes our fancy.

GP: So you all get along? No feuds on set?
MW: Oh gosh, no. I wish I had some juicy stories. Everyone gets along with everyone else. We spend so much time together; we talk every day we go out together on the weekends. We spend a lot of time together, but luckily we’re all still friends.

GP: Are there any onset romances?
MW: We all really love each other a lot, but at the end of the day we’re all just friends. We get along really well, I don’t think any of us would be interested in changing that. We get along too well to risk that.

GP: Is it hard being a student and trying to juggle your filming schedule?
MW: It is. We film every weekend, and that’s been going on since October. It’s a good thing we all like each other so much, because we spend our whole weekend — sometimes until 1 or 2 in the morning — filming. It’s a very time-consuming project, but we all love it so much.

GP: Let’s talk about the philosophy of the show — how it tackles relationships between straight men and gay men. What are your thoughts about what the show is trying to accomplish?
MW: One of the places the show really succeeds over the course of the season is how it speaks to the way these people are all very different, but they become genuine friends. The whole point of the show is to illustrate the fact that anyone can be friends with anyone. There isn’t this rule that says gay people have to be friends with gay people and straight people have to be friends with straight people. I love that One of the Guys is making the effort to illustrate those friendships. This isn’t something you see a whole lot. Some of my closest friends are straight … and having straight friends isn’t this huge earth-shattering thing, but sometimes when people ask about the show, they don’t expect us to have genuine interactions with straight people. The show does a good job of bringing life to these meaningful relationships that are a huge part of our everyday lives and exposing them to the mainstream — or at least to the people watching our show. I think that’s really cool.

GP: Your character seems to have more of an issue with the straight character at first, but you don’t seem to have that problem in real life.
MW: I was very lucky in the sense that I came from a [family and school where] you were free to be who you were. I know everyone doesn’t have those same experiences, but hopefully One of the Guys can show how we can get past the prejudices like the ones Alex has and form some really great friendships.

Matt McWilliams in the second episode of One of the Guys.

GP: Hints for the next episode?
MW: In the next episode, Episode 2, expect to see more costumes, more wigs and more Post-It Notes assembled in one place than you’ll ever seen in your entire life. There are a few shirtless scenes, people will be kissing, we will return to the tub. And expect to see all the characters growing and interacting with people in new ways.

GP: You say there’s going to be kissing, will will you guys ever have to film sex scenes?
MW: You know, that’s something we as a cast have wondered about. Honestly, sex is a part of real life and people fall for each other … so I wouldn’t be surprised if it went in that direction if we’re lucky enough to do a second season. But don’t expect any sex scenes din the near future, although you will see some romantic things happening.

GP: Last words?
MW: I just want to share a phrase Michael used when describing the show to us: “acceptance through comedy” — normalizing gay culture and the relationship between gay people and straight people through humor. That’s the thing that’s stuck with me the most through this process. There’s a lot of hatred out there, but we can help people change that through comedy, and that’s the kind of thing Mike’s trying to do with the show and I think that’s awesome.

The second episode of One of the Guys airs tonight at 9 p.m. at oneoftheguystv.com.

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