“It’s important to show that story and that your behavior has consequences.”
17: Congrats on all your success this past year. How is it getting to be a part of such big shows?
Felix Mallard: I just count myself incredibly, incredibly lucky. I’m so stoked that I’ve got to be a part of such amazing projects. There’s always been a point of making sure that I play different characters and different roles. And so fortunately, we’ve had the chance to show that off. I never want to be doing one thing in particular. So it’s been nice to really sort of try and stretch my muscles now that I’m in the States.
17: Marcus and Ginny’s relationship moves pretty quickly. How was it building that relationship with Antonia Gentry?
FM: It was incredible. Toni is a star and that shows through the vibe on set. How everything feels starts from the top down. Toni and Bri[anne Howely] are probably the hardest working people on set. That was just so lovely. I really enjoyed developing that relationship. I thought it was a great opportunity to show an honest reflection of young love. Honesty and truth is such a prevalent theme in the show and you never really quite know whether anyone is telling the truth. To get to play with that and kind of develop that dynamic between us was amazing and hopefully it comes across.
17: Marcus is a person who wears a lot of masks. He not only hides it from her, but also is hiding it from himself to keep him from dealing with it all properly.
FM: Absolutely, she brings it out of himself and kind of forces him to deal with the things that he’s been pushing away for however many years. There’s always been a sense with Marcus that as soon as he sees Ginny, he says, “I’m going to be in your life.” Whatever capacity that is, he’s just gonna be there. He knows that. So at the start, it’s kind of him figuring it out. And then he realizes he can’t live without it. It forces him to actually take responsibility for himself, which I think is an important message to show them young blokes especially.
17: One second they meet and the next he is climbing through her window. Did that initially surprise you?
FM: It just made sense. That’s what happens with Marcus. He’s in this swirling cyclone of feelings and anger and thinking that he doesn’t have a place in the world. And the moment he sees Ginny, she’s the only thing that makes sense. She makes him feel how he sees her and that everything feels okay. I don’t know if comes across, but just as a general physical acting thing I was trying was that Marcus can’t sit still. He can’t stop moving. He always has to have this nervous energy. There’s always something going on until he sees Ginny. So if you look through any scene where he’s with Ginny, he’s very still and he’s more relaxed than anywhere else.
17: Do you feel like some of his unwillingness has to do with vulnerability?
FM: Absolutely. He’s scared of it. He only ever feels like he can share things with Ginny. He sees her as an opportunity to be vulnerable.
17: It’s interesting because Marcus is already with Padma in the beginning of the series. She very much cares for him, but it doesn’t work out the other way around.
FM: It comes down to the depression that he’s dealing with and thinking that no one else can understand him. There’s no point trying until he sees that sort of same pain in Ginny. The reason that they do connect is because they instantly see themselves in each other. They see the pain and all the things that they’re struggling with. They naturally relate to each other. Marcus, with a partner, he kind of takes advantage of that situation. He takes and takes and takes but doesn’t give anything back. Because, in his mind, he doesn’t feel like he’s worthy. But that doesn’t really matter. He’s still taking advantage of it.
When I read the script, I was reticent to play almost that antagonistic kind of, for lack of a better word, a*shole kind of guy. And then there was a second bait of, “I just know so many guys like this.” I know so many dudes who are just so insecure in their own feelings that they outwardly turn it out. And, unfortunately, they treat the women in their lives pretty badly. So I was hesitant to kind of display that behavior and show that on screen, until it sort of clicked that it’s important to show that to young men. It’s important to show that story and that your behavior has consequences and for them to see when Marcus notices that and actually takes responsibility.
17: Even with that mindset, he does end up taking a step back when he sees that Ginny is figuring things out on her own. Did that surprise you?
FM: It wasn’t surprising, but it was welcomed. I really loved that, because it showed his growth. In episode one, Marcus wouldn’t do that. He would just completely go, “No, I want to beat you. I don’t care.” It shows how much Ginny is changing in Marcus and how she is bringing him out of himself. For him to have that maturity and to step back and go “Well, she’s happy. She needs to actually do this. I can’t be in the way of that,” it’s absolutely showing him learning. If he was just rude and belligerent the whole way, I don’t think we’d love him as much.
17: It’s interesting that you mention that he feels that no one loves him, because he does seem to have a loving family who are hoping he is able to move past this.
FM: It’s all goes back to that feeling like no one really understands him and that he’s not worthy of their time. His father’s deaf. His mom is constantly stressed, because she’s organizing about 50 million things. His sister is million words a minute and she’s going through our own stuff. He just thinks, “I should just go through it by myself.” I think so many young guys think like that.
17: The Max and Marcus sibling relationship was also a wonderful part of the series. How was building that with Sarah?
FM: It was brilliant. It was a testament to the writing really that we could just kind of slip in and automatically go [at it]. We knew who those people were instantly. Marcus and Maxine are two sides of the same coin. Maxine is outwardly energetic and confident and so eager to just live life. She’s unapologetic and is just herself. Marcus is just introverted. He doesn’t really say much to say, isn’t very happy, just the complete opposite. Everything they do comes from that place of needing love and acceptance. They just go about it in very different ways.
17: The finale really showed them going at each other with Marcus saying some pretty harsh things to Max.
FM: Around that time, the car crash and that fight, Marcus has all of his demons at the forefront. It’s all his darkness and all the things that he is struggling with. Because Ginny is gone and he doesn’t have that anchor anymore. Everything is just allowed to let loose. So it’s everything that he has been trying to repress throughout the whole series and the bottle cap is taken off. It’s damaging to all the people in his lives. It’s damaging to the person he loves the most, Ginny, and to his sister and his family. It really shows that he needs that anchor. He needs that love and he needs that room to be vulnerable so that he doesn’t outwardly burn everything around him.
17: We don’t see Marcus react to Ginny leaving town because he doesn’t know. How do you think he’ll react in season two?
FM: It will be a loss all over again and it will be his fault. The last time they spoke with everyone, he said it was a mistake and then he was taking it back. He was drawn to cover it all up because of misguided nerves. It wasn’t actually the truth, but he is unable to deal with his emotions well. When something like that happens, dribble comes out of his mouth and it damages the people around him. He will definitely take a lot of that energy and think about how much he’s ruined things.
There was a funny thing when I read the last scene for me as an actor and the journey of Marcus. I was like, “It feels like maybe we should have a bit more. It feels unfinished. We should cap it off in a different way.” Watching it back, I saw it and went, “Oh, that’s perfect.” Because Marcus does want more and needs more. But Ginny is over it and is completely done at that time. Watching it put me in that perfect place. It just shows Marcus is still wrapped up in his own world even when he’s telling Ginny that he loves her.
17: Do you think he’ll go after her? Or do you think he’ll blame himself too much to go looking for Ginny?
FM: She took his bike, so he has no way of going after her. Maybe getting in a cab? But I do think he will retreat into himself. He doesn’t know how to handle these things. He doesn’t know what to do. Especially, when he does blame himself, it lends itself to the possibility of a spiral. That’s what he does.