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Jack Falahee on How to Get Away With Murder, Viola Davis, and His Cast BFFs

Photo: Disney/ABC

It wasn’t so long ago that Jack Falahee was working as a cater-waiter in New York before he moved to Los Angeles and scored a role as law student Connor Walsh on ABC’s fall breakout drama How to Get Away With Murder. If that wasn’t enough, Falahee in particular has received a lot of attention for his mischievous good looks and steamy gay sex scenes. Vulture caught up with Falahee before he went on set to shoot the final episode of the season. We talked about his favorite scene so far, what we can expect after the hiatus, and his favorite cartoon at the moment.

Viola Davis won the SAG award for Best Actress in a Drama. Are you guys going to be doing anything to celebrate her win?
That was amazing, huh? I hope so. I’m sure the producers have something up their sleeves. We finish the first season tomorrow and we’re having a big wrap party, so it’ll be celebratory as-is.

What’s it like working with her?
She’s been around. She knows what’s up. Even though it’s the first time she’s been No. 1 on the call sheet, she leads so naturally and gracefully. That has been a huge part of the success on set and all of us bringing our best work. The bar is just set so high. And Viola is the first to have a jag at herself for flubbing a line. She keeps it light, which is important because we’re dealing typically with pretty heavy story lines. We have a happy, healthy set, which I’m very thankful for.

You seem really close with the rest of your castmates, too.
We all get along extremely well, which shocks me, to be honest. You get a bunch of actors in the room and you figure a few of them have to be assholes. But I think it’s a testament to Shonda [Rhimes] and Pete [Nowalk]. They flew us out a week early to Philadelphia to shoot the pilot just so all of us youngsters could hang out and get to know each other. From day one, we were romping around the streets of Philadelphia and just having slumber parties with cartons of ice cream.

You’ve mentioned that Connor is someone who uses his mind and his groin but not really his heart. I was hoping you could elaborate on that a little more.
I was talking to a buddy around pilot season last year, about things we quickly do for character work with the little amount of time we have. He said he breaks characters down into the groin, heart, and brain, and that that creates an easy vantage point to unpack the character in an accessible way. I began to approach Connor from this place of the brain and groin, but obviously, as the season has progressed and more has been written about Connor, I’ve come to learn who he is beyond that. So that’s always changing. It’s not to say that Connor doesn’t have a heart or act from that place, but yeah, it was definitely a jumping-off point for me.

Oliver seems like he’s trying to get Connor to use his heart, but he’s not used to doing that. Do you know if we’ll see more of Oliver in the second half?
We might. Obviously, Connor went to Oliver’s place that night, and pedals back, saying that he’s an addict. So we definitely do see them work through that moment, to say the least.

Were there moments during the night of the murder that you thought, Why didn’t Connor just leave?
There were often times where I would wonder why Connor isn’t calling a lawyer or why isn’t he out the door. But I think that Connor also knows at a certain point in the night that he’s been implemented enough that the other students could potentially throw him under the bus. There is this fear that leads to solidarity, and that’s something that the second half of the season explores — how involved each of them are emotionally and legally. How far have these kids dug themselves into their own graves, so to speak. So that definitely flashed across my mind, but there was a point of no return where Connor’s just like, All right, well, I’m part of this now.

I like that: solidarity out of fear. There’s a competitive instinct, but also an understanding that their fates are all bound together.
I think that that’s sort of what makes the second half so compelling. These are smart kids. And they know the severity of the situation that they’re in, and they do need each other. The second half of the season explores alliances being made, enemies being made, and how these relationships start to ebb and flow a little differently than we saw in the first part of the season.

I have to ask you about all the attention given to Connor’s sex scenes. Television is this place where you’re seeing breakthroughs in representation, which Davis also talked about during her SAG speech. What’s it like to be a part of something that isn’t just a ratings hit but is also arguably breaking new ground on broadcast television?
Annalise taking off her wig has been has been my favorite scene that we’ve shot. As for me, I’m happy that members of the LGBT community are finding a voice in these characters. That’s always a powerful thing. A great byproduct of a TV show, movie, or play is when it can act as a catalyst for someone. I try each day to wake up, go to set, and bring Connor to life as honestly and truthfully as I can.

What was the audition process like?
When I first read the script, I didn’t even have an appointment. My buddy who was crashing on my couch, he was going in for Connor. He was like, “Oh man, you got to go in on this.” I was just like, Shit, all right. I had to fight tooth and nail to try to get an appointment because they were going for a different look at the time. But then they eventually circled back and I got in the room, so it worked out.

Your friend is cool with your getting the part?
[Laughs.] Yeah, he’s fine. He’s an insanely talented actor, but he booked a show as well.

I understand that you want to do voice work for a cartoon. What would your dream cartoon be?
I’m super into Adventure Time on Cartoon Network. I love the idea of animation just because it removes the actor from the character and you can be anything. I’ve been devouring Adventure Time and Archer. I’d love to get my hands dirty on either of those shows.

Jack Falahee on How to Get Away With Murder