Talk Nerdy With Us recently chatted with actor Parker Young. Young is best known for his roles on Killer Reality, Suburgatory, Enlisted, Sex Ed, Things You Shouldn’t Say Past Midnight and Arrow. In February, fans can see Parker portray Chris in the hilarious dramedy 4th Man Out. A story about Adam (Evan Todd), a small-town, blue-collar mechanic who shocks his buddies when he tells them he’s gay. Keep reading to see what Parker had to say about 4th Man Out, playing poker, directing, Arrow and his new Bravo pilot My So Called Wife.
What can you tell us about 4th Man Out and your character Chris?
In a nutshell it’s about four best friends and one of them comes out of the closet. It’s about our trying to, specifically my character trying to rally my buddies to help insure that Adam who came out of the closest doesn’t feel like he’s no longer welcome in our group of friends. I play the best friend of the guy that comes out of the closet, and I guess act as a catalyst to try to make sure that everything continues as normal. I try to convince myself and my buddies that this doesn’t change anything.
How did you get involved with it?
I was actually taking a little vacation. I was flying to Bali and I asked my agent to send me a bunch of scripts that I could read on the 20 some hour flight, and I read this script, and I think it was the first one I read actually, and I just, I loved it. I called my manager when I had a chance and said, “Dude, I really like this.” He agreed, and so we got on the phone with the director, and I tricked him into essentially giving me the job. (laughs).
Yeah, I only read for Chris. Chris just resonated with me. There were some questions and things that I had after I read the initial script and there were some changes I maybe wanted to see made, so I just talked to the director about that and about my thoughts on the project. I think by the end of that conversation, he just felt that I was his Chris.
What were some of the changes?
In the initial draft that I saw there was a dream sequence where me and Evan Todd’s character (the guy who comes out of the closet) we’re like making out and I wake up all freaked out, and it just didn’t really feel right. What I found out was that originally there had been a draft where my character has some fears about whether or not he’s in fact gay now because of this, and there were just some things that were a little bit unclear. But, we were, Andy Nackman (the director) and I were on the same page about everything. Other than that, I’m a big believer in being able to have fun and play with the material and let things develop organically. I just wanted to see if, you know, if that would vibe with him. I’d never met him, and he was like, “Absolutely, man. I want to have fun and play with this and let you guys relate to these characters in the story.” Yeah, it was a go for both of us.
When did you guys actually film it? Was it in the summertime or-
It was in the summer! I knew you were going to ask me this and I know I wasn’t going to have the right answer. (laughs). It was like a year and a half ago in the summer in Albany over the course of like three weeks. I don’t remember which month. It was July maybe or actually, it was in August, end of July, August. We all flew out to Albany. I hadn’t met anybody, and from the moment that I got to the hotel with the guys, I just kind of made it our mission to really become best friends. Every moment we had we were together, working out together, going in the steam room together, drinking together, just trying to really find that friendship in the little time that we had so that on camera we would have some sort of chemistry.
If you, Evan, Chord and Jon were really playing a game of poker, who would have the best poker face and who would most likely win?
(laughs) Well, my initial instinct is to say that I would win, but I’m not really the best poker player. I haven’t put my finger on why that is. I think that Chord would not be the best. I don’t think he’s got the best poker face. I am going to say Jon would win. Gabrus would win. I’m not really sure why. He just seems like he’s a poker player.
How did you prepare to play somebody who was witnessing his best friend going through such a huge life change?
I have a lot of gay people in my life. Just living in Hollywood I think you tend to know more gay people than where you grow up. A lot of people who I really care about, my managers, not my current agent but agents in the past, and a lot of friends are gay. It was important to me to communicate this story as best I could. There’s also on the flip side there’s so much hate in the world, and I think that this was … When I read it, I just thought this was a great opportunity to help this conversation exist.
I know that I’ve got a bunch of best friends, and really it was kind of as simple as just imagining if one of them were to come out and how I’d want to ease that transition along. My brother also has … When he was in college he had a buddy that he suspected was gay, and they didn’t know how to have the conversation. They didn’t know how to navigate that territory. One thing that I love about this film is I think it’s an opportunity to have that conversation. Watch this film and you can see normal straight dudes that have fallen and get drunk, and then you get to see them deal with this sort of situation and ultimately realize it’s not a big deal. It can be normal.
Speaking of being dudes, there’s a really funny part in the movie where your character doesn’t know the name of the girl he’s hitting on. How would you handle that situation?
(laughs). I’m not really great with names and that’s something I’m trying to get better at. That’s kind of true to life, but, yeah, I would like to believe that I’d find a graceful way to handle that situation. What I wouldn’t do is, if I was on the fence about her name, I wouldn’t throw her name out, you know … I’ve learned my lesson from Chris’s mistake, so I won’t let that happen in my life. (laughs).
Do you have any memorable experiences or stories from shooting the film?
Oh, yeah. A bunch. We had such a good time. I think the most fun was just, like I had mentioned, was just … We would rap. We’d get off set for the day, and we would go back to the hotel. Usually, it’d be really late, and I remember we would just go. We’d fire up the sauna. We’d all just sit in the sauna and drink. We’d work out. We just would hang out and become great friends. We were having breath holding contests and almost passing out. Evan actually had challenged me to a breath holding contest, and I had been like in the middle of this time in my life when I was free diving a lot, which is essentially snorkeling, and going down for as long as you can. I had been practicing holding my breath and he tried to challenge me. He did like a minute twelve, and I got to four minutes and almost passed out, but those experiences were a lot of fun.
As far as on set, I think a lot of the fun was just kind of improvising. We did that a lot. Almost to the point of pissing off the producer. Gabrus, in particular, just loved to make people laugh and he’s always got witty, funny comments he’s throwing out. I think it really helped bring everything to life. If I ever needed something to feel organic, I would just throw the mike to Gabrus and let him kind of rattle it off, just be him for a while and it created a really fun environment. Also, the best thing was just all hanging together for the three weeks or whatever it was and trying to build those relationships.
How much of the film was improvised?
A lot of it was there at least generally. The script was there. I think that just little details here and there, just little things. When you have three, four people in a scene and you’re trying to all mingle and be there, there just has to be some sort of overlap. It wasn’t excessive. I don’t know exactly how much of the final cut is scripted versus improvised, but I’d say a good mix of the two.
Have you seen the final cut?
I have. Yes, I have. Oh, yeah. I’ve very proud of how it turned out.
I don’t know that I have a scene that I’m most excited about right now. You mentioned the poker scene, and that’s kind of fun, and like all those awkward moments where the four of us are together, although I also like a scene where we’re on a double date. That’s a fun interesting bit and any scene that Gabrus is in, Gabrus and Chord. I just love all those guys and I love their chemistry together.
Switching gears a little bit, tell me about your audition process for Arrow?
I went and met with a group of them. There was casting and producers and they gave me some material that I later found out wasn’t even a part of what I was going to be shooting. It was something from a previous season, but I went in. I was the last guy they saw, and read the scene with everybody, and I guess they thought that I was okay to do the job, so they gave it to me. (laughs). It was pretty straightforward. Since then I’ve been traveling back and forth to Vancouver every couple of weeks to work on that project, and it’s been a lot of fun.
Had you watched the show prior to auditioning?
I had not. I brushed up on it before I met with them, so I knew what I was getting myself into, but, no, I hadn’t been a fan.
What can you tease about Alex’s storyline for the second half of the season?
That’s a good question. I feel like as soon as I start teasing anything, someone’s going to pop out with a poison dart to my house. (laughs). I’m there to help Oliver with the campaign. He’s running for mayor. So, I’m going to help him win this campaign. My character (Alex Davis) and Thea start to develop some feelings for each other. I think that Alex’s hope is that that will progress, but I think Thea is a little bit timid because she has some demons that she fears will interfere with us having a normal, successful relationship.
Besides the Fourth Man Out and Arrow, is there anything else that you’re currently working on or that’s coming out that you want to talk about?
I just finished a pilot for Bravo. It’s called My So Called Wife. I’m really, really excited about this pilot, but it’s just that. It’s just a pilot. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve shot a pilot and was really excited about it and no one ever got to see it, so I will be waiting till the end of March to find out if Bravo wants to go ahead and pick us up, the series. If it does go, I would be very thrilled.
It’s essentially about this woman who is a con artist. She marries these guys, they fall in love with her and then three months later she disappears and takes everything that they have. I play one of her husbands that this happened to, and I’m trying to find her. In the process I stumble upon another one of her victims, a guy that she just married and left, and so we team up and try to go find our wife.
Since our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us, what do you nerd out about or what makes you a nerd?
Gosh. A lot I think. Acting. I definitely nerd out about acting, and recently been nerding out about cameras. A buddy of mine was asking me to help him shoot a music video, so it opened this whole new world of directing, which I’ve realized I know nothing about, so I’ve been nerding out about that whole process, camera, cinematography, editing. That’s my new endeavor. I nerd out about my motorcycle. Oh, I super nerd out about camping. I love going to REI and they’ve got all this awesome camping gear, and I load up my backpack and just go camping. That’s my major nerd out. Yeah, that’s about it.
Do you want to work more behind the camera than in front of it?
No, I wouldn’t say I’m looking to do that more so, but I definitely want to broaden my horizon. I find it very difficult to be on set as an actor and not know all of what goes on behind the camera, and it just interests me. I’m a little bit of a control freak. (laughs). I like to have things unfold the way that I envision them and sometimes when I’m on set I get really frustrated when I feel I’m not being heard.
That was one of the things about this film that I loved because there was just such open communication. I could talk to Andy and the producers and really kind of make sure we were all on the same page as opposed to Arrow, for example. No one gives a shit about what I think, so I’m interested to kind of move in this direction, just the development direction so that I have more say and so that I’m not stuck auditioning for jobs. I can start actively creating jobs.
Ideally, you’d like to direct something that you’re in?
I think so. Yeah, my brother just graduated film school. He’s four years younger than me, and he moved in with me, so we’ve been working together. I think the dream would be if him and I could work together to direct something. I really trust his opinion, and he knows me so well that I think we’d make a good team 20 years down the road when I’ve successfully nerded out about all this to the point where I have any sort of knowledge. (laughs).
4th Man Out is coming out on February 5, in theaters and VOD.