Talk Nerdy With Us caught up with actor Adam Hagenbuch to discuss his upcoming role as Jimmy Gibbler on Fuller House. Hagenbuch’s previous credits include Undateable, Switched at Birth, Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, A New York Heartbeat, American Cliche and Hell’s Fury: Wanted Dead or Alive. Read our interview below and watch the second season of Fuller House on Netflix now!
The last time we talked, you had said that Daphne and Mingo were one the stable relationships on Switched at Birth, and from what we’ve seen in the promos, that may not be the case anymore. It looks like they’re going to be dealing with some drama. What can you tell us about that? Are they even still together?
(laughs) What can I say about that? Well, it’s been awhile since we’ve seen them. Much as in real life, on the show, I think it’s been 18 months since the last episode we saw, and that’ll be mirrored in the actual universe of the show because it’s been ten months since the storyline left off. There’s obviously going to be some big switches and changes that have happened in people’s personal lives and their thoughts and opinions, so I think…I’m not sure how much I can say about where Daphne and Mingo are (laughs). Things will definitely be different. Ten months changes a lot, but not everything.
From the promo we saw, they get in trouble because of their party costumes?
Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Yeah. I think Daphne is dressed as Katy Perry. Obviously not too controversial, but Mingo, the consummate rabble-rouser but also free-loving guy who just doesn’t think about his consequences and is a big fan of Lil Wayne decides to go as Lil Wayne. I think this season we thought it was important to bring light to some of the social issues going on, especially on college campuses. A white student, one who’s working for the school as an RA going, not necessarily in black-face but ostensibly as an African American character person, celebrity, was highly inflammatory on the campus. I think Mingo’s the one that’s catching the heat there and then Daphne because she’s complicit in the selfie taking. She’s catching some heat as well, and that’s going to be a big arc this season. Not necessarily that moment, but that issue is going to be a big part of the season.
Going off of that, as Adam, what has been your best and worst costume (for Halloween or just in general)?
(laughs) Oh boy. I never feel like I’m prepared for Halloween because there’s always so many things going on. I never really went crazy for Halloween, but I think in high school we had a lot of dress-up days, like for prom and homecoming and things like that. For homecoming, we had a brand themed homecoming and people usually will just put on a Pepsi 10 or a Frito Lay or something and then they just wear a nice dress or a nice suit. I thought it would be funny to put a whole huge globe over my head and come as the Jack-in-the-Box guy. I think that was pretty funny. That went over well. That was a pretty successful costume.
Regarding my worst…I feel like anytime you just don’t go for it, it’s the worst. When you just go, and you’re wearing just your regular clothes, and you’re like, “I’m an alien dressed as a student.” People are like, “Boo! That’s not a good costume.”
We know that the finale of Switched at Birth is going to be a movie. Is Mingo going to appear in the movie? Is he around for the last episode?
I don’t know because we shot each episode in its own time and I wasn’t in the last, last episode, but that was only a 60-minute chunk at the time, and I was in the episodes leading up to the finale. They didn’t tell us beforehand that it was going to be turned into a 90 or 120-minute continuous episode. I might be in there somewhere. I’m not sure how they decided to cut it up. They were kind of tight-lipped about how they wanted to end everything and bring it all together. The only thing that they communicated to everybody was that they were giving it a good ending.
As Mingo’s portrayer, are you happy with how his storyline wraps up?
Yeah, I am. They actually gave him a lot of room to grow and expand and show other facets of himself, other than the college party boy. I think they gave him some depth and they allowed Daphne to challenge him and him to challenge her. It’s always nice when you can see a relationship reflect the aspects of the characters that need to grow as well, when it’s this mutual thing that’s causing them to change as opposed to just their relationship dynamic is changing, and they aren’t really growing in a new way.
You’re going to be on Fuller House. Tell me about your audition process for Jimmy.
It was such a quick audition process. You typically get an audition a day or several days in advance, and you have some time to prepare it. You need some time to memorize it, and then you make choices about the material. You try and build a backstory for whatever character you’re creating, and then you go in there and you audition. Then you hear back about it later.
In this particular case, I got the audition at 10:00 am in the morning on a Monday, and I had to go in at noon. It was two hours later, and it was 15 pages of dialog. (laughs) It’s overwhelming, but I went in there and did it and thought, “We’ll see about that.” I’m not used to having to get something done in that short amount of time. But, the next day I was on set. It was a really quick turnover.
As a Gibbler, that kind of seems fitting. (laughs) That seems like how an audition for a Gibbler would go.
That’s exactly how Jimmy shows up on the show. He’s just there all of a sudden, which is hilarious. It did feel appropriate. It was an excellent introduction to my character.
Tell me a little bit about Jimmy and Kimmy’s relationship.
Jimmy and Kimmy hit it off immediately. They have so many little things that they do together or know about each other that they play off of all the time. When we’re in scenes together, there’s always something that we’re just mirroring each other on because we have the same sensibilities. I think the question that’s remaining in everybody’s mind, is what their relationship was as kids because obviously she never talked about Jimmy. (laughs)
I have some theories about that, but as it stands as adults, they get along very well.
What are some of your theories?
She talks about Garth, which is her older brother, who has the Chevy Caprice. The one with zebra prints inside. It’s orange and green. It’s called Wild Thing. We never see Garth, but we see his fantastic car. In the first episode, she says that she has two or three sisters that we also never see. Kimmy is not exactly a trustworthy person about her family, at least as a kid. I feel like she doesn’t want to bring them up often. Which kind of justifies why she comes over all the time. She has all these siblings, and they overwhelm her or she just doesn’t want to think about them, and she’d rather be hanging out with two girls that are exactly her age over at this fantastic house full of wonderful people that always really do a great job of celebrating the holidays.
I think that Jimmy was there all along. He’s her younger brother. She was probably annoyed to death by him, as all older sisters are in their teens by their younger brothers. I think the reason that we didn’t hear about him in the original series is just that he was this nuisance and then he shows up in Fuller House, and I think a lot of those issues have gone away and now they just get along. That’s my theory. I could be wrong.
What was it like working with Andrea? What did you guys do to bond and form a sibling relationship?
She is awesome, first of all. She is so funny and just so at ease with doing everything. They’ll bring her the craziest things and ideas they want her to do, and she’ll just be totally game for it. It’s awesome to see. Regarding what we did, she just let me into the world of this show that’s been going on for 30 years. Coming on set, it’s like a family. They have all these memories and inside jokes and she just, every time Candace or Jodie or anytime any one of the legacy cast was there, Bob or John are making jokes about something, I’m just like, “What are they even talking about?”
Everyone’s laughing, and they’re talking about some episode from 20 years ago. Andrea will always let me into the joke, and she’ll tell me what’s going on. It makes me feel like I’m really part of the gang there. Just me, Adam, feels like I’m more part of the gang, and then by extension she makes me feel like, “Oh, this is my sister. She’s helping me be a part of the team.” I think just that kind of energy that she brings to it and that welcoming warmth that she has made me feel like we are family members and we are in it together.
Did you watch Full House growing up?
It was a little bit before my time. I saw reruns and things like that. I think I was deeply entrenched in the cartoon world at that time. I was a little bit baffled by real people on the television. (laughs) I know that my sister was a huge fan of Full House. The girls were exactly her age. They were talking about things she was talking about. They liked the bands, the stuff that she was into. She watched it religiously, and I think I would come home a lot of days from school and see her watching it on TV and things like that. I got it through an extension from her.
How did you tell your sister that you had landed a role on Fuller House?
I took a picture in the Full House house on the couch and sent it to her. She was like, “How are you there? Are you on a tour or something?” I was like, “No, I’m on the show. I’m on it.” There were some nice freak-out moments for her. I’m dying to get her to come and see it, but she’s busy being a highly responsible adult with her three children right now. She just had her third, so I’m like, “Ah, hurry up and raise those kids so that I can have you come and see the show.”
Jimmy is also a love interest for Stephanie. Can you tell us a little bit about how that comes to be?
Yes. It comes to be very quickly and then we explore what it means for the rest of the season. In the trailer, you kind of see it happening. They kiss and then she finds out that I’m a Gibbler and she’s disgusted. That’s how it goes the rest of the season.
They really get along. They have a lot in common, and they like each other, but Steph has to figure out whether she’s willing to get over her ego and date a Gibbler or not. She’s constantly somewhere between enthralled with this guy and totally disgusted by him because he’s Kimmy’s brother. That’s the relationship for most of the season.
They fell into it almost immediately. It’s kind of this love at first sight thing.
Is the kiss…is that your first scene or do you show up before it?
That is their first interaction. Just an immediate attraction there. Kind of a funny collision course relationship.
How would you describe the second season of Fuller House in five words?
(laughs) Let me pick these words correctly. Happy, holiday, hi-jinks. Nostalgia’s in there somewhere. Relaxing.
On both Undateable and Fuller House, you dance. Do you have a background in it? And is the dancing usually scripted or improv?
It’s partially improv. I definitely think that dance is just an inherently funny thing and on both of those shows it was about bringing the comedy. I know that I move in a strange way. (laughs) I enjoy dance quite a bit. In college, I went to a theater school, and we had several years of dance training, which is really where I learned that I look hilarious doing it.
We had to do a year of ballet and a year of jazz. I certainly won’t ever be going to So You Think You Can Dance and getting to the final round or something, but I know that I can move in a way that matches the music to some degree and that more often than not it’ll probably be comical.
Besides Switched at Birth and Fuller House, what other projects are you working on?
I just did a couple of episodes of a new single-cam sitcom. It’s a mockumentary in the vein of something like Parks and Rec or The Office, but it’s a parody of these true crime shows, and it’s called Trial and Error. It’s with John Lithgow, and it’s going to be hilarious. The script was funny. I’m going to be in that. I think it comes out in March, but I have no idea, and I don’t know when my episode will air. That was fun.
Then, I was in an independent film about a month ago called Say You Will with a fantastic cast and this writer/director who’s really young and excellent. They’re trying to get that into Sundance right now, which I would love. Selfishly. Shout-out to them. Hey guys, if you could get into Sundance, that’d be great. (laughs)
Have you ever been to Sundance?
I went to Sundance two years ago just because I wanted to go so badly. I think independent film is probably my favorite thing in the world and Sundance fell on my birthday, so I just wanted to go for my birthday. I drove out there. I saw movies and hung out with a bunch of movie people, and it was just great. It was all you can ask for. To have a movie to have a reason to go would be a dream come true.
Other than that I just shoot music videos and try and make my own short narrative pieces. The most recent music video I shot was for this band called Booty. For their song called Holy. We had some awesome people in there that were working on it. The director (Sadé Clacken Joseph) was fantastic, and we had a choreographer (Ida Nowakowska) who’s this big deal. I was the director of photography on that.