Murder in The Meadow
These days, with nationwide events like ABC’s #TGIT (Thank God It’s Thursdays), it is hard to imagine a Thursday night without Jack Falahee pushing the primetime envelope on How To Get Away With Murder. In fact, if you are like me or any of the nine million other fans the series pulls in each week, the thought of such an absence is unacceptable.
The 26-year-old Michigan born, New York-educated actor made waves last year during the freshman season of the gripping ABC drama, playing a racy yet confident intern to Annalise Keating, a college professor and attorney, played by the legendary Viola Davis. Fans of the show could not get enough of Falahee’s performance, clothed and unclothed. This year, aside from the very serious murder plot his character is entangled in, there are other matters at hand, like re-introducing HIV into prime-time television. The storyline began to unravel during the season one finale when viewers learned Connor’s boyfriend Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) has tested positive for the virus. With a second season nearing the middle mark, I sat down with Jack Falahee and took a look back at the elements that made How To Get Away With Murder an instant favorite.
Lucky for me, Falahee was heading to a table-read immediately after our interview. I assumed a table-read for a series as explosive as HTGAWM could be unalike other network shows. It was a silly assumption, but I was right. With the afternoon’s work day on his mind, the NYU graduate gave me exclusive “ShondaLand” intel.
“Usually Pete [Nowalk] will not give us the scripts until the table-read because he wants to see all of our reactions,” he confesses. “The show really does have you on the edge of the seat and that’s what the table-reads for us are like. We’re in there yelling and turning the pages and screaming at each other,” says Falahee, before he mock-yells “Holy shit!” across the room.
For him, this precise nature of the show was what initially had him hooked, even before he auditioned for the role, just by reading the pages. “That was over a year ago and they continue to be page-turners today,” he says.
One of the page-turning scenes that kept viewers returning week after week was a scene viewers came to know around the internet as the “bonfire flashback” scene. It played during nearly every episode as the story developed, showing bits and pieces of a night that later proved to change the course of every character’s life. Falahee remembers the scene well.
“We shot it maybe four to five times, which was fun and a little bit hard I admit, because we all had to match our performances from the scene. We had to think of the hows, down to the cadence, and how we were saying our lines. Everyone was so good to work with that we got it into our body each time,” explains Falahee. “On the show, everyone of us is a trained actor. We all have our process. I think that shows.”
Having a show runner who pays close attention to the details of narrative isn’t too bad either. “A big thing that Pete talked about with each one of us is how our characters cope and how we manage stress in a high stakes situation like the ones we find ourselves in,” remembers Falahee. “To explain my character’s behavior the night of the murder, the word we kept using for me was Connor’s downward spiral. He kind of handles it the most poorly. He’s so in over his head that to him, it’s almost laughable.”
Although his mesmerizing performance can be credited to him and only him, the actor assures us it has to start from the top. “I think Shonda and her producing partner Betsy Beers really set the tone with having an open door,” he says. “I think it’s why their shows do so well, it creates this constructive environment for the crew, the actors, everyone. She’s busy though, but being president [of ShondaLand] she’s obviously a big part of our lives. Meanwhile Pete’s our day-to-day, he’s calling the shots. To be frank, with Murder being my big break into the industry, I feel blessed! It’s a luxury I’m well aware of.”
Surely season two will bring a collection of new scenes and relationships to obsess over. For Falahee, he’s looking forward to much simpler things. “I’ll enjoy having some free groceries thanks to Kraft Services,” he quickly jokes before switching gears. “Mostly I’m excited to be spending time with everyone again. Karla [Souza] spends a lot of time in Mexico and Alfred [Enoch] lives in London, so during hiatus, you could say we’re scattered across the wind.”
Before we part, I ask him the ultimate question. Does he believe one of the “Keating Five” could be the next to end up dead?
“Absolutely,” he’s quick to reply. “Every week the first thing I do is flip through the script to make sure it’s not Connor.”
Photography Aleksandar Tomovic
Styling Franzy Staedter
Production Bello Media Group | Interview Dio Anthony