Silicon Valley fans... tonight is the night. Season 2 of the beloved series returns to HBO at 10pm. As fans eagerly count down the hours to the show's premiere, I had the chance to ask Matt Ross, who portrays Hooli's eccentric CEO, 'Gavin Belson,' about working with Mike Judge, keeping a straight face during filming, and why 'Gavin' would rule on Game of Thrones.
The Reel Spin: Season 1 of Silicon Valley was genius... can you give any hints as to what we can expect with season 2?
Matt Ross: 'Richard' and his merry band of programmers, after winning TechCrunch Disrupt during the last episode of Season 1, attempt to build and expand Pied Piper. Comedy and tragedy ensue. Unless I want Mike's Israeli bodyguards to "break me," that's all I can say, legally.
TRS: What is it like as an actor to be part of a Mike Judge satire? It has to be exciting... no one does comedy the way he does...
Ross: I was a sincere fan of Mike's work before this show, and it is an honor and a joy to get to play with him.
TRS: Your character, 'Gavin Belson,' easily has the best lines on the show. In the trailer for season 2, you have this great line, "I don't want to live in a world where someone else makes the world a better place better than we do." Is it fun to play a character that is so absurd?
Ross: That line, specifically, was given to me as we were shooting it by Alec Berg, the co-show runner of the show. He had me try a bunch of variations. He, Mike, Dan O'Keefe and Clay Tarver, the core writing team, are on set every day and write additional material as we're shooting. I love playing 'Gavin.' It's an absolute blast. And he doesn't see himself as absurd. He's a true-believer, genuinely believes he is making the world a better place. And nothing is scarier, or funnier, than a zealot.
TRS: It must be hard to keep a straight face during filming. Have you had a favorite scene or moment so far?
Ross: I laugh out loud when I first read the scripts and when I hear what the other actors do, but honestly, it's usually not a problem. So much of what we do is timing and precision. And it's Acting 101: don't break character. It's not funny if the actor thinks it's funny. Having said that, this year I was in a scene with T.J. (Miller, plays 'Erlich Bachman'), and the man is a genius. Take after take he was killing me, and I could not, for the life of me, stop laughing. I was useless. If Mike needs a reaction shot to cut to, I'm fairly confident that during that ten minutes of filming, I gave him a full 3 to 4 second-long section where I was NOT laughing.
TRS: What has the response been like from the real Silicon Valley community?
Ross: The show is a comedy. It's not a documentary. But I believe the culture is portrayed with a great deal of affection and accuracy. And though I can't speak for the larger Silicon Valley community, people come up to me frequently, identify themselves as someone who works in the valley, and they all seem to genuinely love the show.
TRS: The season 2 Silicon Valley premiere follows the premiere of Game of Thrones. Are you a fan of Game of Thrones? If only 'Gavin' could crossover into Game of Thrones just for one episode... he would totally win the throne.
Ross: I've read all the books. Game of Thrones was like a favorite band before everyone knew of them. Having lived in England as a kid, I can do an excellent English accent [Cockney, mockney and Received Pronunciation (RP)]. Irish and Scottish as well. 'Gavin' is obviously a Lannister and the fact that I'm not on that show, fighting for the throne, is clearly a great injustice.
TRS: What would fans be surprised to learn about the show? Any behind the scenes antics?
Ross: People work very hard and very long hours to create insightful and intelligent comedy. It's a healthy, fun, and positive environment. With an extremely high ratio of dick jokes. I don't know if that's surprising, but it's the truth.
For more on Silicon Valley:
Website - hbo.com/silicon-valley
Twitter - @SiliconHBO
Interview by Pamela Thomas