One of TV’s brightest new stars, Matt McGorry, 28, plays Asher (aka “Doucheface”) on the ABC series How to Get Away with Murder, as well as callow corrections officer John Bennett on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. Born and raised in New York, he attended LaGuardia High School and studied acting at Emerson College. After graduating in 2008, he went on to appear in CollegeHumor.com videos and honed his improv skills with the Upright Citizens Brigade. A former competitive bodybuilder, he’s been featured in numerous men’s magazines. His other TV credits include the upcoming Steven Spielberg/Edward Burns drama Public Morals, as well as Elementary, Gossip Girl, Royal Pains and Person of Interest. He recently completed his first starring role in a feature film, How He Fell in Love, scheduled for a 2015 release.
Matt McGorry: You could. We probably won’t be best friends, though.
Orange Is the New Black Yeah, I knew exactly. [Laughs] It’s funny. With How to Get Away with Murder, I think we all expected it to have a very good chance of being a hit show. It stars Viola Davis, it’s produced by Shonda Rhimes… ABC really put everything behind it. With Orange Is the New Black, when I went in for the role, you know, it was Netflix. The audition was like three lines for a potential recurring role with possible nudity. I thought maybe it was a hidden webcam sex show. So that was a true surprise.
Yeah, now I’m the one stuffing people in lockers. No, seriously, I wasn’t that short. I was pretty chubby and out of shape, but I did something about it. I don’t really consider myself jacked anymore. When I competed in bodybuilding and power lifting, I was 30 pounds bigger than I am now. So to me, I’m sort of in normal-guy range. And I also think that now I have something more to recommend me than swollen biceps.
Too high. I just got back from Italy. Let’s put it this way: I got a script two days ago, and I was hoping and praying there wasn’t going to be a shirtless scene. But I think the lowest it ever was was 5.5 percent when I was competing, and it was the worst I’ve ever felt in my entire life. There comes a point in bodybuilding where it’s not about health; it’s just about pushing the boundaries. And at that point it’s just not fun anymore.
So to reference How to Get Away with Murder—is your penis on any dead girl’s phone? I’m pretty sure they’re all still living. Last time I checked, she was at least on life support.
Probably with my penis on a dead girl’s phone. I would hope it created enough shock that someone with even the slightest heart issue would perish. Seems like a safe way.
Biggest crime you ever committed and were never caught for? I stole a pack of gum when I was in fifth grade, but I felt really bad, so the next day I left 25 cents on the deli counter.
Any prison fantasies? Yes. Continuing to do a fourth and fifth and sixth season of Orange Is the New Black.
Probably for being so sexy. That’s sort of why I have to be careful with the penis on the phone thing. Sometimes I do a little makeup on myself, put bags under my eyes. I have a prosthetic guy who comes to give me an extra chin every morning. I like not to distract people too much from their daily activities.
Hardest part of soap opera acting? Being shirtless without much notice. I did a very brief stint on One Life to Live in a very small role, but they found a way to have my shirt off, standing in my underwear, in the bushes. Otherwise, it would definitely be the long takes. It was also my first time on a set like that, so I honestly didn’t know what was happening.
Definitely. There’s this thing where you say your line, then kind of pause and do your concerned look before it cuts to commercial. I did my last line, did my concerned look and thought I’d messed something up, so I turned my head with this genuinely concerned look on my face, and it was pretty comical.
Not much, but the fun thing about playing a character who’s such an asshole is that you get away with everything on set. You can say the most offensive things in the world.
Is Viola Davis a force of nature? She is. She’s a tornado of acting prowess, and we’re sort of the cattle that get caught up in her powerful funnel. Isn’t that a horrible metaphor? But seriously, everyone knows what an incredible actress she is, but she’s also very down to earth and unbelievably funny. She does her best to make everyone on set feel equally important. She kind of sets the tone for the entire production.
Maybe, and it might offend some people, but I think people are interested in realistic portrayals, and it’s not pushing boundaries for the sake of pushing boundaries. There are gay men out there who make each other’s eyes water, and it’s a type of character you don’t often see represented on television.
I hope he learns some lessons and grows up a bit. I’d like to see him forced out of his privileged little bubble, yet still retain some of that childish douchiness.
I like the way he stands up for himself, but I’d like to see him “man up” a bit and take responsibility for the things he’s done.
I guess giving up being single. I’m not someone who loves to settle down, so I only like to be in a relationship if it’s a really perfect fit. But I guess when you’re doing it, it doesn’t feel crazy, because you’re so in love.
I think you should pick something less highbrow, like Rachel and Ross or Chandler and Monica?
How He Fell in Love [Laughs] I’m not sure what you’re smelling. I haven’t seen it, frankly. It’s harder to watch yourself as a lead in a film than in a supporting role on television. You sort of pick yourself apart, and I’m trying to be gentle with myself.
What’s your best feature? Physically, I’ve been told that I have nice lips, which I didn’t know until I read all the stuff people said on social media. But otherwise, I’d say my empathy and pursuit of greater emotional intelligence.
Well, there’s all sorts of weird shit that happens on social media. People tend to be a little more timid in person. But I’ve actually wondered sometimes: If I met the person who told me to stick whatever up my ass online, would they say that to my face? I’m pretty sure the answer’s no.
How long before you’re on the cover of Vanity Fair? Probably right after I get my Oscar from How He Fell in Love. I’m in direct competition with Viola. I want to win an Oscar before she does.