'13 Reasons Why' Star Devin Druid Addresses Graphic Sodomy Scene Controversy (Exclusive)
“You know, I think people are always gonna have opinions on the show and what we do, but I think it's staying true to what the show has been about and that has been taking on these tough issues and trying to show them in these truthful lights,” he explains. “We can't sugarcoat it or censor it at all because that's not how these events happen. And I think it is this trying to portray and make people understand what happens in these unfortunate and tragic circumstances.”
The 20-year-old says he didn’t take the responsibility of such a heavy scene lightly.
“As an actor I felt a lot of responsibility to accurately portray the pain and humiliation that one can go through when they're assaulted in this way, especially with the stigma around sexual assault with men,” he says.
“Especially this age of kind of toxic and fragile masculinity, I think that plays a big part in this idea of men being raped, it's not something that people think about a lot,’ he adds. “And then as a male character, what does that feel like for you in a society where you're told this shouldn't happen to you, and not that it should happen to anybody, but that this can’t happen to you, but it does, what does that do to you on a mental level as well as physically obviously an enormous amount of pain.”
Druid also says he did extensive research to ensure he depicted the scene accurately.
“One of the things I did, I reached out to actor David Morse, who very famously portrayed one of the first male victims of sexual assault,” he shares. “He was lovely in talking to me and giving me plenty of advice and talking me through the scenes and giving me amazing resources to look up about the scene that I was gonna be tasked with and was incredibly helpful.”
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“We all thought it was an interesting choice when we first read the scripts and then we were informed by our writers that this is actually going on in high schools,” he says. “At that point we were like, ‘Well, we've never shied away before in the show… so I stand behind it. I get that there's controversy, I get that it's hard for people to watch, but imagine the people that are dealing with this and going through it, you know, so be upset, be mad, let’s change this stuff and prevent it from happening. It's absurd that that's something that's going on in high schools.”
The controversial scene is intended to shine a light on male assault victims, but is also an attempt to set up Tyler’s ploy to shoot up the school dance. The plan, which goes into motion shortly after in the season finale, is thwarted by Clay (Dylan Minnette).
Much like the aforementioned scene, the show’s decision to end the season on an almost school shooting, with a student’s (unlikely) ability to prevent it, has been met with some concern.
“I think the topic is unfortunately very current and I think that was the goal with the show to bring these sensitive and troubled issues into a mainstream… and bring awareness to them,” Druid says.
“Our show is a fictional story, it's a cautionary tale. Clay Jensen is a character that makes mistakes and he doesn't always do the right thing,” he explains, defending the show’s decision to show Clay dangerously intervening with an attempted school shooter.
“He acts on his own sense of justice and he acts on impulse and doesn't always do the right thing… he's just lucky that it happens to work out,” Druid explains. “We did plenty of PSAs to go along with the show specifically stating that these are not things that we're trying to tell the audience, ‘This is what you should do in these scenarios,’ but at the end of the day that is the character of Clay Jensen… This isn't exactly a character that makes the smartest decisions.”
While a season three of the Netflix series has yet to be greenlit, Druid is up for it – and thinks there is more of Tyler’s story to tell.
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“I think Jessica had a really amazing story this season in talking about how someone goes through sexual assault like that, that road to recovery, how it is a long and slow burn and a painful one, 'cause it's kind of hard to open up about what you're going through and feeling so isolated in that way... I think it would be great to kind of see Tyler have some recovery in there and see him find himself and have that support group around him as well,” he says, noting he has no idea if that’s the plan though.