From the minute he walked in, you knew Collin was trouble. The new kid in school had a swagger that instantly caught Jenna's eye and spoke to her intellectual side in a way Matty simply couldn't (also, he was smoking hot). But not even Taylor Swift could have anticipated how Jenna's crush would end up crushing fans in the closing seconds of last night's finale when she kissed Collin and kept it from Matty.
Yes, thanks to a cruelly clever twerking of time, Awkward spared Matty the sight of his GF smooching another and left the audience responsible for branding Jenna with a scarlet letter. Yet, despite our collective adoration of Matty McKibben, I totally understand why Jenna strayed (I don't, however, support her tactics) -- and much of that has to do with the charisma actor Nolan Funk brings to the role of Collin. I caught up with him to talk about last night's big reveal and the fear he felt over splitting up a beloved TV couple.
ETonline: Did you know coming in that Collin would end up coming in between Jenna and Matty like this?
Nolan Funk: Lauren [Iungerich , creator] told me Collin's introduction would be very slow and subtle but then I would become the pivotal changing force of the season by doing this. Obviously that was a little bit frustrating because I just wanted to instantly dive into the meat of a character, but it's so important not to force-feed your audience.
ETonline: So you had a long time to prepare to be hated?
Funk: It's always challenging to know you're going to break up a beloved couple. You hope that the fans don't totally hate you for that, and will still like you and know it's a job. I mean, I don't want people throwing fruit at me on the sidewalk, but...
ETonline: Do you just have to accept it and own the role?
Funk: Kind of. You have to accept the inevitable: people are going to hate you. When I was on Glee, I never foresaw myself being the poster child for steroids in show choir, that was a surprise. And in The Canyons, I think I'm the most relatable character, but ultimately, I'm still cheating on my girlfriend. You can't judge your characters. I don't think Collin is a bad guy. He never lies to Jenna. He never leads her on into thinking this will be some long term relationship. He likes her; he has feelings for her, but isn't thinking about the future.
ETonline: We certainly know what Jenna likes about Collin, but what do you like about Collin?
Funk: Collin has a certain swagger to him, and a sexual confidence that I don't think Jenna has been around before. There's also a mystery to him -- even though he's in high school, he has this very distinct personality. He's not afraid of the teacher, he's not afraid of Jenna and I think that's part of their connection. Collin brings out the Pandora's Box for Jenna's teenage hormones.
ETonline: What are you excited for people to see in the back half of season three?
Funk: You're in for some big surprises with this character. He has a certain amount of life experience that will rival Matty and the other guys in the school. He is the kind of guy who goes after what he wants but doesn't have to work that hard at it. All I can say is, you won't see what's coming next!
Awkward will return later this year on MTV.