The actor talks to ET about the Netflix hit's biggest shockers from the sophomore season.
Warning: Do not proceed if you have not watched the entire second season of You. Major spoilers ahead. Hear what Penn Badgley, Victoria Pedretti and Ambyr Childers had to say about the season's shocking ending.
When Joe Goldberg is involved, beware, you may not make it out alive. And that was certainly the case for Forty Quinn, Love's twin brother who met an untimely end following a dramatic standoff in the You finale.
Sure, Forty -- presumably named after a tennis term by his absentee parents -- represented the archetypal Los Angeles douchebag with his infatuation with green juices and writing/producing his own Hollywood screenplays. But give him credit, he figured it out... eventually. After discovering, with the help of Candace (aka Amy Adam), that Joe was the one responsible for Beck's murder and that the incarcerated Dr. Nicky was actually innocent, Forty confronted Joe (and Love) with the goal of killing him. Only, he didn't figure into the equation that his sister, Love, was also a cold-blooded murderer and the one who killed his abusive au pair all those years earlier and pregnant with Joe's baby. Talk about life-changing revelations.
"I knew I was going to die and I think by the time we got to the 10th episode, Forty was taking up so much of Joe and Love's time and energy. There was no way for their relationship to continue with me around," You star James Scully told ET of Forty's tragic fate, at the hands of the LAPD officer, in the finale. "We had that crazy pseudo spaghetti Western standoff with the gun and I feel like they did it total justice. I literally thanked [executive producer] Sera Gamble over the phone after I left the death scene."
ET spoke with Scully about the season's biggest shockers, including Forty's violent finale fate, why it took him so long to realize what Joe (and Love) were really capable of and season three wishes.
ET: You became a sensation after it moved from Lifetime to Netflix. Were there any nerves about coming onto a show with such a passionate fan base heading into season two?
James Scully: For sure. A lot of them. Something that Penn liked to do on set when he knew I was anxious is... Netflix put out that big release where they were like, "40 million people in the first week watched the show." So he would just walk behind me when I was looking over my lines and whisper, "40 million people, James," and then walk away. At first I was super, super nervous but then I was like, that's not doing anything for anyone and that didn't work into the essence of the character. I settled down after a bit.
What was appealing to you about Forty?
In Forty's character description, he's banana opposites. He can be cruel and unreasonable and impulsive, but then underneath that there is that Forty that just wants to give you a hug and hang out and just talk about stupid nonsense. I really liked playing characters like that because A) you get to do a little bit of everything, which I feel like I did with Forty. I did so much. And also, because those are the most interesting characters to play. People who are damaged or struggling or used or sick and still trying to fight to be a good person through that. I think I could tell that that's what Forty was. Not to over-answer the question but I think a lot of the characters in the show -- because Joe is ultimately the villain -- everybody around him at first seems to be hard to deal with because Joe should be the most likable character in the show. But then you get to learn what makes them human and what's redeemable about them in contrast to Joe being a loose cannon.
If you sum Forty up in a nutshell, he's a stereotypical kind of L.A. douchebag, who's a wannabe Hollywood writer-producer, who's blissfully unaware of everything that's not about him or involving him. Did you find it difficult to connect with the character in the beginning?
In the first couple episodes, you're right. He is very like, "Where's my green juice? Do what I tell you to do. Do you know who my father is?," and they put in some jokes that I wasn't prepared for where he's just a little dumb and privileged that it's like, "You thought that Pulp Fiction was a novel before it was made into a movie? Really, Forty? You thought that?" But by the end of episode three -- the thing that's funny about that stereotypical L.A. douchebag that we're all thinking of is that person is in a lot of pain and that's why they're behaving that way. Once we finally got to the I'm a crushing disappointment of it all, then he became much easier to explore going forward.
Once you sort of know that that's under there and you see his relationship with Love -- and Love to me in that scene where Kether Donohue, brilliant star of the screen that she is -- chews me out in front of the whole party and tells me that I'm worthless, that I'm nothing and that I should get up, those are anxieties that all creative people, I'm sure even non-creative people, have probably had in your life. Once we hit that point for Forty, I was like, Oh, of course I understand how this person feels. We've all felt this way. So yes, initially I was a little nervous but we got there.
Forty's dynamic with his twin sister, Love, is interesting. In an early episode, Joe snarks that he's in a "throuple" with Love and Forty -- and he's not wrong necessarily. What do you make of Love and Forty's kind of incredibly tight sibling bond?
You learn in the series, our parents are grown-up versions of us, but they're morally bankrupt and they're total hypocrites. That's why Love especially sort of felt like it had to be her and me against the world because there was no one else who's going to take care of us, which was made evident by the fact that my own au pair was drugging me and assaulting me on a regular basis and no one was doing anything about it -- until a concerned party chose to step in. There's no weird Freudian complex thing happening. It's just that we are all that we have and she sort of wanted it to be this way. Love has created a situation where I am violently codependent on her and what's interesting about that relationship is when you look at it on the surface, you're like, "Oh, Forty needs Love because he's such a mess and he couldn't get anything accomplished without her." But Love also needs Forty in a weird sort of dark way that you come to understand later in the season. And Joe just gets sucked into that; "If you're dating my sister, you're dating me."
Let's get into the big revelations from the season. It comes out near the end of the season that it wasn't Forty who killed his au pair but Love. That incident clearly played a role in shaping who Forty is and how he values himself as an adult. Did you find yourself empathizing with Forty at that point?
One thousand percent. Because here's the thing -- and that's one of my favorite lines in the whole series when Joe and Love are confronting each other and goes in a cage and she reveals that she choked Sophia and Joe's like, "That really messed Forty up." That's the only time this season Joe is taking my defense. But boy, Forty probably could have been the healthiest, most faithful member of his family, but my mom had borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder. My dad is a verbally abusive alcoholic and my sister is unhinged, but none of them want to confront those issues. So everyone sort of jumped on the bandwagon of the family narrative being Forty is broken and Forty needs help and we all need to focus on Forty's problems so that we don't have to confront our own -- and I think that's really sad.
He's wearing this armor of, "I don't give a f**k, let's get f**ked up!" That's him performing what he thinks people want and expect him to be because that's all his family has ever expected for him his entire life. Deep down, there is -- just like in Joe-- that sad kid who just wants parents to love him and a sister who treats him like a brother and not like I'm an invalid child. So, yeah, I think Forty is a really tragic [character], or maybe I'm biased because I played him, but that's what I tried to imbue him with is that behind all of the L.A. of it all, there's a person in there.
And Love chose to frame him for it in order to protect him.
Yeah, which is sort of sweet in a really dark way.
How stunned were you when you read that in the script or did you know it was coming?
The writers revealed some juicy plot points to me at our first meeting together, some of which didn't make it into the final show, which is a shame because some of them were so juicy. But ultimately the writers were like, "No, this can't [happen] unfortunately. This is just too crazy." But Love's identity, her true nature, I sort of knew that from the very, very beginning. I knew that Forty didn't kill. That's the sad thing about Forty. He's so scared of himself. He's so scared of what he might do, which is why he's drunk and on drugs all the time because he spent his whole life thinking that he has the capacity to murder someone, but he doesn't. I wasn't shocked. I sort of saw it coming, but I was shocked that it happened in a hotel when [Forty and Joe] were both on hallucinogens.
With Candace's help, it takes Forty quite a while to figure out that Joe is Beck's real killer and that Dr. Nicky is actually innocent. Why didn't Forty suspect anything was going on with Joe? Was it because, like you said, he was blinded by Joe?
Someone was finally being nice to him and paying attention to him and it was someone that his sister approved of. All of the people that he's close to you have lied to him and used him: my sister, my mom, my dad, Candace. Joe, at the end of the day, was just using me as as a means to get closer to Love. I don't think Forty is sensitive enough or capable enough to notice like, "Huh? Joe is really creepy and weird sometimes," which is why I think that in the 10th episode when he's revealing to Love, I'm trying to sort of lay it out for her and be like, "How did you not see this?," there is an element of, "How did I not see this? Oh my god. It's so obvious now that this person is a serial killer."
Should Forty have heeded Dr. Nicky's advice and stayed away?
Bringing a loaded firearm into the situation was probably not the mood, especially not when I was maybe on drugs. But I couldn't because I had to try and take care of Love.
How fitting was Forty's ending? Did you think there was a way in which he could have avoided death?
They had revealed after the fact that people tossed around the idea of me surviving but being put in the cage. I think there was probably a version of the script where a different character killed me, but they told me when I signed my contract what was going to happen, so I was looking forward to it. I knew I was going to die and I think by the time we got to the 10th episode, Forty was taking up so much of Joe and Love's time and energy. There was no way for their relationship to continue with me around. We had that crazy pseudo spaghetti Western standoff with the gun and I feel like they did it total justice. I literally thanked Sera Gamble over the phone after I left the death scene.
Yes, I was happy with his death. Am I hoping for a ghost Forty moment in season three? I wouldn't be against it. But in terms of the first and second seasons and my death, the only thing that made me sad is that you realize at the very, very end that Joe's not really psyched about my sister anymore. I was hoping that my death would purchase a happily ever after for them and instead, I vomited all over their relationship because I die. I guess I wish that they got to be in love, but the whole point of the show is Joe is never going to get a happily ever after, because he's a serial killer and serial killers don't deserve happily ever afters. I guess I'm sad that they didn't get that, but it makes sense. They can't.
What's your bet that Joe and Love make it out alive as parents?
I'm definitely hoping it's going to end well. I think that Love is certainly going to make it to the end of term with the baby, so she's got nine months. Then, all bets are off. Should we be scared for Joe because the point is that this season's killers at this point, so we might be looking at a Mr. and Mrs. Smith situation? I would watch Penn [Badgley] and Victoria [Pedretti] do that. I just hope the baby finds a loving home because I feel like that baby is already being set up to also be a serial killer and you don't need that. We don't need baby serial killers. That's too much!
What was your approach to playing Forty, because the way that you played him, he could have been fluid in terms of his sexuality. Were there discussions about making the character pansexual?
There actually was. I definitely had jobs before where that was a point of contention, but that's when I was like, "I'm just not focusing on this." Then four episodes in, they gave me a girlfriend and I was like, "Oh cool." I mean, Ambyr [Childers] is stunningly beautiful; I think I can make that work. But then in the eighth episode, Hannah and I had that very intimate physical moment, which isn't sexual at all, and that's why he liked it and wanted to do it.
But I did go up to one of the writers after that night, like, "I know what I think about this, but we've never really had a conversation. Did you guys ever discuss Forty's sexuality in the writers' room?" And she asked me what I thought. Again, he doesn't have a regular relationship with sex anyway because his first sexual experience was date rape. So it's a lot of bad-term sex. But because he's still craving affection, he uses sex as a tool a lot. I think Forty would have sex with whoever he decided he wanted to have sex with. And it was nice being able to play the character even if I was realizing retroactively that [he] was sexually fluid where we didn't need to stress that in any way. It was what it was and he was who he was.
Hopefully we'll see you pop up in season three as a ghost haunting Joe.
Yeah, hopefully. I'm sure they'll work something out. Maybe I'm not really dead. It was all fake!
The second season of You is streaming now on Netflix.
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