If a train, mid-wreck, somehow crashed into another train, also mid-wreck, the cataclysmic results would bear an uncanny resemblance to the double-trainwreck at the core of You’re The Worst.
The FX series, whose second season premieres tonight, follows the twisted courtship of Gretchen and Jimmy, a pair of epically flawed millennials whose party levels seem permanently set to Roman Bacchanalia. She’s a music publicist who can out-smoke the entourage of the Odd Future-esque rapper who’s her star client. He’s a British novelist who only seems to be inspired by heartbreak. Both are excessively self-absorbed sex monsters. The two meet at a wedding under dubious circumstances, and seem aware from the get-go that whatever connection they have is destined to flame out spectacularly–and take a few casualties with it. Such a couple would almost certainly come off as unwatchably obnoxious if not for the deft casting of ultra-likable leads Aya Cash and Chris Geere.
Created by Stephen Falk, who came up in television under the aegis of Orange Is The New Black’s Jenji Kohjan, and director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, whose Kings of Summer rocked the festival circuit in 2013, the show has a lot riding on the kooky chemistry of its co-stars. Side characters like Chris’s PTSD-afflicted roommate, Edgar, and Gretchen’s horrendously horny married friend, Lindsay, add spice to the mix, but the two main leads form its pungent-yet-alluring base.
Co.Create caught up with Cash and Geere recently, in separate interviews, to find out how they make these fundamentally broken characters work together. The catch is, we only asked them each questions about the other person. Read on for an illuminating, occasionally conflicting breakdown of how these two became the best at being the worst.
Chris Geere: She was very professional. She was just so confident in her choices and this is going back to the very first days of meeting each other.
Aya Cash: Right away, he was polite and British and I would say those impressions have borne out. I was correct.
Aya Cash: We were encouraged to spend time together, especially that first week. Our pilot director was like, ‘We are all going out essentially every night.’ So, we spent a lot of time together. There was some anxiety about, ‘Oh, I’m going to have to take off my clothes and pretend to have sex with you in front of other people,’ but I feel like we got over it pretty quick.
Chris Geere: The only awkward thing was being asked to hang out with each other in the first place because that kind of put pressure on the fact that we needed to get on, but I think we both established after five minutes that we wanted to hang out with each other.
Aya Cash: I think we call alcohol a social lubricant for a reason, so it was helpful when we were first hanging out. And I’m not even a big drinker. My husband jokes, he’s like, ‘You don’t drink around me, you don’t drink around anyone,’ but I drink around Chris and the cast because it’s really fun. They even have a nickname for me. They call me “Drya.”
Chris Geere: There was definitely some encouragement in the very beginning from Stephen [Falk] and the director, Jordan [Vogt-Roberts], but we realized soon that actually we’re very fond of each other as friends.
Aya Cash: Did it take Chris long to find the character? I don’t think so. I think Chris might say that he did take a bit to warm up to Jimmy.
Chris Geere: This is what was quite frustrating, she seemed to get it right away and I felt that I didn’t. It took me a few episodes at the beginning of the first season to actually get into it and she seemed to have a Gretchen in her immediately that’s only gotten better.
Aya Cash: Chris said that he was uncomfortable at first or worried that he was too mean. And last year, there were a couple moments where Stephen was like, ‘No, too sweet,’ with both of us. But I think from the very beginning, he had it. What I love about Chris’s Jimmy is he can just rattle off a speech like no one’s business. And it’s so fun to see Jimmy’s rants in such capable hands.
Chris Geere: If we need to be more calm in a scene, we won’t be jumping around on set beforehand. The atmosphere on-set 10 minutes before we do a scene reflects the tone of what that scene is and that’s just something that happens organically, it isn’t a choice anyone makes.
Aya Cash: He makes a lot of noises. I don’t know what specifically he’s doing, but he’ll do like pushups or run around. It’s just funny.
Chris Geere: If she needs to be sad in the scene, I won’t see her for 10 minutes before we shoot because I know she just needs to be on her own.
Aya Cash: Here’s a good example. So, we’re in the convenience store and we were told that we were being filmed when we came outside, but they actually had cameras going inside too. Chris is supposed to be totally jacked up on some sort of drugs so he’s warming up by jumping around and moving and his eyes are really big. And I’m sort of sitting there, just waiting to go out. And I saw the episode and they actually used the footage of Chris warming up to do what we did outside.
Aya Cash: I think Chris would say that the day of the threesome scene was the best day on set ever. I think he was completely comfortable. I was less so. I mean, I wasn’t uncomfortable. I was more just annoyed that everyone turns into a frat boy on ‘threesome scene’ day. I’m like, ‘Guys, come on. We’re doing a job.’ I mean, no one was being a total asshole. They were just overly excited. That look on Chris’s face was real.
Chris Geere: I think we were as uncomfortable as each other and that made it easy. If one of us was supremely confident, that would’ve brought some awkwardness from one or both of the other parties. The only way to do it truthfully was to laugh at how ridiculous it all was.
Aya Cash: They’re very not precious about the script, so if we have ideas or want to try something, they’re very open to it. Of course, half the time, Chris has turned to me and been like, ‘What do you think about this?’ and I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, that sounds great!’ And then we get to set and Stephen’s like, ‘Nope, the opposite.’
Chris Geere: We talk about things when we run lines the weekend before we shoot. But we’ve never really needed to talk in depth about it because we know that our best work comes from spontaneity, just trying stuff.
Aya Cash: Chris is a romantic and loves romantic comedies and Hugh Grant and How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days. So once in a while, he will really want it to be sort of warm and fuzzy and Stephen says it can’t be. You can see that he wants to make it a more sort of traditional rom-com because he comes from a love of that genre. Those are the only times I’ve seen him frustrated.
Chris Geere: She’s fascinating to watch because it’s like watching a play with her. She tries all these different things every take and my job is to respond naturally. She never gives me the same performance and that always keeps me on my toes.
Aya Cash: He is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met. We shot four episodes at a time this year and he would memorize all four before we started shooting any of them. He needs and wants to be completely off-book a lot further in advance than most people I’ve ever worked with, and you can always count on him to be prepared, thoughtful, and ready.
Chris Geere: She can switch from sexy and intelligent, to dark and nasty, to vulnerable and sad in a heartbeat. And I just don’t think many actors can do that. Seeing her at 9 a.m. tripping over something repeatedly that makes me laugh off-camera and then in the afternoon she’s crying her eyes out and spilling her heart out to me. I don’t think many people can do this.
Aya Cash: His character wasn’t even supposed to be British. But because they saw Chris, the character is British and it illuminated Stephen like, ‘Wow! I wrote a British character and I didn’t even know it!’ So, in some ways, Chris really is the one who can play this role and no one else could.