In times of uncertainty, laughter is a welcomed remedy and the folks over at TBS’ People of Earth are serving it up in spades. With tonight’s episode signaling the halfway mark of Season 2, we’re excited to share our in depth conversation with fan favorite Brian Huskey aka Richard Schultz! He made us laugh, and unsurprisingly we found out he’s just as down to earth as you’d expect. So check out our interview below, and make sure to catch a brand new episode of People of Earth tonight at 10:30/9:30c only on TBS.
What do you love the most about playing Richard? As you were gearing up for Season 2, were you excited to get back into his shoes for a whole new season?
I love playing tightly wound characters, guys with control issues or levels of personal denial that are so apparent to everyone but themselves. Richard has that in spades, but he thinks he has all the answers, until he doesn’t. Characters who are not self aware are so fun to play and to watch. (But that’s a comedy standard.) And yes, so excited to get back into Richard’s hideous footwear. Have you seen the sneakers he wears? They look like giant white canoes!
You have a long track record of amazing comedy work, and it seems to come so naturally to you! How much of your work on the show is scripted vs improved?
So kind of you to say! I’d venture to say that there might have been a couple of times during my track record that I wasn’t funny, but those times were off camera. On People of Earth we always get the takes we need as scripted, and then if time allows, we can do a little improv. But the improv is always in support of the scene or the story. I’ll admit I’m a bit compulsive when it comes to improvising in a scene, so it just kind of happens. That is until the director says, “Ok, lets stick to the script,” or “Huskey, shut the f*** up.”
Who are some of your comedy icons?
Woody Allen. Monty Python. Steve Martin. Don Knots and Tim Conway. Those two guys were really my earliest influences watching stuff like The Andy Griffith Show, Carol Burnett and The Apple Dumpling Gang movies as a kid. I was fascinated that these dorky adults could be so funny. Peter Sellars always blows my mind as well.
There’s a lot of on-location shooting that happens for the show. How does on-location shooting help you get into character, or perhaps heighten the emotions of a scene?
Interesting question. Never really considered it, but now that you mention it I think it probably helps you live in the reality of the scene. There is so much artifice in shooting with trying to pretend you are having an intimate moment with someone or whatever, meanwhile you’re sitting in front of 20 odd people all wielding cameras, sound equipment, etc. If you’re in a studio, then there is another layer of pretend because the bedroom you’re in is just a set, and on the other side of the wall is the craft table and some PA looking at his phone. So I guess being on location grounds you a bit more and puts you in the reality you’re trying to portray. But that damn PA is still on his phone! HAVE HIM FIRED!
There are definitely some dark moments in the show, but they’re almost always paired with humor. As an actor, what are your goals in playing Richard? What do you want audiences to experience as they learn more about his story?
The dark moments in People of Earth are very real circumstances for the characters; the isolation of being experiencers, the fear around being watched and messed with by the aliens. These are the challenges they are facing. But comedy and drama aren’t that far apart. Look at any Cohen Brothers movie and often times they will pivot from a dark and brutal moment to something funny. Or it can be so dark that it is funny. You laugh almost as a natural reaction to how intense it is. It’s like a release valve for the tension.
I think whether it’s comedy or a dark moment, you want people to identify with the character and their situation, otherwise you check out and lose your investment in the story and the character. In playing Richard I never want people to think of him as just a crazy man. If he was still with his wife, and hadn’t been abducted he might just be bit a normal nerdy, type A guy. But he is a man who feels rejected in love and then also pursued, by the Reptilians, at the same time. I feel very sympathetic to him. He is a man dealing with extraordinary circumstances, but without the emotional skills to do so. What’s funny to me is that he thinks he has the skills to handle it all. His level of denial is funny to me, but also understandable because it is a comping mechanism. And hopefully people identify with trying to control feeling out of control. I know I do.
What do you think it is about People of Earth that makes it such a fan favorite?
All the boobs and butts in the show. It’s like the sci-fi Games of Thrones. Sex sells! No, I hope it’s because we are respectful to the characters so people are invested in their stories first and foremost, and then the funny propels them through the stories. I like to think there is a balance of funny and heart, Oh, and Jeff the Grey’s head looks like a pair of testicles, so again, sex sells!