Q&A with AWKWARD’s Matthew Fahey
Awkward season two is set to premiere on Thursday, June 28th at 10:30pm on MTV. Mark your calendars. I’m a huge fan of Awkward, so I jumped at the opportunity to interview one of its stars, Matthew Fahey. Fahey, of course, plays the character of Ricky Schwartz, the band-geek-bad-boy who is oh so Ricky Schwartz-y. The actor is decidedly less smarmy. In fact, he was quite charming, with no smarm to be found. I’m pretty new to interviewing (okay, fine, this was my very first one-on-one interview) so I was a little awkward, but that was probably fitting given the topic of discussion. I may not be a teenager anymore, but I can relate to Jenna Hamilton, you know. What follows contains some spoilers for the first season of Awkward, some teases for what’s to come in season two, and much more. Read on for an overview of Fahey’s recent projects, in-depth hair discussion, and some fanboying over Friday Night Lights. I’ve put my questions in bold, followed by his responses.
On Awkward, Ricky Schwartz is such a memorable character. He doesn’t necessarily have a lot of screen time, but his name is constantly being discussed, what with Tamara and her obsession with him. Probably the biggest episode for him was “The Adventures of Aunt Ally and Lil’ Bitch,” when he kisses Jenna at the party and sort of becomes this catalyst for the tension between the two girls. What did you think about that storyline when you read it in the script, and sort of the arc of Ricky and Tamara and their ups and downs?
I read the script probably about a week before we filmed it, so it was definitely a surprise. I was very surprised by it. And I had only been on the show maybe one or two episodes before that. So, it was a big monumental thing in that season, and to be able to do that was awesome. And I think it just added a couple more colors to the show, you know. There was the whole tug-of-war between [Jenna] and Matty and Jake, and at the same time, she’s getting bullied by Molly’s character. And then at the same time, everybody still thinks that she tried to commit suicide and she’s trying to get rid of that whole title that she has on her. So, I think that just adding that just, you know, it made it more drama filled. It’s something that totally could have happened and it was a very real storyline. And I mean, it was cool that they used my character to bring that out. I mean, I feel bad. I definitely feel bad. […]
Yeah. But, you know, you shouldn’t feel too bad because Tamara does forgive Ricky and they sort of have a sweet moment in the finale. Despite all the shady things that he’s been doing all season to her, they seem to kind of come together in a sweet way. Do you think it’s too good to be true—his turnaround in the finale?
He always has something up his sleeve. He’s Ricky Schwartz, and he’s always going to be Ricky Schwartz. I think you’ll see glimpses of him being the good-hearted guy that you saw at the end of season one, but then you’ll also see the typical Ricky. And you’ll be like, “God, I thought he changed!”
Yeah, because you are playing a teenage boy, so …
That has no clue what he wants …
Yeah, so that’s to be expected. Can you give us any hints of any kind about what you’re up to in season 2?
He’s up to a lot.
Well, that’s good to hear!
“It is. Very good. You’ll see the softer side of Ricky, as well as the typical Ricky. And you’ll see me get slapped.
Oooh, that’s fun. That’s always good TV.
I get a slap across the face. I think that’s actually in the trailer. Everybody’s just going to be so surprised. I mean, starting with the first episode, I really think everybody’s just going to fall back in love with the show.
I’m very excited to see that. Are you a fan of the show? Do you watch it on your own? Or do you not like to watch your work?
[...] I always watch my work. But I always find things that I can change and things I can fine tune. I mean, I totally critiqued myself on everything I did last season, and I tried to bring it in and do it better this season. But the show is so good. It’s so well-written. The way that they cut it together and the way it’s shot … Steve Gainer is an incredible cinematographer. So the way that the show actually looks as a picture is excellent. So, I actually really enjoy the show and just happen to be on it. Well, I’m lucky enough to be on it. I’m very blessed. Even if I wasn’t on the show I most likely would still watch it.
So, on that note, I have two quick questions. 1) Team Matty or Team Jake?
Nah, just kidding. I don’t think anyone is Team Ricky. Maybe this year people will be Team Ricky. […] I would say I was Team Matty at the end of last season, and then this season, I was Team Jake. Because I know what happens this season, so I’m Team Jake this season.
Ooooh, that’s very intriguing. And were you shocked at the reveal of who wrote the letter? The fact that Jenna’s mom wrote the letter?
I really was. I read the script and it didn’t fit in that she wrote the letter, in my head. So I was like, “Oh, she found the letter. She doesn’t know who wrote it, so we’ll find out next season.” And then I watched the show, and I was like, “Oh my god, it was her mom?!” I was even surprised, and I read the script originally. So, I was definitely surprised.
Yeah. I guess there’s still a chance that there’s some wiggle room. I mean, she finds the stationary in her mom’s drawer … I guess there’s still a chance that it’s not the mom, but it seems to be going in that direction.
It was such a great season. But since it hasn’t been on for a while, and you guys only had 12 episodes last season, I’m sure you have a lot of other things you’ve been doing. Do you want to tell us a little bit about what other work you’ve been up to? Anything you want to share?
As soon as season one was over, I did two small—like very small roles in two films. One called The First Time with Britt Robertson and another MTV family person, Dylan O’Brien, who’s on Teen Wolf, Victoria Justice, and a lot of great actors. It’s kind of like a teen move—teen romance, fall in love, dark comedy kind of thing. And then I did another movie called Excision with Malcolm McDowell, Marlee Matlin, Ariel Winter, AnaLynne McCord, Jeremy Sumpter, Matthew Gray Gubler, and just a huge cast of great names. And it’s a horror film. Well, it’s not really even a horror film—it’s kind of like a gory comedy. It’s the craziest movie you’ll ever see. Like, it’s excellent at the same time as it’s funny, at the same time as you’re like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe that just happened!” But it’s so good. And it’s completely out of the box. Nothing like anybody’s ever seen. And those two films went to Sundance. So, I went to Sundance this last year, and it was incredible. It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had.
And then, I worked on Rizzoli & Isles. And I played a guest-star on there and I played a kid who they thought killed a cop. And my step-dad is Detective [Vince] Korsak, Bruce McGill.
And I have a production company [I-95 Pictures] and we started a web series [“Never Fade Away”] with Devon Werkheiser and Drew Garrett and Taylor Spreitler and Justin Deeley and Molly McCook, and [a lot] of other great actors. It’s about a kid who’s asleep in a coma, but he thinks he’s awake and everybody has forgotten who he is. And it’s kind of like a “don’t take anything for granted” and “a wonderful life” kind of thing—really just appreciate what you have.
Is that available to watch already?
Yes. There are two episodes up, and we put up a third teaser trailer. And the website is Never-Fade-Away.com.
And I did a short film called Picture Paris with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She played my mom. To be able to work with such a legend as Julia Louis-Dreyfus, I mean, she was in Seinfeld and now Veep … it was excellent. And her husband who worked with SNL [Brad Hall] wrote and directed the film, who was another awesome person to work with. The film came out amazing and it was funny and just witty, and just … kind of out there. It was so good. I’ve just been really blessed over the last year. [Note: Picture Paris premiered at The Santa Barbara Film Festival and was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival.]
It sounds like you’ve been really busy. Are you a TV fan at all? With your schedule being so busy, do you have any time to get into any shows? Do you have any geeky interests of any kind?
I do. My all time favorite show ever was Friday Night Lights. [Cue the applause!] It’s not on anymore, which is a bummer. I wish that show could go on for my entire life, because I would literally stay in every Friday night to watch it.
You clearly have excellent taste in television.
Thank you very much. I used to watch Entourage all the time. [Note: we must forgive him Entourage, given his love of FNL. Tami Taylor says so.] If I’m up late at night, I’ll watch Storage Wars. It sounds terrible, but it’s such a good show. I don’t know why I watch that show, but it’s awesome. And like, American Pickers and weird shows like that. It doesn’t really make sense, but those are the shows I watch.
Anything else you want to tell my readers about, in terms of your projects or Awkward?
No, just it’ll be out next week on the 28th. Eight days from now. I just hope everybody enjoys it. If you loved last season, you’re gonna love this season even more. I mean, it’s last season times ten. The bar was raised last season, and it’s getting raised even more.
Do you have a favorite scene in terms of filming last season? A scene that was especially memorable for you, or an experience on set that was memorable for you?
I would say, probably the last episode. I went to a couple school dances when I was younger. My mom actually, she and her friend put on a prom recently, after the show was done, right after we were done filming. So, that prom was like the first prom I’d ever been to. It was like filming, but it was like the first prom that I went to, so it was really cool.
And those kind of scenes where you have all the actors in one room, and you have all these extras, it’s probably a lot harder to do, but probably a lot more fun too.
Oh yeah, totally. I mean, there were like cuts and stuff. But at the same time, everybody was there dancing, just having a good time.
You can kind of do some improv in the background …
Exactly. Tons of improvised dancing. You’ll see some more of that this year.
Oh, I look forward to that! I actually had one question suggested on Twitter (thanks, @onlymystory) about Ricky Schwartz’s style. What can you tell us … do you make any of the hair decisions yourself? Who makes these hair decisions? Does he have any upcoming changes? [This questions seems weird in print, but I promise that at this point in the interview we were laughing.]
I have an insight. Ricky Schwartz … drumroll please … GOT A HAIRCUT.
Wow. That’s the kind of big news I love to break on my site. Haircuts: very important.
Totally. This year, I went and got my hair cut at 11:00 before I had to be on set the next morning.
That’s dedication. Clearly you are working hard …
But as soon as the show ended last season, literally the day after, I went and got my hair cut.
Kind of like a cleansing process …
Yes, definitely. It went through that little awkward phase. I think it was good for the character, but you know, I think that it’s time for a change. He got a haircut. I think they’re sending over a picture, so you guys will be able to see it. [See the photo at the very top of the post.] That is my hair in the next season.
Awesome. Well, this was very delightful and I’m excited about all the things you said. […] Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.
Thank you so much for the interview. I really appreciate you taking the time.
As Sadie would say, you’re welcome.
Yeah, that’s my favorite line ever by the way.
Yeah, it’s a classic. It’s already become a thing where people say it on Twitter and you know they’re talking about Awkward.
There will be more of that this season. There will be more “you’re welcome”s.
The end. Well, that was definitely a lot of fun. I’m even more excited for Awkward season two now. Don’t forget to tune in Thursday, June 28th at 10:30 on MTV. I want the show to last for years and years and years. You can follow Matthew on Twitter @mattlfahey.