Image Source: Shanna Fisher
At the moment, Timothy Granaderos just might be the most hated person on TV. The talented 31-year-old actor, who's been in everything from Rosewood to Runaways, currently stars as Montgomery "Monty" de la Cruz on Netflix's monster hit 13 Reasons Why, where he's carved out a niche for himself as the drama's latest villain. From the perspective of someone who hasn't yet seen it, the series might present as a stereotypical teen melodrama. But after two seasons full of controversial scenes, the show has proved that it's unafraid of taking risks, sometimes to its detriment.
The latest controversy arose after fans of the show made it to season two's last episode, which features a stomach-turning scene in which popular high school jock Monty brutally sexually assaults another male character on the show. Had 13 Reasons Why gone too far, or was it merely shining a necessary light on a topic no other TV series has been brave enough to tackle in such a graphic way? With viewers still debating the contentious moment online and the recent announcement that season three is officially on the way, we hopped on the phone with Granaderos to pick his brain about Monty, #MeToo, and who he hopes future episodes of the series will focus on. (Spoiler alert: his answer might surprise you.)
POPSUGAR: Just like season one, 13 Reasons Why's second season has earned a pretty heated response from fans.
Timothy Granaderos: [Laughs] Yeah, I think I maybe heard something about that.
PS: Was that something that you and your costars were more prepared for this time around?
TG: Yeah, absolutely. Our fans are very passionate, and we knew our story could raise some controversy, but we were better equipped to deal with it. At the end of the day, they're just passionate, and we knew it was coming from a place of love with the show and the characters and story. We were definitely aware.
PS: Monty comes to the forefront of this season in a pretty dramatic way. Can you walk me through your initial reaction to finding out where his story was going in those later episodes?
TG: I guess it was a bit of a shock, but also very . . . this is going to sound weird, but it was exciting to take on such a pivotal role. I mean, [Brian] Yorkey, the showrunner, had approached me a couple episodes out and asked if I was comfortable doing it, and initially it's just shock. And then it's followed by, "OK, how can I ground this and make it real and give this an honest story?" So yeah, it was shocking, but in a good way.
PS: Speaking of Brian Yorkey, he recently commented on the controversy that has exploded online about Monty and Tyler's bathroom scene, saying that putting these kinds of sexual assaults on TV is "better than silence." Do you agree?
TG: It's sad because these scenarios take place more than we realize. It's hard to watch because it's a difficult thing to experience; it shouldn't be an easy thing to watch. More than anything, it's important that we get the conversation started. We need to recognize that these type of situations do take place, and a lot of the time people feel like they don't have a voice; they feel ashamed and like they can't talk to anyone about it. So if someone watching can take something from it or feel like there's a platform for them to speak on it, that's what we want to do.
PS: The bathroom scene is, without a doubt, one of the toughest things I've ever watched, so I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to physically act in it. How, as an actor, do you prepare for something like that? Do you have someone on set, a professional, who you can speak with if you feel like you need to?
TG: Yeah, they brought in professionals, and we had safety meetings before with producers and Yorkey to discuss how it was going to go. They had storyboards to make sure we understood what was going to happen. They let us ask a lot of questions. We sat down, and any questions we had, whether it was blocking or motivation or . . . we just went into the scene feeling very comfortable and prepared. As an actor going into that scene, you just do your work. You do a lot of preparation and research and make all these choices, and then on the day of filming, you just let it go and go into the scene knowing everyone's got your back.
PS: What I find interesting in general about this season is that nothing is ever as it seems, and no one is who you think they are. For instance, the Zach-centric episode, where we find out all this stuff happened that we didn't even realize in season one. The same thing happened with Monty, where now we know he has an alcoholic father and is a victim of abuse himself. Do you feel like, by the end of the season, we're supposed to view him as a sympathetic character in any way?
TG: I think that it's easy for a viewer to look at someone and judge them immediately based on their actions or attitude without taking into account what they're going through, what their home life is. Monty comes from a broken home with an alcoholic father. This happens way more often than we're aware of. I don't think that the show forces you to sympathize with him, but to maybe consider the idea that there's more going on with his character, more that you don't understand or see.
PS: So, if season three does end up happening, do you think we'd ever see Monty being redeemed in a way that doesn't happen in Bryce's story?
TG: Well, we don't know anything about a third season. But in the event of it happening, I would love to see us explore a little more of Monty's home life and dive in to why he acts the way he does so we can answer some questions and see where he's coming from, and in a bigger picture, try to help that character. I know that he's the aggressor and the bully, but bullies need help too. You know, they're victims of a different type of mental health issue.
Image Source: Shanna Fisher
PS: After the season came out, did some fans have trouble separating you from Monty? And if so, did you get any advice from fellow 13 Reasons Why villain Justin Prentice?
TG: [Laughs] I was ready for it, to be honest. A handful of actors got backlash for their characters in season one. Steven [Silver], Michele [Selene Ang], Justin . . . so I was totally prepared for the — excuse me — sh*tstorm that was to come. And you know, Justin reached out, like, "Hey, how you doing, man? Is everything OK?" [Laughs] The fans are just passionate about the characters, but I think they do realize that Timothy is not Monty. Justin even started a hashtag, #TimIsNotMonty, so my team's looking out for me, my fellow actors and everyone. People feel passionate, and they should, so I'm glad that they're reacting the way they are. Hopefully they can all remember that I'm just an actor.
PS: It's hard not to notice the connections between the current conversation in Hollywood about the #MeToo movement and 13 Reasons Why's frank approach to sexual assault. Was that something you ever explicitly discussed on set?
TG: Coincidentally, the #MeToo movement unfolded while we were shooting. It was just a weird case of life imitating art. It was weird to watch that unfold as we were telling that story, and it's something that needed to be talked about. It's just a huge movement that's sad that it's taken this long to get to. This show — people watch a TV show, and they think you're just doing it for the reaction, for the drama or whatever. But in the real world, that stuff really takes place on a daily basis. So I'm glad we can talk about it. And maybe help mold and change some people's viewpoints.
PS: Because season two wraps up Hannah's story, which character, other than your own, would you love to see season three really dig into or focus on?
TG: I'd really love for season three to explore Chloe's story. Her character is someone that you scream at the TV at, because you want her to do the so-called "right thing," but you realize that in her own experience, it's not always the easiest thing to do. So, I'd like to see what motivates her to make the choices she does.
PS: With bombshells like Chloe's pregnancy and all the other serious themes that get explored, the series is obviously pretty heavy — how do you and the cast blow off steam when you're not on set?
TG: We goof off a lot. We're just a bunch of ding-dongs. [Laughs] Just hanging out, going to movies, playing board games, going to dinner, playing video games . . . we just hang out and have a good time, really. This stuff is heavy, but afterwards, it's just like a bunch of friends hanging out at Summer camp.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Shanna Fisher
GROOMING: Michelle Harvey
STYLING: Anne Demay