Exclusive Looking (HBO) Interview: O-T Fagbenle Discusses His Role in the Groundbreaking Series and More

The versatile O-T Fagbenle has a made a name for himself starring and guest starring in projects both her and abroad. If he looks familiar, chances are you have seen him in Doctor Who, Happy Endings, Thorne or one of his other many projects. Additionally, Fagbnle has starred in feature films like I Could Never Be Your Man, been in several stage producions, composed music and did voice work for Assassin’s Creed IV. Now Fagbanle has landed a key role on HBO’s Looking, an exploration of modern life for three gay men living in San Francisco.

Fagbenle recently took time out of his busy schedule to chat with TV Equals about his role in Looking, why he loves the project and more.

Looking is a unique series, that feels groundbreaking in so many ways. What does it feel like to be a part of the series?

O-T Fagbenle: There are so many parts of being involved with it: the preparation of it, the shooting of it and now this final part where we’re getting to share it with people. I think each stage has its own beauty, but I think this stage now, with people getting to watch it, is really invigorating because it’s inspiring debate and capturing people’s imaginations, and pushing their imaginations to recognize themselves in these characters who have been created in Looking.

What drew you to the project initially?

O-T Fagbenle: I think my main attraction was knowing the quality of the people who were working on it from Michael Lannan to Andrew Hays to HBO. When you surround yourself with people who are much cleverer and talented than you are, you can’t go far wrong.

If you had to describe your character Frank in one sentence what would it be?

O-T Fagbenle: Free-hearted, grounded, homely musician.

The dynamic between Frank and Agustín is so interesting to watch. They seem to want different things out of life, but they clearly love one another. We see that in small gestures like with Augustin hanging the unicorn picture for Frank. How do you see their relationship?

O-T Fagbenle: I think they’ve obviously been together a long time and there’s a lot of love there. They’re very different, but in a way they are very compatible. They kind of complement each other. Agustín being a bit more free and wild, and Frank being a bit more domesticated. They might find a balance that could make them happy, but as you can see there is this element of sexual freedom where there is this disharmony bubbling.

Is Frank comfortable with the idea of having an open relationship or is that something he’s doing because he thinks Agustin needs that excitement?

O-T Fagbenle: Well, you know,there is something I’ve heard before: all monogamous relationships are the same, but all open relationships are unique snowflakes. I think they’re all individual. So, I think there is a type of openness that Frank is amenable to, but there are many more types of open relationships that Frank would feel uncomfortable in. I guess in this part of the negotiation between them, it’s like well what’s okay with you and what are the boundaries, what do we consider cheating or a breaking of trust. I think that’s a very persnickety thing that a lot of couple’s deal with is when they try to open their relationships.

Can you tease a bit about what is ahead for Frank this season?

O-T Fagbenle: I think I can say as Frank and Augustín’s relationship continues, they keep pushing boundaries and there are some boundaries which make one or both of the couples quite uncomfortable.

How does Looking compare to some of the other projects you have worked on?

O-T Fagbenle: To be honest, it was one of my favorite screen projects to work on. There was an enormous amount of trust from the makers, the producers and the director and the writer, Michael Lannan. They trusted the artist so much, and it was all about telling the stories as honestly and as beautifully as possible. It’s so enriching when you get to work under those kinds of circumstances.

What has it been like filming in San Francisco?

O-T Fagbenle: They were kind enough to get me down to the city before filming so that I could get a feel for the city. It is a unique vibe, with its history, and its culture, its people. Before going there I had never heard anyone say a bad word about San Francisco and I can see why. It’s a city of love and I think that is infused in the piece, this character that is San Francisco.

Compared to other shows on HBO, Looking is surprisingly lacking in cynicism and it’s actually quite romantic in a naturalistic way…

O-T Fagbenle: A lot of that comes from Michael Lannan, he’s one of the hardest people not to fall in love with. He has such an openness to him and really you can feel him throughout. He is not a cynical person about love. I don’t think he is an idealist either, but he has this kind of warmth about him that feeds into the relationships on the screen.

Have you had any interesting fan responses to the series?

O-T Fagbenle: The response has been remarkable; there’s been so much love, and one of the things I’ve enjoyed most is the debate. There’s been quite a lot of debate about what the show means and how it fits into this period of our understanding of people’s sexuality.

If you could guest star on any show, what would it be and why?

O-T Fagbenle: Interesting question. If I could guest star on any show, what would it be and why… it would be hard not to pick between The Simpsons or Family Guy. To me, specifically The Simpsons— although I am more of a Family Guy guy now– was such an iconic part of my growing up. It would just make my day to have been a Simpsons‘ character.

Catch O-T in episode four of Looking, tonight, Sunday, February 9th at 10:30pm on HBO.

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