TV Interview: Aya Cash On ‘You’re the Worst’, Awkward Sex & ‘Titanic’

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Preston Barta // Critic

YOU’RE THE WORST | 30 min. | TV-MA | Creator: Stephen Falk | Stars: Aya Cash, Chris Geere, Desmin Borges, Kether Donohue, Kether Donohue, Janet Varney, Todd Robert Anderson, Shane Francis Smith, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Allan McLeod, Allen Maldonado and Stephen Schneider

This summer has seen some quality entertainment on the big screen – with movies such as BOYHOOD, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, EDGE OF TOMORROW, I ORIGINS and DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES – but the same could be said with television shows on the small screen.

Now with studios shoveling out the muck of the summer (THE EXPENDABLES 3, LET’S BE COPS, etc.), TV has the upper hand, and it’s kicking butt!

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK came back strong with its second outing, WILFRED wrapped up a terrific series, and YOU’RE THE WORST is still going strong with its first season.

Fresh Fiction had the opportunity to speak with one of the show’s stars, Aya Cash (THE WOLF OF WALL STREET), who plays Gretchen on the series. We talked about the show’s authenticity, TITANIC (because why not?), and taking an unlikable character and making her engaging.

Aya Cash as Gretchen Cutler -- CR: Byron Cohen/FX

Aya Cash as Gretchen Cutler — CR: Byron Cohen/FX

OK, so this question is going to seem a little silly and it’s kind of crazy to say this, but I really like from the first episode that the sex scenes feel as awkward as they are in real life after a first encounter. How different do you think movies like, I don’t know, TITANIC or something like that would have been if the sex scenes would have been presented in a real way?

Aya Cash: “[Laughs] Now I’m trying to imagine Jimmy and Gretchen in TITANIC; I feel like romance in movies is often not real including the sex and what’s so charming about the sex in YOU’RE THE WORST is that it is that awkward sort of like I can’t find the rhythm, let’s take a break and eat some food, have a great conversation and then sort of pick up where we left off and try to figure out where we’re at. And that’s really—I feel like in some ways that’s sweet and more romantic than like a beautifully shot passionate everything is perfect, we’re both having orgasms at the exact same time kind of sex scene.

Yes, so I feel like and I was not a fan of TITANIC back in the day, although now I feel like I would be, but I appreciate how real it is and I’m glad that it’s awkward. It’s not porn. It’s funny and weird and once in a while slightly sexy, which is more like real life.”

There’s a lot of your character saying something, but then your face or your body language is telling another thing. Can you talk about how much of that is in the script, how much do you work on showing us that double kind of language?

Cash: “You know I think a lot of it is in the script, but not necessarily in the directions of the script. I think that comes from also the director. Just for me the most fun way to act is to try to be in the moment and react to the persons that you’re with, so often in awkward moments for what I’m saying might be slightly different from how I’m feeling. I feel like they come out of a moment where it’s maybe Jimmy has said something that’s insulted me, but I don’t want to tell him that. I want to be cool about something, but I can’t help but have a reaction. I don’t think it out too much. I’m not sitting there planning how can I show my subtext in this moment. And when you’re working with good actors, the thing that makes you look better is just paying attention to that and luckily I work with good actors.”

So even in this episode this week at the very end of it, as they’re disposing the prophylactics, there’s that last look where you’re just like I don’t think this is going to go as peachy rosy as we think.

Cash: “Yes, that was definitely a director’s thing. He wanted us to— and Steven wanted us to sort of have that moment. I haven’t seen this new episode, so I don’t know how it came out, but yes, we were definitely directed to keep the audience wondering if this will work out.”

(L-R) Aya Cash as Gretchen Cutler, Chris Geere as Jimmy Shive-Overly -- CR: Byron Cohen/FX

(L-R) Aya Cash as Gretchen Cutler, Chris Geere as Jimmy Shive-Overly — CR: Byron Cohen/FX

We refer to the show as uncomfortably funny. When you first got the script, what made you go, OK, I can do this and make a character who normally wouldn’t be likable in real life if you knew someone like this, quite enjoyable to watch and essentially participate with the show?

Cash: “Reading the show I thought it was hilarious, which is sort of a generic answer, but it’s very true. I think the humor just ran towards my sense of humor. I thought this would be really, really fun. I also just don’t worry about making her likable. I feel like I liked her when I read her and I sort of trust that the audience will get behind her as well, and all you can do as an actor, such a douchey thing to say, as an actor is to look for the parts that you connect to and have empathy for. I thought Gretchen was fabulous and that’s what attracted me. I thought they’ll never let me do it and I had many auditions to convince them.”

You did make her emphatic and actually quite likable because people like this we probably wouldn’t hang out with in real life.

Cash: “Yes, no, although I think I would want to hang out with Gretchen in real life just like once a year; I’d be like show me what it’s like, take me out.”

That friend that you miss and then when you hang out with them, you realize why you haven’t seen them in so long.

Cash: “You’re like oh, thank God that I have a stable life and I’m not her. Yes, exactly.”

YOU’RE THE WORST airs on Thursdays at 10:30 p.m. Eastern and Pacific on FX.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.