In the media it’s the same thing: I don’t think we are necessarily objectified or sexualized. It’s always quite the opposite. Ravi was an example of that. I booked the very thing I didn’t want: the asexual nerd, who at one point was testing condoms for the white lead and her straight, white boyfriend so that they can have sex. That moment for me was a little reminder of how we’re seen. I’ve just been trying to rebel against that. It sounds weird, I know other people will feel the other side where they keep being objectified, but I want more equality in that. And I’m trying to practice what I preach, I’m trying to get into shape, I’m trying to look a certain way. I’m not just expecting positive, oh let’s start telling Rahul he’s sexy because he’s made it about race. I just think we don’t see that very often. I try to make my captions a little risque, I do make sure to put up thirst posts. [laughs.] Why not? I want to normalize that.
Well, Owen is the village heartthrob.
Do you know what made me laugh about that? I think I look terrible. I’ve got curtains, glasses and a mustache, and that’s the look that I said was correct for the time, but it doesn’t translate to our standards now. But Oliver [Jackson-Cohen], who plays Peter Quint, is ridiculously handsome by today’s standards even if you put him in ‘80s clothes. And I’ve gone for these authentic frames and this hairstyle that are out of fashion. And then there’s lines of dialogue about the village heartthrob—when I watched it I laughed out loud, because I’m like, “What, him!?”
I mean, they’re not wrong! I’ve been seeing Owen thirst tweets everywhere.
The thing is, I feel like people who follow my account don’t see me as an actor, they see me as their mate. And I think they talk me up like they talk up their mate, which is a little bit more kind. So I don’t think [Owen] is objectively an attractive person. I think that the people who support me like to put it on a bit because I’m just their mate who got lucky. I think the relationship I have on social media is, like, the guy off the street who’s happy to be in Netflix things. I’ve sort of broken this wall. It’s my own doing for being open and honest on social media, I don’t think people see me as a professional.
In a YouTube video, you said that you could never play James Bond because you wouldn’t be able to handle the backlash. Are you the kind of person that worries about how people perceive you?
I was nervous with Harley Quinn because they were getting a British Jonathan Crane. I was like, “I’m gonna get backlash, these guys are gonna just go for me.” I mean, they accepted it but I was worried about voicing a character. When someone watches my work, I’m worried. I’m worried about next week on Friday when Bly comes out. I’ve already decided to stay off my phone. There’s a few roles that people suggest me for…
Like Star Wars?
See in that one, I think [Ezra Bridger] is animated as a person of color so I don’t feel too bad about that. But Mr. Fantastic [in Marvel’s rumored Fantastic Four reboot] is a good example, and Doctor Who. Doctor Who I’m alright about, but with something like Mr. Fantastic where they’re taking a character that was established as white in the comic books and then deciding they’re going to have a man of color play that person—that just frightens the fuck out of me. I genuinely think that if I got one of those types of roles—something where the race has been changed to fit me—I think it would be a complete deactivation of all social media. That’s it, gone. I’d never come back. Once something happens, I’d have to be in a bubble. And the bubble is the people around me who are excited and believe in me. So if the powers that be are like, “you’re our guy,” all I want to hear is that, because then I can fully do my job with confidence. I think that if I took a role like that, and any time I picked up my phone I saw, “This is crazy, why are they making this so fucking woke? Why don’t they just make the character trans too?”—the absolute garbage you hear from people online—I wouldn’t want anything like that to muddy the waters. I want to be excited for what we’d be doing.