Actress Lauren Weedman’s role on HBO’s new half-hour series “Looking” is one she’s been rehearsing for her whole life: Best friend of a gay man.
“Basically, I’m playing a version of myself,” said Weedman, who lived in Seattle from 1995-2000. In “Looking,” Weedman plays Doris, roommate to Dom (Murray Bartlett), a gay man Doris dated before he came out.
“In my mind, he’s just like five or six gay friends I dated in high school who I’m still friends with,” Weedman said. “Two of them are coming with me to the premiere.”
HBO’s “Looking” stars Jonathan Groff (“Boss,” “Glee”) as the youngest, most easily likable member of a triumvirate of gay, male friends in San Francisco. It’s written and directed by Andrew Haigh, who first gained attention for the 2011 film “Weekend,” about a gay couple who begin as a one-night stand.
Weedman’s character is just about the only woman in “Looking,” and she calls it a dream come true: “The two worlds I love so much: HBO and gay boys. I can’t think of a better situation.”
She previously had a recurring role on HBO’s 2009-11 series “Hung.”
Although Weedman did not grow up in Seattle — IMDB.com has that detail of her bio wrong; she’s from Indiana — she considers it the place her career started. She arrived in Seattle when she was 25 after working in experimental theater in Amsterdam. An internship at the now-shuttered Empty Space Theatre brought her to town.
“I chose Seattle because of the music scene,” she said. “And it had a good gay community. Even though I wasn’t gay and didn’t have anything to do with music, I felt like, this city is going to care about the arts.”
Then she started getting commissions for plays and one-woman shows locally. She hasn’t been invited back to Seattle for a few years — she will be in town for the Association of Writers Writing Programs Conference in February; she’s still working on a second book — but she continues to write solo shows.
Her latest is a localized project that sees Weedman arrive in a city and spend a week there gathering material before doing a show about the city.
“It’s totally fun, but talk about pandering to the audience!” she said. “But I’m not faking it. Usually I am having a good time and I get to do all the things I don’t get to do in my normal life, like go to a strip club in Portland. It’s an improvised, storytelling show based on the city.”
She’s hopeful that “Looking” will catch on and she’ll get to return to San Francisco, where the series is filmed, for a second season. Weedman said working on a TV show — where she’s not in charge, unlike in her solo shows — can be more challenging when dealing with “personalities and energies and drama and egos and story lines and the drug habits of the people around you” but she said “Looking” was easy.
“They cast such kind, nice people,” she said. “I’m used to having at least one person in every show who is just a handful — that’s TV — but this has not been like that. It sounds like I drank the Kool-Aid so hard on this but they’ve just been the nicest.”
Rob Owen: [email protected] or on Facebook and Twitter as RobOwenTV