What do you get when you combine Hollywood actors, satire, and contract killers? Hollywood Hitmen, a new web series written by actors Maximilian Osinski (Love & Other Drugs), Enver Gjokaj (Agent Carter, Dollhouse) and Rafi Silver (Elementary, Happy Endings).
Produced by Dichen Lachman (Agents of SHIELD, Dollhouse), Hollywood Hitmen represents a passion project that focuses on Evan (Gjokaj) and Max (Osinski), two hitmen who have a strong desire to succeed as contract killers — if they can ever stop getting in their own way. Evan has a love of musical theater, while Max suffers from analysis paralysis (though he’s also a pretty good assassin).
With a starry supporting cast that includes Lachman, Jessy Schram (Falling Skies), Oded Fehr (Covert Affairs, The Mummy), Cerina Vincent (Californication), and Matthew Holmes (Salem), Hollywood Hitmen is “Gross Point Blank meets Curb Your Enthusiasm.” EW spoke exclusively with Osinski, Gjokaj, and Silver — all of whom are old friends — about working together and exactly where the inspiration for the series came from. Read on for more, and watch an exclusive clip below.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I’m very curious about the journey of how this all came to be. Could you elaborate on where the idea came from and how you decided to pursue it?
MAXIMILIAN OSINSKI: Enver and I always had a banter that was popular among our friends where we acted out these clowns. One day I said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we were two hitmen?” That was it. Enver and I just started riffing and improvising right there on the spot and we found that there was an endless amount of material. We told our friends and now collaborators, everyone got really excited and were on board.
RAFI SILVER: Max and Enver have a constant joke between themselves about the absurdity of being actors in Hollywood and how ridiculous they behave and talk on daily basis. One day they thought wouldn’t it be funny if two hitmen spoke exactly the same way, this made us all laugh so much and the three of us decided to make a sketch. But in that process, we couldn’t stop thinking about other scenarios. The riffing was endless. I mean, what if these two guys had a mediocre agent that was always telling them ‘their time was coming’? What if they were always losing jobs to Australians? What if they felt like they need just one job or THE job that could turn it all around? If you look at it through the lens of acting it is a bit depressing. But when you make it a parody we can poke fun from a distance and laugh.
Max and Enver, you both starred in the film and helped write it. Was this a sort of passion project for you? How does it feel to finally be getting it out there in the world?
OSINSKI: We’ve been friends for a very long time and have always wanted to do something together. It feels like a big weight off my shoulders having finally finished it and getting it out there on the web. I think when you make something small like this it really has to be a passion project. Everyone is working for free and wearing many hats, it’s really hard work and we shot it in just under three days. Finishing something is always harder then starting which is another reason I am so happy it’s out there.
ENVER GJOKAJ: A lot of what you do as an actor is all about career. How is this [project] going to move my career forward? Hollywood Hitmen was about getting back to the joy of making stuff for the hell of it. We wanted to make each other laugh. And we succeeded. There’s a real power to setting achievable goals.
All of you have had experience working on bigger budget television shows or movies. How was it to work on something smaller and more personal?
OSINSKI: Stressful. But gratifying. People underestimate how hard it is to get something made. Everyone says go out there and make your own stuff but it’s not that easy.
SILVER: It was a little bit more chaotic, because everyone was wearing so many hats. We also wrote it specifically so that we could shoot it for very little. But in the end it makes you focus more on content when you have such limitations.
GJOKAJ: We basically did this for no money in three days so you lose the ability to do anything the proper way. Everyone does everything. Dichen is producing and cooking food. I’m trying to direct without being able to see what we’re shooting. It was madness. But it was part of the fun too.
Can you talk a little bit about your history together, specifically, what made you decide to team up and write this?
OSINSKI: Enver and I did two movies back to back. We met on The Express and then randomly got cast in Taking Chance immediately after. Rafi and I went to Syracuse University together. He just moved to LA, we teamed up together because we worked really well as a team. Eventually we had a 65-page script! We also all have a similar sense of humor and work well together improvising scenes. We came up against each other too but now I realize that to make something good, you have to work with people that sometimes disagree with you.
GJOKAJ: Max and I had this ongoing inside joke about two desperate actors that we would riff on for years. Our friends were always saying we should shoot the stuff but we always thought actors are boring. Then one day, someone had the bright idea: what if these guys are desperate out of work hitmen? After that we wrote it really quick.
SILVER: Max and I have been best buds for over 15 years now. He’s lived with my family and I’ve lived with his in Poland. He’s like a brother to me. And Enver was always Max’s friend, but since I have moved to LA we have bonded over NYU and he’s now a really close friend.
What was the best part of the experience of working on Hollywood Hitman?
OSINKSI: For me it was all the amazing crew and cast we assembled simply because they believed in the project and it’s potential. Everyone donated their time and worked so hard. Oded Fehr drove all the way from Ojai, Jessy Schram was working props and acting, Rachael Taylor was a script supervisor on one of the days. It was very flattering. We couldn’t have done it with out Dichen and Alessandro, who were the first people to really believe in this and actually make it happen, they worked extremely hard. Dichen even sewed those micro fiber costumes so they would be super tight.
GJOKAJ: We had a night recently where we previewed it for our friends and all of the people who volunteered. It was exactly what we had imagined. We wanted to have fun making something and just show it to our friends and that’s it. Obviously we hope people like it of course, but that wasn’t the purpose really. The point was to challenge ourselves to do something insane and then do it.
SILVER: All the laughs. For us this idea is so fun because we are constantly thinking of funny scenarios all the time and never feels like work.
You can view the series on YouTube now.