It is no criticism at all of Rob Huebel to say that his Transparent character Len is one of the show’s less, let us say, colorful folks — and one now seemingly detached from the central Pfefferman family, following his divorce from Amy Landecker’s Sarah. But Huebel claims to be perfectly fine with Len’s comparatively small place in the universe of Transparent, whose second season is now available to watch via Amazon Prime.
“I’m not the most popular character,” says the comedian and actor, whose many credits include Human Giant, The Descendants, The League, and Childrens Hospital. “To be honest, I will take what I can get on that show. If I’m onscreen, that’s fine. But if I’m not onscreen, I’m such a fan of the show, I’m just happy to watch what happens to that family.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I just watched the first four episodes of the new season of Transparent, which I found very entertaining, although my stomach is now twisted into knots with stress.
ROB HUEBEL: You’ve got some good stuff ahead of you! This year, I didn’t watch it on my computer, we did this screening, so I got to binge-watch it on the big screen. It’s really fun to watch it with a crowd. It’s a totally different experience.
So, who was onscreen when you decided to go for a pee break? Of whose scene did you think, “Ah, I can skip this and go to the restroom”?
[Laughs.] I would try to run during the credits, during that opening montage. There was too much coming up that I hadn’t seen yet. You hear it all, at table reads and stuff, so I knew what was going to happen. But I hadn’t seen it at all. So I would just try to pee during the opening credits montage.
Season 1 tracked the end of your character’s marriage. Were you worried that Len might not return this year, given that he now seemed to be adrift from the Pfefferman family?
Listen, I’m always worried that they’re going to kill me off. I’ve always been worried that I’m going to get into a bus accident, or I’m going to have cancer, or I’m going to get abducted by, like, a family of bears.
I haven’t seen it yet, but I believe that’s the plot of The Revenant.
[Laughs.] That’s right!
You should pitch that your character gets getting raped by a bear next season.
That’s right. Just dealing with that and taking it really seriously. Playing it really dramatically and really dealing with this traumatic event. But, yeah, I was worried, going into season 2, that I’d be kind of squeezed.
Well, in the season 2 premiere, your character is mentioned several times but never actually seen. That must be a bit of a mixed blessing for an actor.
I always like that because, as I said, I’m always paranoid I’m going to get cancer on the show. So, whenever they’re talking about me, I feel like that’s a good thing. What’s funny is that there have been a few times where they’ll talk about me, but you see that some of the other characters are almost sympathetic towards me. Amy’s character is just so f—ed up and has just put me through the ringer. You can almost see the sympathy in other people’s eyes when they talk about me, which I think is really funny.
I guess the problem is when another character starts saying, “Hey, did you hear that Len has taken up skydiving?”
[Laughs.] Yeah. You don’t want to hear them talking about me getting into extreme sports. Or, “I saw Len the other day and, boy, he really didn’t look very healthy. He’s really lost a lot of weight.” Or, “I heard Len bought a motorcycle. That’ll be fun!”
“Did you hear Len’s donating a kidney?”
“I hear Len bought some of those old lawn darts that are really sharp.”
Transparent is one of the most acclaimed show of the past few years. Was it obvious to you right from the start that this was going to be something of very high quality?
Well, it’s really hard to gauge. It didn’t hit me until people started coming up to me on the street and really opening up to me about their experience with the show. There are a lot of people that connected with the show so hard. People really feel an ownership over the show. One time, this older woman came up to me at a store, and she started talking to me as if she’d known me for 20 years. She was telling me all of her opinions about the show, and about the kids, and, “Those kids are so selfish. I can’t believe it, they think everything is about them.” Then she brought over her teenage son, and she was explaining to her son that I was on this show Transparent. The kid didn’t know who I was, and the kid didn’t know the show, so he was completely unimpressed, which was hilarious. But that kind of thing has happened several times. I just let people talk. I love it. I’m not sick of it yet. Maybe Jeffrey (Tambor) or Amy may be sick of it, but it’s still a novelty for me. So, I just let people talk, and stand there, and smile, and nod.
Do you think Len is really as “normal” as he seems? Or, if there was a bottle episode with Len and his girlfriend, would they be getting up to some of their own crazy shit?
I’d like to believe that underneath, there’s some sort of bizarre thing that he’s into, we just haven’t seen it yet. He probably has some sort of really expensive bondage equipment at home, some sort of leather sawhorse that he’s chained to, and maybe some kind of dungeon underneath his house.
Moving on, what can you tell us about the new season of Childrens Hospital?
Childrens is coming back in January and, from what I have seen, it’s the best season that we have done so far. Fans of the show are probably going to go nuts. I know I took a hard stance when I said that last year was the best season of the show. But, to be honest with you Clark, I was lying. Last year, that was not the best season. This year is the best season.
You’re also in a film which has just been released called Night Owls. Could you talk about?
Yeah, I did a movie with Adam Pally and Rosa Salazar called Night Owls. It went to SXSW in the spring, and it’s really hilarious. It’s mostly Adam and Rosa. The plot of it is that he has a one-night stand with this girl. He goes back to her house to hook up with her, and he wakes up in the middle of the night, and he realizes that he’s not in her house, he’s in his boss’ house. She’s, like, a crazy stalker of his boss and she has brought him to his boss’s house. And she’s also taken an overdose of sleeping pills. He works for a college football team, so she takes him to the coach’s house, and I’m the assistant coach. The big boss is Peter Krause. Tony Hale is in the movie too. Tony Hale tells him to sit tight, and keep her awake, and keep her alive, and we’ll be there in the morning. He basically has to keep her awake, and keep her inside this house, all night. So, they’re just stuck together in this house, and they both want to kill each other.
Finally, in the recent series finale of The League, we got a glimpse of Paul Scheer’s Andre, 18 years into the future. What will your sex addict character Russell be doing in 2033?
Well, you know, sadly, Russell dies from his sex addiction. People don’t know this, but you can die from a sex addiction. Over the years, on The League you saw me have sex with all kinds of men and women — but then eventually it spread out to inanimate objects. Cheese, all sorts of food items.
I think it would catch up with me and I would eventually have sex with a bear, going back to what we were talking about. I think if you sneak up on a bear, and you try to have sex with a bear, and the bear is not aware that you are about to have sex with it, you can startle a bear very easily. And the bear would probably kill Russell.
So, what we’re learning really is that, all the characters you play will eventually have sex with a bear?
Most shows that I work on, I try to have a meeting with the writers at some point, to pitch that idea. I’ve been in this business a long time, and no one has done it yet, no one will take me up on that. But I’m hoping that one of these shows will get smart. If they like Emmy awards, they will listen to me. If you don’t want to go to the Emmy, do your own thing. If you want to go to the Emmys, listen to me. I’ve got some ideas about having sex with bears.
You can see the trailers for Transparent season 2, Night Owls, and the forthcoming season of Childrens Hospital, above.