Every week, the cast and crew of HBO’s Insecure — the new series based on Issa Rae’s successful web series — is taking EW behind the scenes of each episode. This week, Jay Ellis, who plays Issa’s boyfriend, Lawrence, walks us through the fourth episode in the season, “Thirsty As F…”
On that rocky shower scene between Issa and Lawrence:
It was wonderfully awkward. We were in this super tight space, there was water, and we were doing this dance around each other. There was a camera on the floor, shooting our feet, and there was another on the other side of the curtain. I was pretty much butt naked, just with a banana hammock sock that was taped to my skin with double-sided tape, which was super uncomfortable. Issa was in a one-piece bathing suit. It was a small shower, so I was trying not to put myself on Issa, but at the same time, you can only apologize for brushing up against somebody so many times.
We filmed this scene three weeks into shooting, so Issa and I obviously knew each other, but we hadn’t filmed anything intimate up until that point. It was the first time we experienced each other in that way. It was fun—we laughed about it.
On the ups and downs of Issa and Lawrence’s relationship:
In episode three, we see where they both have erred in this relationship. They’re no longer blaming the other — now, they both take responsibility. They love each other and have been together for years, so they want to make it work. There’s a kind of renewed effort into being their best selves — both for themselves and each other — and you see that in episode four. They get back into that groove and you see how they flow. It’s here that we see they are a great couple, which is something we didn’t see in the first three episodes.
On Lawrence’s Best Buy gig:
Lawrence taking this job was such a hard thing for him to do, but he did it for himself and for his relationship. He had to get out of the house and start contributing to the financial and emotional weight of their relationship. He knows computers and tech — that’s his world and where he wants to be — so even though he took this job, at least it’s in that space. He has passion and ambition to do something bigger. It’s one of those gut-wrenching, ‘I gotta do this, even though I don’t want to’ moments. It’s probably one of the reasons why he sat on the couch for so long — he didn’t want to be in this position.
On Lawrence’s friendships:
Lawrence is a bit of a loner, but you’ll get to see his friendships in episodes five and eight. That’s the really cool thing about Insecure — we’re immediately introduced to Issa and her friendships, but it’s a slow burn with Lawrence, and that’s party because he didn’t leave the house for so long. He didn’t see his friends for a really long time. He’s an introvert, and you can see why somebody like Lawrence basically went into a hole and hid in his shell while he was going through this down moment. But now we see him back at work, exercising for the first time — his mojo is working and things are starting to come back to normal. His best friend is Chad (Neil Brown Jr.), and he’s kind of the Molly counterpart.
On working with Ty Dolla $ign:
Ty was a really nice guy. He was there with his entourage, like rappers do, but they were super cool. I will say, though, that every single woman on set was drooling over him. He has this amazing, deep, raspy voice and he would sing and it was as if the whole world stopped.
On Lawrence’s wardrobe:
Lawrence has this massive transition, so he started out without shaving, out of shape, and in need of a haircut. His clothes were meant to reflect the fact that he kind of just gave up — he didn’t leave the house and there are probably days where he didn’t shower and wore the same sweats for days until Issa told him he stunk and needed to change. We wanted to slowly change that over time to show the guy that Issa fell in love with.
Insecure airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET on HBO.