13 Reasons Why star Timothy Granaderos on that shocking twist: 'I was always sad for Montgomery'
Warning: major season 3 spoilers head!
Warning: major spoilers ahead for the season 3 finale of 13 Reasons Why. Read on at your own risk!
Well, that certainly confirmed some long-rumored suspicions. 13 Reasons Why finally explained why Montgomery “Monty” De La Cruz (Timothy Granaderos) was so awful to everyone around him, bullying people every chance he got to the point of sexually assaulting Tyler (Devin Druid) in the season 2 finale. Season 3 of Netflix’s controversial teen drama revealed that the homophobic, almost-sociopathic jock was actually closeted himself.
In a shocking twist, a flashback scene at a party showed Monty drunkenly hooking up with another guy. But his own self-hatred and shame at giving in to his urges drove him to immediately beat the guy up. While he tried to suppress his feelings, he eventually went back to that same guy and spent the night with him, having sex and an emotional, honest conversation about his feelings. He still refused to come out and call himself gay, though.
What was even more important about his decision to spend the night with his new love interest was that it happened while his best friend Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice) was being murdered across town, cementing Monty’s alibi and innocence in the crime. It was actually Alex (Miles Heizer) who killed Bryce, while Jessica (Alisha Boe) watched and didn’t stop it. But when the inner circle of Liberty High students uncovered the truth about their friends, they helped cover it up and pinned the blame on Monty, who had recently been arrested for Tyler’s sexual assault.
13 Reasons Why went one step further with Monty’s shocking season 3 arc, revealing in the finale that he was killed in prison hours before the murder was even pinned on him. EW spoke with Granaderos, who played Monty for three seasons on the Netflix series about the developments leading up to his death, whether he’ll return for the final season, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you first learn that season 3 would explore Monty’s sexuality?
TIMOTHY GRANADEROS: I was so excited to further develop his story and explore his home life and be integrated in the main storyline. I heard about it when we were already into the season, maybe one or two episodes in, when I got a phone call from [showrunner] Brian Yorkey. There’s always a conversation with Yorkey, it’s not, “This is where we want the character to go.” It’s more [of] an open dialogue about whether or not we think it’s right for the character. When I found out, I was very excited for him, for Monty, and for me as an actor.
What was your first thought when you found out his arc this season was going to be an LGBTQ story?
When he first presented it, it unlocked so many doors for me because, in prior seasons, I was having to fill in the blanks and figure out why Monty acted the way he did or why he did things that he did. Once I learned that, it was something to hold onto and something to use in all my scenes, all my interactions. When you keep a secret like that it’s such a burden to yourself. I found that it changed my relationships with the people around me on the show.
Because you didn’t learn the twist until this season, did you come up with your own backstory for Monty in the first two seasons to try to explain why he did the awful things he did?
I absolutely did. Coming in season 1, I was only supposed to be in three episodes as this bully jock guy. As some awesome twist of fate, I got to be in all three seasons and further develop the character. But in the earlier seasons, I had to create a lot of the backstory. A lot of questions were unanswered so I had to answer them. I made up this whole story about his relationship with his family and his friends and what was going on in his mind. And then season 3 happened and finally explained it and I got to act it out so it was a lot more fun for me.
Did you have any idea that Monty was harboring this deep-seated, internalized homophobia when you played him the first two seasons?
I definitely, especially looking back on a lot of his comments and the racy things he would say, you have to entertain the idea that he’s covering something up. But I don’t feel like I had developed that idea in my mind. Even when Yorkey approached me with it, it was more so that if Montgomery had these urges, he wouldn’t even allow himself to explore that. He would shut it down immediately. It was interesting and that’s how I prepared it as an actor and that’s how it came to fruition onscreen for Monty.
Do you think that knowing more about Monty’s sexuality, and explaining his past behaviors through that lens, helps redeem some of the awful things he’s done?
I don’t think anything he’s done, especially in the finale of season 2, is redeemable. But I would hope that through season 3, Montgomery is humanized in some way and you realize that he’s trying to sort through his own emotions and feelings. Unfortunately, he takes it out in aggression towards others instead of how others deal with it in a different way.
A lot of actors who play these villainous roles say they can’t judge their characters no matter how horrible they may be. Did you find it challenging not to judge or hate Monty after everything he’s done?
Absolutely. Morally, he’s so far from my understanding of what it’s like to be a human being. [Laughs] The things he does are just so wrong. But like you said, you have to be unbiased. You have to approach it from the character’s perspective and you have to understand why they’re doing that. It does go to a pretty dark place but what I found is in the end, I was always sad for Montgomery. I was always so sad for the character.
What did you think of the response to the season 2 finale, especially Monty’s disturbing sexual assault on Tyler?
Oh, I got ripped. They did not like me! [Laughs] They did not like me and they let me know it. If there wasn’t that reaction, then I wouldn’t have felt like I did my job properly. It’s an assurance that I’m making the right decisions in my acting, I guess. It’s scary though, some of those tweets and being hated out there!
And when did you find out he was going to be killed off in the season 3 finale?
I didn’t find out Monty was going to be killed off until much later in the season. When I found out, it was pretty shocking and sad because more than anything, it’s a tragedy for this character, you know? In season 3, we do learn some of his vulnerabilities and we maybe see Monty turning in some ways and then tragically it comes to an end. I’m just sad to see that his story ended in that manner.
We don’t actually see his death onscreen, we only learn about it when Deputy Standall (Mark Pellegrino) says it in conversation. Did you film your death scene and it was cut for time or was it always meant to be revealed in a comment rather than onscreen?
They had a conversation about whether or not his death was going to be onscreen but in the end, they ultimately decided that it was better to not show it. We never shot it. What you see in that episode was what we were going with.
What did you think of that decision to reveal his death in a conversation instead of showing it?
I feel like it was the right thing to do, especially with the way the story wrapped up. It added to the mystery of it, of how Monty gets pinned for everything. The fact that you don’t see him get killed leaves us with the mystery of the whole conclusion of the story. It’s also a bummer! [Laughs] It was really a bummer, come on! I’m sad. I’m still sad!
Well looking at past seasons of this show, it’s not uncommon that we see a dead character return in flashbacks …
[Laughs] What are you talking about?
Historically that is a pretty major part of this show. So is there any chance we could see Monty return for the fourth and final season?
You know, there’s always a chance. Especially with this show. Brian Yorkey is very excited about what he’s got planned for the final season so we’ll see. I’m hoping to. I miss my friends up in the Bay Area!
What did you think of the other final twist where Monty gets blamed posthumously for Bryce’s murder?
I did not see it coming. Honestly, when I read that, I had gotten really angry actually. It left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m legitimately frustrated with the other characters. And then after I let that emotion process, I was like, hell yeah. How awesome to be at the center of all this. I look back on all three seasons and see where I’ve come as an actor and Montgomery as a character and it’s a very special, cool feeling. I’m honored, really, in a weird way. I hope that people can, not sympathize but maybe understand him a little more even after his death. Just a little empathy towards the poor guy.
If you do come back for the final season what would you like to see for Monty?
I’d hope to get to unpack more of his story. It was a tragic ending to a tragic story that I feel like there is so much more to explore with what he was going through and how he was processing things. He finally met this person who could bring out his vulnerability and they have these very intimate, close moments. It felt completely different from every other scene I shot as Montgomery and it was a breath of fresh air. It was honestly so nice. It was rejuvenating to be able to talk from Montgomery’s heart and not put up this wall of defense and aggression. It’s a sad story that I’d love to see more of if Monty does get to come back in some way.
What has it been like playing such a hated character for three seasons?
When I signed on for this show, I had literally no clue where this character was going. To look back on three seasons of this, it’s incredible to see his storyline and his character develop. You want the scenes that challenge you and scare you, and I had plenty of that throughout three seasons. Reading those scenes and finding out from Yorkey what I was going to be doing, immediately my palms started sweating and I’m thinking, how am I going to pull this off and make this look real? Luckily I’m surrounded by amazing costars and crew and writers, so it’s been a fantastic journey and I’ve grown so much as an actor and as a person because of it.
13 Reasons Why season 3 is now streaming in full on Netflix.