Often times, being a millennial is a curse due to having such a bad reputation. CBS takes a stab at this generation with their new series premiering this fall, The Great Indoors. The comedy show revolves around adventure reporter Jack Gordon (played by Joel McHale) who has spent a chunk of time in the great outdoors. Things take a turn when Jack is given a position indoors in the digital department of his publication. I guess this is the perfect time to mention that he has no real experience with the digital world. (Who doesn’t know Snapchat, am I right?) Rising star Shaun Brown shares the small screen with Joel McHale and Christopher Mintz-Plasse in this new show and we couldn’t be more excited. Here, we discuss Brown’s character in the show, why audiences of any age will enjoy this new series, and his upcoming projects.
Cliché: Congratulations on joining the cast of The Great Indoors. Tell us a little bit about your character Mason.
Shaun Brown: Mason is the playful, digital conversationalist and idea guy at the digital magazine, Outdoor Limits. He’s very smart and incredibly witty when making fun of Jack Gordon and his archaic way of doing things. Mason has a great sense of style that doesn’t fit Jack’s idea of what male heterosexuality looks like, which makes Jack think that Mason is gay.
However, Mason, in a very playful manner, wants Jack to keep guessing and will not give him the direct answer that Jack seeks. I personally love Mason’s storyline in regards to his sexuality because it poses the question of what is “gay” or “straight” and how unnecessary it is to be in a co-workers’ business when it comes to their sexual preference.
Being a millennial myself, I’m so excited for the series. Millennials often get a negative rep in the media, so what was it about this role that made you want to tackle such a controversial generation?
I absolutely love the generational clashing we portray in this show. Being a millennial and having millennial staff writers for the show, there is a huge amount of truth that we convey about our generation. Things I’m personally proud of are the fact that millennials are the most inclusive in regards to sexuality and racial diversity, and being so knowledgeable of social media, which is definitely the wave of the future. Also, it’s fun to poke fun at ourselves and generation X, and even baby boomers (Stephen Fry’s generation). The generational differences in this show make for hilarious scenes, but also there are plenty of “aww” moments at the end of each episode when we all come together and appreciate each other in our differences and help each other out. This, in my opinion, makes a great sitcom.
Why do you think audience members of any age will like this show?
All ages will love this show because of the moment-to-moment truthfulness that reflects where we are as a society, but also where we have come from. Technology has increased so rapidly in the past 20 years. Things that we thought were “high-tech” even 15 years ago appear so outdated now. From dial-up Internet to renting movies at your neighborhood Blockbuster, there are a lot of things we bring up that are now considered archaic that we all can relate to and share in the nostalgia. Jack Gordon represents that nostalgia, but way more exaggerated in his unwillingness to adapt. I still help my mom with her laptop, smartphone, and social media. [We cover different generations] in each episode, which makes us laugh at ourselves and each other. There is an episode about Tinder where we help Jack make a profile. When you break down the silliness of online dating and profile creation, hilarity ensues.
Watching the trailer for The Great Indoors, it seems like being on set is tons of fun and the script seems hilarious. Did you get to bring a lot of your own personality into the character or did you get a chance to improvise certain scenes?
The great thing about this show is that our creators Mike Gibbons and Chris Harris are very much open to feedback with the script. They want it to be honest and not too hokey. That honesty is what makes it hilarious. Our director, Andy Ackerman (Seinfeld), is very open to bringing our own personalities to the character if it fits the confines of the story and the relationships that we are portraying. Personally, I have had instances where Andy has said to me, “Just go to town with this moment,” and as an actor, that’s the dream. You feel like you are very much creating something special and unique and that is something you don’t get to do in, say, a procedural drama.
Things I’m personally proud of are the fact that millennials are the most inclusive in regards to sexuality and racial diversity.
Since this show takes place at an online publication and your character is a staff member, what’s the most unique job position on your résumé before you landed acting gigs?
I’ve had horrible, horrible, horrible jobs. Not so much the jobs themselves but the environment in which the jobs took place. Like every actor, I’ve waited tables. The last restaurant I worked at before I became a full-time actor was the worst experience of my life. The general manager was addicted to drugs, bringing ladies of the night to the restaurant, fresh out of prison and even arrested on the floor for violating a restraining order. The owners had no idea what running a restaurant entailed, so the trickle down to the staff was so apparent. […] So yeah, not so much unique as it was just incredibly draining mentally and emotionally.
The characters are always hooked on some type of technology. Are you actually using your phone on the show texting, tweeting, etc., or is it more of a prop?
While we are doing the actual taping of the show, we use prop phones that are in setup mode (so they are useless) and we are just acting brilliantly to fool you! But in rehearsal, we will sometimes use our personal phones to move the scene along. Me and Christine Ko (who plays Emma) have taken real selfies during rehearsal or checked our Instagram in the middle of a scene. I guess you could call us method actors. [Laughs]
You have some great future projects on the way. Can you tease a little bit about your role in Heart, Baby?
My role in Heart, Baby is my most dramatic role to date. The film is based on a true story set in a Tennessee prison in the 1980s that follows George Lee Martin, a phenomenal boxer that can’t be beat. George is so good that he is offered a deal to leave prison and compete in the Olympics, but turns down the opportunity for a reason that will truly knock you out. I play George’s best friend, Bug, a southern boy with big eyes and an even bigger heart. What I love about my character is that he can throw jokes with the best of them, but at his core, he is very loving and protective of his lifelong friends. Finding the heart of Bug and all of his many layers was very rewarding as an actor and is the kind of work I really gravitate towards.
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Shaun Brown Discusses His Role on ‘The Great Indoors’: Photographed by: Nathaniel Taylor, Stylist: Marni Seabright, Grooming: Patrick Chai