“It was extremely daunting to play someone who’s such an icon and such a hero,” admits Jake Picking about taking on the role of Rock Hudson in the Netflix limited series, “Hollywood.” The period drama from Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan takes a revisionist look at Hollywood in the 1940s and features an all star cast including Emmy-winners Darren Criss, Jim Parsons, Holland Taylor, Dylan McDermott and Patti Lupone. In our exclusive video interview (watch above), Picking discusses the tragedy of Hudson and the show’s hopeful outlook.
Picking began his research with watching many of Hudson’s films such as “Pillow Talk” and “Magnificent Obsession.” As he began reading about Hudson, Picking tried to “delve into the personal relationships with his family,” something that surprised the actor. “I was just trying to understand the history of why he was the way he was,” Picking says. The actor also respects how Hudson managed to triumph from such humble beginnings. “When first came to L.A. he was driving a budget packing truck filled with frozen peas and carrots. So he definitely put in the work.”
One of Hudson’s central relationships in the series is with his manager Henry Willson, played by four-time Emmy-winner Jim Parsons. The man is portrayed as a toxic bully who abuses and sexually manipulates Hudson, but Picking says working with Parsons was easy. “I felt safe working with Jim,” he explains. “He’s so different obviously from his character.” He had an equally strong relationship with Jeremy Pope, who plays aspiring screenwriter and Hudson’s love interest Archie Coleman. Picking says that and Pope sought to make the relationship as authentic as possible as an homage to Hudson. “It’s very hopeful and something to root for.”
Although the series gives Hudson a more honest love life, Picking says the forced repression of Hudson’s sexuality is something that resonates even today. “I think that the eradication of his ‘effeminacy,’ that was the tragedy,” Picking claims. “I read somewhere that it’s not really secret unless it’s painful to hold on to and I feel like that was the tragedy that Rock was holding on to. I just wish he was alive to see how far we’ve come socially.”
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