“The best part about the show and especially Byron is the complexity,” Billy Magnussen shares about his role as the “egomaniacal” Byron Gogol on HBO Max’s “Made for Love.” The series follows the fallout of Byron secretly implanting a chip in the brain of his wife Hazel (Cristin Milioti), and Magnussen notes how the show uses sci-fi and technology as a “smokescreen to talk about the depths and profoundness of emotions.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
Magnussen notes that Byron could have been a “one-note kind of character,” an “evil, sociopathic tech billionaire,” but the creative team of showrunner Christina Lee and original novelist Alissa Nutting “poke holes” in the stereotype. “While playing this character, I started questioning myself as a man,” he reveals, especially the “prescription as young men of what we need to do, the checklist of things.” Magnussen says the “joy” of the role was constructing such a toxic character and then realizing “he’s just a scared boy like everyone else.”
The series balances its science fiction premise with family drama and absurdist comedy, and director Stephanie Laing helped the cast navigate the show’s tone with the advice to “always play a comedy like drama.” Magnussen mentions that he and the “talented” Milioti “have a language between us and a relationship we’ve built” over a decade, and he thinks their backgrounds in theatre helped them develop complicated scenes successfully, especially the diner scene in the season finale. “That’s a true gentleman,” Magnussen says about his costar Ray Romano, adding, “He has an immense profoundness professionally and personally.”
Magnussen has played a number of princes on screen – in the movie adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” and Disney’s live-action “Aladdin,” for example – and he sees Byron as somewhat similar to those roles. “Is Byron not a prince as well?,” he ponders, suggesting that “Made for Love” explores what might happen following those ‘happily ever afters.’
Magnussen earned a Tony nomination in 2013 for his role in “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.” His upcoming projects include the prequel film to “The Sopranos” called “The Many Saints of Newark” and the next James Bond film “No Time to Die.”
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