Casey Wilson: Penny For Your Thoughts

Happy Endings scene-stealer Casey Wilson chats about crashing lesbian communes, sharing scenes with Barbra Streisand in The Guilt Trip, and a circle of friends that’s “fifty shades of gay.”



Wilson and Max Pally in Happy Endings.


How did his death impact you?

He was so young when he passed, so it made a huge impact on me, and I’ve always been deeply committed to AIDS research. I also remember that when he passed away I wanted all of his books, because they were the most amazing biographies of, like, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and James Dean, and I still have them.

When it comes to making gay friends, do you prefer a guy like Max or a guy like Stephen Guarino’s Happy Endings character Derek, whom Max calls a “flamboyant, cartoonish Sex and the City gay.”

My friendship box has fifty shades of gay. [Laughs] And that might be dumbest thing I’ve ever said.

Who’s your Max equivalent in real life?

My friend Matt, who I met at NYU. Matt and I really get into our margaritas. We always say, “We need to take a beat,” and then we go have a ball at Marix in West Hollywood, which is basically a gay taqueria we’ve gone to for eight years. I lived with Matt when I first moved to L.A., and we used to lie in bed together, split an Ambien, and pass out side by side while reading sad self-help books like The Power of Now. I thought that was a poignant image of us trying to better ourselves. You’ve actually seen him on Happy Endings as Colin Hanks’s intern Dean, the guy who’s looking for cocaine.

Max and Penny have a sexual history on Happy Endings. Have you ever dated a gay man?

My boyfriend teases me that I’ve probably dated so many gay guys, but I really haven’t. But during high school I went to Yale School of Drama for one summer, and there was a guy there, Michael, who I knew was gay, but I was so unwilling to accept it. I asked him out, and I think I even tried to kiss him. I was 16, I cried, I thought I was in love — it was very sad. I haven’t tried to go further down the road with a gay guy than that. But if I’m being honest with myself, I was also in love with my East Coast gay, Kevin, when we were at NYU.

So it’s not that your gaydar is off—

Right, I just choose not to accept my gaydar.

You got your start in comedy at Upright Citizen Brigade. Did you have gay characters in your repertoire?

My writing partner June Diane Raphael and I did this two-woman sketch show, Rode Hard and Put Away Wet, where June played a great Irish step-dancing teacher who was gay. After seeing us perform, this lesbian couple rented out the theatre and paid us to do the show for their friends. From there, we started playing this circuit of houses in the New York lesbian community, and it was so great, because they really got a kick out of our characters. June and I have always found humor in straight women who are sexually repressed and too scared to explore the other side.