Good as hell: Reno Wilson on being the good guy of ‘Good Girls’
[Warning! Spoilers for S1 of Good Girls ahead!]
We’re still reeling from the S1 finale of NBC’s Good Girls and the exhilarating thrill ride of the season as a whole. Packed full of dynamite female characters (played by an equally dynamite cast including Retta, Christina Hendricks, and Mae Whitman), the show features some bold depictions of good women forced to make bad choices in order to take care of their families. On the flip side of these fierce women are some equally well drawn and fascinating male characters, with one in particular standing out as being one of the most endearing men seen on TV in a long time – Reno Wilson as Stan Hill.
Devoted husband to Retta’s Ruby and inspiring father to their extremely ill little girl (and boisterous tiny son), Stan is one of the sweetest and most radiant characters seen on TV in a long time. The character dazzles with charm and loyalty, showing up for his wife and daughter in every way they could possibly need him to. In a devastating plot twist, the finale showed a clearly heartbroken Stan discovering the shocking lies of his wife while training to become a cop – and suffice to say, we’re worried for the future of our favorite couple on TV.
We were able to catch up with Wilson over the phone in the hopes that he could dispel our fears concerning Ruby and Stan. We’re not sure that exactly happened (though we’re rooting for ‘em!), but we did get to talk about the importance of complex male and female characters, uniting against assholes, and riding a Suzuki Boulevard 1500 with Mark Neveldine hanging off the back of it.
Film Daily: You play Stan, who may be one of the most endearing male characters we’ve seen on TV in a long time. How does it feel to play the best dad and husband on TV right now?
Reno Wilson: Thank you so much for saying that. It’s so funny, when I read the script I instantly connected to the character because this is the first time I’m playing a husband and a father, which is what I love to do most – it’s what I am. Previously on Mike & Molly, I was playing a guy who lives with his grandmother. So it’s a big difference.
I absolutely love it; it’s so comfortable for me to play this character and I think it’s important for people to see the relationship between Ruby and Stan for so many reasons. First of all, I think visually you’ve never seen a couple like them on television. It’s a pleasure to love up on this beautiful black woman and a beautiful black kid on TV. I think it’s important for people to see that.
It is really unique, as you say. Particularly because with the general atmosphere surrounding men at the moment, it’s so nice to see a man portrayed as being as respectful to women as Stan is. However, we’re a little concerned about what direction S2 is going to take for Stan.
My God, they got at me on Twitter about it! People saying: “You’d better not leave Ruby, Stan. She was doing it for the baby!” and all this stuff. Like wait a minute, I was the one that was lied to!
But I can’t answer that question. I haven’t read the first script for season two yet, but Jenna Bans and the writers are doing a fantastic job. Every time we got a script for the first season of Good Girls, we would read it and I would put the script down and say, “Oh my god, what’s going to happen next?” I would call Retta and be like “Did you read episode three?” She’d be like, “Oh my god what’s going to happen next?” The way you feel is how we felt just reading the script.
You have a really great chemistry with Retta on the show. We absolutely love that women are so happy to see her in a show this great. Is she just as luminous and vivacious to work with as she is to watch?
Yeah, Retta is a force of nature and she is so gracious as a scene partner. She’s so giving. I had never met her – this is the first time we met and from day one we connected and hit it off like we’ve known each other for years.
Even when we’re on set, we’re laughing and singing – us singing Slick Rick “La Di Da Di” on that episode, that came from this video footage which I’m sure will come out one day. We were just backstage and I started beatboxing and she started doing lyrics then I realised that Retta knows every lyric to every song on Slick Rick’s album. I was like, “Wait a minute, so do I!” Somebody sent the video of us backstage to Jenna Bans, and the next thing you know it’s in an episode – it came from something real. Retta is amazing, I love working with her.
There’s this really brief moment in the first season where yourself and Matthew Lillard’s character Dean share quite a touching moment together while they’re watching sport at a kid’s party. It’s a bit awkward and unspoken but they have this connection together. Are we going to maybe see more of them joining forces?
I hope so. We were so excited when we did that scene because we hadn’t worked together yet on the show. I just love that Dean is so crazy and in real life Matthew’s a great husband and father, and we connect on that level as well of both being a dad. Taking our kids to soccer games – that’s our lives! The soccer scene in Good Girls is one of my favorite scenes to date because that’s what I do in real life.
It’s so interesting because Stan’s character is quite different to Dean’s.
Dean – he fucked up. He’s trying to make amends for his faux pas and we don’t know if he’s going to get on the other side of that or not, so I want to find out – are they both going to realize that they each know that their wives are doing this thing? There are so many places for it to go.
There are some amazingly strong female characters on the show, but the male characters are just as strong and complex and that balance is really refreshing to see. Is that vibe something that you were eager to be a part of on the show?
I’m ecstatic to be on this show at this point in time; I think it’s so timely and so relevant. I grew up with three older sisters and my mother. My dad passed away when I was four years old and I was raised by four strong women. I’m comfortable around women – I love women! So to be a part of this show that is created by women, run by women like Jenna Bans and Jeannine Renshaw – the two executive producers of the show – and with three women leads; I mean, it’s really easy for me.
I’m married to a strong woman so I wish our government could take note and switch in that direction as well, because it is needed and that balance is definitely needed. When is the world going to realize that they need to switch the balance a little bit and have more women in powerful positions? I think we’re realizing it now though. I think people realize it slowly but surely.
In spite of what’s going on politically in our country, I think what is happening is it is uniting people in common sense, all across the world. It transcends color lines, it transcends religious points of view. Basic common sense is uniting people in our hatred of the assholes.
There are a lot of men who do feel that way about women and they’re not always well represented in the media. That’s another reason why the portrayal of men on Good Girls is so important – it shows various men respecting women. The show highlights that women can be powerful and strong and they can be equals to men.
You know what’s interesting – there is a specific moment in one scene and a director (I don’t want to call her out) questioned the way I reacted to finding out a certain detail regarding Ruby. I can’t tell you the episode because then you’ll know the director – but it stemmed back to the idea of being a man and of men being perceived a certain way and not being able to be vulnerable.
I think I appreciate the opportunity to be vulnerable as a man in the presence of my wife. I think that is ok to represent on television as well. A man doesn’t have to be all gruff and strong – he can be vulnerable!
To go off topic a little bit, we wanted to talk to you about your role as Orlando in Crank 1 & 2. What was it like working with Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor on those films? It seems like it was a high energy shoot!
Those dudes are crazy! There was a scene in Crank 2 in which I got to set at eight in the morning and they asked, “Do you know how to ride a motorcycle?” and I was like, “God I haven’t ridden one in twenty years,” and he goes, “Well you’re going to ride this in this scene,” and it was a Suzuki Boulevard 1500, which is a monster of a bike. This is about eight in the morning and they said, “Be ready to ride this at about three o’clock.”
So I practiced and this is a monster of a vehicle, but by three o’clock I was ready to ride it. I think it was Mark who said, “Yeah, do you mind if I hold onto the back of the motorcycle while I shoot the scene?” So he’s on rollerblades and I’m riding the motorcycle while he’s shooting the scene. So yeah, those dudes are crazy.
They were doing things like jumping off a building before Jason Statham so they could shoot the camera and Statham would jump after them. It was amazing working with those dudes and Statham is just a regular cool dude too. I asked him how he stays in shape and he replied “beer and cookies” – he was just being sarcastic. I was talking to Neveldine recently and I did another movie that he produced called Officer Downe – crazy movie, but I wanted to pitch him an idea for another movie and he seemed excited about it, so hopefully I’ll be working with him again.
You’re going to voice Louis Armstrong in an upcoming biopic podcast called Pops. Can you tell us a little more about that?
This Louis Armstrong project has been a dream project of mine for about sixteen years. I wrote a one-man show years ago and we almost went into production, and during that same time I got a role in a movie called Bolden. It’s a movie about Buddy Bolden who they say is the first person to play jazz. I met the writer and originally it was a voiceover role in the movie, but then when he met me he was like, “Wow I’ve never met anybody who could actually play Louis Armstrong,” so he asked me to be in the movie and I said, “Well, yeah but you’ve got to make it a bigger role.”
So he put Louis Armstrong in the movie and hopefully we will see it towards the end of this year. I’ve been to a screening of it and it’s pretty remarkable in that I play Louis Armstrong in the thirties and there’s kind of a flashback starring the people who influenced him in jazz. It’s been a while in the making. We shot that ten years ago; hopefully we’ll see it this year.
And the podcast is something that I just finished recently and there’s a relaunch of the one-man show as well. We’re going to use the podcast as a way to launch the one-man show, so hopefully you’ll be seeing me onstage. He’s a legendary figure and there would be no modern music without him, so I think it’s important that people know his story.
Have you got the voice down for Louis Armstrong? That must be a tricky one to get.
[In his Louis Armstrong voice]: I’ve been doing it for sixteen years, I can do it at the drop of a dime!
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.