There are some big changes in store for the characters on Showtime’s popular and top-rated comedy series Weeds, now entering Season 7. With three years having passed, and Nancy Botwin (Mary Louise Parker) out of jail since having turned herself into the FBI rather than face certain death at the hands of her vengeful ex, Esteban Reyes (Demián Bichir), she and her sons, Silas (Hunter Parrish) and Shane (Alexander Gould), have reunited and are making a fresh start in New York City. Still harboring anger towards his mother from having found out that his father is not who he thought he was, Silas and Nancy have an interesting dynamic that he’s trying not to let affect the family pot-selling business.
During a recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Hunter Parrish talked about the fun of playing a character with such a crazy life, being given a fresh start with the changes this season, the new dynamics between all of the characters with the show jumping ahead three years, how the cast and crew feels like a family after seven seasons together, getting to work with guest star Martin Short, and that he hopes they get at least one more season, before they have to wrap things up. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
HUNTER PARRISH: No, and I didn’t even really know what I was getting myself into when I signed up. I was just like, “Yeah, cool! I’ll play this kid in the suburbs.” I thought I’d just skateboard around and flirt with girls, but it’s turned out to be so much crazier. Now, we’re all the way on another coast, and seven years later, the madness still continues.
What have been some of the most surprising things for you, in regard to your character and some of the stuff they’ve done with him?
PARRISH: In Season 2, the whole poking out of the condom thing was big. I was like, “Woah, that’s pretty heavy!” And then, I got attacked by biker guys, at one point, and got beaten up. That was pretty funny. And, I tripped on ecstacy. A lot of the stuff at the beginning was really fun for me. I was really sheltered and didn’t really know anything about life at all, so that’s been fun. Now, I feel like every day, I’m doing something like that. I’m always kept on the edge of my seat, for sure, by them.
What can you say about Season 7 and where viewers will find the characters at now?
PARRISH: We pick up three years later, this year. We’re in New York and trying to restart everything. We jump right in, though, which is the thing that people love about Weeds. It’s cool. We get right back to where we were pretty quickly, which is why people like the show. We do things at a fast pace and get crazy right away.
When you found out that the show was going to fast-forward three years, were you at all hesitant about how that would play out, or were you excited about exploring this new time in their lives? Does it make the show feel new and fresh again?
PARRISH: Yeah, I think that is what it does. For the first three seasons, we were in the suburbs. For the last three seasons, we’ve been off doing crazy things, starting in San Diego and then traveling around the country. But, this year again, we’re starting a new layer and a new level. I’m excited about the time difference. I’ve played 18 years old for the last six years, so it’s cool to finally be actually my age and be going through stuff that I would go through at my maturity level. I was completely down and am very excited about it.
Three years for a teenager is a drastic age difference.
PARRISH: Exactly, yeah. They’re such pivotal years in someone’s life. It’s a big jump. It’s a really big jump for Alexander Gould, who plays Shane on the show, so that’s exciting.
How has the relationship between Silas and Shane changed this season?
PARRISH: During the pilot, I was this really good older brother and got to really almost parent him sometimes, and we had a little friendship. But, as we’ve grown up, we’ve gotten in arguments and fights as characters, and then he went crazy about two seasons ago. We’ve spent the time since then trying to run away from our problems and run away from who he has become and choices that he’s made. That’s affected Silas because he feels out of control. He doesn’t really get to have control of his life anymore, and a lot of that is because of his younger brother. It’s put quite a distance between them as characters, but then we still have our moments.
PARRISH: Yeah, I think that’s the biggest thing that’s interesting about this season. Not only have we spent three years away from her, which is weird for anyone, we ended the last season where Silas figures out that his dad isn’t even who he thought his dad was. So for him, he has a lot of anger and a lot of frustration at her. Especially being older now, he is in a constant power shift. We spend a lot of the season figuring out what their balance is and the dynamic of Nancy, who has always been in control and a little self-centered and self-involved, meeting Silas, who now has realized his mom betrayed him and now has to go into business with her. I think he’s figuring out his way through that, the best that he can. The cool thing is that he has grown up a lot. Those three years and the age difference really did help him be able to have the strength to talk with her and have this business relationship. It’s a really interesting dynamic this season.
What have you enjoyed most about and learned from working with Mary Louise Parker for so many seasons now?
PARRISH: She’s amazing. I feel like I’m her student. I love watching her. She’s offered me such great advice, at times, with little things, here and there, that helped me grow into myself as a person and as an actor. On Weeds, in general, we’re just an amazing little family. We’ve had the same crew for seven years now. Each year we come back, it’s like we’re this family, and we all get back together again and share stories and laughs.
With Silas being in a bit of a darker place now, do you think he’s reached his lowest point yet, or do you think he still has some darker days to come?
PARRISH: A lot of the people that have been fans of Weeds since the beginning have said, “Oh, man, Weeds got really dark. It’s so crazy how dark Weeds is now.” And, it’s so funny because I don’t even see that. Being part of each step of the way, I just have felt like, “Well, no, we’re just going where the story is taking us.” But, I get that people see it as being very dark. For Silas, I don’t know if he can get much darker, and I feel like now it’s an upswing. It’s not necessarily that it’s getting better for him, or that his quality of life is getting better, but he’s so used to everything never going right that, from now on, he learns to accept that and he’s learning how to use that to his advantage. He spends a lot of this season, so far at least, really using the things that have brought him down, in earlier seasons – mainly Nancy, and her decisions and choices – and put them to his best use, in taking control of his life. I think it’s an upswing for him, which is cool.
PARRISH: I feel like he’s always been really fighting to find normalcy and to do things right, but after all that he’s been through, that will never happen. He’s going to keep fighting for it, but I don’t think that’s something he’ll get to experience.
When you’re playing a character that has such a crazy life, how do you go about identifying with Silas, or do you even feel that you have to, if you can at least understand where he’s coming from?
PARRISH: When I first was talking in interviews about the difference between me and Silas, in earlier seasons, I was like, “Oh, no, we’re exactly alike.” But, in the last seven years, the things that have happened to him have clearly not happened to me. My mom does not sell drugs, that I know of. This whole family has been through these incredible years. We do this and it sounds so dramatic, but it is comedy, even though it’s dark comedy. I can’t relate to him, in the sense that I know what he’s going through, but I feel like I’m his best friend, in a way, so I get him. I have empathy for him. It’s cool to see him go through his things and react to them. I’ll think I know what decision he’s going to make, as a character, and then the writers write something that takes him in a whole different direction, which is awesome. As soon as things become predictable, they become boring. It’s cool because I’m always surprised by the turn that he gets to take next. That’s been the most exciting thing for me, as an actor. I never really know what’s going on and get to just follow along with everybody else.
What’s it been like to work with Martin Short this season? How did he fit in with everybody?
PARRISH: Like a glove. He’s amazing! He’s so great. I’ve been a fan of his forever, but you never know how these people are when they come in. We have a lot of great people who have come on our show. He is so respectful and professional, and such a great actor to watch and learn from. We had a couple scenes and he treated me like he was so honored to just be on our show with us. I was like, “Wait, do you not remember who you are?” That was so cool to me. You don’t meet a lot of people, especially in Hollywood, who are like that, so I have the utmost respect for him. I hope that we get to continue to work together because he’s phenomenal.
PARRISH: Nancy needs a lawyer, so he comes in as this quirky, pro-bono lawyer that takes on her case to try to help her get through some of the legal issues that she’s having to deal with , now that she’s out of jail. Martin Short sometimes plays Martin Short, but it’s cool because he’s a little more nuanced in this. It was exciting for him, and for us.
Will Silas get a new love interest this season, or is he more focused on the business?
PARRISH: Yeah, I just found out that we’re casting a love interest now. I don’t think it lasts very long, but it’s a quick little fling. They’re casting her right now, so that should be fun. I have no idea what she does yet, but I think it’s a two or three episode thing. It will be cool.
Does having the show move to New York change things much?
PARRISH: I think if we were actually in New York, we would take advantage of some of those things, like doing scenes on the subway. I feel like it would. New York is a character, all on its own, and whenever you film there, it becomes part of the show. That’s just the nature of being there. Since we’re not actually there, it’s still there, and when you watch it, you’ll feel like we’re there, and we’ve brought some of the New York culture into the story, but we’ve changed locations five times in the process of this entire series, and what really carries the show are these crazy characters. Like weeds, of a sort, they pop up in random places where you don’t want them, and you take them out, but they keep growing back. That’s the nature of it. What Jenji [Kohan] has created with this is that we’re now spreading all over. As soon as you think that one of us is gone, we’re not. I think that’s what keeps us exciting and keeps people coming back to watch.
As often happens with cable series, there is always talk about each season being the last season. Would you like to see the show continue for another season? Are there things that you’d still like to see happen with Silas, that you haven’t been able to get to do yet?
PARRISH: I totally would. There’s one particular thing that I can’t say ‘cause if I say then it won’t be as cool, but there is a definite hole that I feel like could be completed, and I don’t think that will happen this year. Yeah, I hope that there is one more season. I don’t know that the show necessarily needs to go on longer than one more season, or a couple more seasons, because I think stories that get told in that amount of time are the perfect amount of time. You’ve got to duck out right when the story is still fresh and relevant. We’ve had the best fans and supporters of our show, and we get more and more each year. We’re so grateful and surprised to see how many people are so loyal, and that’s awesome. That’s just on a logistics side. On the character side, there is one step that I hope we get to live out, and we’re getting pieces of it this season, which is pretty exciting, and I think fans will enjoy that. They will get to see some things that are familiar to them, and I think that will be cool. As we push through to one more season, or a couple more season, we’ll definitely be able to play with that a little more, and hopefully Silas will definitely get to. That, to me, would be the ultimate gift.
Have you given any thought about, once you’re done with the series, if you’d like to focus more on film work, or if you’re open to doing another TV show, or if there are specific types of roles that you still want to get the chance to do?
PARRISH: We get nine months off every year, so I’m constantly reading scripts for movies and theater, and stuff. I love that I have that time to play around and do some other stuff. I’ve gotten to do some amazing films and work with some great people, and I continue to do it now. That’s a perk to our schedule. I love it! Right now, I’m just open to whatever comes. I like telling stories. If it’s a story that I fit into that makes sense, then I get excited.