Jesse McCartney is one of the most beautiful souls in Hollywood, and thankfully for all of us, he isn’t leavin‘ any time soon. (Sorry …)
Singer-actor McCartney is now starring as Cooper on ABC Family’s Young & Hungry, where he plays the love interest to Gabi (Emily Osment). McCartney spoke exclusively with the EW Community earlier this week to talk about the upcoming season, his character, and what he likes about doing a comedy.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY COMMUNITY: Season two starts Wednesday. What can you tell us about the premiere and the upcoming season?
JESSE MCCARTNEY: I think the big thing is we left last season with a cliffhanger. The fans see Josh on the balcony, Pretty Woman–style, with a bouquet of roses, ready to confess his love to Gabi. Meanwhile, she and I are about to start this budding relationship, and it’s that quintessential love triangle. I think the fans are in for some good, juicy drama, even in a 30-minute comedy.
The love triangle is the central plot in the story. So why should she pick Cooper?
Why? Because Cooper’s the best. Cooper is a way better choice than Josh, and I think the fans would agree. (Laughing.) No, I think there’s a lot of things to say about Josh, and I think it’s a tough decision for her. I think that’s something a lot of the girls can associate with. Any girl who’s been in a sort of love triangle with two really close friends can know what it’s like. Josh is this big, successful computer programmer and has this huge, successful company, and he’s this really sweet guy. And here’s Cooper, who is this up-and-coming guy who has this big career in front of him. He’s kind of goofy and nerdy and he always puts his foot in his mouth, which is something Gabi can relate to. They get along really well, and there’s something to say for both of us. It’s just one of those really tough decisions she has to make. For each episode, you see these moments she has where you can see the struggle is really hard for her.
You play a lot of the cool-guy characters, but Cooper is really different. What’s it like playing someone so different from what you’re used to?
It’s a lot of fun. In the past I played a lot of those confident, winning roles where the character doesn’t really have to try that much, and in this situation Cooper is always trying to find a way to impress the girl and he doesn’t really have the words. He’s not really good with women. He’s a computer guy, and this is his first possible relationship, so he’s very excited. I haven’t done comedy in a really long time, so for me it’s been quite a challenge and really rewarding—especially with a live audience, getting to hear the laughs when you land a joke. It’s a lot of fun. And playing a character with eyeglasses and the goofy, nerdy kid—I don’t think a lot of people expected that. It’s been a lot of fun for me, especially working with Jonathan (Sadowski) and Emily (Osment), two people I admire very much as actors and as friends. It makes it a lot more fun on set, having that rapport.
Do you prefer comedy to drama?
That’s a good question. I’m a drama guy through and through. I’ve always been into the dark dramas. As a kid, my favorite movies were like The Basketball Diaries and Requiem for a Dream, a lot of dark films. Those movies were sort of a blueprint for me in terms of acting, and really what made me want to become an actor. It wasn’t until I became older, maybe in the last four or five years, that I really started having a taste for comedy, and frankly, I didn’t think I was that funny. I didn’t think it was a strength of mine. Then I started doing more of it and I got on set and people said, “Yeah, man, you can do this. You make people laugh.” So now I’m just all about comedy, and I love it. I do think it’s a lot more challenging. I think drama comes a little easier to me than comedy, but I love that. I love the challenge, and I have to say the writers make it really easy because the jokes are there; you just kind of have to deliver them. The writing is great. For an ABC Family show, the heaviness of it and the fact that they push the envelope is a pretty cool thing. When people think ABC Family, they think more lighthearted stuff. It is, but they’ve found a way to really expand the audience and push that envelope. Comedy is something that I’m all about right now.
So you said you’re close with your castmates. What’s it like on set?
You have such an hysterical cast. Kym Whitley is just constantly on, always cracking jokes on set. Jonathan and I are like brothers in real life. He’s literally my next-door neighbor, and we’ve been friends in real life for a really long time—since Chernobyl Diaries a few years ago. And Emily I worked with when she was like 12, back in the Hannah Montana days. We all have a sort of history together. And I think it really comes across on screen. On set, there’s always some sort of prank happening. Josh came up and pantsed me one time on set in the middle of rehearsal. We were all in pajamas that morning. It was really early. It’s just a really lighthearted, fun set. Everyone gets along, and it really makes for having a good time at work.