Expect the unexpected: Asher Grodman on ‘Ghosts’

Cliff Lipson/CBS

Asher Grodman shines as Trevor, one of the ghostly residents in CBS’s hit comedy “Ghosts.” Trevor is a “finance bro” who died in the 1990s partying at a drug-fueled rager and now has to walk through eternity with no pants. 

Written by Joe Port and Joe Wiseman based on the British series, “Ghosts” follows a young couple, Samantha (Rose McIver) and Jay (Utkarsh Ambudkar), whose dreams come true when they inherit a beautiful country house, only to find it’s both falling apart and inhabited by many of the deceased previous residents.

Check out my interview with Asher!

Photo credit: Emily Assiran
So, where are we at with “Ghosts”? How many episodes will there be in total in Season One?

Asher: The plan is for Season One to be 18 episodes. We’re going back up to shoot the final one now. Of course. COVID makes even the sure things feel a little bit like it’s on shaky ground but we should be going back up in about a week to finish the finale. It’s a good one, so I really hope we get to do it… It is amazing how we basically shot for like, what, six and a half months or something like that with a couple of breaks in there. And it’s amazing how fast it’s going by. In the beginning it was like, ‘Oh, this is gonna cover us for a year,’ and now, it’s just crazy.

This show is based on the BBC show with the same title. How familiar were you with that show before coming into this one?

Asher: I was very familiar with the concept and kind of the people involved. I was a little scared to watch it coming into this because I was like, well, they created this thing, they know how to do this thing, whatever they do is gonna work really, really well. And I didn’t want to just copy what they were doing. So, I tried to create a little bit of distance, but certainly what they came up with, the concepts, the execution has always been our North Star. It’s also, I think, a special show in that the concept can kind of work anywhere. And it makes it like a distinct, ‘oh, we’re doing a distinctly American thing because the characters in the show are tied to the land that we’re in,’ and I know that was part of Joe Port and Joe Wiseman when they were trying to figure out where to set the show. They were thinking of places where the history of that place would give them, I guess, the most fun dynamic menagerie of characters. So, in the Hudson Valley, you got Vikings, you got Native Americans, you got some Wall Street guys, you’ve got the Woodstock group. So yeah, we’re very tied to the land. This show could happen in any country and be different.

What sold you on playing Trevor?

Asher: Oh, God. Well, I think the story and the concept sold me, it wasn’t even necessarily Trevor, just what they had come up with was so smart. And Joe and Joe’s writing is so funny. I remember reading it for the first time and I have never done a comedy before. I remember reading it and thinking, ‘I just have to get out of the way. Because they got it, it works. I just have to not screw it up.’ So, I wanted to be involved with the writing and these people and this concept immediately. And then Trevor, I think that Trevor’s a lot of fun because I think it would be very easy to make him out to just be a bad guy, you know, or just play the douche. And it’s not that those elements aren’t there. I mean, not many people would want their daughter dating Trevor. But you get to kind of look at him, I stand by this, he has this quirky quality to him because, first of all, he’s not wearing any pants, so any kind of power that he might have or something that he could stand on is taken away. And he’s just looking to have a good time and he’s at this basically party for eternity with a bunch of people who are not necessarily the people that he would have chosen to be at a party for all of eternity. But he’s come to know and love them. So I think there’s some great dynamics within him from what his life was, and the situation he’s in now and the juxtaposition of those two things.

Yeah, we got to see a little bit of that juxtaposition when there was the possibility that he was a dad. 

Asher: Yeah, yeah. That was the first time where, because we shot this pilot and then we were kind, of throughout the pandemic, we were all kind of in our own little life rafts, it feels, of emotion. And so I remember we knew what episode two was and I think what three was before we got to Montreal, and that episode was the first time that I had heard rumblings of like, ‘Oh, here’s this idea that’s coming down the pipeline.’ And when I heard it, I was like, that’s such a good idea and it’s wonderful the way they use it in that episode to kind of juxtapose it with what Pete’s going through. They’re kind of going through a similar thing, but they end up in very different places. I love that episode. It’s one of my favorites and Richie (Moriarty) just rocked that episode. So I really like that one. And it’s also fun because Trevor suddenly gets very sober. For a moment

Asher Grodman as Trevor Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS
Was it always the plan for Trevor to be pantsless?

Asher: I think so. Yeah. That idea is rooted in what the BBC did. I think Trevor is kind of an amalgamation of a couple different characters there but the kind of bits of a guy who would be hard to handle in real life. Being pantless for all of eternity, was certainly a BBC idea and belongs to that group of creatives.

I just couldn’t imagine being pantsless for all eternity.

Asher: You know, shooting in that for six months, you get used to it. It’s funny, it’s kind of one of those things where, like, you go to work and you’re like, ‘ugh, I have to do this again.’ And so it is the anticipation, but once the pants are off, then you’re fine. It’s like just getting into a cold swimming pool or something. Once the pants are off, I’m uncomfortable. Everyone else is uncomfortable, but I’m a little more comfortable. Like ripping off a band aid.

As the season goes on, are we going to get a bit of an origin story for Trevor and why he’s pantsless?

Asher: You are indeed going to get an origin story. That is coming up in just a few weeks, I think. I’m not totally sure what the order is going to be, how they’re going to be released. I would have been fine with dangling that out there for years to come. We’ve got to explain why all these people are here. And the big question- what happened to those pants?

Since Trevor is from the 90’s, did you have to do anything special to prepare to play? 

Asher: Well, I know a lot of people in the cast, I’m sure Rebecca did a lot of research for Hetty and I know Danielle learned to dance for the 20s and stuff like that. There were a lot of shows that I went and watched but there was also stuff that I got to rewatch. Trevor’s a bit older than me, so like the guys who I would have been looking up to, when I was in middle school and stuff, were basically all Trevor’s age. So, the things that all the cool people thought were cool are the things that Trevor was into. So, for me to be able to go back and relive these, in many ways, it was like reliving my childhood from a different perspective. And, right off the bat, there’s a “Seinfeld” reference in Trevor’s first five lines, so I was definitely watching “Seinfeld” as a kid every night. So yeah, in many ways, Trevor has kind of taught me more about the culture of my childhood than I even knew at the time. 

So, in looking forward to the rest of the season, what can we expect?

Asher: Joe and Joe and the whole writers room, they’re just brilliant. I remember first reading the pilot for this thing, and I’ve been doing this for a while, pilot season is a thing and you audition and in every pilot, you kind of set up with the story might be and where we’re going. A pilot is really hard because you’re trying to tell a story and also get a ton of exposition set up in basically 20 minutes of television. So usually when you read a pilot, you’re like, ‘Oh, I know what we’re going to do and when I read this, I was like, they could do anything. Like there’s a million possibilities with this thing. They have so much ammunition, so many possibilities that they can play with. And even as we go on with the season, I have no idea what the writers are gonna come up with episode to episode. It’s like the world is their oyster. So, I think the thing that I would say to expect is, I guess the unexpected because we’re gonna do stuff that we’ve set up a little bit, but we’re also going to, with the nature of the show and the ability of our writers, we’re going to go in a lot of different directions that I don’t think people are going to expect.

Photo credit: Emily Assiran
Gotta keep us on our toes.

Asher: One of the coolest things about the show is that it’s a comedy that also contends to bridge like the largest gap between people which is literally life or death. So, you have like, people having coffee in the morning with dead people, bridging these things that we would never otherwise meet. The possibilities there are endless and the interactions between the living world and the world in the dead, there’s a lot to do in that. A perfect example of that is with last week’s episode with Sam’s mom and the resolve unfinished business. That’s a really wholesome thing that we did. There will be less wholesome things that we do, much of it driven by Trevor, so I’ll tease that… There will be an exploration of dating apps coming out [tonight]. Trevor has a line, I think it’s in Flower’s article episode, where Jay is talking about texting this girl that Sasappis (Román Zaragoza) has a crush on and Trevor’s like, ‘oh, texting was just taking off when I died. I would have loved to work with this medium.’ Well, Trevor’s gonna get a chance to work with some new mediums.

Oh, that’s gonna be fun. I love that! Well, thank you so much for chatting with me, is there anything else that you would like to say about “Ghosts”?

Asher:Yeah, two things. It just blows me away, like, not only are we making the show, but we’re making it under these crazy circumstances where people are picking up their lives and we’re getting locked in a room together and, I just want to say, I’m blown away constantly by the people. The cast is amazing, our creatives, directors, the crew. We’re all working under these extraordinary circumstances, and it’s a really amazing group. And the other thing that I’ll say is, because I see it every day, is about the work that Rose and Utkarsh do at the center of this show. Rose is up there basically doing scenes with eight people who are not there because we constantly do those ghostless passes, which is impossible. And so, we do a scene with her and then we all leave and then we watch her talk to air. And the air is different based on who she’s talking to. I mean, her ability to do a scene with people who are not there, and then Utk’s ability to do a scene with people who are there and pretend that they’re not, it’s just amazing and lets us do all the craziness that we do. Those two deserve a lot of credit because they’re the backbone of what we’re doing.

A new episode of the CBS hit comedy “Ghosts” airs tonight at 9