Keegan Joyce

Barbra Streisand show tunes, Please Like Me, Bradley Cooper…? No wonder Keegan Joyce had trouble convincing his girlfriend he’s straight!

Keegan Joyce: Please Like Me was an incredible experience. Josh was on set the whole time being really supportive of what we wanted to do. He had a fierce idea about the direction of the story. I realised the importance of the story and the way society was looking at gay people.

It’s been really lovely to get messages from people all over the world telling me how much Arnold and Josh’s relationship has meant to them. Or how much it meant seeing someone with anxiety on the show.

Yes, and had lots of messages and kind words about that. It was a great moment, quite climactic, and obviously important to many people. It was fun to film but stressful because filming anything with music is often complicated, with hidden microphones and such. For me it was a shining moment. I have a career in music and I’m fortunate that Josh had seen me performing and asked me to sing.

I grew up in the world of musical theatre, so I’d have to say Barbra Streisand, especially her album LoveIs the Answer, produced by Diana Krall. She’s so precise with her voice. I also love her musical work like Hello Dolly and Funny Girl.

No, I wish I could say it was. Maybe, in retrospect! In fact, I was coming onto the Please Like Me set every day and I’d play my music to Tom Ward [who co-wrote and played Tom in Please Like Me], who said I should release it. So I did. I’ve been pretty lucky to do a lot of different things in my showbiz career. I’m working on new music at the moment. I hope to have something ready for release by year’s end.

Yes, I get the odd – and by odd I mean a lot of Instagram messages! (Laughs). I sometimes have a pretty camp personality, too, and people mistake that for gay, but it doesn’t bother me. My girlfriend and I met in Byron Bay through mutual family friends when we were all hanging out, and she recognised me from the show. I was flirting with her but she thought I was gay. It took me a few months to convince her that I wasn’t!

I’d want him to be super- attractive, and I think Bradley Cooper’s pretty handsome. But if I were to settle down with someone, without all the fiery passion, it’d be Neil deGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist. I know he likes his wine!

Yes, I’m lucky enough to have worked on two celebrated Australian shows that have had multiple seasons. Fuzz plays an important role because Cleaver can come across as a cold, awful person but Fuzz provides this layer of humanity and a reminder that Cleaver is a father with responsibilities. He may not do such a great job of it but deep down he has a heart.

It continues on from last season with the big reveal that Fuzz and Melissa are pregnant. I guess you could say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!

I never saw it. I did see the trailer and it was funny because the American version of Cleaver was called Keegan! I think it would be weird to watch, and I’m glad I never did because these characters are quite real for me. I’ve known them for a long time. Seeing them in any other form would be weird.

Rox is amazing! We started eight years ago, and it’s been incredible to have someone so supportive and of such high calibre, right there through my upbringing. Rake was one of the first TV shows I was in. I did a kid’s series beforehand but Rake is a very adult show with great dialogue. Richard has been so generous and kind with his time.

That’s a tough one! When I started, I had no clue what I was doing or who I was as an actor and person. I’ve done a lot of growing up. While doing the show I’ve been through two relationships, I’ve finished a university degree and, in a way, Rake has been my upbringing. It’s been like going on a big holiday with family with wonderful memories. It’s been incredible.

Yes. Not long ago I did Vivid White for the Melbourne Theatre Company, and I’d like to do more Australian theatre. Once was a great experience and working with that creative team was one of the highlights of my life but developing something new doesn’t happen very often in Australia, and for MTC it was a brand-new production written by Eddie Perfect. Being involved in the creative process was wonderful. It’s different to working on a show that already exists.

I’ve actually been pretty lucky. I started performing at 12, and I had this fear of being caught with either my fly down or a booger in my nose. There are these weird interviews I did for Saturday Disney where you can see me doing a rabbit twitch with my nose every minute and making sure my fly is up! But nothing has ever happened. I’ve been naked quite a bit on Please Like Me, but when you’re naked there’s no real malfunction that can happen (Laughs).

My girlfriend’s brother, who’s in a pretty big Australian band, said if you’re going to take a job it has to have one of three things – creativity, inspiration or career advancement. That’s one of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given, even though it seems too practical for someone in the arts. You have to make a living, and I think it’s okay to say no. Some jobs are not going to be fulfilling, so what’s the point?

I’m a boxer briefs man. Are jocks-people still around? I don’t think I could transition into jocks anytime soon, and I’m just too anxious to free ball! I’d start going through all the things that would go wrong. I can’t even free ball to take out the garbage!

Anxious Arnold: Please Like Me’s Keegan Joyce talks season 4

Calling from a trip to his hometown of Sydney, Keegan Joyce is a far more confident man than his Please Like Me alter-ego Arnold.

The 27-year-old actor, also known for his role as the son of the titular character of ABC’s Rake, is able to leave his character’s anxiety disorder on set as post-production is finalised on the upcoming season of Josh Thomas’ emotionally charged comedy.

“It’s a shorter season this year, only six episodes rather than ten. Just because… I’m actually not sure why, you’d have to ask Josh. I believe it was just better for timing to get them out by the end of the year.”

Joyce, who plays Thomas’ love interest and boyfriend during the second and third seasons of the show, says he has nothing but admiration for his onscreen partner, whose program is the first ABC scripted comedy to receive a fourth season.

“It’s a lot for him personally to write, direct, act in, and do all the post-production on all of the episodes while simultaneously being the executive producer. Six is still a pretty big workload.”

Now having spent three years with the cast filming 26 episodes, Joyce says he has become close with every member of the incredible ensemble cast.

“We’re all pretty good friends and we see each other as much as time and location permits. Having spent so much time with Josh, Tom (Ward), Emily (Barclay) and Hannah (Gadsby) over the last three years has been really good because having a comfort around on set is really important. Especially for this show which is pretty easy-going most of the time but has these incredibly heavy moments… so it’s good to have your friends around while you do that.”

Speaking with OUTinPerth, Joyce’s co-stars have shared some of the television firsts that had surprised them. While Josh struggled with having to remove his clothes so often in front of so many people, Hannah wrestled with having to have her first onscreen kiss. Joyce, however, was not so fussed.

“I kissed my first boy on television! That was pretty huge. There is a bit more skin from Arnold this season so I’ve spent a lot of time being mostly naked around 50 – 60 people so you kind of get used to that after a while.”

Joyce’s focus was drawn to developing his character and ensuring he was portraying mental illness in a respectful and realistic way.

“This show has become really well known for so many incredible television firsts, in many ways. It’s important that we try to get those firsts fair, right and respectful. That is probably more nerve-wracking than having to kiss anyone or pretend to have sex. When we’re shooting I kiss Josh more than anyone else in the world.

“I don’t have an anxiety disorder. Before the show I had not properly understood the difference between being anxious and having an anxiety disorder. I knew there was a difference but didn’t comprehend how huge it was. It was really enlightening for me. We spent a lot of time researching. Josh has spent so much time and energy finding out exactly what people experience. The hardest thing in the end is that people experience anxiety very differently from person to person. We try to get it as real as possible and I kind of got to turn it into my own version, which is hopefully being presented accurately and respectfully. I get really nice comments from people all around the world from people who say they can really relate to Arnold’s struggle and it’s been good to show him throughout this season and the last dealing with his anxiety, attempting to overcome it and find different ways to approach it.”

Please Like Me masterfully weaves every day issues into it’s stories throughout the series, not only dealing with mental health through Arnold and Josh’s mum Rose (who has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder), but also race, feminism, addiction, sexual health and family.

The sometimes heavy subject matter is balanced with comedy and beautifully innovative use of music. Joyce says one of his most memorable moments would be when his character abruptly begins singing Sia’s power-ballad Chandelier to Josh’s father.

“We had some really fun moments in the upcoming season that I think people will love. There’s definitely more singalongs. Chandelier was probably more nerve-wracking than fun for me…”

Preferring to film scenes with as many of the cast as possible, as those moments tend to be less emotionally intense, Joyce says nothing brightens up the set like Kim Craig nee Day herself, Gina Riley, who will reprise her role in the fourth season as Arnold’s mother.

“She’s just incredibly lovely. She’s so switched on and genuinely funny. There are these beautiful moments she has. A tiny look can crack you up. It was great to see Gina come back as Donna. We had a round table scene and she really stole the show with her jokes and hilarious moments. It’s difficult sometimes because they’re so funny and Arnold has to HATE it. The whole battle for me filming those scenes is just not laughing. The biggest struggle of my life during those weeks is not laughing at Gina Riley.”

Anxious Arnold: Please Like Me’s Keegan Joyce talks season 4

HERE’S TROUBLE!

DNA: Most readers will know you best as Arnold, Josh Thomas’ troubled lover in Please Like Me. What was it like working on a show that’s so widely loved?

Keegan Joyce: Please Like Me was an incredible experience. Josh was on set the whole time being really supportive of what we wanted to do. He had a fierce idea about the direction of the story. I realised the importance of the story and the way society was looking at gay people.

Arnold was a great character. Do you still get much feedback?

HERE’S TROUBLE!

Please Like Me star Josh Thomas has revealed the reason he came out.

Comedian Josh Thomas’ hit dramedy Please Like Me is gearing up for its latest season. Matthew Wade spoke to its stars about how the show addresses queer identity and what it means to sexual and gender diverse fans.

Josh Thomas isn’t pushing a gay agenda in his comedy series Please Like Me.

Despite the show’s focus being on a young gay man and the issues many young sexually diverse people face – coming out, navigating relationships, and mental health – Thomas said it’s not something he thinks about often.

“I get messages from people thanking me for coming out on the show because it helped them to come out – but I didn’t come out as a favour to them, I came out so people would know I was available to have sex with them,” he said.

“I have to let people know because otherwise I wouldn’t have got my dick sucked.

“The show isn’t supposed to be some grand noble thing in society.”

While Thomas might not think about the impact his show has had on sexual and gender diverse audiences, its major success is a clear indicator.

His self-titled character in the show is awkward, emotional, and often unsure of himself, an honest and frank characterisation that has been lauded by critics and fans alike.

The narrative began with Thomas coming out, and swiftly followed his character as he tentatively explored both the funny and sombre experiences many gay men do after accepting and embracing their queer sexuality.

However, Thomas reasserted that he doesn’t write the show as a means to specifically explore queer or gay identity.

“I mean, what choice did I have – I wouldn’t have made the character gay if I wasn’t gay,” he said.

“I don’t really think about it that much because it isn’t really interesting to me to be gay.

Around ten years ago when Thomas first came out he thought about it a lot, but he said he’s been relentlessly gay for so long now that it’s hard for him to think about.

“You have to think very responsibly about how you tell these stories but the gayness I never think about,” he said.

Thomas’ on-again off-again TV love interest Arnold has taken up much of his time in the narrative since his introduction in season two, and actor Keegan Joyce believes having gay characters in popular series like this makes a huge difference.

His younger brother, who is gay, was a fan of the show from season one and was the first person to introduce Joyce to it.

“It was just after he came out to the family and he was in love with the show,” he said.

“It was a great thing to show our family members as well because it shows the truth of the LGBTI community, like it’s a really honest depiction of happy people, and who they have sex with isn’t anyone’s business.

“Some of my favourite parts of the show are when it says that it’s okay to tell people to shut up because it’s none of their business.

“The show does dismiss their thoughts and theories, and lets audiences know that they’re just idiots.”

Given the debate around the Safe Schools program has dominated much of the rhetoric around LGBTI rights this year, Joyce believes Please Like Me is especially important for them.

“Especially for schools it’s so important that we have conversations like the ones in the show, and I think we do a really good job at dismissing opposing ideas,” he said.

“More importantly I hope the show helps vulnerable people feel a little more safe and supported.

“Our show is watched by so many people from all different walks of life, that’s the best part because we don’t have a single demographic, it really hits home with the LGBTI community and everyone else.”

Alongside its entertaining and important depiction of gay identity, Please Like Me has also been praised for its depiction of mental illness.

Thomas’ mother in the show was modelled on his own mother in real life, and is admitted to hospital after a suicide attempt in the pilot episode, before being moved into a ‘mental home’.

Lesbian character Hannah – played by Hannah Gadsby – commits herself after having a breakdown in a supermarket, and Arnold is living with an anxiety disorder.

Joyce said the team try really hard to get their depiction of mental illness right, even if at times they’re slightly off the mark.

“Josh spent a lot of time doing research and speaking to psychiatrists in the field to ensure we’re depicting things in an accurate, fair, and positive way,” he said.

“We also hope it’ll benefit people’s understanding… the main aim of the show is to make people laugh but it’s important for me to get Arnold’s anxiety right.

“It was eye opening when I started, because I hadn’t had that much interaction or engagement with mental illness apart from with a few friends and I had little understanding of what panic attacks were.

“But now I feel confident in saying it’s different for everyone and we do our best to not generalise and make it accessible and understandable for audiences.”

Joyce added that it’s incredibly important to have a conversation around mental illness and to not feel scared or ashamed about putting ideas out into the world.

“LGBTI people struggle with mental illness and oppression and I think it’s important to not only have a show that wants to talk about it but also has a positive impact on it,” he said.

Thomas mirrored Joyce’s sentiment around the importance of portraying it right.

“We just try to be truthful about mental illness, my mother’s bipolar and that’s a big storyline,” he said.

“We’re just trying to reflect what it’s really like for us, we’re not trying to be really good guys, we’re just trying to be as honest about it as we can.”

For the upcoming season, Thomas said his character is far more sexually liberated.

“This season he’s pretty slutty which I’m pretty excited about,” he said.

“He caught up to me in real life, I’m not sure why he was so frigid in the beginning – him getting slutty also coincided with me getting more comfortable with having to do sex scenes.”

As a lot of Thomas’ experiences in real life are subsequently worked into the show’s narrative, he said it can become awkward for those that are included.

“My boyfriend read one of the scripts for this season and got mad because there was an argument we had in there,” he said.

“But I’d completely forgotten about it and that it was real life, I get bad at remembering some of that stuff.

“I do stand up and the show and can’t remember what’s real, and so I wrote this argument down and completely forgot.”

Thomas said he’s excited for the new season to start, as it’s been chill filming with the cast and crew this time around.

“I’m very used to being in my underwear in front of all of them now,” he said.

“All the seasons have had slightly different tones, we didn’t know what we were doing in the first two seasons and now I think we’re in more control of what happens in the show.”

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Please Like Me star Josh Thomas has revealed the reason he came out.

Career

Joyce began his professional career when he portrayed the eponymous character in Cameron Mackintosh’sOliver! [2] In 2006 Joyce joined the cast of the Australian production of Titanic: A New Musical as a boy with a camera.

In 2009 Joyce played the character Starkey in the . He portrayed the role of Andrej in the 2014-2015 Australian season of the musical Once. [3]

In 2010, Joyce played Finnegan „Fuzz“ Greene in Australian television series . [4] His character, teenage son of the series‘ protagonist „Cleaver Greene“ played by Richard Roxburgh, appeared in all 8 episodes of the first season and has since appeared in all subsequent seasons of the show.

In 2014 he joined the cast of as Arnold, a young gay man who has an anxiety disorder. [5]

On 1 September 2016 Joyce independently released his first album, . [6] This was released on iTunes, Bandcamp, and on a limited vinyl. [7]

In April 2018, Joyce starred in a production of . [8]

Career