The "Carrie Diaries" finale is upon us (Monday, April 8 at 8 p.m. ET) and though adolescent Carrie Bradshaw (AnnaSophia Robb) is the voice of the CW series, it's her best friend Walt Reynolds (Brendan Dooling) who's had fans on the edge of their seats.
While "Sex & The City" fans loved Stanford Blatch (Willie Garson) and Anthony Marentino (Mario Cantone), Walt isn't exactly "one of the girls" in the same vein. After all, "The Carrie Diaries" is set in the '80s and the high school senior's struggle with his sexuality is different than the ones teens usually see today, like Kurt Hummel on "Glee" or Emily Fields on "Pretty Little Liars."
Below, Dooling opens up about where we leave Walt in the "Carrie Diaries" finale, the possibility of seeing him in a relationship, the role he originally auditioned for on "The Carrie Diaries," and much more.
You originally auditioned for the role of Sebastian, right? How'd you feel about getting the callback for Walt?
I did indeed. [Laughs.] I was jubilent just to get a callback at all! It was really great. I like when [the casting directors] think of you for something else because then that means that there's something about you that they liked. When they had me come in the next day for Walt, I guess it was a little intimidating just because I was reading that part [for the first time] at the callback, but it worked out for the better.
Obviously, Walt's coming out story is different than others we've seen on TV especially because of the time in which "The Carrie Diaries" is set. Did you do any research about gay culture in the '80s?
Not so much online research as much as, you know, interpersonal. I have people in my life that were going through that same thing during that time and they gave me ideas as to what they were feeling, and how they were dealing with the adversity, and how quiet they kept most of their personal lives until they found there was a time when they could be more open about it.
It's unique that Walt isn't particularly effeminate nor is he super masculine. It's not too often for us to see LGBT characters who are in the middle of the spectrum on TV.
Yes. Exactly. I know the word "androgynous" is usually used for looks, but he's got that same vibe as far as personality and the way he carries himself in public. I think that's what makes it more interesting in that, as an audience member, you don't know which way he's going, especially the way it's written throughout the first season: He has a girlfriend [Maggie, played by Katie Findlay] and then he hooks up with Donna [Chloe Bridges], but he's still got questions ... I think it was done really well.
Before the show premiered, a lot of people probably thought Walt would be a very fashion-forward, flamboyant young man playing Carrie's best male friend, especially because of Stanford and Anthony from "Sex & The City."
Were you concerned about Walt not being that guy?
Well, I wasn't really worried about it. In fact, I hadn't even thought about it until I had "Sex & The City" fans asking me if I was playing the young Stanford and then I realized just how much of a staple that sort of character is in Carrie's story. Until the end of this first season, Carrie doesn't have a gay best friend. So that's how I was playing it -- I was just playing a friend.
Besides the brief Rob Lowe "Interview" magazine in the pilot, the first hint we got of Walt being sexually confused was at the Halloween party when he met Bennet (Jake Robinson). But he wound up calling Bennet a f** when he tried to kiss him. What was it like filming that scene and having to use that word?
That scene is really all just about denial. That was what Walt was coming to terms with, so it's really easy to just jump towards the side of anger and point the finger and run away from your problems and that's exactly what he did. In terms of preparation, it's a matter of thinking about all the people in Walt's life who aren't going to be accepting of this thing that he's questioning, so when that gets to be overwhelming, then it comes out negatively and in the direction of Bennet.
Were you surprised to find out that Donna would be the person who Walt would confide in? They're kind of like Cher and Christian in "Clueless."
[Laughs.] Donna doesn't take a lot of crap. She wants what she wants and she knows how to get and I think that really helps Walt because she is so sure of herself and Walt is not. She's a really great balance for him in terms of having that person to confide because she will tell it like it is. And it turns out that she's actually sincere about it, which is nice.
Have you heard anything about her gay brother coming into the picture should there be a Season 2? It'd be interesting to see him as a mentor for Walt since they're from similar backgrounds.
That's an interesting point. I've never really thought about that. All I know is that he lives in L.A. so that would be kind of tough, but the writers can make anything happen.
The "Carrie Diaries" finale promo hints that Maggie finds out about Walt and she does not handle things well. That has to be pretty heartbreaking.
Yes. Even if Walt had a plan in terms of how he was going to come out, as it were, it was all for naught because things happen unexpectedly and that's what you're seeing in the preview when Maggie gets really angry. She takes it very personally. She feels like the last two years with Walt have just been a lie so she's angry and understandably so. I mean, obviously, Walt never wanted to hurt anybody, but you don't know how to handle that situation when you're so new at it.
Besides Donna's reaction and Carrie trying to get Walt to open up, we haven't really gotten many hints about what the people in Walt's life think about the gay community. Will we see more of how people in his life feel about LGBT people, besides just how they feel about him being whatever he is?
I think so. I think that's why we're crossing our fingers for Season 2 because you'll actually get a more of an in-depth look. You know, it's a midseason pick-up called "The Carrie Diaries" so it's obviously going to be very focused on Carrie. But if they give us a shot at a Season 2, then we're going to get lots of side stories and the core four, Carrie and her friends, you'll get to see more backstory. I'm certainly looking forward to that.
What do you hope for Walt in Season 2? Would you want him to have a boyfriend?
You know, I don't know. As a friend to Walt, I would just say, "Have fun! Do what you think is right," whether that's a relationship or just social mingling. [Laughs.] I'm just excited to see him go from a boy to a man because with a big transition like this, that's going to happen.
Have you had any fan responses that stand out to you?
The folks on Twitter have been so nice, such a great response ... A lot of people have told me they've had a very similar high school experiences and it really does mean so much to them that somebody is playing this part. That's really nice to hear. That's why I'm in the business.
"The Carrie Diaries" finale airs Monday, April 8 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.
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