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Q&A: Chris Geere on the Evolution of ‘You’re the Worst,’ Jimmy’s Speeches

Grappling with love, death, writer’s block and career soul-searching — it’s been an eventful season for Jimmy Shive-Overly, the verbose British novelist at the center of the FXX comedy “You’re the Worst.” Actor Chris Geere has thrived on the range of material he’s been handed by the “Worst” writing team during the show’s much-praised third season. Geere took a moment to assess where things stand for Jimmy and Aya Cash’s Gretchen as the show heads toward a season finale next month that Geere promises “will blow everyone’s minds.”

The show has really seemed to hit a stride this season. What was different about it for you?

I think there was a lot less exposition this year. People who watch the show know the characters now. We had the opportunity to play a bit more. The writers are really writing for us. And the four of us [including co-stars Desmin Borges and Kether Donohue] together have really gelled into a quite a tight family of performers now.

Jimmy has been on a roller coaster the past few episodes with the death of his father. How did you and creator Stephen Falk figure out what tone to strike for this storyline?

I was told about it beforehand. It was quite a rare occurrence for Stephen give away a storyline. He usually would never tell us where the season’s going to end. He told me I would be going through a grieving process that would take me many, many different places. The decision I made quite early on is that the key to a grieving process there isn’t any formula to it. Every single person is different. It was never going to him finding out the news and breaking down in tears. I decided I didn’t want to repeat any emotion. I thought it would be more interesting for people to see him coping with the grieving process in kind of abstract ways, with a lot of bitterness and resentfulness towards his father.

Gretchen opened the season battling depression and your roommate Edgar (played by Borges) had a powerful turn dealing with PTSD in one episode. And yet the show still delivers plenty of slapsticky silliness. Do you enjoy working in that spectrum?

When you get to something as phenomenal as Des’ PTSD episode — yes. There was never a thought to ‘Oh is this going to fit in?’ because people understood the tone of the show. It’s such a relief that we got to show that side of his story. It was such a deep episode. Stylistically this season there’s some brilliant stuff coming up.

Your character is known for delivering tongue-twisting rants and observations about people and pop culture. Do those take a lot of practice for you to nail?

The writers obviously speak my monologues out in the writers room to feel whether they have a real flow to them. I have to known all my speeches back to front with as much time to prepare so that I can forget they are speeches. Some actors and pick up a script on the first day of filming, learn their lines and just deliver it. I need a couple of weeks to work on something [like the monologues]. What we’ve learned is that when he does those speeches, he isn’t thinking about what he’s saying as he’s saying it. These have to be stream of consciousness, from a very bitter but intellectual mind. [The writers] use words I’ve never heard of in my life. I got a thesaurus app on my phone to make sure I was making sense of them, and I got a pronunciation app. But again it’s credit to the writers for getting Jimmy’s voice bang-on.

Before “You’re the Worst,” you mostly worked on dramatic fare in the U.K. Did you take to comedy easily or was there a learning curve?

Since I left drama school, in the space of five years I was with Royal Shakespeare [Company] doing a play; then I did a very serious murder-based drama [series]. Then I did a couple of soap operas. Then did a romantic comedy movie and then a horror film. You pick up different tones from all these things. It’s nice not to be stereotyped, really.

Your family is based in Manchester, England, but “You’re the Worst” shoots in Los Angeles. Do you like working in Hollywood? The show shoots in all kinds of unusual L.A. locales.

I’m constantly grateful that we get to live in both worlds. I really have fallen in love with Los Angeles. It’s a brilliant place. My family is very fond of it. It’s great to go to work and not have to go into a studio and not see the outside world all day. I spend about half of the year in America. It goes really quickly.

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