In 2009, when we first heard about a provocative new HBO show about a cash-strapped teacher (played by Thomas Jane) who decides to capitalize on his biggest asset by moonlighting as a prostitute, we knew we had to tune in to check out the Deuce Bigalow-style antics.
To our surprise, however, Hung turned out to be way less formulaic than that and far more thoughtful. While countless shows have played on our flailing economy, causing normal people to make huge life changes or embark on ridiculous new ventures out of desperation, only a handful have been able to demonstrate true staying power.
Two years and two Golden Globe nods later, HBO's show about the little giant schlong that could has more than proved its ability to, em, last. With the third season kicking off this Sunday night at 10 p.m. EST, we chatted with Hung's star, Thomas Jane, about what it's like to fill Ray Drecker's briefs, what's up next for him this year, and what you can learn from his sexploits.
Interview by Lauren Otis (@LaurNado)
Complex: For starters, how does it feel to be at the center of a show that revolves around your member and its impact on people’s lives?
Thomas Jane: It’s crazy. My cock is more famous than I am!
What was your initial reaction when the project was pitched to you? We’d love to know how that conversation went down.
Well, the writers actually had me in mind when they wrote the show. Alexander Payne signed on to do the pilot and he asked them who they had in mind. They said, “Well, we kind of wrote this for Thomas Jane, so we’re looking for that kind of type—a Thomas Jane type of guy." Alexander said, “I know Thomas. How about we just start with the real thing?”
He gave me a call and I actually still have the message on my answering machine. I saved it. It was a real interesting call, saying, “Hi, Thomas. This is Alexander Payne. We’re doing this show for HBO and it’s about a man with a large penis. Your name came up. Why don’t you give me a call?”
Ray Drecker isn’t the first character of yours who gets paid to take it off for the ladies. You also played Todd Parker, a Hardy Boys stripper, in Boogie Nights. Quite a couple of unconventional ladykillers you have there on your resume. Are there any real-life pros that your inspiration stems from?
I loved Boogie Nights. That was a great movie and I had a lot of fun doing that. I play different characters that sort of wield different kinds of “bats.” Mickey Mantle swung a big...bat. Frank Castle, the Punisher, he had a very large…gun.
How does one go about “studying up” for a role like this? Are there any surprising ways you get into character?
A lot of push-ups. I asked the crew for a fluffer, but they haven’t made that happen yet.
No matter how big your c*ck is, there’s somebody out there whose d*ck is smaller than yours, who’s doing more with it. In other words, somebody’s f*cking better than you, doing more with less. So learn how to use what you got!
There tends to be a presumption that someone who enters into this line of work has to have something off about them. Ray and Tanya (Jane Adams), however, despite certain lapses of judgment, seem to have pretty decent heads on their shoulders and bring a surprising sensibility to their escort work that almost makes it feel…practical. Can you speak a bit about that?
Ray and Tanya are a very unlikely pair of heroes. They’re the last people you’d think would be in the pimp-ho business, you know, a poetry teacher and a former professional baseball player-turned-history teacher.
The whole show kind of revolves around the idea that these people are normal, but honestly, I think it’s really about the politics of the male-female relationship. Ray’s relationships with different women in his life become the focus of the show, whereas Season One plays a lot on the fact that the American economy has gone into the shitter. By Season Three, the economy’s still in the shitter, so I think people just want to have some fun!