Asher Grodman on “Trevor’s Pants,” Ghosts Bros, and His Dog’s Surprise CameoPhoto Courtesy of CBS TV Features Ghosts
The first season of Ghosts has been a surprise and a delight. After watching and adoring the original BBC series, there was some uncertainty as to whether CBS would translate the sweetness and humor in a way that would still appeal to their non-target audience of, well, me—an Elder Millennials. And yet, it has done so in spades. The show is a hit, both critically and in viewer numbers, and was recently renewed for Season 2. But as the first season comes to a close, one major question has remained: what happened to Trevor’s pants?
In the latest episode, aptly titled “Trevor’s Pants,” the question is finally answered in a way that was distinct from the British version and pretty perfect for Trevor specifically. Paste spoke with Asher Grodman, who plays our favorite ‘90s Wall Street bro Trevor, to dive into spoilers, what working on this season has been like, the rapport among the cast, how he lobbied to get his dog on the show, what an “Asher joke” is, and more.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Paste When you went to school and studied acting, did you ever think of a monkey’s paw scenario where you would be on the successful network comedy but you would not be wearing pants?
Asher Grodman: Well, I’ll stop you right there—I would never in a million years have thought it would be a comedy. I just caught up with a friend of mine who is a casting director, who’s known me since I started auditioning when I was like 16 years old. And she was like, “Oh, it was definitely gonna be a comedy.” And I was like, In what world? No, I was like, ridiculed in college. They would say like, “oh, that’s an Asher joke.” “Asher jokes” were just jokes that failed. I’ve never done a comedy before this. So the sheer fact that I’m on a comedy is mind boggling to me. I did Amadeus, which I guess is a comedy… if you don’t count Act II.
Then the pants thing, honestly was a little bit of a relief. In my head, I was like, okay, they’re gonna get all these funny people—I’m not one of them. But if they just cut to a wide shot, I’ll be there pantsless, so that should be funny. The pants thing will save me a little bit here. Those were the ruminations in my mind going into this.
And then the response to the show… never in a million years. I mean, it is so hard. Getting a pilot is like winning the lottery. I’d been doing this for 18 years before Ghosts came along. And I was like, that’s never gonna happen. So the idea of getting one of these and it actually going to series, and then not just going to series but being something that people like, and something that I would watch and my friends would watch… I’m so outrageously lucky.
Paste: Networks have been so focused on bringing in A-list movie talent to TV shows lately, and relying on star power, but one of the things that’s so refreshing about Ghosts is that the cast is, for most of the viewing audience, folks they haven’t seen before. And everyone’s been excited about that. There’s something sort of electric, with viewers feeling like they’ve discovered something. But with such a big cast, that comedic timing can be really tricky. How did it work finding that groove in those early episodes, especially?
Grodman: Sharing a frame with seven people on a consistent basis is like an art form to itself that, you know, I’m still figuring out how to do. So it’s a really fun challenge, especially if you’re working with people who you really like, and who are unpredictable, which our group is. It’s just it’s another one of those elements that make the show a dream come true. It’s funny, you know, I noticed a difference between the way the pilot was shot versus some of the other [episodes]. In the pilot, there are a lot of group shots and everything. But it felt to me like when we started shooting the season, starting with Episode 2, there was this process of figuring out, “Okay, how much is too much? How much is too little?” We’re basically tossing a ball back and forth at rapid succession. And maybe there are times where you’re tossing a ball, and someone else is tipping it and it goes somewhere else, right? And so there was a lot of work that went into it. A lot of trusting each other.
Because of COVID, we all sit in tents together outside of the set rather than in our trailers. So we have time to kinda play with each other and be like, “Oh, let’s try this. Let’s try that.” And I think the better that we got, the more we got to know each other, the more we got to know what the shape of the show looked like, [especially after] seeing a bunch of episodes and seeing how the writers work, and stuff like that. And the better we came to work with each other, that that that got us to this electricity. But I guess it’s the flip side of that too, because I remember it being electric the first day of the pilot too, and there was space in there for us to play. The writers have done a really good job where these characters are so clearly defined, and they’ve also invited parts of us to you know, meld in with the characters. And so there is a lot of truth in there. That provides for a lot more than comedy.
Paste: I can say genuinely that, even with a cast of this size, there’s no weak link—which is rare.
Grodman: I’m working with some really great people who I get to see in this workshop. And Brandon Scott Jones [who plays Isaac] is just one of the funniest human beings alive. Everyone is so, so good and smart. And I, you know, I’m shameless—I will go up to someone and be like, alright, tell me why this works. Tell me why this doesn’t work. Tell me what you’re seeing here. And I think we’re all like, we’re really interested in learning from each other. And we just love spending time with each other. So we sit out and have drinks for hours and talk about funny stuff with the show. I got a dream job.
Paste: I really think that that rapport comes through. With the fan reactions on Twitter, it seems like people agree there is, you know, this cool group on this show that you would want to hang out with. And then going back to the ensemble, as the season has gone on, that comfort among the cast seems to have gelled and created these snappy dialogue moments and reactions and have just gotten even quicker and even funnier.
Grodman: That’s so great to hear. I will say one thing, as it’s very strange to me—the Twitter thing blows me away. These people are so nice to us on Twitter. It’s really amazing.
Paste: Yeah, TV Twitter is nice. Film Twitter can be mean. I’m so happy that I’m on the TV side because everyone’s just genuinely like,”I love this show, I just want to talk about it!”
Grodman: Well then I’ll never do a movie!
Paste: Movies are overrated, everything is TV! Now, I read that you teach acting, and so I was going to ask if you ever have to stop yourself from telling your castmates, “Have you ever thought about doing this…?” Or, “maybe you should try that…?” But it sounds like you guys are all just learning from each other and not afraid to talk about it.
Grodman: There are moments where people will pitch something to each other. But we have a dynamic now where it would never be stepping on anyone’s toes. Like, if I had to go to someone in the cast and say, hey, I’m trying to think of something here, can you help me work this out real quick? We have that kind of relationship, which is like a dream relationship, where we can really trust and rely on each other. I’m really lucky, Allison, I’m really lucky!
Paste: This does genuinely seem like a show where everyone’s just really happy to go to work, and I think it comes through. It’s something viewers can sense, even if they don’t know exactly what it is.
Grodman: Yeah. And I think that’s a testament to the people. I also think that you know, the pandemic played a role in that too, because we were sitting there in March of 2020 on a Friday thinking that we were going to start shooting on a Monday, and then the world shut down. And so we kind of sat in limbo for I mean… that was it was March until December, December’s when we shot the pilot. And just not knowing if this was ever going to happen… there was a cast text thread that would light up all hours of the day. And we all became very close kind of, you know, sitting and waiting and hoping that we could all run out and have recess together. And when we finally did, we were ready to play.
Paste: Switching gears a little bit now to Trevor—so, for those of us who have seen the UK series Ghosts, at the beginning of the CBS show, it seemed like Trevor’s obvious counterpart was Julian, because they’re both the most recently deceased, they have no trousers, they’re douchebags (or seemingly so). But I think even from the beginning, there was a little bit of Thomas in there as well, a hopeless romantic. Was that balance discussed with you when you first took the part, as kind of a “bro with a soft heart?”
Grodman: No, I don’t think there was ever a conversation about it. And full disclosure, I avoided watching the BBC show before Season 1, because when you’re kind of in a process… acting is very amorphous and very ephemeral. So when you see something that has reached its result, and you’re kind of still in process, seeing the result can have a bigger effect on your process than you realize. And so I needed to stay away, because I knew what they had come up with worked and was so good. I was like, I gotta make sure I don’t copy that. But now I’ve seen it, and God, what they came up with was amazing. He’s amazing. But no, there wasn’t a discussion of that.
What I can tell you is that when I read the sides, the scene that you do to audition for Trevor, the second that I read, “it was the summer of 98, my Lehman Brothers boys and I scooped a ‘copter to beat the traffic out to the Hamptons, because that’s how we roll.” I was like, who wrote this, this is so great! I mean, it was brilliant. So on the page, the whole kind of worldview—and you can call it douchey or whatever, or the Wall Street whatever that is—they have taken care of that. And I was like, all I have to do is get out of the way and this thing will work. What I wanted to bring to it, and what I saw in him, was a kind of puppy quality on the sense that he’s you’re stuck for eternity, in the same place. You’re basically at the same party for the rest of your existence. And this guy just wants to have fun, like, every new thing is a chance to have fun. When he realizes that we can possess people? That’s like the coolest thing ever. So for me, it’s like that puppy energy of everything is new and fun. And he is like the younger brother of the group.
Paste: The two characters have diverged so much, because Julian is so cynical and bleak and Trevor is not at all. There is, like you said, a lot of optimism there. And so one thing that is tied to that and the way the characters are so different is in Trevor’s death—did you know his death story when you signed on, or when did that come about?
Grodman: No, I didn’t. I knew the week before we shot it when I got the script.
Paste: Oh wow!
Grodman: We had had discussions with the Joes, our creators—Joe Port and Joe Wiseman—who are great. They had reached out to all of us in the pandemic, and said listen, while you guys are sitting and thinking about it, if there are things when your time period, or stories, or stuff like that, that you really like, feel free to share because we’re open and collecting what we can. At that point, I had pitched some ideas for how [Trevor] could have died. I think they even asked me, “how do you think he died?” And I gave them a few ideas, but I have to tell you, I’m so glad they didn’t use them. Because what they came up with is so good. I think they did a really great job. I just don’t think anyone’s going to see this coming.
Paste: No, and the reveal is really satisfying because, again, it’s such a departure from Julian where you know, he was at this alcohol-fueled Christmas party, cheating on his wife, leaving his kids at home abandoned on Christmas, just being a rotten person. And it starts off in “Trevor’s Pants” … sorry, I can’t say that without laughing…
Grodman: Isn’t it great? It’s so much fun.
Paste: In the “Trevor’s Pants” episode, it kind of starts out that way, leading us down the path of thinking, ok, he’s at a pill-popping party and all this was going on. And yet, even still, it was somehow still sweet and cute? And we’re talking about a drug-fueled ruckus, like how does this work? That balance is really unique where it’s heartwarming, but not saccharine, which is rare in American network comedies. You actually have a character arc, and you got somewhere. It’s really satisfying to watch.
Grodman: I’m so glad you said that. And I’m actually learning a little bit hearing you talk. Because I do think I remember telling the Joes when we shot the pilot, I was like, there’s so much joy on every single page that they’ve written, and the whole writers room. And that’s hard to do. The bleakest thing is death, right? But this show makes it mundane, which is funny. Because you’re just sitting there next to a bunch of dead people. I remember reading it and being like, I don’t envy our writers because how do you decide what’s going to happen next? You could do anything. Like, there are no limits to what you could do with this. I go back to I’m just very lucky.
Paste: I think one of the things that works so well, and especially with Trevor’s character, is the little details. So one of my favorites early in the season was the dating profile he creates, which is just a throwaway background thing, where it just says “L’chaim ladies!” It was just so perfect.
Grodman: I love that, too. But I’ll give you another thing, and this was this is my biggest lobbying effort all season. I don’t care how selfish it is. It was a lobbying effort to make sure that Trevor’s obituary included a picture of my dog. That’s very important to me.
Paste: That’s amazing. What is your dog’s name?
Grodman: Zazie. And there was an opportunity for a dog later in the season, but Zazie turned it down. She didn’t feel like it, she didn’t want to be diminished like that.
Paste: Yeah, I mean, you have to be picky. That’s the sign of a true star.
Grodman: I remember getting that to work. I was grinning ear to ear. Like, I was just so happy. And Brandon was like, “What did you do?” I was so excited.
Paste: It’s all of those little things, right? So in the “Trevor’s Pants” episode, the “Chekov chill,” the bro code, just the early 2000s toxic masculinity… I was in high school in the early 2000s, and the writers just nail that time period. It’s so specific and so good. And I was watching being like, I would have a hard time not breaking in most of these scenes, it’s just so spot-on. Was that a challenge in this episode?
Grodman: I mean, it’s a challenge to not to burst out laughing in every episode, because the writing is so great. And the actors are, you know, the ensemble’s just fantastic. You and I are probably of similar ages, because I have a similar experience with the show where like, I was in high school when Trevor would have died, like the year or two around when I entered high school. As a kid, everyone who I was looking up to would have been Trevor’s age. So like… Diddy’s White Party. Obviously I wouldn’t have been able to go, but it was all the cool like, “what is this white party?” and now we’re suddenly all having white parties. So to be in that world, and even his Seinfeld reference, the yada yada yada in the pilot, I mean, all this stuff that I was looking at with eyes wide open, soaking everything in before I had like entered the world. It is a weird kind of familiarity and also a kind of like, you know, Trevor’s world in my head is on a pedestal, because I grew up watching all that stuff.
Paste: I love that line in the episode where he says, “They were kids! Some of them were barely 30!”
Grodman: I know! I love that, That’s a great line. I’m so glad that they kept it.
Paste: Now, we also learned in this episode that all of the ghosts are Trevor’s bros, which is so stinkin’ cute. But who would you say is Trevor’s best ghost bro (or brosafina, as the case may be)?
Grodman: You know a great thing about the show is that he’s got relationships with everyone. In terms of best bro… I mean, in the beginning of the season it was very clearly Pete, and my hunch is that it probably still is Pete. But I think there are relationships that are forming more. I mean, Thor is the one who’s like a lot of fun, but it’s also, Trevor just can’t handle him sometimes. Like “What? How? Where did you put that together?” So I think he is getting a little closer with Thor, but I actually think there’s some great stuff with Sass that’s developing, especially understanding what Sass did for him all these years. I think that’s great. Oh, God, I’m gonna go through every ghost now. Trevor loves the stuff with Brandon. Maybe Asher also love the stuff with Brandon. Because Trevor likes to get a rise out of people and likes to kind of watch you know,… it’s the Succession thing of watching someone dangle. And watching Isaac have to, you know, twist and turn himself into knots is fun entertainment sometimes for Trevor. Alberta and Flower are party girls who Trevor would have been hanging out with in life, right? And then Hetty… Hetty annoys Trevor. It’s a whole other world that she’s from, but that he also relates to, because that’s the shamelessly rich glam world right? Even though she tried to send him the hell.
Paste: Oh my God, I forgot about that. I was about to say it’s been really fun to watch Hetty sort of open up and be receptive to these things that are happening in the modern world. But that moment when she just said “Go to hell,” I mean, we jumped watching that. I was not expecting it, and it was great editing and just great timing. And then your reaction, literally hopping up off the floor like “What the heck??”
Grodman: I love that scene! She does such a great job, Rebecca Wisocky.
Paste: So with just two more episodes left this season, is there anything you can tease about what’s next for Trevor?
Grodman: There is a really fun thing that’s going to happen next episode. One of the great things about Trevor is that I can get away with a lot of stuff, as a character who objectifies people, because I’m already objectified in the fact that I’m half naked, right? So any kind of teeth that I might have have been blunted. A lot. So the opportunities where Trevor is kind of put on his heels are always fun, and one of those is coming up, I’m looking forward to that. There is a great guest star coming in next episode, too, but actually if you if you don’t mind I would love to give a shout out here, because the guest stars in “Trevor’s Pants” are awesome. Rob Heubel is so funny and so good and so smart as Ari. He was just just a blast to work with. And then the guys in the flashback: Blair Penner, who played the young Ari, Robert Bazzocchi, who plays Pinkus, who’s so sweet and does such a great job. Brian Cook is David Woodstone, so he is related to Sam and Hetty… he’s so good. And Julius Cho is great. All these guys are so great. It was my first time being part of a family that wasn’t, you know, the ghost family, and I had a lot of fun with those guys.
Paste: This is a rare show that always leaves me wanting more, and I’m really hoping that because it’s streaming they release a gag reel at the end of the season.
Grodman: These are very short episodes, and I can’t even tell you, the stuff that doesn’t make it in… You get a 21 minute episode, the people in this cast are so funny, and the people I get to work with are so funny, but there’s about 10 minutes of stuff in every episode that is equally as good. I don’t envy the Joes who have to make the decisions about what goes in and what stays out.
Paste: I know you’ve done a lot of press for this episode, but is there one thing you have really wanted to talk about that no one has asked you yet?
Grodman: Actually yeah, I would love to say this: Growing up I remember… I’m a Jewish kid who was like, the only Jew where I grew up in, and being Jewish was seen as being a little weird. So being able to play a Jewish character on television, who isn’t a stereotype, where being Jewish is just another part of him, it’s not all he is… on top of all the things I’m outrageously lucky to be doing, it’s just a cherry on top. And we don’t shy away from it, right? He’s throwing Yiddish phrases in left and right, and that to me is such a thrill. I remember as a kid I was like, maybe Batman is Jewish? Maybe Indiana Jones is Jewish? So it was really cool to feel like there’s space for that, and I think that’s a lot of fun.
Ghosts airs Thursday nights on CBS, and is available to stream on Paramount+
Allison Keene is the TV Editor of Paste Magazine. For more television talk, pop culture chat and general japery, you can follow her @keeneTV
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