81ºF

'Love, Victor': How Mason Gooding's Character Is Changing On-Screen Bullying and Season 2 Secrets (Exclusive)

photo

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers from the season finale of Love, Victor! If you haven't watched this wonderful new show on Hulu, leave now and started bingeing. (You won't regret it!)

Have you fallen in love with Love, Victor yet?

The new Hulu series, which is a streaming spinoff of 2018's Love, Simon, takes place in the same high school as its big-screen predecessor and introduces the world to Victor (Michael Cimino), a sexually confused sophomore who was looking to make a fresh start at Creekwood High.

By the end of the season's 10-episode journey, Victor falls for his openly gay co-worker, Benji (George Sear), while also dating the school's most popular student, Mia (Rachel Hilson). So when jealous jock Andrew (Mason Gooding) -- who just so happens to have a crush on Mia -- overhears that Victor is gay, many fans were bracing themselves and expecting the basketball player to blab this precious secret in front of the whole high school dance.

However, in a delightfully refreshing twist, Andrew refused to out Victor. "I would never do that," he whispered in the finale.

We at ET were so pleased to see this character growth from Love, Victor's could-be villain, so we connected with Gooding over video chat to breathe a sigh of relief together and celebrate the actor's evolution from on-screen bully to breakout star!

Love, Victor Mason Gooding
Hulu

"Let me tell you right now, I was nothing like Andrew in high school," the 23-year-old said with a laugh earlier this week. "I was more close to my comic books and video games than I certainly was to other teens."

As the son of Academy Award-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr., Gooding grew up in Los Angeles and attended the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University before deciding to pursue acting full-time.

"He would basically tell me, 'Well, son, you have to remember, in this industry, it comes and it goes. Things are up, things are down. You have to remain steadfast in your decision to be true to yourself and find that truth as an actor,'" Gooding shared. 

"As far as acting is concerned, I'm luckily blessed to have him in my life. If something needs answering or if I have that question, I'm very privileged," he said. "It's funny. I have friends and people who attribute who my father is and how that relates to me being lucky, and I'm like, 'That is absolutely right.' I would be an idiot if I was not able to see how the work that he's done paved the foundation for what I'm able to do." 

Gooding gained notoriety for his role as Nick in Olivia Wilde's beloved film, Booksmart, and the actor admitted that it was an interesting challenge to play the "antithesis" of his real-life high school experience in the hit 2019 comedy.

As for his 10-episode span across Love, Victor, Gooding was excited to have the time to peel back Andrew's layers and discover more about his character as each episode passed.

Love, Victor Mason Gooding
Hulu

"What Andrew sort of does, at least in my mind, is offer up the idea that maybe they don't consider what they're doing as being a bully action," he said. "Andrew, over the course of the season, learns that his dynamic with Victor, and what he thinks to be just joking around or just messing around, ultimately carries much more weight in the beginning of the season than he's willing to admit."

"Andrew had the opportunity to out Victor and basically derail his life and his own journey of self-discovery, but I think what makes Andrew so unique in the, I guess, 'bully landscape,' is he's reinventing bullying I suppose," Gooding continued with a chuckle. "It's funny. It's almost like that's the line of bullying you should never cross, 'I would never!,' and it's like a little moral, upstanding behavior from Andrew. It's lovely to see."

While Gooding is currently keeping his fingers crossed for Love, Victor to get a second season, the young star already has plenty of ideas for what he's hoping to see from a sophomore season. 

"I hope we keep incorporating LGBTQ+ community in as many different facets as we can and continue to lay the foundation for different groups getting brought to the forefront and having their voices be heard," he said.

"Specifically for Andrew, selfishly, I just want to be brought into that friend group!" he exclaimed. "I want to be friends with Felix. I want to be friends with Lake. Although, the way things end in season 1, it's not looking too good for that -- but you never know."

"It's just heartbreaking to watch them film those scenes together and have so much fun and then Andrew's scenes where I'm, like, alone playing basketball with my friends," he joked.

Season 1 of Love, Victor is streaming now on Hulu. 

RELATED CONTENT:

Ana Ortiz Talks 'Love, Victor,' 'Ugly Betty' and Latinx Representation

How Criticism of 'Love, Simon' Inspired 'Love, Victor' (Exclusive)

'Love, Victor': Watch the Trailer for Hulu's 'Love, Simon' Series