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Interview with Andrew Rannells

Elijah Hannah

HBO

Let's talk about Elijah's hookup with Marnie - was it just an experiment or something more?

Andrew Rannells

I took it as drunken overconfidence. Sometimes when you're intoxicated you feel like you have magic powers, and in this case, it manifested itself in him feeling: "I'm a little more sexually flexible than I really am." He was feeling young and sexy and she was young and sexy and he thought, "Why not?"

HBO

The times we've seen Marnie and Elijah together there's been some animosity between them.

Andrew Rannells

They were probably rivals in college. Allison Williams and I joked around that we were both doing shows and I'm sure there was a bit of a talent crush, but I was her friend's boyfriend. There was a scene that was cut from the first episode [this season] where Allison and I were singing a very genuine karaoke song together. It was "Stand Still, Look Pretty" by The Wreckers, Michelle Branch's country group. It was really fun because I love Allison, but from our characters' perspective this was exactly the kind of s*** we were doing in college - a cappella groups and theater and musicals and stuff.

HBO

The show explores plenty of female relationship dynamics - what was it like to explore male relationship dynamics with George?

Andrew Rannells

Even though the show is called Girls, I think Lena has cracked the door a bit wider on the male characters this season. Elijah's conversation with George (about his possible bisexuality) - for many people in their early twenties - is very real. In my experience it's something that changes over time and becomes less a part of the conversation and less a part of your vocabulary. But at Elijah's age I think it's a common - I don't want to say phase, but phase - that you go through where you think: "Maybe I'm not 100% gay, maybe I'm bisexual."

HBO

The coke episode was titled "Bad Friend." How do you feel about Elijah's treatment of Hannah thus far?

Andrew Rannells

I think there's a lack of awareness on Elijah's part. If you asked him if he was being a good friend, he would probably think so. He didn't have the foresight not to have sex with Marnie in the first place, but he thinks he's being a good friend by withholding the truth from Hannah. He wanted to protect her.

HBO

There's some similarities between him and Hannah, insofar as their lack of awareness.

Andrew Rannells

Absolutely. Since they were once a couple, I think there's a special way people mistreat their boyfriends and girlfriends.  You wouldn't treat anyone else like that, but for some reason you're allowed to get away with mistreating your partner. Kind of like how you can be mean to your siblings. They're both used to taking each other for granted.

HBO

Did Hannah overreact to Elijah's admission about Marnie?

Andrew Rannells

I think her reaction really speaks to where your head is at that age.  For better or for worse, people often feel like the world revolves around them at that point in their lives. Elijah is trying to figure out what he wants his life to be and who he is, and all that focus on yourself makes you pretty oblivious to other people's feelings. Either way, I think it was a pretty s****y thing for him to do to his new roommate and ex-girlfriend - that he would just have sex with her best friend on their couch.

HBO

Given their history, was his friendship with Hannah destined to fail?

Andrew Rannells

I think so. I'm not friends with a lot of my exes and I think there's a reason for that [laughs]. It doesn't always translate - the boyfriend thing doesn't always translate to friendship, so I think they were doomed from the start.

elijah green sweate

HBO

Does Hannah still harbor some feelings for Elijah? Or is that the coke talking?

Andrew Rannells

Maybe, but I think their relationship was probably not a good match.

HBO

Those bathroom scenes - were those really filmed at Greenhouse?

Andrew Rannells

No! Luckily they built that bathroom for us but then they dressed it to be so filthy. Knowing everything was new and it was just a set was kind of comforting, but we were still scrunched down on the ground among all this debris. Lena licked [fake] cocaine off the toilet seat at one point...

HBO

Ugh.

Andrew Rannells

I know, right? It was a new toilet seat and it was all pretend, but watching it still made my stomach turn. We're so desperate in that moment but we think we're so glamorous.

HBO

Does Elijah have other life goals besides raising show dogs and visiting a prison?

Andrew Rannells

I'm sure Elijah is one of those people who will go back to school many, many times. He'll try to go to massage school; I feel like "pastry chef" is a thing that a lot of people try... maybe sign language interpreter? I'm sure he'll end up producing reality television at some point.

HBO

What was it like to film the roommate divorce?

Andrew Rannells

We messed around a lot that day - I never laugh as hard as I do when I'm working with Lena, but it was actually a very sad day. I knew it was my last episode with her and I was really bummed. It was kind of like a real breakup.

HBO

Can you speculate on whether or not Hannah and Elijah will be able to work this out?

Andrew Rannells

Well I, Andrew Rannells, hope that's the case [laughs]. I have my fingers crossed for their relationship.

14: It's a Shame About Ray