Peter Scolari Reveals the Real-Life Inspiration Behind His Character's Backstory
The actor behind Tad Horvath discusses keeping his big reveal a secret.
How did you learn of Tad?s big reveal in ?Tad & Loreen & Avi & Shanaz??
Well, I found out so suddenly. Becky Ann Baker [who plays Loreen] and I were filming the first episode of this season when we were summarily brought before the tribunal of Lena Dunham and [executive producer] Jenni Konner and [writers] Murray Miller and Paul Simms. It?s quite a wonderful creative mafia to be connected to. Lena and Jenni broke the news in a kind of fun way by asking, ?Are you guys going to be free this summer? We have some big plans for you all.?
During the course of that afternoon Becky Ann and I were on the phone to our agents to clear the decks. That?s when they told us what was going to happen -- you could have knocked both of us over with a dessert spoon, we were that shocked. We couldn?t immediately let the news impact how we were playing our scenes, with the exception of Tad?s visit to Iowa City. He and Hannah have these cryptic conversations about life and choice and your personal stake in your own affairs. It?s a wonderful coincidence that Hannah is searching her soul and trying to come to terms with her disillusionment with the MFA program at Iowa State. She?s asking her father for guidance which he perhaps only accidentally gives, with his own inner turmoil in mind.
It seemed like a rare instance where Hannah had the full support of a parent behind her decision.
I think it?s part of the show?s charm, and in fact, as a parent myself, I think it?s part of my learning curve that we have to let our kids make mistakes. That?s the right course of action -- to not try and reorder their experience to what we feel is the correct path, or tell them, ?Don?t make the same mistakes I did.? That mantra is really a wasteful, inefficient kind of parenting because it?s exactly the very personal mistakes that a young adult has to make -- and is going to make -- whether or not you intervene. Your 20s are a mistake, by definition.
Why does Tad come out to Loreen after therapy?
The anchor that I felt was important to my understanding of where Tad?s head was at, was the notion that the therapy session went so well and they got at some things that were so fantastic for them as friends. They felt confident that they would be continuous partners as parents and empty nesters. And the aggregate of all this good news was the final straw. Like, we?ve just done such great work in couples? therapy and now I?m mortified beyond anything.
Hannah, on the other hand, is pretty accepting of her father?s newly embraced sexuality, minus the sexual part.
Right? I mean, how gross for her.
Do you think Hannah has a right to be upset with him for being so candid about his sex life?
I have this idea that, for Tad, coming out is not this breakthrough into his real, evolved self, but more closely akin to a doe, or a foal. This awkward incapable creature who?s being born, so he doesn?t quite understand what he?s doing yet. It?s heartbreaking.
Tad?s storyline is based on [director] Jesse Peretz?s experience, whose father came out when he was older. When I talked to Jesse about his father, he was willing to share things but didn?t think it would relate to what we?re doing here with Tad and Loreen. While I had no special help or insight from our conversation as to Tad?s experience, I got a lot of insight about Jesse and had a deeper understanding of what it?s like for the children in that situation.
Has it been emotionally trying to play this arc?
I watched ?Tad & Loreen & Avi & Shanaz? for the first time last week and I really kind of felt forlorn. Not disappointed, but what?s happened with Tad this season saddens me on a personal level that I find quite surprising. It?s not typical for me to be personally affected by a character I?m playing. I?ve loved the guy and I?ve brought a lot of myself to the guy -- let?s not equivocate on that point. He?s always touched me and made me laugh and I?ve enjoyed really bringing my own, occasionally symptomatic, brand of wit because they let me ad-lib a lot on the show.
But even though there?s been no small amount of improvisation in these episodes in season 4, it?s just not funny. There?s something bittersweet that?s moving through me with all of this. Lena and Jenni have said as we wrapped this season, ?Don?t worry, we?re not going to leave you out there without looking at your story and where Tad?s brought himself to. It?s going to get better!? Which acknowledges that things have gotten pretty bad for him.
He really has done a complete 180 from the lighthearted, dorky Tad we?ve come to know.
They?ve issued a hilarious kind of comeuppance for me this season. Tad is the easiest character I?ve ever played, and someone whom I love and respect as well. I felt as if I was walking in high cotton for those first few seasons. I was playing a role where I had nothing but joy and a sense of purpose in a series. Not just, ?Oh I get to be funny or play the wacky dad.? It?s much deeper than that. This is a guy, for me at least, that lives and breathes.
That?s what?s so enjoyable about Hannah?s parents, that they feel so real.
I have to say, the real credit goes to Lena and Jenni and Murray and Paul and [writer] Bruce Eric Kaplan. The oldest of them is probably Bruce, but these kids -- they articulate the voices. They originate it on the page. It?s really a rather estimable and ongoing accomplishment to write for us. Becky Ann and I look at each other and go, ?Can you believe that Lena, in her mid-20s, writes this with such insight and tenderness?? Lest anyone confuse Hannah Horvath with Lena Dunham. Hannah could not write the first page of a story like this.