Paul W. Downs of ‘Hacks’ on Future Acting Aspirations: ‘I Would Love to Be in a Todd Haynes Movie’

Unlike his character Trey on “Broad City,” the acting future of Paul W. Downs is looking bright. And though he may have earned more attention for his work on “Hacks” behind the scenes as co-creator, co-showrunner, and one of the directors on the TV series, it’s his supporting role as manager Jimmy LuSaque Jr. that Downs really covets.

“Acting is what I’ve always wanted to do,” Downs said in a recent interview with Vanity Fair. “I started writing because it’s easier to write for yourself and put yourself in something. I always did both hand in hand, but it certainly is a means to get to perform.”

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And not just in comedies either. Downs hopes to work with the greats one day.

“I would love to be in a Todd Haynes movie…. That would be a dream,” he said.

Haynes’ next film, a gay romance/detective film set in the 1930s and starring Joaquin Phoenix, unfortunately, won’t be featuring Downs, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been fielding interesting offers.

“There have been a couple of really cool opportunities I probably can’t [reveal], that I just couldn’t do — one that’s in London in September,” he said, explaining that work on season 4 of “Hacks” has already begun and he’ll most likely be in production by fall. Even though getting to see Downs stretch his wings would exciting, with the conversation around comedy being as fractured as it is right now, his voice being a part of it feels important in this moment.

When asked how he handles comments from comedians like Jerry Seinfeld in relation to what can and can’t be discussed, Downs said, “As long as you’re not doing harm and you’re not punching down, I think there’s nothing that’s really off limits—you just have to execute what you’re saying in a way that’s thoughtful and not harmful. I’m like, ‘I think you can do it, Jerry, because you have a comedian brain.’ If you write comedy, it’s your job. And if it’s getting a little harder, that’s okay. The job has never been easy.”

In truth, the harder part for Downs isn’t the comedy, it’s the business. When the work becomes focused on pleasing the market, it gets hard to keep things laugh-out-loud funny.

“Everything is about shareholder value and about driving up a stock price, and to do that you need a huge hit,” Downs said of the current entertainment industry landscape. “It’s harder to take a risk on something less safe.”

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