Martin Starr is not a household name like some of his more famous co-stars, but you might recognize him from his first role playing one of the titular geeks, Bill Haverchuck, in Judd Apatow‘s cult series Freaks And Geeks alongside some current A-list comedians like Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, and James Franco. After taking a break from being on-screen, Martin has reappeared in another hysterically funny, dangerously under-watched show: Starz’s Party Down. Now in its second season, the series produced by Paul Rudd and Rob Thomas (of Veronica Mars fame, not Matchbox 20) focuses on a group of underpaid, overworked party caterers in L.A., and might be one of the most subversive comedies since Ricky Gervais‘ Extras. But with first season’s Jane Lynch moving on for a full-time spot on Fox’s Glee, and Party‘s main star Adam Scott about to leave the show to take a role on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, the fate of the Party rests in the hands of the few remaining regulars. Luckily for them, Martin outgrew the sidelined geek role for the part of Roman De Beers: a sort of grown-up Haverchuck with a foul mouth, fondness for writing “hard sci-fi,” and a Salinger-like disdain for all the fakes in Hollywood he has to serve. Crushable spoke to Starr about the similarities between him and his characters, as well what it was like working in some of Hollywood’s darkest comedies.
Crushable: So we wanted to talk to you a little bit about this season of Party Down…
Martin: I’ve never heard of that. What show are you talking about? It must be on a channel that I don’t get.
Crushable: Funny, we’ve heard people say that…
Martin: Yeah, my first line is always, “Oh, you mean that Netflix show?”
Crushable: This season has started out a little bit darker and depressing (which is saying a lot for a show about caterers who all aspire to be part of the Hollywood machine). Is that going to be a trend we’re seeing as more cast members rotate in and out, or was this the plan from the beginning?
Martin: I think it was always meant to be a dark comedy. But they really do play it by ear, so I guess we’ll see if we get another season, and who sticks around.
Crushable: Your character on the show is a screenwriter who is always talking about the phoniness of Hollywood bullshit. Roman might actually be the most cynical member of the entire ensemble, if that’s possible. Do you see a lot of yourself in that character?
Martin: I mean, I grew up out here … and there was a point where I quit (acting) and got a tattoo. I went through my own realizations about the industry, but I don’t think it’s nearly as cynical as Roman’s on the show. But the part was written so well that I didn’t really have to figure much out besides understand that perspective, which isn’t that difficult.
Crushable: I remember hearing when you were in Adventureland that you were writing a script with (Michael Cera‘s ex) Charlyne Yi. Are you doing any writing projects now?
Martin: Yeah, I’m still writing with her…hold on, I’m buying a milkshake.