Interview: Jeremy Sisto talks ‘Suburgatory,’ being wacky and indie film

Jeremy Sisto seems to be one of those genuinely nice, normal guys who, while common in the real world, are like ridiculously rare in Hollywood. So it’s fitting that he’s been playing nice, normal George on “Suburgatory,” which has a two-part season finale tonight (Wed. April 17 at 8:00 p.m.). A while back I had a chance to visit the set and talk to Sisto about the show, George’s relationships with Tessa and Dallas, and why he’s looking forward to playing something other than George for a while. 

Is it as weird to you as it is to most of us to see that Dallas and George make a really cute, mostly happy couple?

Its weird, yeah. George is an interesting guy. In some ways; he’s really uncomplicated. He’s pretty uncomplicated with his relationship with Dallas. Maybe because she’s so crazy that somehow centers him. He doesn’t feel very tormented one way or the other. He doesn’t feel ambivalent one way or the other. He’s taking it day by day. It’s just real natural for him. Her, she’s used to big gifts and the ups and downs and the big gestures of love. And George is not the big gesturer of love. There are rich guys like her ex-husband, I’m sure, who after he would cheat on her and lie to her, then spend on some lavish trip, so she’s used to those kind of things. She’s not used to someone just wanting to hang out with her all of the time. 

But she’s seeing the advantages of having a non-gesturing, normal guy. 

She forgets that toward the end of the season. She really starts to question how strong my feeling are for her. She starts to question if they’ll ever amount to what he felt for his ex-wife, Tessa’s mom, and just how much he loves her. If it’s a temporary thing, even if they’re moving in together, is it a temporary thing. I think she feels like he’s like a roommate in a way. I’m not sure what’s happening inside her, but she definitely starts to lean away from the relationship. From what I can glean with my conversations with the writers, I don’t know if they’re going to break up or what…

Aw, no! They’re so cute together! 

Also, he gets her. He gets her ridiculousness, is always surprised by it, He makes her laugh. Sometimes she makes jokes, and her jokes sound exactly like her not-jokes, and I think that’s fun for him. I think he loves it.

As George has spent more time with Dallas, I feel he’s spent less with Tessa [Jane Levy]. 

At the beginning of the season, he said this is the new George and I’m not gonna get in your business, and he really hasn’t. So our story lines have stayed pretty separate. I think something happens towards the end with us. It might end with her wanting to live with her mother or grandmother. 

They really seem to be growing apart. 

The season was fairly sanguine, at least with us. Me and Dallas were both in love, she was kind of falling for Ryan [Parker Young] Noah [Alan Tudyk], on the other hand, his family starts falling apart. He falls in love with the nanny. But our season was filled with constant hijinks and there were a couple moments of stuff that was really difficult, like the mom coming back into play, that ultimately were very successful because George wanted to show his daughter he was being a good dad. Doing really well at that. 

It seems that, in trying to be a good dad, George isn’t really noticing what’s going on with Tessa, which is surprising given that she’s dating Ryan.

It’s almost like I’m just not aware of it. It’s like I’m not aware of her relationship with Ryan. Maybe I’m putting it out of my mind, but there’s been nothing, no kind of, it’s like living with a roommate and not really being super involved. Although that’s not a really good thing.

Still, if there’s a teenager you want to trust, it’s Tessa. 

She is mature, yeah. She knows she can come to me, but she’s an adult.

And yet, she’s not truly an adult, as much as she acts like one. 

Her actually having sex, which she hasn’t done yet, that’s got to be something, I imagine.

We have to think she’s going to have sex with Ryan. 

Well, they have a bit of an issue. He’s going off to college. They’re trying to work out if they can be together, and something happens. I would like more stuff with George and Tessa. I feel like it’s a great part of the show and it hasn’t been used that much this season. 

[Alan Tudyk lifts his shirt nearby]. Seems like this is a fun place to work.

[Laughing] It’s fun. But only when reporters are around. 

How difficult has it been to find the right tone for this show? As George and Tessa get drawn deeper into life in Chatswin, it’s seemed to veer toward the wacky side sometimes. 

This season has been a little bit, how do you say it, episodic. That’s probably the wrong word. There’s been some wacky thing in most of the episodes. I personally don’t think the show needs too much of that. I think at it’s core it has great characters. But you can have that and still it’s fine.

Wacky does make for great promos. 

There’s a sense of trying to pull people to it. There’s a challenge of trying to find the right tone. It’s an ongoing thing. Sometimes I feel like I go a little too far, and I have to pull back. George goes off the reservation some times. He gets obsessed with something, I think he did that maybe five times in the first season. Mainly, that’s what it is. And the other side is, Dallas and Noah as wacky as they are, they have real feelings underneath. 

Your hiatus is coming up. Any plans?

My first paid writing gig. It’s freaky, to finally get there. And I have a movie I’m desperately trying to get made, been trying to get made for a couple of years. I might direct, I might star, but I co-wrote the story. So it’s hard to get these little movies made now. It was always hard, though. And I’m auditioning. I hope to get something. It’s a long season, so if I don’t get something, I’ve got to join a class or do a play just to play character other than George for a while. Every now and then I start doing some weird choice as George, and I say, uh-oh, I need to play another character!