Ghosts: Asher Grodman on Trevor’s Pantless Afterlife

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Trevor has found himself in an peculiar predicament. On Ghosts, CBS’ new supernatural comedy, the Wall Street mogul died without his pants on — which means he will spend the rest of eternity plantless. Fortunately, he isn’t the only one who died under unusual circumstances; he’s just one of a handful of ghosts who lives in the mansion and its sprawling property, which was recently inherited by Sam and her husband Jay. But now that Sam has recently developed an ability to see them, all of Trevor’s dreams may have just come true.

Speaking to CBR, Ghosts star Asher Grodman introduced Trevor and his acquired tastes. He addressed Trevor’s pantless demise and what it’s like to film a show wearing only half of a costume. He stressed the importance of the ensemble, describing the group as its own character, and broke down the bond between Trevor and the other ghosts. He also praised the writing, described what it’s like to be walked through as a ghost, teased flashbacks to their untimely demises and more.

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CBR: Tell me a little about how you got involved in Ghosts. What did the audition process look like for you?

Asher Grodman: So, you know, pilot season is pilot season. Although the industry is scrambling to cast however many pilots are getting made in the January/February time of year. This is in the before times, before we lived in the post-COVID world. So I was running around and auditioning for shows, but when I read this one, I knew this one was different. I knew this one was special, and I’ve been doing this for a little bit. But it was so funny. It was so creative. There was so much going on. I truly could not imagine where it would go next. There were just so many different places it could go.

So it was my second of two auditions. The other one was for another CBS show, actually, and the audition went like two hours over. So I called my agents afterwards, like, “I’m running really late. I’m so sorry!” and ran over there. Then, actually, while I was waiting — this is unnecessary information, but for me, it’s a great story — I’m a huge West Wing fan, and it just so happened that when I got to the casting office, Josh Malina was there, from the West Wing. It was just he and I in this room, and I told him that I’m obsessed with the show and he flipped me this West Wing coin, which I have carried with me since then. So there was a good omen there!

But I went in and did a tape for Trevor and the thing about the sides, the scenes, they were so funny. I didn’t have to do anything. I just don’t get in the way of what the writers wrote. So then that happened; I didn’t hear anything for a little bit. It never really felt like pilots — like pilots don’t happen! There’s so many obstacles! They never happen! So I was really hoping to get this guest star that I was auditioning for the time for another show, and my agents were like, “No, no, no! This thing could actually happen!” I was like, “This is never gonna happen.”

Lo and behold, they called me for a test. I got to meet the Joes over Zoom and they were fantastic. I met our director Trent O’Donnell over Zoom and then did a few passes at it. Then a waiting game happens of seeing if we would survive the studio test and the network test, and we did remarkably. I think I found out at like 11 o’clock on like a Thursday or something and I was screaming through the streets in Tribeca, jumping for joy.

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Introduce me to Trevor. If you were taking him out to hang out with your friends, what would you tell them about him?

Trevor is down for a good time. He’s just always down for a good time. He’s funny, but also a lot of his humor derives from pushing people’s buttons and stirring stuff up. I personally think — I’m playing the guy so I have a soft spot — I personally think there’s a puppy side to him that just is always looking to play, no matter what it is.

But he’s definitely got some old ideas about particularly women, and some of that stuff… Trevor would not do very well in today’s world, let’s put it that way. But he is looking for a good time. The other thing is that those he is friends with, he is like a brother to them. He’s got some people in this ensemble especially that he’s very close to and he’s very loyal in that way.

Which aspect of Trevor’s character do you relate to the most and why?

I think the kind of puppy dog, just trying to get a rise out of people is something that I — like not necessarily making the joke, but enjoying saying something that’s gonna get people off-balance a little bit or get people to make fun of you. I think he’s constantly looking for connection and play, and I think I relate to that the most for sure.

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When I was watching the pilot, I couldn’t help but get a few Wolf of Wall Street vibes from him. What were some of your inspirations for your approach to the character?

You know, I went to school in New York at Columbia. So I went to school with some people who were not dissimilar to Trevor. But I think, honestly, it’s very easy in many ways, like the kind of rich, douchey Wall Street thing. The script kind of takes care of that for you in many ways, and then it’s trying to make him a person.

So then it comes down to, “Alright, how does this guy feel about these different things that he lives with, that he’s surrounded by for eternity?” So I think playing more in the relationship game is more fun for me.

I feel like we must also address the elephant in the room: Trevor is spending the afterlife without pants, which means you also spent most of your days filming without pants. What was that like? I hope it was warm on set!

Thank you so much. Someone’s finally asked about how I’m doing during all this process! [laughs]

Yes, set has been a very warm and very lovely, though we do shoot some exteriors. Most of our shooting has been over the summer. So the biggest problem has been the bugs. But if I could, I would definitely take frigid temperatures with no pants over hot summers and bugs with no pants.

I get these basketball tearaway pants that I get to wear, which is always a lot of fun to take them on and off. But the secret is actually taking them off well before we shoot, because otherwise you’re like jumping into an ice pool, and it’s the shock of it, and suddenly, like 500 people are watching you. So the key is taking them off early, which makes everyone around me uncomfortable, but me much more comfortable. So that’s the secret.

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What makes Trevor stand out from your previous roles in such projects as Succession, House of Cards and Elementary?

Besides from the fact that his outfit is missing… I think the fun that he has, on a daily basis. He’s having a lot more fun than those other people, especially in Succession — an incredible show, but a lot of the characters in that show are going through some rough times. So Trevor is having a lot of fun.

I think there’s something about our conceit of our show, that they’re trapped together for eternity, that you’re very involved and you can also kind of watch and enjoy. We’re such an ensemble show that the story isn’t always about Trevor, and he can kind of relish in other people’s difficulties, which you don’t often get in a television show.

Trevor is, like you said, part of a huge ensemble. What, aside from his pantlessness, makes Trevor stand out in that crowd?

Well, the most recently dead thing is certainly a big element. For me, that kind of translates into him being almost like the little brother of the group. It’s like everyone’s gonna go in one direction, and Trevor may go in another direction. Then it’ll be like, “Trevor! What are you doing? Get over here!” “Oh, okay.”

So I think he’s kind of like the little brother who you just have to keep an extra eye on in the group. There are a lot of things that people in the group have seen, because they’ve been here for so long, that Trevor hasn’t, which is why he gets the — I think a lot of the pilot is kind of through Trevor’s eyes, because this is so brand new to him. He’s experiencing it for the first time.

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Which other character would you say he has the most interesting dynamic with, and why?

I think the one that he’s closest to is Pete, because Pete understands maybe half the references that Trevor makes, while everyone else is like, “What’s a movie?”

But you know, he’s got a thing with Alberta because they’re both the partiers. I think he’s got a fun relationship with Thor, although Thor usually gets in the way of most of Trevor’s plans. He’s got some tension with Hetty, because I think Hetty’s view of the world — if Trevor is the future of high society, Hetty is not very happy with where society went. [laughs]

So that’s part of also having an ensemble, right, is that there’s these relationships that we have with everyone, and there are a lot of scenes where we kind of operate as one character. So I think, at the end of the day, everyone’s strongest relationship is to the group as a whole, if that makes any sense.

What does Trevor make of the fact that Sam, a living, is now in the mix as well?

Well, first of all, I mean, this is not going to be a deep answer at all, unfortunately, but ever since he’s been in this house, he has been watching the daily events of this elderly woman, and then suddenly this 20s/30s-year-old, attractive girl walks into this house and Trevor is like, “This is the dream scenario.” Then somehow, she can see him!

I mean, if you’re Trevor and you see the world through Trevor’s eyes, this is like the greatest thing that could ever happen. I also think that there’s something about the same kind of positivity and what they’re trying to do, in terms of making this house this bed and breakfast, that’s just a lot of fun. So the entertainment factor for Trevor is very high. I’ll say that.

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The ghosts all have the ability to walk through solid objects, and to be walked through by living people, on occasion. What did that process look like for you behind the scenes?

Yeah, there’s a little dance of like, “Okay, do it now,” with moving objects or something. “Do it, but now do it behind the cup. Okay, now do it over the cup. Okay, great. Now do it without the cup. Now actually touch the cup. Okay, don’t touch the cup now. Now do it, just don’t extend your finger out.” So there’s this is whole dance, and the VFX work on this show, that whole team is incredible. Things are possible with a green screen that you could never even imagine.

We do a lot of really, really cool stuff there, and then it’s up to us figuring out, “Okay, what does it mean when someone walks through you? What does it look like when you move an object? How do we relate to the living world, and make that something physical?”, which is a lot of fun.

What is one character or scene you just cannot wait for viewers to see?

I will stay very vague, but there are moments particularly with other characters in the show, where you learn how people got a certain way. Part of the fun of our show is that we are kind of forever doing prequels, and so to figure out, “How did we get here?” with these characters, I think is so much fun. Our cast is incredible. Everyone in the show is a dream come true. They’re wonderful people. Then the scripts let them stretch in different ways, and I’m like, “Oh my God. I didn’t know that they could do that. I don’t know they can do this!” So the surprises of how each actor is going to get to play is something very exciting.

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Outside of Ghosts, you’ve been an acting instructor for college students and for inmates. How has that impacted your approach to your career?

You know, I think there’s a lot about being an actor that becomes very amorphous, aside from the fact that it’s very hard to do alone. It’s very much a team sport. If you were building a table, you could start building the table, and then you could kind of look at it and be like, “Oh, okay, I overshot here. I changed this over here.” You’re kind of always oriented and, in acting, you’re never oriented, because the only person you could never see act as yourself. You could watch playback, and maybe see some moments, but you may not be able to clock what you were feeling or thinking at that particular moment. So there’s a lot of trust that goes into it.

When I started to teach, a lot of the kind of mystery of it — I should say, a lot of the disorientation of it suddenly got oriented, because you prioritize, “Okay, so what’s important here, and what are the things that are not important here?” What I found, at least in a lot of actor training, is that a lot of things that aren’t that important end up getting a lot of attention in acting school. So then it’s about saying, “Alright, a lot of people are saying you’ve got to run five miles, but maybe you just need to take five steps to the left.” Usually, those things have to do with prioritizing story over character — or I should say, story over your character or your emotion. It’s usually about prioritizing the team over the individual.

Ghosts airs Thursdays at 9 pm ET/PT on CBS.

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