Interview: Lou Taylor Pucci on Bringing the Comedy and Empathy of Tyler to Life in ‘Physical’

Physical is a dark comedy set in sunny 1980’s San Diego following Sheila Rubin (Rose Byrne), a tortured housewife grappling with personal demons that often take dark turns into the psyche of her mental health. While the show challenges the representation of mental and physical health on screen from the female-led production team with showrunner Annie Weisman and director Stephanie Laing, there are also characters in Sheila’s world that hope to bring comedy, joy and empathy to the story.

One of these characters is Tyler, played by Lou Taylor Pucci. In our conversation below, Lou discusses how he embraced the role of comedic relief in a series with deeply intense themes, but he also appreciated the opportunity to be himself in a role that he had manifested and hoped would come to him, and that is exactly what Tyler was for Lou.

You can read the full conversation with Lou and how he built the character of Tyler to fit into the San Diego landscape of the show as well as with his relationships to the rest of the cast.

Hi this is Danny Jarabek here with the Awards Radar and I’m fortunate to be talking with Lou Taylor Pucci who plays Tyler on the Apple TV+ series Physical. Lou, how are you doing today? I’m very excited to be chatting with you. 

Lou: So good, so good. How are you doing, man? I’m wonderful. 

I’m great. I’ve talked to a few of your colleagues as part of this show and I would love to hear from you just your perspective on what about this show and what about the script from the creators, Annie, the director, Stephanie, what about all of the environment of this show were you drawn to from the beginning that made you want to be a part of it? 

Lou: I appreciated them including me. Seriously, this is a women’s show and it’s made by women. It’s sort of for women, I guess, but it’s for everybody. I was just happy that they saw basically Tyler has to be so sincere and he’s the only good guy in the entire story who treats women like people rather than some lesser being or somebody who doesn’t know anything. So, Tyler is like this male angel of the story. I’m just happy that they saw that in me because I got to portray that on screen and it was really, really nice to show that there are good people and good dudes out there who don’t treat women poorly. 

Yeah, absolutely. As you mentioned, this is a show that, through and through, the vision from the onset was telling this from a female perspective, and many of the men in this show have very much another agenda regarding how they’re approaching the relationships with women in their lives. But something I love about Tyler from the beginning is that he’s so genuine. He cares deeply about the people in his life. How did you start to build that character and how did you want Tyler to have these strong relationships with the people in his life? 

Lou: It’s hard to say because, in some ways, sometimes a character just finds you and you’re right for it. It’s even funny talking to you on the phone, my voice has become Tyler again. It’s really weird. I’m like a surfer, dude. I don’t actually talk like that. I don’t know why that happened. But when my brain goes into it, I turn into that guy. I think the coolest part about him is that he’s, in some ways, the comic relief. He’s the breath of fresh air, him and Della [Saba] (Bunny). We get to come in there and save the day when everything’s going a little bit too down and intense, because this really is an intense story. The perspective that Rose is coming from, she’s looked down on herself her entire life. Everyone has added to that around her. She has no confidence, and this whole thing is about her building confidence and becoming who she finally becomes with her business and just becoming a completely successful person who trusts and believes in herself. So, I feel like I got to be the fun and doing a part that where you just get to come in and be fun, it’s the most genuinely fun thing to do, so my job was not a job. It just felt like absolute fun every single time I came on because it was really just about, how do we make this more funny? And how do we make this more exciting to watch? Our scenes were just the most fun.

With some of the other cast and crew on this show that I’ve talked to, we had conversations about how intense some of the subject material is and difficult to portray and talk about. That’s what this show really challenges. But I love hearing from you too, there’s so much fun in this series as well especially in your relationship with Bunny, played by Della Saba. I would love to get your insight on that and how you work together, how you built this relationship with Della and the bond between Tyler and Bunny that we see from basically the beginning of the show and it just continues to strengthen throughout. 

Lou: Totally. We also had to see the side of it where we’re very co-dependent. Bunny and Tyler need each other. They make each other better. And without each other, I think they would both be very, very lost. They complete the puzzle for each person. One’s flaws outweigh and are totally compatible with the other persons. They’re the coolest couple, but they have problems. So much of the funny in their relationship comes from Bunny’s complete rage. Her ability to go off and not care who she’s talking to or what she’s saying, she’s just yelling her truth or being her truth. I am the perfect combination because I am so passive and so chill and just would not honestly raise my voice ever, so I think they’re a perfect comedy duo. 

Of course you have this really strong bond with Bunny from the beginning, but so many of the major things that happen really challenge that relationship too and there’s ups and downs. There’s moments when the two of you are even just struggling to get by, finding a place to stay. 

Lou: Oh my god, yeah exactly. That’s the thing is they’re in constant conflict, but right now that’s where the comedy comes from. It’s just how they deal with each other. 

I also want to ask too, because one other cast member who I had a conversation about this was Deirdre, who plays Greta. 

Lou: She’s incredible.

Absolutely, she’s amazing. Part of our conversation was how she is the main supporter to Sheila. She is Sheila’s number one cheerleader, but your relationship to Sheila is much different. Again, very up and down, very much a rollercoaster ride, and especially going into season two when Tyler’s character begins to evolve a little bit more, he gets a little bit more information. That relationship to Sheila as the protagonist here really changes. How did you approach that in your relationship to Rose’s character?

Lou: Well, honestly, I think for me it was about not playing it too sad. But seriously, Tyler is so saddened by that whole experience. It’s almost like losing his mom. The way that I created his character, he had a horrible, horrible home life where his mother married another dude after his father left and that other dude was just a stepfather from hell, like an authority, policeman type character, so my mom took his side on everything. Tyler’s a guy without a mom and without a dad and so this woman comes into his life who is probably his mom’s age and becomes this mom figure to him, she loves his art and just builds him up and needs him and he’s never been needed, all he’s been doing is editing porn videos in his basement for dollars. She is his angel. This woman is like the perfect woman. I feel like his sadness is just growing and growing throughout that whole second season because he’s really seeing how flawed and evil she can be. So, I think he has to take the bull by the horns and go, you know, we need to karmic retribute this situation ourselves. We need to take the reins and get revenge on this lady because she’s crazy. She’s knows too much shit. 

That’s really cool to hear from your perspective, too. I’ve asked about your relationship to a couple of the characters here, to Bunny, to Rose Byrne and Sheila, but what about you and Rory Scovel, who are the two male counterparts to two of our strong female characters here? How did you two work together? 

Lou: In general, it’s just so friggin’ fun. I mean, I couldn’t believe the level he was able to play because he is such a nice guy and so sensitive to other people’s needs and wants and so he’s just playing the exact opposite of himself but he’s an improv artist, an improv comedian, and so working with him is just constant comedy. 

I can imagine. This series is set in 80s San Diego, they do a very, very detailed-oriented job of building out this world and building out these sets. How did you fit into that world and becoming the surfer guy in that sphere? 

Lou: I think I just got super lucky because this is a strange thing to say, but this is what actually happened. About two years before this part came through, I had done one of those manifest things where you write down what you actually want in life and what you want to find and what you want to come toward you. I wrote down the most specific things that were really silly. I wanted to be working on a new platform, with somebody who’s making newer content because then they won’t be on the directors back and the director will really be able to make something that’s good for the world and I want to play a character who is super chill, just fun, being myself and natural because it’s probably the hardest thing to do and I never get to have fun, and well, I want it to be in the 80s I want to sit in the 80s or like a sci-fi or something like that. Then all this stuff comes to me two years later and I don’t even notice it. I’m doing an audition as you would and once I got the part, I just realized, holy shit, this is it. This is exactly what I asked for. It’s kind of crazy. I got to do that for three years. So, I don’t remember your question at all anymore.

Well, I think that is maybe a better answer to any question I could have asked, so I really appreciate that honesty. This show continues to grow season three I know is coming and I’m sure you can’t share too much, but is there anything that you would love to see for Tyler’s character in the future? 

Lou: I just want Bunny and Tyler to be happy together. They’re always fighting. And I think that they need that where some people just live in those relationships where it needs that passion, that excitement, even if it’s rage, you know, it’s crazy. But I just want them to be peacefully happy together. 

Absolutely, I hope so too and I personally can’t wait to see season three and see how all of this continues to unfold. I’m a big fan of the show, a big fan of your character. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today and I really appreciate everything that you brought to Tyler and this conversation getting a little bit more insight on it. 

Lou: Yeah, thank you so much for watching the show and everything. I didn’t get your name. What’s your name? 


Lou: Danny, nice to meet you, Danny. I really appreciate that. Thanks for asking cool questions. And it’s funny talking about this stuff sometimes, I haven’t talked about it in months and then it all comes back and I’m talking like a surfer again. 

I love that. Well, thank you so much again and I hope you have a great rest of your day. Congratulations on this show and I hope to continue watching in the future.

Lou: All right, later brother.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.


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Written by Danny Jarabek

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