Alex Karpovsky's begrudgingly sentimental and ever-exasperated Ray Ploshansky is the no frills coffee-slinging character on "Girls," who found himself talking the husband-to-be of the girl he loves out of ditching the wedding in this season's premiere. The 40-year-old Newton, MA native calls us from Los Angeles just as this season heats up. We chat about when the HBO series goes off-script, his scenes with Andrew Rannells and whether or not Ray is still in love with Marnie.
Do you think Ray is the only true romantic on the show?
I think actually think Marnie is a romantic, too. But Ray, he has some idea in his mind and the notion of Marnie fueled that specific idea, but that idea is very narrow with a crumbly foundation.
So is he really in love with Marnie (Allison Williams) because in that first episode we watch him talk Desi back into getting married.
I think in many ways he sees [her as] an outcast — someone who has been ostracized to some degree and is trying very desperately to rectify her situation. Being an outsider himself, he sees her as having determination and has weird respect. And I think there’s a physical component. Marni is the girl he was never able to get in high school and he’s been negotiating his past in many ways. It gives him a source of shallow fulfillment and victory to an extent.
Elijah starts working at Ray’s coffee shop and that relationship has become one of my favorites of the new season. What’s it been like filming with Andrew Rannells?
He’s one of my favorite characters on the show and I’ve been hoping to have more scenes with him. As a performer, I think Andrew is just an incredible improviser and we’ll do a little on the show and it’s fun and wacky.
Is a large portion of “Girls” improvised?
It’s hard to put a number on it and a lot of it is rooted in how well the day is going. If we’re making good time, we’ve earned a little play time and can goof around, but the show is shot in the city so when it’s summer and hot, people have short fuses when cars and trucks are slowing us down. We’ll like to play around with Lena if we have some extra time though.
What’s the plan with Ray this season? He’s on Community Board, he’s single, he’s expanded the coffee shop.
Over the years, Ray's had different forums and outlets to unleash his anger, ideologies and misguided convictions. In Season 4, he’s expressing himself through politics, and Season 5, he’s getting that part of his personality across as a small business owner.
Ray might be the oldest friend in this friend group — do you think that’s shaped him at all?
I think it’s put some of his more extreme and unsavory characteristics in a sharper perspective. He’s already cynical and judgmental and when he interacts with people that are 10 years younger than him, those things are brought more into focus to a degree and he can become more self-aware. It’s mostly a step toward growth.