Life in high school feels awkward at various stages for everyone, and none more so than showcased in MTV’s comedy series AWKWARD. It has illustrated the horrible, embarrassing and nail-biting insecurities of teenagers, as well as the absurd and more-often-than-not funny side-effects of trying to navigate high school in the digital era. So embracing the funny and highlighting the comedic underbelly of it all, MTV’s AWKWARD has rewarded fans with the adventures, shenanigans and triumphs of Jenna (Ashley Rickards), Matty (Beau Mirchoff), Tamara (Jillian Rose Reed), Jake (Brett Davern), Sadie (Molly Tarlov) and their high school friends and foes. Falling somewhere in the midst is Cole (Monty Geer), the cheeky teen who uses wit both as amor and a foil and who can be trusted to do just about anything.
To find out a bit more about Cole and the role he plays in the AWKWARD world, in an exclusive interview, star Monty Geer previewed what is upcoming in Season 5 and what other escapades are on the horizon.
What first inspired you to join the AWKWARD world and what attracted you to the role of Cole?
MONTY: I first heard about the show through my manager who is also repping Beau [Mirchoff]. He was always talking to me about AWKWARD even though I never watched it. Then I got an audition for it and I started watching it and just loved it, and I really wanted to the role of Cole because of the complete freedom I have with him. Cole is such a wild and crazy character, and at times the showrunners let me do anything I want. That’s just an amazing thing. Cole is a character that would do anything, so I cannot ever really break character if I do something wacko. Like for the audition, I came in and put my feet on the casting director’s table right on top of notebook papers and headshots. But that was the character. He’s totally free. I just love that.
What’s coming up for Cole? What fun things will he be embarking on in Season 5?
MONTY: We do all the Senior Year stuff. We have Prom, which is a big thing because we end up going to Prom — but we do our own spin on it. My clothes are always a favorite in AWKWARD and I think for Prom, I wear this leopard-print suit with short pants. Then there’s an episode of Senior Year Pranks and we do something huge for that. There’s pranks with the yearbooks. And Cole gets a boyfriend. That’s a big moment for Cole.
What can you share about Cole’s new boyfriend? Where do they meet?
MONTY: He’s just in the show. They do not have a meeting point. I imagine that they met at some crazy indie-band concert and there was only four people in the audience, so they just were banging their heads to this weird music.
That big Senior Prank coming up, any light you can shed on that?
MONTY: Everyone tries to do their own prank and everyone is so bored with everyone’s prank. Like Tamara just has everyone fall asleep in the hallway and they are like, “This is terrible.” So everyone is trying to out-prank each other. But the best one is by yours truly.
So Cole is confident he can out-prank everyone else then.
MONTY: Yeah, definitely. Throughout the whole season everyone has their own special agenda.
Do you ever work with the writers to spitball ideas about what Cole might be up to?
MONTY: Yeah. Actually, I’m interested in writing to. I don’t like to pitch myself much, but I’m more into learning about their writing process. They do a lot of research at high schools and stuff, which is really cool, and then they write up based on real high schoolers they meet — people who are really awkward and crazy. We definitely have more creative freedom on set, like one of our directors is Peter Lauer and he is always like, “What do you guys want to do?” And we’ll be like, “We’ll climb this tree in the background or be spinning on these chairs.” But the writers are so good.
Since the writers are inspired based on the real world, what do you think they are getting right about teenagers today?
MONTY: As a side-topic, Theo (Evan Crooks) and Cole are based on the showrunner’s partner and best friend. So they are based on real people. That’s just a cool little tidbit. But I think everyone can relate to the Matty-Jenna story. Trying to date at that time in your life is so hard and you have such strong emotions at that age and it is all so hard to work out. So that part is something I think everyone can relate to — especially breaking up with someone and what that feels like when you have to see them all the time and see them with other people. Matty is always with other girls. I can’t imagine how that makes Jenna feel looking through the other lens. Also, the show is really current on the technology stories. Kids today have access through their phones constantly to Twitter and social media. It’s just a different generation than what has previously been around where everything that they do is more effected because news travels fast. Like if Jenna has something embarrassing happen to her, everyone knows in seconds. So everything is a lot more heightened because of it.
I worry about teens today who post everything on social media and how when they try to go get a job, everything about their lives are out there.
MONTY: Yeah, definitely. I feel people are too involved with their social media. Like I love going to concerts, but I hate how people film the concert the whole time. They are not really seeing the concert; they are only seeing it through their phone. It’s a totally different experience. Like a lot of people’s memories are just not complete. They are just looking into this little box so they can record it and take pictures and they are not really experiencing the moment. Your memory is a better picture than what you put up on Instagram. It’s not about what people think about you, it’s about having the most fun while you can while you are experiencing it.
On the show, who is the biggest crack up to work with?
MONTY: Everyone is so funny. But I think my favorite to work with is Wesam Keesh, who plays Kyle, just because how he says things. His jokes are very Kyle-esque. It is so dark. He will walk up to you “dead face” and jokingly say, “I killed a dog today.” And you’re like, “What?!” And he’s like, “Yeah, I was really hungry and I didn’t know what to do. I could have gone to McDonalds, but I say this dog and ate it.” He’ll just tell you some crazy story that is just so twisted and dark. He has a really original sense of humor that I like a lot. Then Brett sings songs to people all the time. He gets out the guitar and makes up songs, which is great. And Molly has such a dark sense of humor too that you don’t know if she’s joking or not. But just everyone is super funny on the show.
Do you have a go-to thing that helps keep things light for you when you’re working on the show?
MONTY: Honestly, it is just the atmosphere. The show is so fun. The crew is really fun. It’s never really a stressful time. We shoot really fast and everyone is really happy to be there. And the material — I like it a lot. It’s not like we’re doing some super depressing or poorly-written show. The jokes on our show are funny and everyone is happy to be there. And because our cast is so big, we’re always just hanging out and eating all the snacks. So the whole atmosphere is generally light even when we’re shooting for 14 hours. There’s always something cool going on on-set.
What do you think you have learned from this experience? What as an actor have you really benefitted from working on AWKWARD?
MONTY: Because we shoot so fast, we’ll spend an hour trying to do one scene but you only get a couple takes to do your close-ups. So sometimes you might not get the perfect performance you want. But later when you’re watching the show, you’ll see that the hour that you worked on for a scene ends up being like one second in the actual series. So I just kind of learned to accept whatever I do in the moment and usually that is my strongest performance. So I don’t feel like I have to hit these lines and conform to this perfect image that I have to be this character. It’s just whatever I am, it is what it is. So letting go of this perfect expectation I have or this feeling of “this is how I have to be to deliver this line,” that’s probably one of the best things I have learned.
You are also currently working on “The Adventures of Sam Wolf” and “Adam Ruins Everything.” What can you share about those projects?
MONTY: I just finishing shooting those a couple days ago. “The Adventures of Sam Wolf” was really fun. We shot it up in the redwoods. I had never been there before. The trees are like 1,500 years old, which is nuts. So that was amazing. And it’s a drama. It’s about my character and his brother and the brother lives in a fantasyland and my character always makes fun of him for being so different because he loves plants. My character is the science guy and he has these intense scars on his eyes. So I was in the make-up chair for two hours a day and sometimes four hours a day. They would put glue on my eyes, which I hated that experience. I didn’t like the prosthetics stuff. But I grew as an actor playing this character. It was part 1 of a series. There are going to be a couple of them and eventually they will try to do a whole feature of it. It’s kind of a superhero-esque type show and I played kind of the Magneto type character and the brother is like Professor Xavier, where he is trying to save everyone, and my character is just trying to help science. It was a really fun experience. Then I shot “Adam Ruins Everything” immediately after that. I had to fly straight from Eureka to this other thing on the same day. It’s a show by Adam Conover produced by CollegeHumor. It’s sketches online, which got like 6 million views. It came out a couple months ago and it blew up really big. Some of the online skits are about how some characters are getting married and Adam comes up and talks about how engagement rings are totally worthless because diamonds are only so expensive because they hold back diamonds and only release a few at a time and that’s how they keep the price so high. So he just breaks down all these facts that no one wants to learn about. And my episode is about a guy who buys a car and how the term jaywalking was invented by the car industry and a bunch of other stuff that no one knows about.
What are you doing in the future? Are you going to stick with AWKWARD or are you pursuing other things?
MONTY: It might be the last season for AWKWARD. We told everyone it was, but the showrunners might want to do another season and so do we. So it is whatever MTV wants if we do another one. But if it orders more, I’d love to do more. It’s also whatever other shows come my way. I also write a lot. I’ve been working on a pilot that my writing partner and I wrote. I’d love to do my own show, like an IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY kind of thing where I can write and act in it.
If you could sit down and chat with Cole, what would be your advice to him?
MONTY: I’d tell him to: “Chill out.” He’s so angry at the time. He hates conforming to society. I’m okay with not accepting rules, but he needs to relax a bit about it. He’s always yelling and stressing, even if it is kind of an act for him. That’s the main thing: “Don’t be so mad at life.”
To see what crazy pranks go down and just what Cole is wearing to Prom, not to mention who his new boyfriend is, be sure to check out the Season 5 premiere of AWKWARD on Monday, August 31st at 9:00 p.m. on MTV — and be on the look out for his guest appearance in “Adam Ruins Everything” and “The Adventures of Sam Wolf.”