Gary Carr, who plays C.C. on HBO’s The Deuce, says it’s important to look at the character’s humanity, even though what he does for a living may be difficult to watch. Season 2 of the sex industry drama is currently under way, and it has brought with it plenty of changes, including a short jump forward in time and a greater emphasis on the show’s many female characters. That change means more time spent seeing the world created by David Simon and George Pelecanos through the eyes of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Candy or Emily Meade’s Lori. The latter often goes hand in hand with Carr’s character, and in only two episodes so far this season, their relationship dynamic has already begun to change.
The changes in C.C.’s relationship with Lori begins to show the cracks in his otherwise ostentatiously dressed facade. In other words, there is a newfound vulnerability seen in the character, one that is at times meant to be a source of levity for the series and at other times it represents a chance to show C.C.’s humanity and the complexity of the role.
In a recent interview with Screen Rant, Carr discussed the importance of presenting C.C. as a complex individual, even though his chosen profession involves the exploitation of others for financial gain. Understanding the character and his appeal is key to Carr’s performance, a lot of which, he says, is readily apparent in the show’s scripts.
“For me a lot of it is already on the page. I always wanted to just see C.C -- as well as every character I've played -- a human being. He does these things that are unpleasant, but these women still want to be around him and work with him. I always liked him having layers, and I love that there are so many wonderful moments with C.C. I love playing that complexity.”
Carr also spoke to the new season’s emphasis on its female characters and the idea of empowerment and feminism in the late ‘70s, especially in the sex industry.
“I think the show is a great education for people. The idea was, there's so much judgement attached to someone like C.C. and being a pimp. And one of the things about the [subject of the] show is that it's actually a business and a lot of people have agency. The show has given agency back to a lot of people who didn't have a voice before. That side of the industry has been highlighted a lot more and in the correct way. David [Simon] is being very true to the era and that time. There's a lot happening in terms of empowerment and equal rights.”
Carr's role is one of the most captivating in an impressive ensemble, and so far this season, C.C. is getting more screen time, which means viewers are seeing him deal with the changes happening as a result Lori’s stardom, something that’s a threat to his bottom line. So far, The Deuce has subverted some of the expectations of what C.C.’s reactions might be, and instead of seeing him only railing against the notion of change, the situation has been met with a mixture of humor and vulnerability. You may not completely like C.C. and what he does or what he stands for, but, like Carr says, that’s part of what makes the character and the series great to watch.
“Having those moments makes [C.C.] more human. We see those moments across the board with a bunch of different characters. That's why the show is so well written. I feel that way about a lot of the characters, in the way that the guy might be abusive in a certain scene, but you want to see these people more because there's so much depth to them. And those lighter moments are very important to a guy like C.C. It allows him to be more complex and interesting. It's really great that his story with Lori is so funny, you really do feel like they're a team, and you're only going to see him in that vulnerable state in front of her and no one else. It's a different story when there're other people in the mix. Something about him and Lori, where he's vulnerable in front of her, that's really fantastic to watch.”
The Deuce continues next Sunday with ‘The Principle Is All’ @9pm on HBO.