TV

Why “Love, Victor” Star Anthony Keyvan Is “a Little Bit Team Rahim”

"He never meant to get in between Victor and Benji."

Spoilers ahead for Love, Victor Season 2

Hulu’s Love, Victor is back for a second season with a fabulous new addition to the cast: Anthony Keyvan, who plays the fabulous Rahim, a gay classmate of Victor (played by Michael Cimino) and Benji’s (George Sear).

With his colorful outfits, nail polish, and love for karaoke, Rahim shows Victor what it’s like to live life out and proud. The two start out as friends, but as they grow closer, Rahim poses a threat to #Venji. The season ends on a cliffhanger, with viewers left to wonder if Victor picked Benji or Rahim.

Keyvan spoke with NewNowNext about playing Rahim, including how he originally auditioned for Victor, what it was like filming that epic gay bar scene, and if he thinks Victor and Rahim should be more than friends.

Greg Gayne/Hulu
From left: Michael Cimino and Anthony Keyvan in Love, Victor Season 2.

So, you were my favorite addition to the new season. How did you become involved with the project?

I originally auditioned for the show back when it was just a pilot and they were just developing the series. So I auditioned for Season 1 for the role of Victor, and I ended up testing for it and it was between me, Michael [Cimino], and I think one other guy, but ended up not getting it, which is for the best. I think Michael is amazing, and I don’t think anyone else could have played Victor as well as he could. But I kind of thought I was just going to cut my losses and never be a part of the show. Lo and behold, I was on set for another project that I was doing, Genera+ion for HBO Max, and my manager called and he said that casting was gearing up for Season 2 [of Love, Victor] and they were really interested in me because of my history with them from the previous year for this role. And when I saw the breakdown for the role, it was perfect for me: 16 years old, Iranian American. That’s the first time I’d ever seen a breakdown that said Iranian American before. I’ve always been playing characters that are not accurately representing myself ethnically.

Did the showrunners ever explain why they wanted an Iranian character specifically?

They never explained why they wanted it specifically that. I like to think it’s because they love me so much. [Laughs] But I think the showrunners and the entire team just wanted to expand that idea of coming out as a person who’s not white. And I think it was the perfect way to segue into another realm of people, people of the Muslim heritage, which I think is really cool that we get to tell that story now.

What was it like joining the cast? From a viewer’s perspective, it seems like the cast is pretty close.

I remember my first day on set for Episode 2. I was really nervous to show up and be there because I knew how close the cast was from Season 1. And it’s always nerve-wracking, coming on to a show as a guest and entering yourself in that dynamic and seeing how that works. But everyone pretty much welcomed me with open arms, and I couldn’t have asked for a better cast to be a part of. I’m literally roommates with one of my castmates now. We’re very close. So it was really awesome to see how in such a short amount of time, how close we got, because I hang out with the cast every day, almost.

Rahim is pretty fabulous. How did you prepare to play him? Was there a Spotify playlist you put on? What got you into the zone?

Yeah, actually. I was listening to a lot of music that I felt like Rahim would be listening to, like Slayyyter, Cobrah, and all of the queer girlies out there. But I really felt like I could get into character as soon as we started the wardrobe fittings and seeing the kind of clothes that Rahim would be rocking — really figuring out with the costume department what Rahim is and what he wants to wear.

Patrick Wymore/Hulu

I love the episode where you skipped school with Victor. The scene where you meet up with some guy from a hookup app at the coffee shop, and he says you’re not masculine enough for him…what was it like filming that scene?

It was interesting. My scene partner — Nicholas Hamilton, who’s an amazing actor — he’s the one who played the douchey guy who was rude to me. I talked to him about it because he’s openly gay, and he’s told me that this happens all the time. And then, he was able to kind of give some of his own examples. I also spoke with our writer and executive producer, Brian Cannon, who wrote that episode. And he explained to me that he wrote this because, in his words, “I wrote this because this has happened to me.” So we had a little chat and then I was able to do the scene.

What about the gay bar scene? I know you’re only 20, so I’m not sure if you’ve had any experiences in gay bars before.

Well, I have no experience in any kind of bars. So when I went in there, it was really, really cool. I really enjoyed it. Everyone was so happy and so excited to be there. And the go-go dancers were like actual dancers and they were just having the best time, and it just felt like a really fun environment. I had a blast shooting that episode.

What about the karaoke scene? Are you a karaoke partaker?

I’m half Filipino, so we love karaoke in my household. My grandmother literally brings her karaoke machine when she comes to our house. Yeah, I’m familiar with karaoke, but I’m not really familiar with recording music, which is what we had to do for that scene. So that was really interesting.

That was you singing?

Yeah, it was. It was me and Michael both singing. Michael has a musical background and I don’t, really, so I was really nervous for that. But I feel like it turned out pretty okay.

We need to talk about the wedding scene in the finale. First off, I love that white jacket.

Only Rahim would wear white at a wedding.

It looks so good. What was it like shooting that with Michael? Where were your thoughts about the Victor/Rahim relationship?

Well, I really love Rahim because from day one, he never meant to get in between Victor and Benji. He was always trying to just be the one to help Victor through his problems with Benji and be kind of that, for lack of a better word, shoulder to cry on. But things just kind of ended up happening the way that they happened. So I really feel for Rahim because you can’t control your feelings. But at the end of the day, I think shooting that scene, the whole sequence of the wedding was so important for Rahim in finding the confidence. He had just came out, and now he’s figuring out what he wants and saying exactly what he wants, so I thought that was really cool to film that. That whole sequence was really fun.
 

Are you hoping that Victor and Rahim get together, or do you think they should stay friends?

I think it’s up to the writers’ discretion. I think I am a little bit Team Rahim. I might be a little biased again. But at the end of the day, I hope what happens is for the best for Victor and what he wants because clearly, he doesn’t really know what he wants. So I just hope that he figures that out, and if that means being with Rahim, then awesome. But if it means being with Benji, then I think that’s what might be best for him at the end of the day.

Have the showrunners or writers teased anything of what could happen if the show is renewed?

They’ve teased, but nothing is confirmed. Now, at least I haven’t been told anything, but I’m sure they have something cooking up.

Rahim’s fresh out of the closet, so he’s done the gay bar. What should he do now? Maybe a Pride parade?

I want to see Rahim go to a Pride parade for sure because I want to see him out and proud. I want to see him living his truth and being himself to whatever capacity that he’s comfortable with.

What was your research for playing Rahim? Did you talk to any queer teens or high schoolers?

One of my good friends who I grew up with in Orange County, we went to school together until the eighth grade and we’ve kept in touch, and he’s been open and out of the closet since I think freshman year of high school. So he’s pretty secure in who he is and what he wants and stuff. And I remember calling him when I got the job, and I was like, “I need your help. Tell me everything. I want to know what it’s like. I need to figure out what it means to be queer in high school.” I went over to his house, and we just talked for a few hours and he told me his experiences. A lot of them were lovely experiences, and a lot of them weren’t. And I was able to pull from what he told me and some other people who I’ve spoken to about it and really develop what it feels like to portray a character like that.

Lastly, which pop diva do you think Rahim would be obsessed with?

Oh my God. I feel like he would love Charli XCX. I love Charli XCX. She’s awesome. I love her, so I think Rahim would too.

Love, Victor Seasons 1 and 2 are streaming now on Hulu.

I write about drag queens. Dolly Parton once ruffled my hair and said I was "just the cutest thing ever."
@chrisreindeer