Timothy Granaderos, aka Monty From '13 Reasons Why,' on His Big, Villainous Season
Warning: The following interview contains spoilers from the second season of 13 Reasons Why.
There's a new villain stewing at Liberty High. Though Bryce Walker, the king jock, has always been 13 Reasons Why's primary antagonist, his enforcer, Montgomery de la Cruz, has shown surprising initiative as of late. As the Hannah Baker trial heated up in Season 2, the latter sought to protect his best bud and silence their opponents by doling out the kinds of cruel, unwanted "gifts" that would have made Jared Leto's Joker proud.
The expanded role was a welcome development behind the scenes for Timothy Granaderos, the 31-year-old actor who plays Monty. "I was excited to get to do more," he told Thrillist over the phone recently. (This season, we learned that his character has an abusive father at home and that he's been struggling to channel his incomprehensible rage in a positive way.) "It gave me the ability to create more of a multidimensional character, not just a surface-y bully."
Following 13 Reasons Why's Season 3 renewal, we called Granaderos -- whom you can also catch on T@gged and Marvel's The Runaways -- to talk about Monty's evolution, that controversial sexual assault scene, and where he'd like to see his character go next.
Thrillist: This season we got to see Monty's role explode. What was your character-building process like?
Timothy Granaderos: On our first day, in preparation for Season 2, our showrunner, Brian Yorkey, gave me an idea of what Monty was up to. So I knew from the get-go that I was going to be this puppeteer.
What was your reaction to that?
Granaderos: As an actor, I was just excited. It gave me something to play with, it gave me some subtext to every scene and every relationship. It was kind of fun because [Yorkey] only told the actors what they needed to know, specific to their characters. So I carried around this secret the entire season, which gave me a little edge. It really helped form my relationships with the other characters and with my character himself.
Obviously, we know what Monty does for Bryce this season, but it's a little unclear what exactly Bryce provides for Monty. Why do you think Monty's so blindly loyal to Bryce?
Granaderos: Yeah, Justin [Prentice, who plays Bryce] and I actually had an ongoing joke on set -- that Monty was Bryce's pitbull. He was loyal, but very dangerous. And I think their relationship is so strong because they're athletes together, which makes them brothers. You discover that Monty's home life isn't necessarily that strong, so his relationship with his teammates is even more important. Bryce and the baseball team and the football team and all those guys are his real family. So part of it is he wants to protect his brother, Bryce, and the team. But he also sees athletics as maybe his way out. He doesn't want to lose his opportunity to potentially go to college [on a scholarship] -- because that's what he believes will take him away from his turbulent home life.
But then Bryce and Monty have their sort of bro breakup. What's going through Monty's head in that moment?
Granaderos: That scene was surprisingly emotional for me because as a character, I'd grown so close to Bryce, and as an actor, I'd grown so close to Justin. It was kind of like a chapter ending. Anytime, you lose someone that close to you in your life, it's hard to say goodbye. I think because Monty felt so betrayed by it, it hurt even more. It's saying goodbye not just to a friend, but to a brother. It really was a breakup.
In that scene, Bryce tells Monty to leave him and Tyler Down alone. But in the next scene, Monty does the opposite. Why does he, for what feels like the first time, finally disobey Bryce?
Granaderos: Coming off that breakup, he has so much misplaced anger that he doesn't know how to properly deal with it. So he takes it out on someone he knows he can. He puts all his anger toward Tyler rather than deal with his own issues. The recurring theme with Monty is he doesn't know how to deal with anger and emotion so he lashes out.
How did you prepare for the bathroom scene with Tyler?
Granaderos: We knew it was going to be a heavy scene, so we wanted to tell it honestly and properly. I researched similar scenarios that have taken place in high schools, bullying and what makes a bully work the way they do, what goes on in the bully's mind. Sometimes set can be so busy and bustling, with people talking -- no discredit to them, but it's easier for me to zone out when I have music and less distractions. So I also made a playlist, very specific to the scene, the day, the character, and I just listened to that on repeat.
Do you remember what you put on the playlist?
Granaderos: It's a secret, but I do still have the playlist. For Monty, I found that the root of his aggression was pain. He has this pain because of the relationship he has with father; he has pain because of the break-off with his friend, Bryce; and he has pain because of potentially losing athletics. It's just so much pain and emotion that drives him to do something so horrific. In shooting that scene, it was such a blessing to have such nurturing and caring people, the cast, the crew -- everyone involved was so sensitive to the work that Devin [Druid, who plays Tyler] and I were just able to go in and do what we needed to do.
Since the second season's release, that scene in particular has become one of the most controversial. What do you have to say to the viewers who might find it problematic or who are having trouble watching it?
Granaderos: Honestly, coming off that scene, I would expect viewers to have that reaction. It's not an easy scene to watch, and it wasn't an easy scene to shoot. But the truth is, it's a real situation that's happened and will happen in high schools. More often than not, when something like that happens, it's not easy to talk about. So I think most importantly, what we wanted to do, was not shy away from how gruesome and scary it can be and show it in a very honest way so that we're forced to talk about. Then it provides a platform for people to speak on it. People should be upset about it, you know?
Whether successful or not, it does seem like a big mission of the show is to open up conversations and teach people things. What have you learned, specifically from playing Monty?
Granaderos: I've learned that everybody's got their own demons. It's easy to judge someone based on their actions, but at the end of the day you don't really know what they have going on behind the scenes, or in their home life, or in their relationships. Don't be too quick to judge.
"People should be upset about it, you know?"
With the show renewed for Season 3, it seems likely we'll see Monty again. Where do you want to see him go in Season 3?
Granaderos: At the end of Season 2, I saw and felt the loss of a boy. Monty lost his friends, he didn't have a strong relationship with his father. He's confused and angry and sad, and he has this jumble of emotions that he can't fully comprehend. I feel like now, more than ever, he's just lost. Very hypothetically -- I wouldn't make any assumptions on what kind of role Monty's going to have in Season 3 -- if we do get to address some of his issues, I would hope that we would explore his home life, his relationship with his father, and really just kind of figure out why Monty acts the way he does. What makes him so angry? What's going on in his head? Because it's not a safe place, where you're latched to your emotions and there's no one to turn to -- and I feel like more than anything, Monty's got no one to turn to in Season 3.
There's actually a fairly popular fan theory circulating on Reddit about the source of Monty's rage -- it wonders if Monty could be closeted. Have you and the writers ever talked about that, or do you think that could be a possibility?
Granaderos: I saw that! There was no discussion with the writers about that, and that wasn't really the driving force of my motivation in Season 2. Or with the character Monty. But as an actor, you have to entertain every idea in your head. So who knows!
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.