DAVID GYASI is just like you and me; he, too, wants more of Netflix’s The Diplomat. He wants more political subterfuge from the potentially dangerous British Prime Minister Nicol Trowbridge (Rory Kinnear) and the undoubtedly murderous Russian mercenaries. He wants more of Kate Wyler (Keri Russell) and her penchant for shoving diplomacy down the reluctant throats of world leaders with integrity and unflappable convictions. After the show was renewed for a second season 11 days after the first season debuted, he’s ready for The Diplomat Season 2: throuples; deaths; clandestine pillow talk; and all.
Unlike you and me, Gyasi plays the regal British foreign secretary Austin Dennison, who looks like he was chiseled from black marble with a stare that could hypnotize anyone caught in his line of sight. Kate can attest to that after beginning to fall for Dennison in Season 1 and helping set the stage for a power throuple between her, Dennison, and her politically-connected and internationally-respected estranged husband Hal Wyler (Rufus Sewell). In Season 1’s sixth episode, we got the first glimpse of what this three-way arrangement would look like as the three shared a few laughs and suggestive glances on the sofa. Since then, fans have been salivating for more.
But Gyasi knows Dennison is more than man-crush material. Dennison is the son of immigrants who came to Britain when Black people were less respected than dogs. Dennison knows he’s his ancestors’ wildest dreams and doesn’t choose a single decision, syllable, or suit without it representing him in the best way possible. Dennison’s adaptability in spaces traditionally not meant for Black people is a source of tension Gyasi would love to explore in Season 2, even if it’s in the form of entangling himself with a married couple.
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“I think he would recognize Hal as a shrewd operator,” Gyasi says. “I think Dennison is clever enough and adept enough to say, ‘Hal’s useful here and here,’ and manage that. Whether he would publicly yolk himself with Hal—that’s another thing.”
We know you all want to know what’s going to happen in the second season of the Deborah Kahn-created political drama. Gyasi wants to know, too. In the meantime, he shared a few tawdry tidbits about the making of Season 1 and his hopes for Season 2.
Men’s Health: Congrats on the Season 2 renewal. What doors does Season 1’s explosive ending open for Season 2?
David Gyasi: What doors doesn’t it open? Does it open a door for a relationship knowing there’s been an explosion that’s involved her husband? So there’s all sorts of trauma and things to work through there. Then, in terms of the party’s leadership, does it open a potential door for that? Would you want to lead that party? Are you more effective as a foreign secretary? It could go in a number of ways.
World War III?
That’s what the tension is in their scenes. That’s what’s at the heart of it and what connects them. I find their relationships fascinating because they’re seemingly on opposite sides of the coin, yet what seems to connect them is a passion for preventing World War III. They also seem to have a real grasp on the ramifications of decisions made by ego and decisions. They have an understanding o decisions made from a bygone era where reputations and standings were different from what they are now. But, they also respect where those reputations and standings for the West have their countries right now. What does it look like to lead a world that is still figuring out stuff about itself? It’s really helpful for us when Deborah really explains the stakes behind these scenes and then also really explains what has inspired her to write these scenes and write these questions.
The last scene of episode 6 had you and Hal sitting on different sides of Kate while Ato’s character talks to your sister, hinting at a power throuple between you three. What was the direction for that scene? What were you trying to accomplish?
It’s very helpful to play with Kerri and Rufus, who are dons at what they do. The direction we had was just to have fun and banter. We didn’t know what episode seven would look like at that point. That’s the reality of it. We just knew this was happening. There’s this tension here. They’ve just worked really well together, and now you’re just enjoying each other’s company on the sofa. Rufus was very good. He’d say to me, “Man, look at your shoulders. Do you do lacrosse? Do you swim?” So that was genuine laughter back and forth at what was happening there. What’s interesting for me is I’m not involved in a relationship like that. I’ve been married to one woman for the past 24 years. So, it’s always interesting for me, as an actor, to jump into other people’s lives and perspectives, and experiences. I hope we’ll carefully respect Dennison’s journey to get where he is. Before jumping into [a potential throuple], he should know what he’s risking.
Knowing Dennison, how would he approach a throuple if Kate or Hal formally introduced it to him in Season 2?
This is me honestly answering it as Dennison and not as David. I think the thing that connects Dennison to Kate is her integrity and her passion for people, and her selflessness. That, at the very least, is something Dennison aspires to be, and to serve is important to him because of where he’s come from. He’s aware he’s the son of immigrants that struggled to put him in that position. And I think that awareness of where he’s come from and how policies and how the environment that his parents came into, which his parents would’ve landed in England at a time where there were signs on doors saying, no Blacks, no Irish, no dogs, or as my dad says, no Irish, no dogs or Blacks. He said we were always last on that list. So when you talk about throuple, are you talking sexually or politically?
How would he approach either?
Politically, he’d be okay with that. He’s built up a career. The thing that’s powerful about Dennison is that he’s comfortable in many different forums, rooms, and groups. He’s had to, growing up in a counselor state, but going to boarding school amongst people who earn in a year more than his parents would earn in a lifetime. He’s been in that environment and knows that to succeed in that environment, there is give and take and learning how to adapt and work with people with different methods than he has. I think he would recognize Hal as a shrewd operator. I think Dennison is clever enough and adept enough to say, “Hal’s useful here and here,” and manage that. Whether he would publicly yolk himself with Hal that’s another thing.
Sexually, that sort of tension is there. As far as Dennison knows, that marriage is ending, so that is something that he’ll want to explore when that’s done. Publicly, that marriage is complex, and I think it’s made even more complex with Hal seemingly being in trouble. What that will reveal in Kate, and therefore what that then, in turn, will reveal to Dennison, is interesting to see in Season 2.
Did Debra or anyone explain details for your character that hinted at a second season? Or did you notice things that hinted towards more than a Season 1 arc?
No. I remember the final episode, we were given it, but we were given it the morning that we were filming, uh, episodes five and six. I’m reading it and remember Ato [Essandoh] was next to me. It was about ten pages in front of me. And every so often, I’d hear him go, “Oh, no way.” And I’d say, “No, I’m not there yet. I’m not there yet. And then, when he gets to the end, he just goes, “FUCK ME! Where is Deborah Kahn?” And he got up and left. Then, I got to the end and said, “Wow!”
When I spoke to politicians of color about their journey within their public, one of them, who I really respect, said, “It’s really interesting. If you look at particularly people of color within politics, their records, the ones that make a real, lasting change, seem to have really unblemished records almost above reproach.” So how Denison, who strikes me as super ambitious, reconciles that ambition with what’s going on in his heart and his head towards his colleague will be very interesting. But then we also have the seed of what happened. He sacrificed a lot with the situation around his sister. So there are hints there that we would explore that. And I hope we do.
Since the show’s come out, you’ve become a bit of a heartthrob on the internet. Is there any moment that sticks out that can show the response you’ve received from the show being a breakout hit?
I read a tweet where someone said, “The Diplomat is so ridiculous. As if the British government would have someone as good-looking as David Gyasi (laughs).” And it made me laugh out loud. I thought I’d retweet that with a laugh. But then I thought that seemed arrogant, so I deleted the tweet. It’s interesting because I spoke to my wife about it this morning, saying, “You know this is happening?” And she said, “I’ve been telling you this for years.” We’ve been together 28 years or so, and even when I was on the back of the bus with ashy skin and picky hair, she saw something.
Any scenes with Kate that were left out?
There were a couple of scenes where they slipped up in front of each other and confessed how they felt about one another. It was just somebody’s mouth running, and then before they knew it, they’d said, “You are beautiful,” or “You are an attractive woman.” Ato’s character would realize what they’re saying, but they wouldn’t realize it. We had a lot of fun doing those.
What’s your biggest hope for Season 2?
My biggest hope for Season 2 would be more of the same. When I first read the script, I thought this writer was very special. This was a very special piece of work. But, when I got to do it, it felt great saying those words and working with the people I was working with. I don’t think any kind of hope of where my storyline might go would deliver more than what they’re thinking. I just can’t wait to figure that out.
Keith Nelson is a writer by fate and journalist by passion, who has connected dots to form the bigger picture for Men’s Health, Vibe Magazine, LEVEL MAG, REVOLT TV, Complex, Grammys.com, Red Bull, Okayplayer, and Mic, to name a few.
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