As "suitor" Adam on Lifetime's "UnREAL," Freddie Stroma plays a charming, handsome and somewhat damaged playboy.
But, as the episodes roll out each Monday night on the network, Adam is becoming much more than the man the ladies of "Everlasting" are vying for. He's surprisingly turning into somewhat of a moral compass within the show's twisted world.
With producers Rachel, Quinn, Shia, and Jay taking their manipulations to new lows, Freddie's character is the one often turned to (or who steps up), to clean up some of the mess. There was the time Adam stepped in to stave Maya from total humiliation after things went awry when his best friend from home came to town and the moment he jumped on stage and stopped Faith from coming out before she was ready, to name a few.
Shiri Appleby as Rachel and Freddie Stroma as Adam in Lifetime’s ‘UnREAL’ (Lifetime)
"He just manipulates everyone, but at the same time, it's nice to show that he has some sort of -- at least some sort of fragment of a moral code, and he'll hopefully stand for those don't have anyone to protect them," Freddie told Access Hollywood.
While there hasn't been a lot of Adam's backstory so far, Freddie said his character's heroic side comes from Adam's childhood.
"He grew up being a sweet kid, I think," Freddie said. "And then, you know, I kind of think that he eventually started getting into the party lifestyle and the rest of it and having an upbringing where essentially, his parents -- or his father at least -- are more sort of famous and powerful and rich and get most of the attention, and so I think he's always been seeking attention. But I think he, deep down, doesn't ever really want to hurt anyone. He just is more of a fool than anything. I don't think he's malicious in any way."
It's Adam's honorable side that has us rooting for Freddie's character, one that the actor based off of the scripts and his imagination, rather than stars of British tabloids or reality TV.
"I didn't really model him after anyone. … It was a temptation to look at a bunch of reality shows and try and just really get into that world, but since he didn't know anything about it, I kind of like the idea of not really knowing anything about it," Freddie said. "I mostly just focused on him having an incredibly sort of rich family and loss of identity and constantly searching for individualism -- that whole sort of aspect -- and trying to get out of your father's shadow-type thing."
But as Adam tries to do just that, it's put him in some shocking scenes. Rather memorably, in Episode 4, Adam slept with an investor's wife -- in front of Chet and the investor -- to get them to put cash into his run-down wine estate.
"We were shooting probably Episode 2 or 3 and they kind of sent in Episode 4 and I read the ending of Episode 4 -- of me and the investors and I was like, 'What!' I was sitting in my trailer and I just verbally, out loud, [was] just going 'Whaaatttt!' I was like, 'I have to do what?'" he laughed, recounting the moment he saw the script. "So that was just like one of those moments of like, 'Yeah, well, I hope that's his rock bottom, because if it isn't, then I don't even know what to do.'"
It's moments like the one with the investors though, that are helping to pleasantly surprise viewers who are tuning into Lifetime on Monday nights.
"For a lot of people, I think, they're shocked at the show-type for the network," Freddie said of the reactions he's heard from people watching "UnREAL." "Audiences seem to be surprised by it because it's -- you know, Lifetime, they've really brought it with this one."
In the weeks ahead, "Everlasting" will venture into fantasy reality-dating territory (putting its own spin on it, of course), and that likely means more romantic moments between Adam and the contestants.
Shiri Appleby, who plays Rachel, previously told Access her co-star was a real trooper with everything he had to do on the show as its fictional eligible suitor.
"When I read with him, I'm like, he's so charming and he's obviously incredibly attractive, but when you get to know him, he's just such a well behaved, well educated, really well groomed guy that he was – he had a tough job. He was making out with basically like every woman on set at some point and everyone loved him," Shiri previously told Access. "Everyone loved Freddie. He's a real class act. I think he's the real deal."
Freddie said his co-stars made all those moments easier.
"Everyone was really sweet about it on set and everyone was really professional and so it made the job a lot easier," he said.
"And one of the [assistant directors] had a pack of Tic-Tacs that she always kept and she'd written 'Freddie's Kisses' on it, because whenever I had to suddenly do a scene, she'd quickly throw me a Tic-Tac."
"UnREAL" continues Mondays at 10 PM ET/PT, following "Devious Maids," on Lifetime.
-- Jolie Lash