Oyster #96: Matthew Gray Gubler
"I live in my own bubble. I'm in Gublerland."
Matthew Gray Gubler isn't like most other celebrities. His face features more regularly on Terry Richardson's blog than in the pages of tabloid magazines and, although he's a director and actor at heart, you might know him as Criminal Minds' Dr Spencer Reid; he's also an artist who is really good at the Internet. (It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge that he is also very cute; when I interviewed him I had to pretend that he was hideously unattractive so as not to come across as a giggling teenage girl.) I spoke with him about Halloween costumes, seeing ghosts, and falling in love with fictional characters.
Ingrid Kesa: How are you?
Matthew Gray Gubler: Great! How the heck are you?
Good! How was your shoot just now?
It was amazing. I love Mike, I'm a big fan. We rode around on bikes in this derelict part of Venice which is basically a housing community. There are probably 50 or 60 homes that are completely run-down, but heaps of families still live there. The government's basically biding its time until some super-developer can buy it all for, like, a billion dollars, and tear it down. It's an amazing and eerie location.
Have you got anything else planned for tonight?
I'm still in Venice for a few hours, then I'll head back to Hollywood.
How do you deal with Hollywood? You seem pretty normal. I think it would wig me out.
It's kinda funny. I don't think negatively of the industry per se, but you can choose to prescribe to Hollywood, and luckily I've never had to do that. It sounds like a douchey thing to say, but I just go to work and come home. I'm not very good at, like, parties or things like that, so I'm not really in the Hollywood zone. The things that I'm part of are outside of that vibe.
I'm pretty bad at networking, but if there are free drinks on offer, I exploit them.
[Laughs] I know the feeling! Everything I do, I try to look at under the broad umbrella of 'entertainment'. This is a rambling way of me saying I don't really go out much. I live in my own bubble. I'm in Gublerland. Gublerwood.
What's the etiquette when one celebrity meets another?
It's probably been my curse in life, because I'm too sincere. I'm not good at pretending to be cool, so I generally just go right up and say, "Hey, I'm a big fan." I've recently been lucky to meet a lot of childhood idols, so that's fun. But there's no real etiquette. Maybe I've been left out. Maybe I didn't get the memo!
I saw your artworks. What did you draw when you were a kid?
Kind of exactly what I draw today: a lot of monsters, dinosaurs and ghosts.
Do you believe in ghosts?
I absolutely, totally believe in ghosts. 100 percent. I've seen a few.
You've actually seen them?
Oh, yeah. Tonnes of times.
What were those encounters like?
I used to live in an apartment in Hollywood where a man had hung himself. Bizarre stuff would happen frequently; my dog would wake up every night at the same time, barking furiously at this corner. I later found out that was where he had hung himself. As far as my own visions, I saw a gentleman who lived in the apartment above me; I'm doing the worst job at telling these stories! It's much better when I tell them around a campfire. I saw a neighbour who had died in the stairway a few days after, and a face staring out of my upstairs window. I saw my grandmother after she died.
There's a ghost in my house that hates my music taste. It will always change the song to 'Let Me Blow Ya Mind' by Eve featuring Gwen Stefani.
Oh, man. It's a DJ ghost!
This is a bit macabre, but seeing as we are talking about ghosts, how do you want to be remembered when you die?
As someone who, in any small way, made people's lives just a little bit more entertaining, or special, or enchanting.
If you were a genius and could invent anything, what would it be?
I would invent a machine that videotapes your dreams so that you could watch them the next morning.
I always have weird dreams and can only remember bits of them.
Yeah, exactly. I love it, it's magical. I love sleeping because I love dreaming. I wish I could hold them with me longer.
What did you dream about last night?
They're doing tree-trimming outside my window, and I'm very neurotic and I love trees. I hate the fact that I have to trim them but, for their health, I have to. I had this intense nightmare that I woke up and this guy had cut down every tree in my yard, and I was so sad. Luckily I woke up and it was only a dream.
I love hypothesising about what my non-existent band would be called. My current one would be a bratty girl-band called The Pet Hates. What would yours be?
I love it! As a joke I told my friend he should name his band Nirvana T-Shirt, because Nirvana t-shirt reprints became really popular in LA. I thought it would be funny. I like the idea of making a band name sound like a law firm, like Ed Bernstein & Associates.
I can see that on a flyer.
Yeah, I would want people to see it and think that they were getting a consultation instead of going to a show. Like, "Is this guy going to give me legal advice, or play me a song?"
Who's the hottest woman on earth?
It's tough to say. If we're talking actresses, most of the ones I've been visually interested in are dead. I prefer women's figures from the forties, fifties and sixties more so than the super-skinny trend today. I don't know who is the hottest, though.
Surely this is something you think about a lot.
I've got a weird list of girls I find beautiful: Elvira, Clair Huxtable from The Cosby Show, Fran Drescher.
I feel you on Fran.
She's up there. I had the pleasure of having dinner with her recently. I didn't expect her to be at this thing I was at, and it was a pleasant surprise. I've always had a liking for Disney princesses and Jessica Rabbit, even though they're not real; they're animated.
I've always had a crush on Trent from Daria; I know what it's like to be in love with a fictional character.
He's so cool! I love Daria!
He's my ultimate man. But he doesn't exist.
His t-shirt was cool, his haircut was cool. I like Snow White quite a bit; but I think any girl that has confidence and a good sense of humour is the hottest girl on earth.
Correct answer! Are you superstitious?
I'm really badly superstitious. Paralysingly so. I never wear matching socks, that's the biggest one. I used to be obsessive compulsive about superstitions, but I'm a little less so now. I was just trying to avoid the cracks in the pavement walking to this coffee shop I'm at, though.
What's your coffee order?
I'm drinking a dirty chai. Have you ever had one of those? It's a chai-tea latte with a shot of espresso. It tastes like Halloween.
I love Halloween, but it's not a huge celebration in Australia.
That's so depressing. That's a bummer. I love Halloween; it's my favourite holiday.
What are you going as this year?
I'm going as this strange comedian from the eighties, Emo Philips. He's an underground surreal comic, look him up; he's weird. I recently became friends with him and realised that we look similar, so I'm going to try to be him. It's more of an inside joke. I think one person out of 200 will get it. You should go as Eve! You're black, right? I'm assuming you're black.
I sound black on the phone? Weird. No. But I could be. [Not really; I am a pale-skinned redhead.]
It might be a bit hard to pull off, then.
Yes, that would be a challenge. So, what's the best age to be?
Any age, if you can figure out a way to remain genuine. I love children, because you never meet a disingenuous or insincere child. It's really hard for kids under twelve not to be genuine, and if you can retain that all through your life then you never age. Around 13, people start getting cynical and, like, cool, and they start to care about things that don't matter. That's why I think any age, so long as sincerity and genuineness course through your veins.
It's almost like when you hit adolescence you just have to be a dick for a while. I'm scared of one day being a parent and having a horrible teenager. What were you like as a teenager?
I was a good teenager. I've always been exceptionally well-behaved. I'm lucky that I have cool parents, but I've also always seen the big picture. I knew that the things that seemed preposterous to me as a child ultimately made sense, like a curfew. My parents had the easiest time. I was probably a dream child. I was definitely not the guy that was doing anything bad or sneaking out.
Do you like sport?
It's funny you should ask that. I just had a giant debate over that. Here's my thing with sports: I've never really followed them; I'm not interested in them. I play a lot of badminton myself, but I am absolutely, 100 percent obsessed with boxing. To me, boxing is the only sport. Every other sport in the world feels like, at its core, it is boxing, but it has stuff getting in the way; like nets and sticks and balls, which take away from the essence of two guys fighting with their fists. There's nothing I love more.
I always lied to get out of physical education in school, but I really love ice hockey because it's so violent.
That's exactly what I'm saying! Every other sport is like, "Ooh, you've got a ball. You're trying to make a score. Congratulations." But then you watch this thing and it's actually sort of a primal gladiator-battle, and that, to me, is what sport is.
Speaking of primal urges, what do you and Terry Richardson do when you hang out?
[Laughs] Not really anything at all! People think we hang out a lot more than we do because I'm on his blog a lot. Typically we just take photos, and if anything we'll get dinner. Nothing interesting.
Do you like theme parks?
I love them! Disneyland is, of course, one of my favourite places in the world. Have you been to Disneyland before?
No, I haven't. I'm hoping to go to Tokyo next year, mostly for Disneyland.
That's funny; I'm going there in November for the same reason.
The Jalouse blog recently published this video featuring Gubler, lots of girls, and lots of kisses. Watch and weep:
Words: Ingrid Kesa
Photography: Mike Piscitelli