Griffin Matthews was THEEEE breakout star of The Flight Attendant. Sure, we were obsessed with Kaley Cuoco switching from The Big Bang Theory‘s light-hearted comedy to something much darker on the HBO Max series but it was her colleague and castmate that stole many scenes as the series progressed.
The 39-year old, who will hit his milestone 40th birthday later this year, is no stranger to the world of entertainment. Fans of his will remember him from his 7-episode arc on Netflix’s Dear White People and other recurring roles on shows like Doll & Em and Ballers.
He chatted with us about his time on The Flight Attendant that included why he loves his costars Kaley & Rosie Perez so much, crazy moments with them while filming overseas and so much more.
How did you go about getting on The Flight Attendant?
Well, I auditioned. I got my audition and then I did a round of casting for that. Then I did a chemistry read with Kaley and that was my final audition. I did not research her. I knew who she was. I knew that she had been on the Big Bang Theory, but I didn’t do any extra research. I was just like, “I just want to go in that room like it’s a blind date, and see if we’ve got chemistry.” And the minute I walked in the room, I knew instantly we were going to be friends. We talked the same. We had similar rhythms. Kaley is very funny but she’s also really heartfelt. Her heart’s in front of her at all times. And I feel like you know her when you walk in the room. That’s who she is.
And so, we just connected on our humor. And she’s a down home girl. She doesn’t feel like a Hollywood star. She feels like Kaley on the ranch. That’s what she feels like.
Someone else who I’m obsessed with that you were on the show with is Rosie Perez. What was it like filming with her?
She’s such an interesting person because of course, I knew who Rosie Perez was. And she is exactly who you think she is. And she’s also got this hidden side of her that is really soft and gentle and maternal. That’s the part of Rosie Perez I don’t think people get to see. They just see her fire. And that’s real. The fire is real, but there’s a gentle side to Rosie. And she is… again, when you work with people like her, like Kaley, you understand how they became who they are, because their energy is so clear. And Rosie’s energy is so clear.
And I tell this story. I spent some time in Rome with her. I went to the Vatican with Rosie Perez. And that was one of our first days we got to Rome. And she was like, “Me and my friend, Julie, are going to the Vatican. Want to come?” And I was like, “Sure.”
And that was when I really got to know her, just as a friend. While we were filming in Rome, she pulled me into her trailer and we had this whole conversation about her career, which is what I wanted to talk about. I was like, “How did you get to be who you are?” And she started breaking down her career and the choices she made and the people she told to go to hell and all of the doors she busted down. I was like, “That’s the soft, gentle, mentor, maternal space of Rosie.” I was so grateful for that conversation because sometimes I feel like I am trying to bust down doors. And so, you meet people who have already done it to look to as inspiration. So, that’s my experience with Rosie Perez.
Was that the best part of filming for you guys? And it was done before COVID, yes?
Yes. We filmed the Rome and Bangkok portion pre-COVID. We were in Bangkok for Thanksgiving for two weeks and then Rome, again about two weeks, and that happened right before COVID hit. So, we actually knew that COVID was coming because our Italian friends and crew were texting us that they were locked in their houses. And we were like, “Oh my God, it’s coming.” It was such a surreal experience because who knew that a pandemic was on its way. We were just there. So, we were seeing inhabitants of Italy on full lockdown, so we knew. We knew it was coming.
Two things from The Flight Attendant that I really enjoyed from your character is that one scene where you guys are at the funeral and you tell that little kid off. I thought that was hilarious. And then, you got to… I know you’re married and everything, but you made out with some very good looking guys as well.
It’s my favorite job. It was the first time I’ve ever kissed anybody on screen, ever. I was scared out of my mind. Thank God I had two very lovely actors with me who also… It’s funny, you spend a lot of time shooting. Just to film one scene, I could be sitting there all day with one of the actors. We were talking about both actors that I had my scenes with, were openly gay men. And we talked about that. We talked about what it means to be openly gay and kissing men on screen. And with the nuance of doing it.
And it got picked it up for another season. Congrats!
I was obviously thrilled about that, because the thing about filming the show was that it became our adult summer camp. We were traveling the world together. We literally were seeing each other in our pajamas at two o’clock in the morning, jet lagged at the hotel for breakfast. We were sightseeing together. We were really hanging out until we really became friends, like buddies. And so when it ended, we were like, “Oh my God, we’re only doing one season, this is so sad.” So, to have the show be so well-received and then to know that we get a second season, a second shot, because that was not guaranteed, is something I feel very lucky about.
Can you tell us more about your powerful organization that you’ve been behind for years?
I run a non-profit called Uganda Project and we sponsor education. So, a small group of Ugandan students. We’ve been doing that since 2005, officially. And, it’s been crazy because obviously COVID is all over the world, so our non-profit had to keep going. And we had a production of Witness Uganda, that was canceled this summer, and that’s how we would raise money, by doing the musical. And so, we had to still raise money.
So, we’ve been hanging on, like a lot of businesses and a lot of nonprofits, hanging on and doing private donors. But we’ve got two students left and they’re both in university. It’s been a crazy, crazy ride and experience over the years running this organization. But, it really opened up my art and activism space. How could I connect my art with my activism? So, running Uganda Project has been that perfect tie in for me.
Do you have anything else in the works that our followers should know about?
I’m writing a piece for television. I really turned. I think that television and film, even for theater shows are the next frontier. So, Witness Uganda is being pitched as a movie right now which I’d love to see hit theaters. And I’m directing another film called The Amish Project by a playwright named Jessica Dickey, that details the Nickel Mines school shooting in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I’m writing a couple of other pieces, but that’s how I’m passing my time in COVID. Do a little of this film project over here, write some scripts over here, and hopefully we’ll get back to filming The Flight Attendant soon.