Matt McGorry did not go directly to jail. Instead, he started performing at just 11 years old, when a flair for card tricks and making little foam balls disappear led to a brief stint as a street magician. (“It’s funny — it didn’t seem weird at the time,” he told EW during a recent office visit. “But in retrospect, my parents really had a lot of trust in me.”)
From there, McGorry moved on to bigger and better things — New York City’s famous LaGuardia performing arts high school, Emerson College, and an acting career both enhanced and stymied by his second gig as a competitive bodybuilder. (At his peak, the NY native could deadlift 576 pounds.) Even though McGorry was finding steady-ish work in funny web videos — a friend at College Humor told him “that they’re always looking for buff dudes and hot girls, because those are, I guess, rarities in the comedy community” — he realized eventually that his impressive stature would mean a future of typecasting.
So McGorry put down the weights, renewed his focus on acting — and nabbed the role of John Bennett on Orange Is the New Black, Netflix’s buzzy series about a women’s prison. Just like that, the guy who was once relegated to playing “Frat Friend” and “EMT #1″ found himself getting increasingly juicier material and acting for guest director Jodie Foster. (“When I saw Jodie Foster [written on a script], I went to IMDB,” he remembered. “I was like, ‘Is there another Jodie Foster? With like, a Q at the end?’”). Once the series premiered to rave reviews, McGorry also found himself becoming a bona-fide heartthrob — complete with a fawning Buzzfeed tribute that’s been viewed almost 200,000 times.
How does McGorry feel about his sudden-onset success, his character’s arc — and a possible Bennett/Pornstache spinoff? You won’t have to travel directly to Litchfield to find out.
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