I Can Explain
Mason Gooding, star of 'Love, Victor'

Love, Victor Star Mason Gooding Opens Up About, Well, Pretty Much Everything

The story behind how he got his puppy will make you cry.

Mason Gooding

In Elite Daily’s I Can Explain… series, we’re asking celebrities to revisit their most memorable photos and tell us what really went down behind the scenes. In this piece, we chat with Love, Victor star Mason Gooding about three of his most meaningful Instagrams.

Love, Victor's Mason Gooding is no stranger to the spotlight. His last name alone probably clues you into the fact that he grew up going to red carpet events. (ICYMI, his father is Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr.) But while some kids of celebs may have trouble living in their parents’ shadow, Gooding credits his dad for helping him come into his own and shaping the individual he is today.

“[My dad] always instilled in me the idea that you are who you are, and that is what you have to offer people. You can't change, you can't lie, and you can't deviate from who you are, so don't feed into some idea of what people expect of you,” Gooding tells Elite Daily. “He was most concerned with making sure I felt normalized in any walk of life or career path that I chose — I wanted to be a fireman for a little bit.”

Ultimately, Gooding, 24, chose a similar path to his father’s: setting the big and small screen on fire. Prior to his current role as Andrew in Love, Victor, you’ve probably seen Gooding as Jeb in Netflix's holiday movie Let It Snow or Nick in the 2019 hit Booksmart. Although he mentioned he’s wildly excited” about his upcoming role in Scream 5, he’s tight-lipped on any details about the movie.

But Gooding isn’t afraid to let his fans into most of the other aspects of his life via social media. Below, he opens up about some of the most meaningful photos on his Instagram. Warning: Major feels ahead.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

#DogDadLife

@masonthegooding on Instagram

Elite Daily: So, you’re wearing pee pads. What’s going on here?

Mason Gooding: Part of being a dog father means Amazon shopping frantically for 500 pee pads. For six months, everywhere I went, I carried a pee pad so that [my dog, Iggy] wouldn't pee on people’s floors. And that was a photo of me with pee pads on my belt.

ED: What’s the story behind getting your dog, Iggy?

We were filming [Love, Victor] during a pandemic and I got quarantined. Twice. And Michael Cimino, who plays Victor, calls me and he goes, “Hey, how are you? Is everything OK?” And I was like, “No, I'm pretty upset.” And he’s like, “You know what? I'm going to bring you dinner tonight.”

Twelve hours later, I got a phone call from Michael and he's like, “Hey, I have your dinner. Can you buzz me up?” I'm like, “No, just leave it there. I'll come down and get it.” He's like, “No, you should really, really buzz me up.” And I was like, “OK but you have to just leave it at my door, and I don't want to see you. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble [by breaking quarantine].” And he’s like, “Fine, fine, fine.” A few minutes pass and there’s a knock on the door. I open it, and I'm treated to a French bulldog puppy who has basically become my companion throughout quarantine and the rest of filming Love, Victor.

ED: What has puppy fatherhood been like for you?

MG: I’m blessed enough to be in a situation where I can take care of a dog. It was just a matter of if I would say yes, and I did, and I've not looked back since. He is the light of my life. I can't tell if a quarantine helps in raising a dog. I’ve spent all of my time with him, but it doesn't mean I don't get any less nervous when I leave the house. I drive places and I'm like, “I hope he’s not, like, chewing on an extension cord or something.”

ED: How did you land on his name, Iggy?

MG: There’s an anime called Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and in Season 3, “Stardust Crusaders,” there’s a dog named Iggy and he is a hero boy. And I cry every time in a certain scene. When I got a dog that looked even remotely like him, I was like, “Iggy!” No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

ED: Does he have any other nicknames?

MG: Oh, he's got a ton. Michael calls him Igg-Meister. Rachel Hilson, who plays Mia [in Love, Victor], calls him Ignatius.

ED: What were you feeling when you took this photo?

MG: I was like, “Well, this is a moment. I don't know when I'm ever going to have pee pads attached to my belt again.” I’m sure I also liked the way I looked in the mirror. Maybe I had a workout prior to this, and I was like: Let's capture the duality of being Mason Gooding. You’ve got to capture those moments! We’re so willing to harp on the negative. It's good to lift yourself up.

Tattoos With Michael Cimino

@masonthegooding on Instagram

ED: Talk to me about getting tatted with Michael Cimino.

MG: This photo was taken following our [Love, Victor] Season 1 wrap. Michael got this extensive geometric shape along an arrow, and I got roses along my ribcage. The Dragonball characters [tattoo on my chest] looked like they would be well complemented with the rose, and also the roses make me think of someone special. It felt like a nice little homage to the rest of my artwork on my body because I do have a lot, which is fun for an actor.

ED: Your Instagram caption on this photo says, “Kathleen’s gonna kill us.” Who is Kathleen and why was she going to kill you?

MG: Kathleen is the head of makeup on Love, Victor. It means the world to me to be myself and also get to play characters who maybe wouldn't get tattoos. Kathleen’s always funny about it. She’ll be like, “What’s this one mean?” And I'll explain it, then she’ll go, “It’s a shame no one gets to see it” and covers it up.

ED: How did she react to this tattoo?

MG: With vitriol [laughs]. No, it's OK. I get her gifts every time I see her to kind of it kind of make up for it. When I take a job and the top two pieces on my body get covered, that to me is a mental trigger to become the character. Whenever I see myself bare without the ink, it allows me to make the [differentiation] between Mason Gooding and Andrew, or Mason and whoever. To say that Kathleen is integral to that process — and all makeup artists like her — is an understatement. I can't do what I do without them, and I appreciate them more than they could ever know.

ED: Going back to you and Michael, what’s your friendship like IRL?

MG: That is my brother. I would go to hell and back for him, and it's not just because he is one of the sweetest, most thoughtful people I know, but because he has this proclivity for kindness and there's a capacity for empathy and to listen. And though Andrew and Victor maybe aren't kindred spirits [on the show], from day one Michael has been a champion, a friend, a confidant. I really can't speak more positively on who he is as an actor, as a person.

ED: How does this picture make you feel?

MG: It makes me feel fulfilled. I grew up without the ability to make lasting friendships. I never felt like I belonged in any sort of specific friend group. Cut to on a job, randomly in a summer doing basketball practice [for Love, Victor], and I found the first piece to what now is the best part of my life.

Family Photo

@masonthegooding on Instagram

ED: This pic is so cute! Is this your grandmother?

MG: This was taken in Prescott, Arizona, with the woman who is not actually my biological grandmother, but the most dominant force of positive energy throughout my childhood. This woman, Berdenia Broes, was involved in my father's life when he was my age. And this woman, in tandem with my biological grandmother, Shirley Gooding, was as close to me as any grandmother. This photo was a reunion of eight years. I hadn't seen her since I left for college. Yeah, this photo f*cked me up. That got me in my feelings.

ED: What's your favorite thing about Berdenia?

MG: If not her slight Southern drawl, [it’s that] she would always give me advice from a place of altruistic goodness. She just embodied the idea of “if you don't have anything kind to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all.” And it's that mantra that, I think, has helped me navigate a lot of personal relationships. To lead with kindness and to be more positive than you could ever be negative allows people the understanding of how they're validated or appreciated.

ED: What does family mean to you?

MG: Family is everything. That sounds trite and it's easy to say, but I actually think it [speaks to] who I was as a child growing up into adulthood. I wouldn't be who I am today without the nurturing dynamic I had with my mother. I wouldn't understand the world the way I do without the guidance of my father. I wouldn't be half as thick-skinned if it weren’t for my older brother. I wouldn't be half as compassionate if it weren't for the true light that is my sister. My biggest hope is that I can exemplify those things as well as my mother, father, brother, sister, grandparents have.

ED: What’s one major life lesson your family has taught you?

MG: [My dad and I] were at the Superman Returns premiere [in 2006], and I remember [being asked]: “What's your favorite superhero?” And being 6, I was like, “Superman!” My dad pulled me aside and he was like, “That's not true. Your favorite superhero is Spider-Man.” It always has been and, quite honestly, still is. He was like, “Don't ever do that. Whether it be in an interview or in a casual conversation — specifically as dating comes into question — don't ever feel like you need to adhere to what someone else expects. You just be honest and be yourself, because that's what people will inevitably gravitate toward.”

ED: Looking at this photo, what emotions come up?

MG: It makes me feel complete. It’s cathartic. You could go through an infinite amount of years struggling but come home to the most loving and accepting family — whether it's your biological one or the one that you choose and create with your friends. That, to me, will always make whatever experience worth it in the end, so long as you can share it with people you love and care about. I’m grateful I have that because that's a luxury a lot of people don't have. Hopefully they find it, and hopefully they can build it. And if they don't have it, I’ll be it. Happily. I will be someone's everything.

Love, Victor Season 2 is streaming on Hulu now.