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‘Love, Victor’s Mason Gooding Was "Nothing Like Andrew" In High School — EXCLUSIVE

If you think you have Love, Victor’s Mason Gooding figured out, you may want to think again. The 23-year-old actor's role as Andrew — the antagonist in Season 1 of Hulu's Love, Simon spinoff series — is the latest in the growing number of "cool-guy" characters he has played. But while Gooding excels at playing bad boys and high school hotties, he actually had a very different experience growing up IRL.

"I was nothing like Andrew. I was a big nerd," he tells Elite Daily. Luckily, Gooding (whose dad is Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr., BTW) has had plenty of practice being the "popular kid" since his own teen years, thanks to the roles he consistently gets booked for. Recently, he played the inattentive boyfriend Jeb in Netflix's holiday movie Let It Snow, and the nice but aloof jock Luke in Freeform's Everything's Gonna Be Okay. Even his breakout role fit this archetype; many fans will recognize Gooding from the 2019 hit Booksmart, in which he played Nick, the flirty crush of Beanie Feldstein's character Molly.

The similarities in his roles are not lost on Gooding. "Andrew could end up being Nick in a couple of years," Gooding says. He explains that although he was decidedly different from characters like Andrew and Nick in high school, he still found a way to draw on his own experiences to play these characters.

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"The fact that I grew up without that [popular-kid] perspective, I was able to look at it and recognize the inner workings of how that comes to be. Once I became an adult, I was able to sort of dissect those aspects of who Andrew and Nick are," Gooding explains.

Because Love, Victor has the potential to go on for more than one season, Gooding has put a lot of thought into Andrew's potential character development. "I was able to look at [Andrew's] perspective, as [I am] a former victim of people like him," he says. "I kind of came to the conclusion that it's not like he's trying to hurt these people. He's not trying to be the antagonist to someone else's story. He just has an inflated sense of self and thinks that his desires and motivations outweigh everyone else's."

On the outside, Andrew is reminiscent of the cool but jerky guy you probably had a crush on in school. He's on the varsity basketball team, he's got a crush on the most popular girl in school, and people yearn for his approval. But while it might seem like Andrew is all pomp and no substance, Gooding says if you look closer, you'll realize that just like Victor (Michael Cimino), Andrew is working to figure himself out. Case in point: After overhearing that Victor kissed Benji (George Sear), Andrew made it clear he was not going to tell anyone about Victor's secret — which not typical behavior for a villain, at least according to TV standards.

"In Season 1, we've gotten hints at his ability to be empathetic," Gooding says. "I think from here, we hopefully deconstruct why it is that he has this inflated sense of ego, why he has this hyper-masculine outlook on different scenarios and situations when he's in big groups."

While there's no official news on Season 2, writers are reportedly already working on future storylines. If Gooding had a say in what's next, Andrew and Mia (Rachel Hilson) getting together would be a top priority.

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"They kind of have this unspoken friendship which goes on throughout the season. It's the two of them, subtly looking out for each other and being there for one another," he says.

Gooding also hopes to see his character drop the cool-guy facade and get closer with Victor's friend circle. "That just looks like such a fun group of people, and I would hate to see Andrew on the outside," he admits. "Again, that could just be the loner in me wanting emotional connection of some sort."

Love, Victor is now streaming on Hulu.