Do not adjust your television sets, Brandon Scott Jones is taking over your airwaves.
When I spoke with Jones last year, at just around the same time, the first season of his hit CBS comedy series Ghosts had just finished airing and did so with flying Nielsen colors. Cut to a year later where the sophomore year not only improved but ended the ’22-’23 season as TV’s No. 1 comedy series in the key 18-49 demo, dethroning its own Thursday lead-in Young Sheldon for the spot. The series also ranked as the No. 4 show overall (tied with Law & Order: SVU) in the demo and #2 in overall viewers for a comedy series (ironically, just behind Young Sheldon).
Season two of Ghosts saw Jones’s Captain Isaac Higgintoot continue to explore the romantic relationship with Nigel, the English soldier whom he killed in battle during the Revolutionary War (hey, not every couple gets a meet-cute), played by John Hartman. “Anytime we get to do a scene together, I’m always very, very excited,” says Jones. From a first kiss to moving in together, Isaac and John took baby steps in their relationship elevation but in a 250-year coming out process, what’s a few weeks?
As a part of a large ensemble, Jones also branched out to share side stories and subplots with some of the show’s funniest and most ribald denizens, including a murder mystery with Danielle Pinnock’s Alberta (what a reveal that was) and more with the uptight Hetty played by Rebecca Wisocky.
But just as Ghosts was ending, the third season of the Max Original The Other Two came roaring back and with it, a larger role for Jones as Curtis, best friend to Drew Tarver’s Cary Dubek, where they both play struggling actors at different levels of their careers and their friendship.
And that’s not all folks, you also saw Brandon Scott Jones earlier this spring in the theatrical release Renfield with Nicolas Cage and Nicholas Hoult, and Jones had a little bit of help with his audition for the role from a very familiar source.
In our conversation, Jones and I talk about his characters on both Ghosts and The Other Two, who should play Alexander Hamilton if he ever made an appearance on Ghosts and a surprise game of Celebrity.
Erik Anderson: In our first chat a year ago, it was right after the finale of the first season of Ghosts, and it had just gotten renewed. And here we are again, after the second season finale, and it just got renewed. Is this our Empire State Building in An Affair to Remember?
Brandon Scott Jones: I know. I think this is it. We’re going to have to come here each year just to really, as the touchstone, and also to just make sure that the ensuing year, it goes well. So this is it.
EA: And, hopefully, no car accidents in between to thwart that.
BSJ: Exactly. We should get Richard Linklater to write a movie about our Zooms.
EA: Well, I think so. I love that the crusade against Alexander Hamilton is continuing.
BSJ: Yes. Oh, my God.
EA: Let’s hypothesize that Hamilton makes an appearance at the house somehow.
EA: Who should play him?
BSJ: Well, I mean, it would be pretty iconic if Lin-Manuel Miranda were to just come by as Alexander Hamilton, either in a flashback as a ghost. He’s been on the property the whole time, and Isaac’s brain explodes. Yeah, I mean, that would be amazing. And, also, he’s got a connection to Utkarsh because they were both in Freestyle Love Supreme. And so, I mean, that would be pretty cool. Other than that, I mean, I’d be open to Timothée Chalamet.
EA: I like that.
BSJ: Could you imagine?
EA: Oh my God. Twink Hamilton. Let’s go.
BSJ: Yeah, it’s a young Hamilton. (laughs)
EA: I love that Isaac’s been everywhere this season. You had three storylines all at the same time. The book advance drama with Sam was amazing, where you thought $10,000 was a lot of money because it would’ve been.
Brandon Scott Jones: It would’ve been. I don’t even know that would… I mean, the inflation rate must be insane.
EA: It is. But I think, too, Isaac deciding to spend it on a daybed, probably the gayest thing that he’s done so far in the show.
BSJ: I think so. I think the moment he picks up the Pottery Barn catalog to the moment he sees the daybed, that is a journey in and of itself. “Well, what is this? My God.” It’s amazing.
EA: It was good. It’s incredible.
BSJ: Oh, thank you.
EA: But I think too, it also might have given one of my favorite lines of the season when you say, “I’ll tell her she’s being homophobic, it gets stuff done.”
BSJ: It’s funny. Yeah, it’s like that’s it. I was like, that was a great Isaac line because one, look how far he’s come, but then two, look how now he can weaponize something. And it’s like, let’s do it.
EA: She learned quick.
BSJ: Yes. She learned quick.
EA: What also continued is Isaac’s relationship with Nigel, and you and John Hartman are so wonderful together, creating some of the season’s most romantic moments, and then some of the most friction filled as well. Can you talk a little bit about working with John and what you both wanted to portray with Isaac and Nigel?
BSJ: Yeah. I think what’s interesting, with John, I first of all love John. He’s so great. Anytime we get to do a scene together, I’m always very, very excited. And the whole cast loves him just as much, and we’re all very much a wonderful unit. And so what we talked about was two things was one, they are moving glacially slow as a couple. And I think that what’s been fun was to see that John, Nigel’s character, or John’s character, Nigel, has done personal work that has allowed him to be comfortable moving a lot quicker than Isaac. And trying to find and needle the frustration that Nigel might have with Isaac was a really fun thing, especially when they’re leading up to the kiss and all of the false starts that Isaac’s giving him. And John’s always so game to explore those moments. And anytime you have a character that is in a relationship, they almost become one as well. And it’s been a really fun process getting to be what is Nigel and Isaac like together as a unit, and that’s been really, really, really fun.
EA: And you had such a fun side story with Alberta and the Crash mystery, and you get to have your own Clue meets Law & Order detective story.
BSJ: Literally my two favorite types of things to watch.
EA: It really was. I was like, all right, who’s Mariska? Who’s Chris Meloni? You guys are just going back and forth.
BSJ: Exactly. Turns out we’re both Peacock and Mrs. White!
EA: Exactly. How is Danielle as a scene partner there? She’s absolutely hilarious on the show.
BSJ: I mean, here’s the deal. This is the way I would describe it is that when we shot that episode, they scheduled it… Because we basically, these two characters are planted in one location for pretty much a majority of the episode, just interrogating people back and forth. That was a morning till night shoot, and I woke up excited knowing that I was going to be with Danielle all day long. I went to bed thrilled that I got the opportunity and the time flew by like that because Danielle’s just so funny. She’s so silly. She and I are like, we got a couple rewrites and we’re there and we’re trying to adjust on the fly, and she’s giving me jokes and I’m giving her jokes. And even if none of it made it, we had this really cute moment at the end of that episode where Isaac says to Alberta, “Well, yes, even though this was all for nothing, when was the last time we got a chance to spend this kind of time together?”
And I remember in that moment feeling like, oh, that’s a real feeling that I’m having right now. Because when in a big ensemble show, it’s the best when we’re all together. But then there’s these nice moments where you have little pockets of people, and I hadn’t gotten that with her yet, and it was fantastic. I loved it. She’s so great.
EA: It’s one of the great successes of the show is that it is a huge ensemble, but everyone gets broken up and paired enough to feel like they have their own stories.
BSJ: Oh, yeah. I don’t envy whatever the process of the writer’s room is, I don’t envy it because I know they’re working super, super hard and they’re doing a high-wire act of giving everybody a spotlight and giving everybody a space and so forth. So I’m glad that that’s coming through, so thank you.
EA: Oh, absolutely. And did I read that Rebecca Wisocky is who you read with for Renfield?
BSJ: You did read that. Yes. She put me on tape, she played Nic Cage’s part. Nic Cage, like we’re best friends. Nicholas Cage, Sir Nicholas Cage.
EA: Oh, he says Nic. I remember talking with him a few years ago and he was very insistent on Nic.
BSJ: Great. Cool. Okay. Fabulous. So Nic, my good old buddy… But yeah, she played his part. She played Dracula and I got it. She was so committed and so great. And I said to her, and Rich, the casting director, Rich Delia, I was like, “I know that I got this part mainly because of her.”
EA: And did that make it easier or harder?
BSJ: Here’s the thing, she’s such a good actor. She’s so smart and so great with just understanding scripts immediately, whereas I’m a little slow on the uptake a lot of the times where I read something multiple times. I have to figure out, okay, what am I doing? What choice am I going to make? She’s very confident, she knows what to do. And she played with me, and she really almost coached me through it, which I think was really cool. And it’s also because I just love and trust her so much. She and I are buds up there in Montreal and down here in LA too. So it’s really, really, really nice to get a chance to have that moment with her. But she really fucking helped me.
EA: You have great scenes with her this season too.
Brandon Scott Jones: Yes.
EA: Yeah. I want more.
BSJ: No, I wouldn’t, honestly, anytime she and I are together, we love it. It’s so fun to just play the two high status characters just that are both also unaware what buffoons they are. You know what I mean? It’s just been really, yeah, more of it whenever we want. I mean, whenever we can get it.
EA: How much has your standup and improv background helped you? And is there any on the set that gets in?
BSJ: That gets in, that’s a different thing. I think improv, it’s funny, I’ve just recently been doing a little bit more of it here in LA and I’ve been out and dusting off the old boards or whatever that phrase is. But I feel like it’s really helpful because even if it doesn’t make it in, whenever you’re going to improvise anything either on this show or on The Other Two, you’re not going to come up with a line that’s better than what these writers have come up with. But what it does allow is for you to explore a moment that you just instinctually felt, or you can find a new dynamic that maybe even if it doesn’t make the cut, they see it and they’re like, “Oh, that is a fun thing to explore between these two characters.” Or it is a fun way to monologue almost about your character and get a better understanding of what it is that you’re feeling.
So I look at it more as, what it was even when I was performing it all the time back in New York, it is this collaborative art form, but it’s also a collaborative tool. And I think that’s the thing that’s the most fun about it.
EA: I think the big question for everybody with this season is who got “sucked off”? And I hope if you’re reading this now that you watch the show and understand what that means. But if not, that’s okay too.
BSJ: If you don’t understand what it means, tune in.
EA: Tune in. This could get really fun.
BSJ: Yeah, exactly. CBS has taken some risks.
EA: It is. We’re going to Paramount+ now.
EA: Do you have any theories and are you aware of any theories that people have about who?
BSJ: I am aware of, I’ve gotten tagged in a couple things where people have been like, “It’s Isaac.” And I’m like, you check your phone and you see that, and then there’s a sobering thing of just want to make sure that your boss wasn’t the person that tweeted that. I don’t know. It’s really interesting. I know a little bit around what’s happening, but I don’t have a full picture just yet. But I think whatever it is… One thing that I saw in an article that my boss has said, Joe Wiseman, is that next season they want to explore grief. And I was like, “Oh, that’s so interesting to take people who were already dead and maybe caused loved ones grief to see what they are experiencing that on their own.” So whoever it is, whatever it is, I’m really looking forward to it. And I’m just like, let’s not take this writer strike too long. You can get too many ideas in your head.
EA: Yes, it’s been set up really well because a lot of ghosts had a lot of closure this season about their initial stories.
BSJ: It is interesting. You can argue almost everybody has some sort of thing, and they set that up really, really well. And this is, it’s just fun. So we’re all excited and looking forward to it too. And I’m convinced that some people already know the full story, and I’m like, they’re just not telling.
EA: Oh, I’m sure. I’m sure somebody on Reddit has cameras in rooms somewhere and they know.
EA: I want to shift over to The Other Two, which is having the most phenomenal season. It’s crazy. And you have a much bigger role as Curtis this time around. What did you want to bring to this season with the larger visibility?
BSJ: Oh, well, I was thrilled. I was so excited when [show creators] Chris [Kelly] and Sarah [Schneider] called me and told me what they were thinking for what the season was going to be. I was like, “Oh my gosh. Wow. That’s so exciting.” I was excited to flesh Curtis out away from Cary, and just to see, I really wanted to make him feel like, I think the fun of him and the fun that I have playing him is that he’s silly. He’s big and he has some frivolous moments, and I think he’s enthusiastic in a way that Cary isn’t. But I think also this season I wanted to really show the difference of how they move through life and really try to see, oh, I want to ground this guy a little bit more. And so hopefully as the season progresses and in his arc, hopefully there’s going to be, the moments that we want to hit will hit.
And that was really fun. And just knowing that I was going to get to do more with the other cast members that I haven’t gotten a chance to play with. I was just super, super thrilled. I mean, I could perform with Drew Tarver all day and would do that if I could, but also getting everybody else there too has been really, really, really fun.
EA: One of my favorite elements is Curtis watching Survivor with his friends every week. That felt very real in a season that takes so many really surreal leaps. Do you have watch parties with your LGBTs?
BSJ: I don’t. I’m so, I think because ultimately whenever something is on television, there is that joke too in this season where they’re like, “We’re going to talk over the whole thing.” That’s what I really always want to do anyway. I just want to just chat the entire time. I think when I do it’s not necessarily for a TV show, it would be for the Oscars or the Tonys, which I think, for the record, are underrated. The Tonys are the most fun because you get the most intense acceptance speeches and you get the most performance numbers. So it’s the most to talk about. So I want the Tonys to get good ratings this year, even though…yeah.
EA: Well, in honor of Curtis and his friends playing Celebrity this season, we’re going to play right now.
BSJ: Oh God. Okay.
EA: Okay. Get ready. Her iconic music career has lasted over 40 years, and she’s known as the Queen of Pop.
EA: He played the first gay blob in a Disney animated film.
BSJ: Cary Dubek.
EA: Congratulations, Brandon. You are the winner of this challenge.
BSJ: I did it. I got so, wait, I got so nervous right away. I was like, “Oh my God, I don’t know anybody’s name.”
EA: I was going to drill down, go super crazy with it, but I was just like, “Oh, let’s have some fun.”
BSJ: Yeah. No, I love it.
EA: We mentioned a little bit about the writer’s strike, which is obviously ongoing, and you are a writer yourself. It definitely brought me back to the scene in Ghosts about Isaac’s book where Nigel says, “You can’t just exploit his labor and take the profits for yourself.”
EA: Really underlined in the most prophetic way.
BSJ: Yeah. Really, looking back on it, I wasn’t even thinking about that when we were writing it, but then the timing of it was absolutely spot on. And yeah, it’s just like, we got to… Look, anytime anybody has ever liked any single thing on television, it is because somebody sat down and they wrote it, and they have an experience, or they wanted to evoke something that is absolutely unique and human. And I think, or even if it’s not human, that you can still, with Homeward Bound, dogs and cats can be, but you know what I mean. And we’ve got to pay, I don’t know. We’re not asking for anything unreasonable.
EA: Yeah. I want the best possible outcome for-
BSJ: Absolutely. And my thing is that if you think AI is something that can replace a writer, and if AI is that smart, they will also be that smart to strike. So you might as well get used to paying.
EA: Exactly. Once it becomes sentient, then it will strike as well. We’ve all seen that movie.
BSJ: Absolutely. Oh yes, absolutely. 100%. It will absolutely… Once it becomes sentient, it will strike. And we’re of course talking about Small Wonder.
EA: Oh my God, the greatest callback in the history of 80’s sitcoms. I love it. Brandon, thank you.
BSJ: Oh my God, Erik, this is the best fun. It was so fun talking to you. Thank you so much.
EA: It was awesome. It was great to talk to you.
Brandon Scott Jones is Emmy eligible in the category of Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for CBS’s Ghosts and for Max’s The Other Two.