As part of Nerds and Beyond’s ongoing coverage of Peacock and Crypt TV’s The Girl in the Woods, we had the opportunity to discuss the show with Misha Osherovich! Osherovich is best known for their breakthrough role in the horror comedy Freaky with Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton. They are also known for their work as an advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community and for access to mental health treatment, teaming up with NEDA for a campaign for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week this past year.
In The Girl in the Woods, Osherovich plays Nolan, a non-binary teenager caught up in the fight to protect their town when a mysterious door in the woods unleashes monsters on the world. They provided insight into queer representation on the series, their character, and more!
Nerds and Beyond: What was it that originally attracted you to the role of Nolan?
Misha Osherovich: I fell in love with both halves of Nolan: their witty humor, but also their pain. Nolan struggles with a lot of the same identity issues I went through as a teen, and it was kind of brilliant to see those hard character moments played out in a fun monster-filled horror way.
Nerds and Beyond: Nolan is both a funny and tragic character — they get a lot of great one-liners, but a lot of their sarcasm is masking the sense of alienation they feel. Was it difficult to balance the humor and the more serious parts of Nolan’s character?
Misha Osherovich: Luckily no — so much of that came from great writing and great direction. Krysten Ritter especially had great instincts on how to push me towards making a moment a joke — even when I initially thought the moment should be “dark.” It ended up being super effective — when a character is hurting, what’s even worse than watching them hurt? Watching them cover up their pain with humor.
Nerds and Beyond: Both The Girl in the Woods and Freaky have queer talent behind the camera, from Casey Modderno to Christopher Landon and Michael Kennedy. How did having queer writers telling queer stories affect not only your experience working on both projects but also the impact the story is able to have?
Misha Osherovich: It made all the difference. This project was a dream to work on with Casey. We would have zoom sessions to talk about everything from Nolan’s dialogue to what memes they would be scrolling through. I felt so seen and heard and safe as a queer actor playing a queer role on set. That’s not always the case in TV, so having Casey around was truly a blessing.
Nerds and Beyond: As a genre, horror is a natural place to tell queer stories, both explicitly and through subtext. What is it about the genre that appeals to you?
Misha Osherovich: Well exactly that. Not just queer stories, but any story about a character that feels on the outside of society. Horror as a genre opens up so many ways to talk about things like mental health, classism, gender and pretty much every other “hard to talk about” issue — but through a spooky and fantastical lens.
Nerds and Beyond: Nolan’s journey towards coming out as non-binary (at least in the first five episodes) is heartbreaking, but it also feels very honest. How much of that was on the page, and how much of it was input you had in their character development?
Misha Osherovich: So much of it was given to me on the page. Even in the auditions I struggled to keep my shit together because reading Nolan’s journey got me so in my feels. Ultimately it was a lot of playing with different ways to deliver lines and moments on set to try to get the most “real” version of a struggling queer kid we could capture.
Nerds and Beyond: While non-binary representation has improved in the last few years, there are still far too few non-binary characters in media (and in genres like horror and fantasy in particular). What impact are you hoping that Nolan has on viewers?
Misha Osherovich: I hope Nolan, and in a larger sense this show, add to the conversation of “queerness comes in many forms.” We are getting there with Hollywood, but there’s still so many more kinds of people that have NOT seen themselves meaningfully represented on screen. Our show certainly makes space for pretty much ALL the characters to be fluid in their identity — it’s messy and fun and sometimes painful. That’s what being a queer person is. So let’s see more of that beautiful messiness in TV and film.
The Girl in the Woods is out now on Peacock. You can find our other coverage of the series here!