UnREAL’s Josh Kelly Explains Why Even ‘Nice Guys’ Are Capable Of Abuse

Hottie Josh Kelly plays Jeremy on UnREAL, the Lifetime series about what goes on behind the scenes of a Bachelor-like dating show. While Jeremy was initially portrayed as one of the few “good guys,” recent episodes has shown that even the nice guy can get pushed too far. We talked with Josh about how he got into character, his previous experience with abusive relationships, and how to get over an ex.

Photo by Joseph Briscoe

Your character on UnREAL was originally one of the “good guys,” but recently has been going downhill and hit his ex, how did you get into character for this scene?

Believe it or not I prepared for it as I would any other scene. I had to understand my character’s motivation and back story. On a series you have the benefit of “living” with a character for a while. I have been familiar with Jeremy’s story for the past 3 years. So the back story was done. The motivation came from how Rachel has been treating him so badly this season, and what transpires during the scene.

How did you rationalize what your character was doing?

He is acting like a scorned little kid after his first big breakup. He’s acting very childish. When the script came out that they get physical, it made some sense. Also, if you remember in season one, Rachel and Jeremy mostly had rough love scenes. The shoreline between love and hate is pretty muddy.

The script originally had your character hitting Rachel first, but you persuaded them to change it so that she hit him first and he spiraled out of control in reaction. Why?

Because Jeremy isn’t the type of person to just hit someone, man or woman, out of anger. He would have to be provoked beyond a point of rationale.

Do you think that your change in the script made it more realistic?

I do indeed. It felt right to me. If you watch the scene again you’ll notice that right after he hits her and she falls he starts to go and help her, but Chet gets in between.

Do you think that your character’s violent outburst was branching off of emotional abuse that was already occurring?

Yeah, I think the anger was simmering for a while. He felt very dejected. He felt that she was flaunting her new success and love life in front of him. Even going so far as to fire some of his crew to show her power.

It seems that when someone is accused of abuse, people are in disbelief because the accused is “such a nice guy.” Do you believe that this is wrong? Why or why not?

Something you learn in military SERE school (survival escape resistance and evasion) is that everyone under torture will eventually break. It’s about holding out long enough before breaking to try and prevent the ruining of a mission. Jeremy held out as long as he could, and tried to keep the mission going. I do believe he is a “good” guy. He was being tortured. He should have removed himself from the situation, but he is in love.

So many women have difficulty leaving an abusive relationship (whether emotional or physical), why do you think that is?

I think men and women both do. I have been in relationships with abusive women whom I loved. People sometimes laugh because I’m a fairly fit, former Army Ranger guy. But what can you do as a man when a girl starts hitting you? All you can do is take it. It’s difficult, I am proud that I am not the type of person to strike back even when hit. But it hurts emotionally, and the next day, when they are sweet and say that they will never get that drunk or crazy again, you want to forgive them, you love them.

Do you believe that abuse can be a one-time instance?

I’d like to believe that. I just don’t know. I found I had to get out of my abusive relationship. It was hard.

You told Cosmo that you can see Jeremy and Rachel ending up together again because they both are the type to have unhealthy relationships. What advice would you give to someone who shares the same trait?

Seek counseling. Professionals really do know what they’re talking about.

Do you think there is an aspect to Jeremy and Rachel’s relationship that is relatable to everyone who’s been in a relationship? If so, what?

Yes, love. There’s always some kind of love.

What’s the toughest part about getting over an ex?

Depends on you and the ex. Normally, for me, it’s getting over being reminded of the things shared between you two, whether it be friends or activities. A TV series that we would binge together often gets cast aside ’til the hurt fades. Sometimes it doesn’t happen until I find someone else to love. Like Robyn says, “The only way her heart will mend is when she learns to love again.”

Rachel and Jeremy are exes but still constantly see each other, do you think that’s part of why their relationship has become so toxic?

Totally, Jeremy is torturing himself, he gained weight and looks terrible because he wants to show Rachel how much she hurt him and cause her to feel bad. I drew from a sixth grade experience for this. My girlfriend, Nancy Spencer, broke up with me. I wore nothing but sweats and didn’t really talk for a week. She got back with me [laughs]. Jeremy is acting childish, but he’s not a child and neither is Rachel.

Do you think the true way to get over an ex is to cut them out of your life completely?

Not always, I think some people can have mature relationships and stay friends or develop a new friendship. It’s difficult if you really loved the person to say goodbye forever.

If you could choose the fate of Jeremy and Rachel’s relationship, how would you write the script?

[Laughs] It would be a boring episode, so it probably won’t happen. They go to couples counseling, not by Rach’s mom!

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