‘Huge,’ ABC Family’s summer gem about a weight loss camp, airs its most thought provoking episode yet this Monday. Alistair, the camp oddball is front and center. Harvey Guillen, who plays the LARP and Greek goddess loving, group shower hating teen previews the drama and dishes his character’s sexuality and the rest of the season.
Tease what happens in Monday’s episode.
In episode eight, it’s Chloe (Ashley Holliday) and Alistair’s birthday. They’re twins and no one knows that. Everyone remembers it’s Chloe’s birthday. She’s one of the popular girls. Sadly, since I’m not really close to everyone at camp, I haven’t really given that information out. I’ve kept it to myself. People forget. It’s kind of sad. Someone does something to Alistair that’s very shocking and it completely shifts who Alistair was and who Alistair is going to become by the next morning. It’s a big episode. You have to see it.
Any spoilers for the rest of the season?
All of our parents will come to check up on us episodes nine and ten. We will have special guest appearances from familiar faces who you have seen on other shows. You will be shocked to find out who Chloe and Alistair’s parents are. You will find out why Amber (Hayley Hasselhoff) is always putting herself down. You might connect why a lot of the kids struggle with weight, because sometimes it’s an issue at home.
Alistair’s a unique character. How would you describe him?
He’s I think what we all were at one point we were when we were children, which is pure. We think the best of people and we’re positive and very endearing. Something happens as we get older and society taints us. Alistair is holding onto that dearly. He wants to be positive. He doesn’t see the need to be mean to anyone. Sometimes, because he’s so positive, he gets stepped over by other people because people consider that weak. He’s not weak. He’s very strong, but he’s just not aggressive. There’s no character like him on TV which is why I was so excited to play this character.
There’s a lot of speculation. Is he gay?
You’ll find out in the next episode [nine] for sure who he has a crush on, but if Alistair was gay, it would be the least of his problems. Once you find out the direction the character is going it’s going to be like, Wow, if that was his biggest secret you’ll be surprised at what’s coming up. As of now everyone’s speculating that he’s gay and he seems to be aiming in that direction. You’ll be surprised.
Who’s his crush?
Everyone’s like, ‘I think he might be with Becca because they’re always talking,’ or, ‘I think he likes Trent,’ or, ‘He’s so close to Ian.’ That’s the cool thing about this character, that he’s just everywhere. He can easily be loving anyone. We sometimes love somebody. That doesn’t make us gay or anything specific or a title. Sometimes you really do care for someone, just not in a sexual way.
Why does he identify with Athena?
Athena is the goddess of wisdom. Camp is a really safe place for Alistair. He’s away from home. He’s around new people. Nobody knows he’s Chloe’s brother so there’s nothing to lose. So that’s why he picked Athena. Poppy said he could pick any name he wanted. That’s another clue to what might happen. He’s trying a lot of new things.
Why did he choose to come to Camp Victory?
Chloe got to go to camp last year and he didn’t. Chloe totally runs the household. I got to stay home because she didn’t want me to come. My parents want me to go to loose weight. I want to go to find myself. This is my chance to find out who I am and ask myself a lot of questions that a lot of teenagers have.
What is his life like at home?
He comes from a very religious background. He’s a Mama’s boy. He’s the same person he is at camp only he doesn’t take those risks. He would never say Athena out loud at the dinner table.
What does being a part of such a groundbreaking show mean to you?
When I read the pilot I thought, ‘I have to be a part of this.’ I wanted it so bad because there’s nothing like it on TV. Anything that has been put up [with overweight people] has been like a reality show. This has been the first time you’ve had a full cast of plus sized actors who are telling stories. We’re a weight loss camp, but anyone can connect with these stories. People e-mail me and say,'”I’m not overweight but I can relate to your character because I’ve always been the awkward kid in school.’ The message from the show is that everyone has extra weight that they carry, whether that be physical weight or emotional weight or the weight of stress at work. The message to take away is that you can walk away saying, ‘I’m happy with who I am.”‘And if you’re not happy, there’s options.
ABC Family’s other summer show, ‘Pretty Little Liars’ has all these lines about how terrible it is to be fat and the female characters always seem to be turning down food or feeling guilty about eating. Is the network sending out contradictory messages, or is it just a weird coincidence?
Both of these were book series. We took from the original idea and ran with it. I think it’s just coincidence that they have total opposite messages. It’s funny though because I think it says a lot about who is watching what and what they’re relating to. If there’s a girl who is watching ‘Pretty Little Liars‘ and relating to Hanna and saying, ‘That’s just like me when I thought I was overweight and only ate almonds.’ Then we’ll have the same equivalent of girls watching our show and saying,’I hated myself for being this way and then I watched your show and realized it’s okay to be who I am. It’s okay to be different.’ It’s good to have options.
When will you find out if you are picked up for a second season?
Paul Lee who was the president of ABC Family got promoted to president of ABC Entertainment and now his chair is empty. So, as of now, we don’t know. We’ll know hopefully by the end of the month. I feel hopeful and positive that we’ll be coming back for at least another ten.
Do you think there are going to be more opportunities for plus size actors?
As a performer I feel like my strong suit is being comic relief, which is great. Playing Alistair shows I’m versatile. Times are changing. Sad to say, I think it’s easier for men who are plus sized than for women. I was talking about that the other day. If you’re a plus sized guy you can be the comic relief. It should be 50/50.
Who has more fun a the camp, the cool kids or the nerds?
We have more fun. The cool kids are too cool to want to be LARPing. Sometimes we lose that in that age group,”I’m too cool to play tag anymore. I still play tag and hide and go seek. Sometimes you have to let yourself go. Sometimes the actors who play the cool kids are jealous. You can be cool and you can be weird. It’s okay.