'He Gave Me This Beautiful Bear Hug': 'The Unicorn' Is The Comedy That's Helping People Grieve
Walton Goggins is used to fans approaching him about his work, but ever since he became ‘The Unicorn’ he’s received more hugs than ever before.
The show's name refers to the main character's desirability as a recently single dad, after his wife dies from cancer.
But at its heart, 'The Unicorn' is about the absurdity and the humanity involved in the grieving process.
Speaking to 10 daily, Goggins explained that, just a few weeks ago, he was travelling home to Los Angeles and got picked up from the airport by a driver who explained that he'd been touched by the show.
"Then he pulled the car over and he got out and he said, 'I just lost my wife about a year ago and I have two sons that are in their early 20s,'" Goggins told 10 daily.
"He said, ‘We don’t know who we are any more' and then he gave me this beautiful bear hug in tears on the side of the road on La Cienega, talking about his loss."
It's a sentiment you can see written all over the comments on the actor's Instagram page -- people who are grieving loved ones and making a strong connection with Goggin's character Wade Felton -- a father of two teenage daughters who has been navigating his way through grief as he jumps back into the dating scene.
The show is based on the real-life story of Grady Cooper, a close friend of showrunners Bill Martin and Mike Schiff.
"It has also become extremely cathartic for him [Grady] because he’s working out a lot of these issues," Goggins said.
"He’s lived and still living a lot of the issues we kinda talk about in the show."
Goggins said 'The Unicorn' has also been "extremely cathartic" for him personally, having "gone through my own crisis in my own life" [his first wife died 15 years ago] and the project was initially a little daunting.
"I do believe this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and it scared me more than anything I’ve done in a long time because it is so very similar to who I am as a person," he told 10 daily.
"It took me a minute to really get used to that," he said.
"This is how I am, I am this very kind of sincere, relatively naive, pretty happy-go-lucky but a little bit insecure kinda guy," he added.
But it was that tinge of fear that pushed him to step up to the role and join a cast that includes Rob Corddry ('The Daily Show'), Michaela Watkins ('Transparent', 'Casual') and Omar Benson Miller ('Miracle at St Anna').
"I got a piece of advice from a dear friend of mine, a good while ago and that was, just say ‘yes’ in life more than you say ‘no’."
Goggins said yes, but explained that the first few days of filming 'The Unicorn' "weren't easy".
"The first few days on the pilot, I really had to breathe through a lot of it and go, ‘it’s alright, man, you’re going to be okay’.
"[You've] just gotta keep coming from your heart and be as honest as you possibly can."
Fitting the complexities of loss, grief, parenting and dating into a 22-minute sitcom format might seem like a challenge, but 'The Unicorn' somehow manages to strike the right balance.
Goggins said that, at first, people assumed the shows was just going to be, "about a guy who loses his wife, goes on a bunch of dates and maybe, he's a bumbling idiot".
"But that was never what it was meant to be."