Anthony Keyvan talks joining Love, Victor – and who he almost played on the show!

Love, Victor is returning for its second season on Hulu June 11. When we last saw Victor, he had taken a big step by coming out to his parents. And to make matters more emotional, Victor just found out that his parents are separating. He has the support of his sister Pilar, but there’s no doubt that the family will be changed forever. We’re looking forward to seeing his parent’s reaction (and hopefully acceptance) to his reveal.

The new season is going to be exciting with new characters joining the cast. One of the newest faces on the show is Anthony Keyvan. Anthony has appeared on shows like Grey’s Anatomy, The Rookie, and Alexa and Katie. Now he’s joining Love, Victor as recurring character Rahim- a Muslim and LGBTQ student at Victor’s school. But much like Victor was at the start of the show, Rahim is at the start of his coming out journey.

YEM got the chance to speak with Anthony a few months back about his new character Rahim. When we spoke with Anthony in April, he was only two weeks from wrapping production on the show. Anthony shared the importance of representation and why he is excited to play a Muslim LGBT character. Plus, he tells us about how he almost ended up playing the show’s main character!

YEM: Were you familiar with the show before joining the cast?

Anthony: I was! Not only had I watched the show but I had auditioned for the lead (role of Victor) a year and a half ago. So I was very familiar with the show.

YEM: What was your audition like for season two? Was it different from when you auditioned in the past?

Anthony: It was much different from the first time. I auditioned for the role of Victor and I had tested for it, meaning it was pretty much between me and Michael [Cimino, who plays Victor]. Obviously, Michael got the role and I think that’s for the best because I am not Latinx. And I think it would be a terrible misrepresentation of that community if I were to land that part. So I’m very grateful that I didn’t and I’m very happy that Michael did because he’s amazing as Victor.

As far as the second time I had auditioned for the show, it kind of came out of the blue! I didn’t think that I would ever be on the show until casting reached out about me. They wanted me to basically [self-tape an audition] for this part that they had for this season. It was originally named Cyrus and I thought that was really cool because my middle name is Cyrus. So I had a bit of a connection with the character in that sense.

Long story short, I was actually on set of the other show that I’m on, Generation, when I got the call from my manager saying they were really interested in me taping. So I sent in a tape and about a week later I found out they had pinned me, meaning they were essentially wanting me to keep my dates open in case they wanted to cast me. That in itself was so cool that they were hoping to have me as part of the show. A couple of weeks passed and we closed the deal. And it was a much smoother process than when I had originally auditioned because the entire creative team had already been familiar with me because they worked with me when I was auditioning for Victor. I think that really helped.

And of course, we can’t do anything in person. So everything was over tape, over the phone. That’s how we were able to close the deal. So I didn’t actually see anyone in person.

YEM: What is it like to self tape all of your auditions or Zoom your auditions?

Anthony: Definitely there’s a lot less pressure when taping at home because you get to do it however many times you want. You basically pick your best performance to submit. I feel like it’s a little bit easier but at the same time I really do miss going into the room with the casting director and making that connection with them. It’s a lot harder to connect with someone when they’re only seeing a two minute video of you.

It was a little bit different. I had my doubts with self-tapes. But honestly I’ve adjusted pretty well. I think it’s a really cool tool. I think it’s actually helped because I used to get really nervous for auditions.

Photo Credit: Rob Echanique

YEM: We’re really excited that the production was able to continue during the pandemic.

Anthony: Definitely. We were very lucky that we were able to film an entire season during a pandemic. It definitely came with its challenges and a lot of changes happened in the way that we do things fundamentally as an industry have changed. It’s really cool to see how creative people are adaptable. We got it done given the circumstances and I’m really proud of us for doing that. I commend anyone that is in this industry at the moment because it’s hard. A three month shoot turned into a six month shoot!

YEM: What was it like being on set and joining the cast that had already filmed a full season together? Was it hard to be on set with so many new things?

Anthony: It was really, really cool. First of all, we filmed on the Fox lot which is such an iconic space to be filming. To be able to work on that lot was really special. Coming to the show as a new character in the second season, I was definitely a little bit nervous. Because I was coming into a dynamic that had already been set in place for an entire year. And I would be there to essentially change that. So I was kind of worried about how I would be received by the cast.

But I was very pleasantly surprised by how welcoming everybody was and how they took me under their wing and made me a part of their family. It was really special, I don’t think anyone gets to experience that on set very often. To have that is really rare and really special. I’ve created some amazing bonds and friendships with my cast mates that I had no idea was going to happen.

YEM: What can you tell us about your new character, Rahim? What does he bring to the show?

Anthony: My character Rahim is a Muslim Iranian kid whose parents immigrated form Iran. And he is also queer. He is at the start of his coming out journey. That’s a combination that is not only not represented nearly enough, but is also often not talked about in the Muslim community. Being able to explore the complexities and struggles of coming out while being Muslim with Rahim is something that I think will help a lot of people.

He’s also Pilar’s best friend. I think it’s really cool that Pilar gets a little bit more of a storyline now. We didn’t really get to see much of her in Season One, and now she has her own friend group and her own plot lines too. It’s really awesome that Rahim is able to build off of that.

And he also kind of serves as a confidant for both Victor and Pilar while they’re navigating this tumultuous time in their family. Victor’s parents were going through some marital issues and that’s also being talked about this season. Rahim is like that support system. Everyone needs that friend that they can talk about their family to. And that’s what Rahim is for both of them. I think he really serves a lot this season and I’m excited for people to get to know him.

YEM: There is an importance to the character of Rahim since he is Muslim and queer. Were you excited to explore that or did that add more pressure to playing this role?

Anthony: I’m honored. I’m also Iranian so to be able to play a character that accurately represents me is so cool. Of course it comes with some nerves because there aren’t a lot of characters like Rahim seen on film or on TV. Honestly I’m just really excited to be that.

Rahim is equally a challenge and a pleasure to play. Playing a character that not only pushes a narrative that’s important for young people to see, but also challenges me as an actor is something that is really special. He’s very different from me so finding what makes us similar can be challenging, but really, really rewarding. I’m just very, very grateful to be able to play Rahim .

YEM: What can fans expect from Season 2 of the show?

Anthony: I can’t really give away too much, but there’s just a lot more this season. There’s a lot more levels to it. Culturally, we’re not only speaking about the Latinx and Catholic community receiving a gay person, but also Muslim people. And how a Muslim kid is received in Creekwood in Georgia at the same time. I think it’s really

cool that they’re expanding that culturally and I’m really excited to be a part of it. Unfortunately I can’t give away any plotlines, so that’s all I can tell you! I’m looking forward to seeing it with all of you!

YEM: As an actor, how did you keep up your craft during the pandemic?

Anthony: If you’re passionate about something, never stop doing it. That’s something I’ve been doing my whole life. I’ve been acting since I was five and I’ve been really close to quitting sometimes because this industry can be really grueling. It can be really brutal and extremely tolling on mental health. If you are going to be doing this, be aware of that. But if you passionate about this, keep going. Keep going to classes. Keep submitting yourself. Practice a monologue, whatever you can. Just keep doing it.

Don’t give up. That’s the best advice I can give you. I know actors who have been actors for decades and never got recognition for their work and never got that big role until they were well into their 50s. Melissa Leo for example – I was lucky enough to work with her when I was 9 on an independent film. She has been in the game since her early 20s and she didn’t really make it until a film that she made in 2005 that put her into the spotlight. But she stuck it out, she kept practicing, she kept perfecting her craft and making herself better. I think that’s really cool because a lot of people would’ve given up by then.

So if this is truly what you want to be doing, there’s room for everyone now. There are roles being written for every type of person now. There’s no better time to become a professional actor because I feel like the future is really bright for Hollywood in terms of representation.

YEM: Finally, what one or two words would you use to describe Season 2 of Love, Victor?

Anthony: Exciting! I would say exciting, and surprising. There’s a couple of surprises this season.