‘Girls’’ Ebon Moss-Bachrach Opens Up About His Character's OxyContin Addiction

By Britni de la Cretaz 02/23/17

“I had no idea that I’d been on Oxy in the previous two seasons. That wasn’t a seed that was planted years ago.”

Image: 
Ebon Moss-Bachrach
Ebon Moss-Bachrach Photo via YouTube

On the second episode of the final season of HBO’s Girls, a bombshell was dropped on the audience: Desi, the universally disliked husband of Marnie, has an OxyContin addiction and has been hiding it from Marnie for their entire relationship. 

Desi’s issue was revealed with a literal crash, when Marnie discovers a jar of the pills and throws the entire thing on the ground and begins to stomp on them. Desi then tries to snort the pills from the ground in desperation. Eventually, the character admits to Marnie that he was high for most of their relationship, including on their wedding day. “You are so bad at knowing when people are high,” Hannah (played by Lena Dunham) tells Marnie after Marnie discovers Desi’s secret. 

Ebon Moss-Bachrach, who plays Desi, told Bustle that Desi’s drug addiction isn’t all that different from his toxic relationship with Marnie: "Their relationship is kind of like an addiction, too. There are highs and lows and a lot of physical need.”

For Moss-Bachrach, one of the biggest challenges in playing a character with an OxyContin addiction is that it’s not something he’s known about since the beginning. “I had no idea that I’d been on Oxy in the previous two seasons,” he told Vulture. “That wasn’t a seed that was planted years ago.”

However, he says the revelation made him reconsider things about Desi’s character, as well as some of his past actions on the show. “When I think about it, it’s sort of an interesting new ingredient in the mix. It’s like, oh, wow,” Moss-Bachrach said. “It makes total sense for his character … Desi’s a big baby. So that addict kind of selfishness that can come out is definitely right in the sweet spot.”

Moss-Bachrach discussed the challenges of playing someone with an opioid addiction. “It’s hard because I want to be respectful of people. This is like a scourge of the country, obviously,” he said, referring to the current addiction epidemic that's affecting large numbers of people in the U.S. “But at the same time,” he added, “we’re not doing an after-school special. This is not on ‘a very special Girls.’ This is a comedy.”

The fact that it's a comedy makes dealing with an opioid addiction tough. “Adding into the mix what this particular drug is, it’s pretty dopey and a downer, and that’s much less funny in general than something speedy,” said Moss-Bachrach. “You can get a lot more comedy out of that [speedy] direction.”

Moss-Bachrach says he found out about his character’s addiction from the script, and then did as much research as he could. He also says he wants to be careful to avoid stereotyping with his representation of someone struggling with addiction.

“I’m cautious about saying that [an addiction makes sense, too]. I think you could take anybody out there and fold in an addiction to OxyContin” and it would make sense. “I don’t think there’s necessarily more susceptible personality types or not,” he says.

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.

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