“Hit The Floor” Star Brent Antonello And Creator James LaRosa Talk About The Show’s Hot Gay Storyline

The ins and outs of "Zude."

The big question going into the second season finale of VH1’s Hit The Floor may be “Who Killed Olivia?” but what we really want to know is “Will Jude and Zero get together?”

The show took us by surprise this eason with a gay storyline between closeted basketball player Zero (Adam Senn) and sports agent Jude (Brent Antonello). The guys shared sex scenes as steamy as any other on the show, and have audiences clamoring for more “Zude.”

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While Zero has made it clear to Jude he has no interest in talking feelings, the two men did share a tender moment in the penultimate episode. So maybe Zero does have a capacity for more than just a physical relationship?

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Clinton Gaughran

We sat down with Antonello and Hit The Floor’s out creator, James LaRosa, to talk about the storyline, the enthusiastic reception by fans and what the future may hold for Zude.

The show has really picked up heat going into the finale.

James LaRosa: Season One was a really wonderful word-of-mouth experience for us. We went up in the ratings every single week except for one. Season Two, we went darker, and we got a lot more complex.

I saw what my actors could do in the first season, which is a lot. So we decided to just throw a bomb right in the middle and see what happens. Everyone measured up, and then we brought on three new characters who just are all twisted in their own way.

They’ve brought a lot to the show and have really made it a great ‘whodunnit’ for today.

One of those is Brent, who plays Jude, who is actually prime suspect in Olivia’s murder.

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Brent, what did you know about Jude going into the show?

Brent Antonello: When we were auditioning, I just knew that he was a junior sports agent. I didn’t know that I was going to be the son of Oscar.

And then, midway through the season, we found out where the storyline was going between me and Zero. Adam and I were stoked about it, because you could have a sports agent [where] it just gets dull.

And then we were talking the other week about how you’ve seen the gay characters on TV and they don’t have the relationships or anything like that.

JL: They’re always martyrs. I just keep going back to Matt from Melrose Place, who was always holding someone’s hair back and giving them tea and advice.

And you’re like, when do you hook up dirty, Matt? It just never happened.He just smiled and gave Rhonda some good advice and then that was it.

Where would you say Jude’s heart is at this point? Is he falling for Zero?

BA: (nodding) Jude’s falling for Zero, without a doubt. I think you can see that without any dialogue—Just the way that he looks at him. And I feel like Zero could possibly be heading that direction, but we’ll see. We’ll find out.

JL: The one piece of dialogue that I feel like defines Jude completely as a character is when he said, “I keep reaching for people. Just once, I want somebody to reach back.”

To me, that’s the heartbreaking part of Jude, because he didn’t grow up with a father. He was the son of the first wife who didn’t have grand designs when it came to being with Oscar.

He just sort of cut her off and Jude grew up with no dad. He’s always been just trying to get somebody’s love and attention, and then along comes Zero, who’s buying him sports cars and saying, “Are you Team Zero?” And here’s somebody who is kind of f*cked up just like Jude is.

Everyone has a motive, everyone has an agenda. Jude and Zero are no different.

And they don’t have some isolated story off to the side: They’re scheming, they’re making bad decisions. But you feel for them—we learned that Zero was kid of foster parents who only fostered to get the money. And they called him “Zero,” which is pretty messed up.

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Do you think Jude will trust Zero? Or is there still a voice in him that’s saying, “Maybe this guy is playing me?

BA: I would like to think it’s more trusting. I feel like Jude saw something in Zero when he realized that Zero wasn’t going to bring take him down when he heard about [Jude giving] cocaine to Derek.

I think that was a sign. I would see trustworthiness in a person if they were to do that.

JL: Zero’s done inherently nothing wrong to Jude at this point. You can tell if you’re getting resistance from someone and, as bad as Zero is to everyone, he hasn’t really been bad to Jude—yet. 

And Jude’s not a dumb character, he’s an opportunist. He supplied Derek with coke to get on his good side and to work his way into the arena. He’s a smart guy.

Smart people fall in love with the wrong people, too, though. So it remains to be seen what will happen with Jude. But I like the fact that both Jude and Zero are smart.

Brent, what have you heard on social media about “Zude.”

BA: Great stuff.

It’s like what James is saying: A lot of people, with the gay characters, they’re pleased because the show takes place in such a testosterone-driven setting, with beautiful women. To bring these two characters in shocked everyone in a great way. We got great feedback.

I actually was texting with Adam last week, and we were just like, “Dude, I can’t believe we’re getting this much positive response. This is great. I can’t wait to see where this will lead up to in Season Three or wherever it goes.” So, we’re very pleased.

Did you and Adam talk about your sex scenes beforehand?

BA: You just have to commit. I think that’s the big word for us. We have to commit 110%, because people will look at it and go, “That’s bullshit.”

The story is such a big thing with James we didn’t want to disappoint anyone, including the cast, because we’re new members of the show. So it was all about commitment and leaving everything outside and just being those two characters in that moment, and letting things happen and react to each other’s words and just let it happen.

JL: The response has been amazing, actually, and it started with Brent and Adam’s response because they didn’t know what they were getting into when they joined the show. Now there are people who tweet me all the time, “I think they’re adorable, and I want them to have babies.”

I get tweets from women who are saying, “I never thought seeing two guys together would turn me on this much,” or “That’s the hottest sex scene I’ve ever seen, and it was with two guys!”

And in that episode where Jude and Zero had sex, we had a sex scene with Jelena (Logan Browning) and Terence (Robert Christopher Riley) as well, and it was just as hot. They were both each treated exactly the same,.

To Brent and Adam’s credit, I was like, “Okay, we’re going to shoot this scene, and you can’t be pussies.” If Logan and Rob, who play Jelena and Terrence, are going to yank each other’s clothes up and hold them up against walls and pull down zippers with their teeth… I mean, you guys have got to get in the game!

So, you had that first little kiss in the beginning, then they back off and then they attack each other and it’s on! Belts are off, shirts are off and we melted the Internet. It was fantastic.

Brent, how was it telling your friends and family the direction of the character?

BA: Adam actually met my parents. It was the filming of [last week’s episode] and my mom and my dad were sitting outside. I remember him just walking and I just knew Adam was going to say something.

He just looks at my dad and goes, “Your son has very soft lips” and we just started cracking up.

And I remember kissing Adam in the limo and looking at him and rubbing the top of my lip and just going, “Dude, I totally get why girls prefer clean shaven now. I totally get it.” Beard burn!

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Talk to me about the scene where Oscar basically disowns Jude.

JL: That was so terrible to film. [LaRosa directed both last week’s episode and the season finale.] First of all, it was terrible to write. At the table read, there were a few actors who actually teared up. Don Stark, who plays Oscar, is one of the nicest, kindest people that you will ever meet, and he plays such a scumbag on the show and he did not like filming that scene. Afterwards, he said to me, “I’ve murdered people on camera. I’ve had people killed, including on this show and that was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”

How was it to shoot that scene, Brent?

BA: Oh, man. Don and I wouldn’t talk to each other because we felt like if we speak to each other it would just ruin the dynamic of the scene and everything, but yeah, I remember Don breaking down and just saying, “I can’t imagine saying that to my daughters, let alone you just in the room.”

Just so we’re clear, we’re definitely finding out Olivia’s killer in the finale, right?

JL: We are definitely finding out Olivia’s killer. I can tell you for sure that it is someone you know. It is not some bulls**t tertiary character. It’s definitely someone you’ve come to know. It’s a name at the top of the credits and I can tell you that you will be shocked. I can tell you that the reveal gives me chills every single time, and I shot it. So I know what it is. I know what it’s about, and every single time I see it, it just feels really, really good.

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Is it safe to say that we’ll maybe get some new cliffhangers that’ll lead us into season three?

JL: Oh my God, yes. We want the network to want to bring us back. So we try not to answer too many questions and sometimes the answers to questions can ask new ones. I won’t say that isn’t a possibility, but our season finale sets us up for a lot of really exciting twists and turns which are both plot-related and also relationship-related. So, if you love the relationships of soaps, the finale’s going to…you’re just going to dine on it like it’s Thanksgiving.

In the tradition of some of the old soaps and their cliffhangers, did you shoot multiple endings to show who killed Olivia?

JL: Did I ever! I shot multiple endings. I was inspired by the ‘Who Shot JR’ of it all where they said, ‘hold this gun and point it’ and they did that to everybody. So, I did that. Whether or not I used one of them or none of them, I won’t say. I filmed multiple endings just like they did on Dallas and so the cast is going to find out which one of them did it with the audience at home.

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Here’s a special preview clip of Jude being questioned about his whereabouts on the night of Olivia’s murder. His alibi looks a little shaky!

 

Hit The Floor returns Monday, January 18, at 9pm on VH1