‘Hacks’ Star Carl Clemons-Hopkins Sees Marcus as a ‘Modern-Day Parable’ of Work-Life Balance

The actor breaks down Season 3, Episode 8’s “beautiful” Pride moment

Hacks
Marcus (Carl Clemons-Hopkins) in "Hacks" Season 3 (Photo Credit: Max)

Three seasons in, and “Hacks” continued to unveil more layers of the straight-laced and ever-responsible Marcus. Turns out, he’s a Deborah Vance superfan hiding in plain sight.

Carl Clemons-Hopkins, the actor behind Marcus, loved the reveal.

“I feel like that superfan kid got a bit jaded and a bit covered with the actual day-to-day that is [running] the Deborah Vance brand,” Clemons-Hopkins told TheWrap of his Season 3 arc.

Though “Hacks” spends most of its time dissecting the complicated working relationship between Deborah (Jean Smart) and Ava (Hannah Einbinder), the character with the most interesting career journey has long been Marcus. After realizing how much of himself he devoted to Deborah, Season 2 saw Marcus throw himself into his personal life — and all the partying that involved — with the same gusto reserved for his professional life. At the end of that season, Marcus came to terms with the “imbalances” of this lifestyle and started therapy.

“It’s been kind of a modern-day parable, this season, about focus and balance and stress responses and behavioral triggers and all of those wonderful, good words,” Clemons-Hopkins said. “But overall, it’s been really fun to grow this character while also growing with this character.”

Since the first episode of “Hacks,” Marcus has worked as Deborah’s no-nonsense righthand man, originally starting as her COO before being promoted to CEO in Season 2. Along the way, the comedy has teased that it was Marcus’ childhood love of the comedian that led to him revamping her image as a teenager and eventually running her many merchandising deals. But it isn’t until Season 3, Episode 8, titled “Yes, And,” that “Hacks” portrays Marcus not as Deborah’s closest confidante but as one of her biggest fans.

The episode starts with Deborah’s team accidentally double booking her. The same weekend she’s supposed to get her honorary doctorate from UC Berkeley is Palm Springs, the annual Las Vegas gay pride celebration Deborah is known for attending. Initially, Deborah tries to balance both events before she breaks the bad news to Marcus, choosing to stay at Berkeley and manage a cancel culture crisis rather than rush back to Palm Springs. Her decision infuriates Marcus so much that he loses his cool for one of the first times in the series, telling his boss and idol “you don’t f–king listen.”

Still angry, Marcus goes out drinking where he runs into one of Deborah’s longtime fans. But instead of sharing in his anger, Reggie (Tim Bagley) brushes off Deborah’s absence and cheers her on, noting that she’s had a “hell of a year.”

“To be able to have that fan-to-fan, gay-to-gay Pride moment, it was really beautiful. It was really fun,” Clemons-Hopkins said. This conversation, which revolves around what it means to be a fan and eventually share your fandom, helped the actor fill in a lot of blanks when it came to the character.

“I got to really explore, not just what Deborah means to him … You get to find out how Deborah has been shaping his life a little bit,” they said. “I’m really grateful that the writers got to dive into the psyche of Marcus in that way.”

The Season 3 finale of “Hacks” premieres on Max Thursday.

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