13 Reasons Why star Dylan Minnette is opening up about filming the controversial finale -- which involved his character, Clay, thwarting an attempted school shooting by fellow student Tyler -- and exploring the “different ways a monster can be formed.”
The popular Netflix series attracted criticism for portraying gun violence on television during a time of increased unrest about real-life school shootings, and some viewers were unimpressed by how the series ignited empathy for Tyler, played by Devin Druid.
While showrunner Brian Yorkey previously explained that he hoped the show would spark conversation about such real issues, Minnette is now weighing in on what he hopes the touchy plot will achieve.
"[For me,] it’s not really about empathizing with Tyler, but recognizing that there are many different ways that a monster can be formed or what can bring a monster out of someone,” Minnette said while stopping by ET for an interview with Katie Krause on Tuesday. “The way that I view this season overall -- like involving weapons and everything -- is how dangerous it can be when kids who are so destructive and so emotionally confused can easily access weapons like this … weapons of mass destruction, like assault rifles. I would like to see that discussed in future seasons or at least be addressed.”
Minette also discussed his thoughts on the cliffhanger, in which Clay intervenes after bullied Tyler shows up to the school dance ready to unleash bullets on his classmates.
“I think we’re supposed to know and believe that what Clay did is the wrong decision to make,” Minnette said. “They should have locked the doors inside and called the police and let everyone know what was happening. I think we are not supposed to believe that Clay made the right decision, even though it was ultimately successful. We’re supposed to believe that that is a decision that Clay would make because he is someone who acts on his emotions, without thinking his actions through, and really tries to take everything on himself.”
“He was trying to make up for mistakes that he had made in his past by not being there for someone who really needs it, and that’s what he's saying when you hear the narration of his speech from Hannah's memorial service that day,” Minnette continued. “Clay just feels a responsibility to go and save anyone he can, and in doing that, it could have been an extreme disaster. I don’t really think Clay knew what he was getting into -- I don’t think he fully realized in that moment that he'd be facing Tyler with an assault rifle.”
The 21-year-old actor and musician added that it was challenge to get into the headspace for such a distressing storyline.
“It's a tricky scene because me, as Dylan, I’m going, ‘This is a horrible decision. What is Clay doing?’” he explained. “But then [I] also have to really believe what [I’m] doing in playing Clay in that scene and get to a place of believing what I’m doing is right. As long as people know that that is not the right decision -- nobody should ever try and confront anyone who’s carrying a weapon.”
As for his reaction to reading the finale’s shocking bathroom scene (in which Tyler’s head is shoved down a toilet before he is sodomized with a mop handle prior to the school dance), Minnette admitted he was “disturbed” and took some convincing when it came to why such a scene should make it to air.
“I remember just not being prepared [for] the complete lengths that that scene goes to,” he said. “It’s really, really brutal, and I remember being shocked and angry and confused and conflicted on whether I thought it needed to be there. But then the more I talked to Brian and everyone, I understood why it was there and I think it was shot really tastefully.”
See Druid address the bathroom storyline and more on 13 Reasons Why, which will return in 2019, below.