My chat with Conrad Ricamora – aka Oliver of ABC’s ‘How to Get Away With Murder’
Conrad Ricamora was only supposed to be in the first episode of ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder.
So how is it that with the actor finds himself a full-fledged regular on the legal drama now in its third season?
It all comes down to chemistry.
As I.T. specialist Oliver Hampton, Ricamora immediately clicked with series regular Jack Falahee who plays sexy law school student Connor Walsh.
‘You just go and you do your work and whatever happens, happens,’ says the openly gay actor who tells me he’s as surprised as anyone that the character struck such a chord with viewers..
Falahee’s character was a player who more than once used his appeal to hook up with guys to get information for a case.
It was Oliver’s I.T. skills that led Connor to him in the first place and much to his surprise, he developed feelings for the adorable nerd. The couple has enjoyed the most solid relationship of all the core cast but has been on-again, off-again this season.
‘He’s made such a journey.,’ Ricamora says of Connor.
”Honestly, sometimes you work with another actor and there’s chemistry – you don’t know why. We never had to work on it, it was from day one. I think that’s why (show creator Pete Nowalk) kept bringing me back. We never had to overthink it or analyze it at all – to this day. It was just there from day one.’
Oliver and Connor have been through a lot so far including the shock of Oliver being diagnosed HIV-positive last season when the two got tested together.
The far more promiscuous Connor remains negative and accepts Oliver’s status. But it is Oliver who is having issues adjusting and as he re-enters the dating world during a break from Oliver, he finds other guys to be not as accepting.
Ricamora, 37, is proud to be a part of this storyline in 2016.
‘It’s good to remind the general public that this is still a thing,’ he says of HIV.
‘I just watched (the AIDS documentary) How to Survive a Plague and we’ve come so far in so many ways but but HIV and AIDS rates are actually back up. It’s because people aren’t being as educated as they used to be. I hope through our series and through my character that we can bring it back into the public consciousness a little bit more so that people are aware of how to protect yourself and are aware that it does still exist. It’s still there.’
The fact that Connor remained devoted to Oliver and that they eventually resumed their sex life together is an important aspect of the story.
‘I feel like to represent someone on TV who has HIV de-stigmatizes it a little bit and shows the humanity behind it,’ Ricamara says.
‘There’s things like PrEP that we’ve talked about on our show in addition to using condoms. There are ways for people to have a relationship with one person being positive and one person being negative.’
Fans of the couple are now watching the pair trying to co-exist professionally after Oliver broke up with Connor. They had a brief reunion but things will be tested again if Oliver finds out Connor slept with the guy who dumped him for being HIV-positive.
Says Ricamora of disappointed fans who ‘d rather they be together: ‘I try not to think about how people are going to respond to what we do because it drives you crazy.’