Tom Pelphrey on Wearing a Prosthetic Penis and Avoiding Hot Wax in a Fitting : Inside the Graphic ‘A Man in Full’ Finale

SPOILER ALERTThis post contains spoilers from “Judgment Day,” finale of the limited series “A Man in Full,” now streaming on Netflix

Published Time: 14.05.2024 - 03:31:30 Modified Time: 14.05.2024 - 03:31:30

SPOILER ALERT:This post contains spoilers from “Judgment Day,” finale of the limited series “A Man in Full,” now streaming on Netflix.

If you went into Netflix’s “A Man in Full” thinking about the 1998 novel by Tom Wolfe, the final episode was likely a shock. Although the series opened with the dead body of Charlie Croker (Jeff Daniels) lying lifeless on the floor, the events that led up to it were unexpected. Flashing back 10 days earlier, Charlie is shown at his 60th birthday, forcefully saying hello to Raymond Peepgrass (Tom Pelphrey) by gripping the back of his collar. The moment foreshadows the finale, during which Charlie walks in on his ex-wife, Martha (Diane Lane) having sex with Raymond. She runs out, leaving Raymond —fully nude and erect after popping Viagra —facing Charlie.

Charlie ultimately chokes Raymond in a fit of rage, and then realizes he’s unable to let go due to an apparent heart attack. While the show ends with both men dead, the novel does not; in fact, Raymond and Martha end up together. However, Pelphrey agreed with the twist created by writer David E. Kelley and directed by Regina King.

“I probably saw the script about halfway through the season, which was coinciding with me getting towards the end of the novel, because the novel is massive. I thought, obviously, given the given the weirdness of the world and the very particular sense of humor of the world, I thought that was the right way to end it,” Pelphrey tells Variety. “I think there’s something in the show that Regina and Dave wanted to explore a little bit that maybe wasn’t as prominent in the novel, which is this idea of just how fucking toxic these guys are.”

Thanks to Kelley’s sense of humor, he wanted to find “the most ridiculous explosion of that toxic male energy,” Pelphrey says, which is what the ending was. It’s a sentence Pelphrey could barely get out without a cackling laugh: “Having one guy get choked to death with a full erection while the guy doing the choking is having a spasmatic leg attack and a heart attack simultaneously.”

For the first time in his career, Pelphrey was a bit nervous to take on the “vulnerable” and “exposed” scenes, because his partner, Kaley Cuoco, was pregnant at the time with their now-daughter.

“I had some great conversations with Regina King, which is also so surreal — like talking to one of my heroes on the phone, but you know, we’re talking about sex and penises. This is not how I daydreamed an hour-long Regina King conversation on the ph -

one,” he says. “All my wheels were turning because at that time, Kaley was pregnant. I knew I was going to be a dad and all of a sudden, I just started thinking about everything different, like, ‘Oh, God, do I want to have my clothes off on camera?’ All things that literally have never crossed my mind, truly. I’m always like, ‘That makes sense, let’s do it!’ All of a sudden I’m like, ‘I’m gonna have a kid, I don’t know if I want her to see this!'” In the end, it made a lot of sense. We were lucky, because we had an actor who was directing who’s been in a million vulnerable positions herself and understands how to manage and take care of that moment.”

There were numerous discussions about how the fully nude scene in the finale would play out, but mostly it was all in Kelley’s text, Pelphrey says.

“The conversation was, what is the maximal comedic penis payoff? We didn’t change a word of what David wrote, and I let that always let that inform any decision I make. So, based on the text, we thought it was kind of funny that this little buggy Raymond Peepgrass might have a fucking big dick,” he says with a laugh. “Also, I thought that that choice just lent itself to being the most ridiculous and absurd version of how that could go — the most cheap male, toxic humor shit. If we’re gonna do it, let’s fully do that. Regina got it.”

Then, he worked with the prosthetics department. “God bless the guy who does those prosthetics!” Pelphrey says. “You want to be free, you want to have fun, you don’t want anybody else to be offended or weirded out.”

There was also never a conversation of not using a prosthetic, since it was very “pronounced” in the script that Raymond stay erect all the way to the ambulance. “It was more the conversation about exactly what what do we want this prosthetic to be,” says Pelphrey.

And that involved a fitting process. “There was a terrifying moment where part of the fitting process, as described to me, involved a lot of hot wax, which scared the hell out of me — and we were luckily able to avoid it. There was lot of work, a lot of meetings, a lot of talking, a lot of fittings, went into that prosethetic.”

Most Popular

Must Read

Sign Up for Variety Newsletters

A Variety and iHeartRadio Podcast

More From Our Brands

ad To help keep your account secure, please log-in again. You are no longer onsite at your organization. Please log in. For assistance, contact your corporate administrator.