With inclusivity and representation at the forefront of global conversations amidst worldwide protests demanding social justice and denouncing systemic racism, Netflix’s Hollywood, created by Ryan Murphy, offers a revisionist take on post-World War II Tinseltown. Inspired partly by real events and people — including Anna May Wong, Rock Hudson, and Hattie McDaniel — the series tackles Hollywood’s deeply ingrained racial and gender inequalities. A diverse cast of stars play a medley of aspiring writers, actors, and producers on the fringes of Hollywood — be it because of their gender, race, or sexual orientation — who come together against the odds to make an unexpected Hollywood hit.
Dylan McDermott, a frequent collaborator of Murphy’s, stars as fan-favourite Ernie, the burnt-out Hollywood actor-turned-pimp to the stars. Ernie’s part of the story is actually inspired by real events, specifically those of Scotty Bowers, who ran a brothel catering to the Hollywood crème de la crème for decades. Despite having multiple Murphy credits to his name, when speaking to Schön!, McDermott went so far as to say that Ernie is his favourite character in Ryan Murphy’s repertoire. “He had an optimism and a joy that was completely infectious. Honestly, I didn’t want to stop being him.” In his career, Murphy has written and produced hit shows including Glee, American Horror Story, and The Politician. McDermott has appeared in his fair share of them, so to call Ernie his favourite is a pretty bold but unsurprising statement.
Considering the variety of characters McDermott has played, it makes sense that each comes with a learning experience for the star. Ernie’s lesson is one that we could all stand to learn. “The lesson I learned from playing Ernie in Hollywood is to enjoy every minute of your life because ‘we’re all headed for the ol’ dirt pile.’” Perhaps another reason Ernie’s character and Hollywood are particularly close to his heart is that McDermott’s 24-year-old daughter, Colette, plays a small recurring role in the series. “My daughter Colette is a wonderful actress and got her role in Hollywood all by herself,” raved the proud father. “She has great things in store for her. She’s a big talent.” While her role in Hollywood is her first IMDB credit, the younger McDermott has two shorts and a film in the works, so we’re sure to be seeing plenty more from her in the future.
But McDermott hasn’t displayed his immense versatility on television only. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has confined everyone to their homes, he’s also made his bones as an interviewer on social media. Following the release of Hollywood, the actor took to Instagram live, in true quarantine fashion, to interview his co-stars the likes of David Corenswet, Laura Harrier, Jeremy Pope, and Broadway royalty Patti Lupone. Could this be a potential career move? McDermott sounds keen. “I really like interviewing people. I’d love to have a variety show one day where I could sing, dance, and interview exceptional folks. That’d be so fun.”
For now, though, his future is before the cameras. Among the behind-the-scenes details from Hollywood McDermott revealed to Schön! was a particularly juicy tidbit — Ernie and Lupone’s character Avis, a sexually liberated female producer who champions inclusivity when she takes the reins of the studio from her husband, had a sex scene that was cut from the show. Why? For just being” too damn hot,” according to the actor, of course. “My sex scene with Patti Lupone was cut because it was too hot for TV,” was all the actor had to say about it.
Despite the cut, there will be more star cameos in the future — potentially including one from Leslie Jordan, whose at-home Instagram rants and musings have seen him gain millions of followers since the virus broke out. “I’m so excited about Leslie Jordan and I doing a comedy together. And with Ryan Murphy producing it?! This show is destined for the stars,” the actor said enthusiastically.
Working in an industry that has consistently come under fire for its lack of diversity — and portraying on TV — McDermott is hopeful that much-needed change is in the cards. “I’d like to see more inclusivity on all sets,” he says. “I’d also like to see more people of colour in high ranking jobs in front and behind the camera.” This ethos rings true in Hollywood, where, by the end of the series, the underdogs prevail. That ending is perhaps idealistic, considering the era in which it takes place, but it’s certainly a great example of the diversity we should be striving for in the real world. “I hope the viewers of Hollywood will take away the message that tolerance and equality are truly possible,” McDermott says about the series’ message. We wholeheartedly echo that.
‘Hollywood’ is now streaming on Netflix.
This Schön! online exclusive has been produced by