Why Women Kill star Leo Howard discusses Tommy and Simone’s love triangle, and moving into a more adult role in the CBS All Access series.
Why Women Kill has kept CBS All Access viewers engrossed in three stories of love, romance and how both those things go wrong—and Leo Howard is right in the middle of one of them.
Leo plays Tommy, the teenager with a crush on socialite Simone (Lucy Liu) during the show’s 80’s storyline. When Simone realizes the truth about her husband, Tommy and Simone begin an affair but will it really solve anything?
The actor joined Hidden Remote to talk about how Tommy and Simone are drawn together, plus talk about everything that drew him to the role and moving on from his career beginnings as one of Disney’s teen stars.
Learn more about Leo Howard in our interview below, then stream new episodes of Why Women Kill on Sundays exclusively on CBS All Access.
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Hidden Remote: What made you want to play Tommy in Why Women Kill?
Leo Howard: First of all, before I even knew any of the cast involved in it, [series creator and showrunner] Marc Cherry is someone that I was definitely honored to get the opportunity to work with.
The shows that he writes definitely have a specific tone that I enjoy watching and I enjoy the fact that I get to be a part of it, so that’s number one. Number two, I got to be part of a period piece that begins in 1984, which very much attracted me to the project.
HR: What was your first impression of the character? Because Tommy seems, unlike most of the other characters, to be fairly normal and well-adjusted.
Howard: I kind of liked where Tommy sat in the story. He is the most real person in Simone’s life, and [they] have talked about that before on the show. He is very genuine and he’s very honest about how he feels about her and is willing to [take] the steps to let her know that he cares about her.
He’s very caring and he’s one of the only people that gets where she’s at in her life at the top of the show. I think she understands that, and they have this unspoken bond because of this understanding, even though he’s so young.
HR: Is Why Women Kill going to let us know more about him outside of his relationship with Simone?
Howard: You will learn a bit about his life and even more so, you’ll learn a lot about Simone’s life through his eyes, being that she is kind of getting to know him. You get to learn a lot about her and vice versa. They bring out good sides to each other, and I think Tommy brings out one of the more attractive sides to Simone in that storyline.
HR: What parts of the storyline stood out most to you?
Howard: Between Episodes 7 and 10 there’s a lot of interesting things that happen, especially with this love triangle. As you can imagine, things start coming out and everything starts to hit the fan so to speak. So it becomes interesting and the levels get pushed as we get closer to the climax of the show. As it goes on, it builds momentum like a snowball rolling down a hill, which I like.
HR: The show has a stellar cast, but it also has three storylines in three time periods. So how many other actors did you really get to interact with?
Howard: Based on scheduling, it depends on the day. Most of the time in the show, they shoot era by era so one day we’re shooting an 80’s storyline, one day we’ll be doing the 60’s, one day we’ll be shooting the 90’s. You don’t see a whole lot of the cast but there were a few instances where our days did cross over, and we did get to hang with the other cast.
In the beginning, I didn’t know if I was going to get to work with Jack [Davenport, who plays Karl] just based on my position in the show. He’s the husband, he’s sort of the enemy, the villain for me, so I wasn’t sure how much I’d get to work with him. But I did get to work with him, so that’s very nice.
HR: Was it fun for you to step back into the 80’s, especially since it wasn’t your decade?
Howard: Definitely. It was a daunting task to take on, because I’d never been in a period piece and you’re right, there is something about playing in an era you haven’t experienced. However, I think with the cinema and things like that, you can really start to feel like almost any generation based on the info we have online.
So that helped, and really wardrobe is a big piece of it. You put on the wardrobe and you walk different, you feel different, but that’s what our job is. We’re supposed to show up on set and put ourselves in the era and that’s what we did.
HR: TV fans know you from your work on Disney’s Kickin’ It. How has it been for you to transition from a young adult series to a very adult series in Why Women Kill?
Howard: It’s good. What’s funny is people always talk about making this jump and I totally agree, but at the same time, my goal through all of this is to work. I love what I do, and I want to work as much as possible, and it purely happens by chance. You just work on different projects, and it’s also age.
Even though I’m on more of an adult project, I’m still playing a teenager, and part of that is what I look like, and [you] grow out of it as you grow as a human being. The cool thing I think is that I’ve had fans that have watched things I’ve been on since I was a lot younger and they’ve also kind of grown up with this content, which I find very flattering and cool.
HR: What would you say Leo Howard is a fan of?
Howard: I love watching shows and love the industry I’m part of. I talk to my friends all the time and we’re like, we’re in the coolest industry in the world. I get to go to work and make this make-believe life appear real and I get paid based on how well people believe the world I’m a part of. It’s such a surreal job.
I’m grateful that every day I get to walk on set and do that job and get paid for it because it’s truly what I love to do. It’s also intimidating because there’s a lot of incredible actors out there. I love watching how the industry is being pushed, especially by young actors and there’s a lot of them out there that are slaying it. It’s very inspiring to see and encouraging.
Why Women Kill streams Thursdays at 3:01 a.m. on CBS All Access.