“I can’t even explain it. It’s one of those things where you’re like, ‘Why do I love this so much, and I feel so weird,’” says actor Billy Magnussen of his latest project, Maniac. Magnussen is the breakout star of the new Cary Fukunaga-directed Netflix series, playing opposite Emma Stone and Jonah Hill. The dark comedy’s twisty plot is so complex, the actor struggles to describe his character in the series. “Which one? There’s five of them,” he says. “Maybe I play none, no characters, that’s how crazy it is. I don’t know. It’s so wild.” Bewildering yet bewitching.
If the Brooklynite looks familiar, chances are it might be from his scene-stealing roles in Black Mirror, Game Night, Ingrid Goes West and Ryan Murphy’s An American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson (as the perfect Kato Kaelin).
Magnussen has never been one to sit still. In early 2019, he stars opposite Tiffany Haddish and John Cho in Ike Barinholtz’s comedy The Oath, followed by Disney’s highly anticipated live-action revamp of Aladdin.
Despite his frenetic schedule, the Queens-bred actor still prefers to hang in his hometown. “When I leave a set in New York, I am just Billy walking down the street. The industry isn’t surrounding me. I have lawyers, doctors, nurses, homeless people, gazillionaires—everything is around me—and I’m just living the life. I’m existing,” he says. “No one gives a f— in New York.” Spoken like a true New Yorker.