Over the last four years, fans of Netflix’s popular series Atypical, a comedy-drama about an autistic young man entering adulthood, have watched as Casey, played by nonbinary actor Brigette Lundy-Paine, has grown, learned, and come out as bisexual. And in that same time, the actor themself has gone through a similar period of growth.
"It’s been really emotional...I mean, Casey is and always will be a huge part of me, and she’s taught me so much about myself and about the world and about what it means to be a friend. I’m always going to carry her with me," they told Out. "But at the same time, I felt very ready to let her go, because she’ll always be 16, and I’ve got to grow up. In that way, it felt like it was time."
Now that the fourth and final season of Atypical has dropped on Netflix, and Lundy-Paine is moving away from the character they’ve played longer than any other in their career, they’re ready to move on to a bigger, and weirder future.
In the first season of Atypical, Casey, the younger sister of the main character Sam, is dating a boy, but as the series goes on, she realizes that she also has feelings for girls, and eventually ends up dating one, a fellow runner at her new school.
In the fourth season, after a while of not knowing where she lies on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, she comes out as bisexual. It’s a journey Lundy-Paine can relate to. They came out as queer in a 2018 Advocate interview, and then came out as nonbinary in 2019.
When they were first cast in the role, Lundy-Paine says they saw Casey as a lesbian character, but when the showrunner told them that Casey would be bisexual instead, they loved the decision.
"I think that it really represents myself more truthfully, my complexities. And it also represents the complexities of queerness that are what make our community so special...I really do believe Casey represents this fabulous, uncontainable joy of queerness."
That joy spilled over to Lundy-Paine while filming, and they say that any scene where they could act with Keir Gilchrist, who plays Sam, and Nik Dodani, who plays his best friend Zahid was a blast to shoot, and points to one ax-involved scene in particular.
"There’s a scene where I throw an ax at Sam. And Nik and Keir and I, and then Jenna (Boyd, who plays Sam’s girlfriend) comes in at the end, we just get to hang out all day," they say.
"I did hit Keir with the ax the first take by accident," they add with a laugh. "It was a foam ax, so it was okay, but still."
Lundy-Paine sees a lot of things they’d like to be when they look at Casey. One of the big ones is her chill attitude about her sexuality and patience with herself while figuring out who she likes are things they try to emulate in real life.
"We can build communities that free us from the constraints of a history of colonized ideas of gender and sexuliaty," they say. "You really don’t need to fit into what language makes us feel like we have to. You’re beyond that...I hope through their relationship with Casey and Atypical everyone can just take a deep breath and really be forgiving to themselves and just really speak kindly to themselves."
That’s not the only thing about Casey that Lundy-Paine admires. "She sort of is a hero of mine and so to watch her go through that was heartbreaking," they say about Casey’s mental health journey this season, which saw her deal with extreme anxiety. "But at the same time to watch her figure out how to navigate through it and to come to this realization at the end that she had to do what she loved and be true to herself in order to really be comfortable in her own body and free herself from the idea that there was something she had to be I think is really beautiful."
Now, Lundy-Paine is excited to get to be their weirdest, most comfortable self. And they want to work on projects that let them do that.
"I just finished a horror movie with Gabriel Abrantes, he did a movie called Diamantino that’s very cool," they say. "We just did a horror movie that is just so messed up, twins and prosthetics and incest, that was two months of just a lot of fun."
They also want to play more queer characters, but not only ones that are good role models. "I mostly just want to play freaky characters," they say. "Because Casey is a character that’s really straightforward, she’s very funny and very charming, and I want to play a character that makes you really uncomfortable."
Apart from acting, they’re still working with their band, Subtle Pride, and staying active in politics, including trans issues. They're also cozying up to their partner of two-and-a-half-years, Jake, who is a writer.
"They met me in Lisbon and now we’re traveling together," they smile. "They’re just my very best friend in the world and I love them very much. I’m super grateful for the solidness of this relationship."
It seems that Lundy-Paine’s future is bright, and we can’t wait to see what it holds.
The fourth and final season of Atypical is now streaming on Netflix.