Román Zaragoza and Asher Grodman talk new CBS comedy ‘Ghosts’

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Asher Grodman as Trevor and Román Zaragoza as Sasappis in “Ghosts.”
Best Possible Screen Grab/CBS ©2021 CBS Broadcasting

A new series on CBS shows the hilarious side of living in a haunted house.

“Ghosts” focuses on Samantha (played by Rose McIver) and Jay (played by Utkarsh Ambudkar), a New York City couple that inherits a country home in upstate New York. The pair plans to turn it into a bed and breakfast and have to put a lot of work into the home, and when Samantha has a bad fall, she becomes able to see and communicate with the nine ghosts that have taken up residence in the home.

The series features Román Zaragoza, who plays Sasappis, and Asher Grodman, who plays Trevor, both of whom are ghost residents in the home. Sasappis, a member of the Lenape tribe, died in 1520 and is a blunt troublemaker who tries to fill eternity by having a little fun and creating some drama, while Trevor is a “finance bro” who died in the 1990s partying at a drug-fueled rager and now has to walk through eternity with no pants.

“Sassaphis is a young spirit yet an old soul. He died in 1520 around his mid-20s and has been dead for 500 years, so he has youth to him, but is also grumpy old man, living with white people away from his family and learning English,” said Zaragoza. “He’s sarcastic, often disappointed, so over it but learned to navigate this too. He knows how to have fun and knows how to stir up some drama and revel in the craziness from these eccentric ghosts.”

“Trevor is the most recently dead, he passed in 2001. He is a man of the 90s, a Wall Street guy and high-level partier. He’s a former frat bro, a man without pants on, and that’s how he died. He’s looking for a good time,” said Grodman.

The show is based on the BBC comedy of the same name, which ran for three seasons. Though Zaragoza and Grodman weren’t very familiar with the original show, as they found out more and saw how the new CBS version would unfold, they quickly began to get excited to be a part of the project.

“I’ve seen some of the original, though I tried to stay away only because upon reading our script, it’s so brilliant the idea and kind of one of those things where creating multiple answers to questions,” said Grodman. “If very aware of what answer is, you could start to lean into what’s done already. I didn’t want to be too swayed by what I already knew worked.”

“I hadn’t seen the original show, I had heard of it but never seen the show. I got an audition for this show, and after doing more research, I fell in love with it,” said Zaragoza. “I was lucky to book it, I learned so much more in a week. It was such a fun project, cast, and crew, it has been an absolute dream.”

“Our show is very different because it’s U.S. history instead of British history. All of the ghosts represent the times we live in, living together in this house,” Grodman added. “The second that I read this script, I was cackling, it was hilarious.”

As the show progresses, both Grodman and Zaragoza’s characters really start to come into their own, which they credit the writers for putting so much into their roles.

“Our writers are so good. When I first read the pilot, I thought, this is so funny, I don’t have to do anything to [Trevor]. I wanted to make a point of not getting in the way of what they found,” said Grodman. “It’s very easy to define him as a douchey guy, but a lot of the script takes care of what else makes this guy a human being and not just an idea. I think there’s a puppy quality to him, too.”

“It’s a really exciting experience working on a character that brings native representation to CBS,” said Zaragoza. “It’s not only me playing a character, but we have a writer, John Timothy, with native ancestry. And we have Joe Baker, who is our Lenape consultant. Having those guys as a part of this makes me feel really safe and brings some humor to this project rather than a stereotype. Sassaphis is native, but he’s a full person that has needs, wants, and intentions.”

Both Grodman and Zaragoza agree that audiences will be able to laugh at what’s happening on screen as the season progresses, and maybe learn a little about themselves and reflect on the themes of the show.

“I’m looking forward to people meeting these ghosts. This cast is so talented, I’m just excited for people to meet the ghosts and see the actors,” said Zaragoza. “We start in a place similar to the BBC show but the farther we go, we veer in a different direction and take our own speed and style. It’s a beautiful show you can turn on and laugh, and maybe cry because there are deep themes.”

“It’s been a hard year, I’d love for people to get a laugh out of it,” said Grodman. “I think it’s a funny show. We look back at these characters that have firm beliefs of that time period. We look back and think, why did anyone think that? Maybe some will look back and think, I was passionate about that, but why did think that? But ultimately, I hope they get a release and laugh.”

“Ghosts” airs on CBS on Thursdays at 9 p.m. You can follow Zaragoza @romanzaragoza and Grodman @ashergrodman on Instagram.

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