Gretchen Mol discusses the transaction of sex in ‘American Gigolo’

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Everything, Gretchen Mol says, is a transaction, including love and sex.

That’s never more true than in “American Gigolo,” a reimagining of the 1980 neo-noir crime drama starring Richard Gere as Julian Kaye, a high-priced Los Angeles escort who winds up framed for murder. In the Showtime series, premiering Friday, Kaye, now played by Jon Bernthal, is released from prison after 15 years after another inmate confesses to the murder on his death bed.

Sent back into the sun, Kaye falls back into his old life, not just the sex work but the relationships, including former love Michelle (Mol), best friend Lorenzo (Wayne Brady) and Isabelle (Lizzie Brocheré), the heiress to the prostitution ring that Julian was thrust into as a teenager.

“The purity in how Julian Kaye, as a gigolo, is that he 100% is there with each client and isn’t lying to them. He finds something to love about each one of them,” Mol, the 49-year-old Connecticut native, told the Daily News.

“But at the same time, because it’s a paid gig, it is transactional, but there can be purity in the transaction. If everybody knows what it is, I think there’s purity in it.”

Brady, playing Julian’s best friend, Lorenzo, was drawn to the role for the same reason: the mystery of Lorenzo is why he stuck around while Julian was behind bars for 15 years.

“The way that I played it and the way that I felt that Lorenzo felt is that it’s real. He loves Julian. He absolutely loves Julian,” the 50-year-old actor told The News.

“But here’s the cool thing about human nature – well, cool slash crappy – we don’t have to be exclusive. You can love someone and be on their side and still do something really really shitty to them or not be a great person, but do really good things. Lorenzo somehow falls in that gray.”

Playing that mystery proved a challenge, but one Brady loved.

“Maybe Lorenzo is a bad guy, maybe he isn’t, maybe he is his best friend, maybe he is the voice of reason. The fact that you don’t know is such a gift,” he said.

“When I approach a guy who has unsavory characteristics, I like to make him lovable,” Brady said, saying he tried to do the same thing when he played Aaron Burr in “Hamilton” in Chicago.

“You just don’t know who to trust. Even the people that are the closest to you in the world, you just don’t know who to trust, so who are you as a person?”

Mol found the same with Michelle, the mystery about who she is, where she comes from and why she is the way she is.

“Why does she stay? That became, to me, what was interesting about her, because we all know people who are stuck in these relationships. Why don’t you leave? You’re not happy…She is, or at least feels, owned by (her husband). The spider web she finds herself caught in is much more complicated than if she’d been able to get out when they wanted to get out.”

The murder for which Julian was framed hangs over all of it, embedding itself in every transaction. Somewhere out there is someone who hated him so much that they were willing to send him to prison forever for a crime he didn’t commit.

The actors thrived on the suspense.

“You need to know a few key things about your character and their history but then you’re in it and whichever way the wind blows, you just go with it. I have to be comfortable in the not knowing,” Mol told The News.

“In order for everyone to be a suspect, you have to be kept a little in the dark.”