Phillip Mullings Jr. developed solid relationships with all of his co-stars on Tyler Perry’s new original BET+ series, BRUH, but admits there was a special connection with actor Mahdi Cocci, who plays “Tom” on the show. Cocci is an ex-Navy officer, and Mullings is a self-proclaimed “military kid” who frequently moved around when he was younger and had a hard time calling one place “home.”
“My mom taught me things she learned and Mahdi went through many of those same things,” Mullings said. “We have the same work ethic and we want to get things done efficiently and thoroughly. It's cool working with him because we had the same type of approach to accomplishing our goals.”
Mullings talks to BET.com about the parallels between himself and his character Mike including why some men avoid monogamy like the plague and how his parent’s divorce ultimately led to his own clarity about love and relationships.
BET.com: How did your acting career begin?
Phillip Mullings Jr.: Growing up and moving from place to place, there were only so many things that were familiar and comforting. Other than my mother, who was the only constant in my life, there was also our weekly time spent going to the movies. Any time I didn't want to be doing something, I would think about just watching or studying movies. I was also into sports and was convinced I was going to the NFL. Instead, I went to college to become a computer scientist and thought I would work for Pixar. Six weeks in, I told my mother I didn’t think college was for me. It was a tough conversation because my mom has four degrees and education is a big thing for her. But she told me if I was passionate about it and could set out a plan of attack, she’d help me in any way she could. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the last six years.
BET.com: Your character, Mike, clearly has a problem when it comes to monogamy. Why do you think some men have that mindset?
Mullings Jr: I think it's from being hurt in the past and trying to protect yourself. Mike is one of those guys who doesn’t come off like a sensitive person, but I think he's the most sensitive out of the four. He protects himself in a way where you can't really touch his sensitive spots. He has a true, genuine connection with his boys, but he finds a connection with a woman and he tries to shield himself from it. Anyone looking at Mike would think, ‘this man needs to grow up and communicate better,’ but you need to get to the root of your own pain. It’s really the only way you can grow as a person.
BET.com: How did your parents influence your own love life?
Mullings Jr: My mom and my dad met when they were both in the military. They're divorced, so my dad wasn't around a lot when I was a kid. I didn’t see my parents in the same room more than twice as an adolescent, so I learned through that what I didn’t want for my own love life, which I think is just as powerful. I knew that I wanted a partner for life, but I looked at marriage in a jaded way growing up. In that way, I connect with Mike. As my parents got older, they were able to grow within themselves, explore their hurt and find ways to communicate with each other. It just took time, and I admire them for that.
BET.com: How did your working relationship with the BRUHs translate into real relationships?
Mullings Jr: During the entire audition process, there are 30, 40 guys going in for callbacks over the course of three or four auditions. It was strange because the four of us gravitated towards each other; at the end, we were the ones going in for a chemistry read. We had little inside jokes that went on throughout the audition process – these five, six-hour days of just getting to know each other. We’re all so different, but we mesh so well. Mr. Perry has an eye for this, and it’s amazing that he saw these traits in all of us. I was in awe because the project changed my life; it was divine and natural. It was so meant to be.
BET.com: What’s next for you?
Mullings Jr: I’m working on a TBS show called Chad that I'm so excited about. We have one more episode to shoot. I'm so excited about it because it is reminiscent of [the BRUH] crew in terms of how we all came together. On Paradise Lost, which is available for streaming now, I had a much smaller role and I wasn’t able to connect with the cast like I would have liked to. I’m excited about getting back to work when the quarantine is over, and about doing the work that God has put into my life.
The first three episodes of the 24-episode season of Tyler Perry’s BRUH are currently available to stream on BET+. Look for new episodes every week.