In HBO's "Silicon Valley," Zach Woods plays Jared, the milquetoast CFO of the startup Pied Piper. His character's actual name is Donald, but after being mistaken for a Jared by the CEO of the show's Google lookalike Hooli, he just went along with the new identity. Such is the way of Jared: selfless and permanently good-natured.
Yet it seems that Woods' kindhearted sap could have a dark side. Season 2 shows him muttering German phrases in his sleep -- phrases that translate to violent and vicious things -- leading some to the joking speculation that he's got ties to the Third Reich.
"I think there’s a psychological thing there," Woods told The Huffington Post when we asked about Jared's nighttime death threats. "There’s some Jungian idea of the shadow self, or something, where if there’s no outlet for the darker parts of your personalities in your waking life, then it comes out in your subconscious, in your dreams."
According to the actor, there's nothing that could make Jared carry out his subconscious urges. It's just not in the nature of the character, which Woods based partially on his own parents, who, like many others, tend toward putting their own needs out of mind to help those around them.
"What another person would experience as hostility, Jared would experience as extra-firm love, or something," Woods said. "I don’t feel like he’s building up a backlog of resentment that will eventually find an outlet."
Still, certain other clues raised eyebrows of fans of the show. Later in Season 2, Woods declares he's "always wanted to be part of a suicide pact." And there's the matter of his spotlessly utilitarian wardrobe.
"Like, he just escaped to Argentina for a while, used a bunch of really good moisturizer and finally moved to Silicon Valley?" the actor joked when we inquired into Jared's political leanings. "That’s funny."
Although his character would be "more horrified by Nazism than anyone," Woods admitted that bottling up life's frustrations is probably not a good coping strategy. But, as it turns out, Jared's dream-insults were likely inspired by the actor's own life. In college, Woods explained, he had a habit of waking his roommate up by shouting "awful" things in his sleep -- a story he mentioned to a "Silicon Valley" producer before seeing it in the script.
Perhaps, as fans of the show also like to joke, "Silicon Valley" really is a documentary. Woods himself recalled when he'd heard a line seemingly ripped from the self-aggrandizing mouths of the series' extended cast: At 2014's SXSW, two men who described their new creation as "the Gandhi of apps." The actor's take: "To be fair, it wasn’t as if it was designed to counteract British imperialism."
More likely, the series' writers and producers are simply very good at observing peculiarities in modern workplaces and the human beings who staff them.
As for Jared, Woods suggested his character would likely only stick to fascism in his dreams, unfortunately for those viewers who are tickled by the absurdist idea of the CFO's dark side. ("What a weird sentence that is! ‘I’m afraid he’s not a Nazi; I don’t want to disappoint anybody.’") Yet he also hinted that Season 3 would prove to "complicate" the character's modus operandi.
"I’d ask people to watch it, but ultimately it’s up to them!" Woods concluded, leaving us to wonder how much of Jared is actually fictitious.
"Silicon Valley" returns to HBO April 24 at 10 p.m. EST.