Actor David Julian Hirsh draws on his university experience to bring his TV character alive
When David Julian Hirsh took a couple of human sexuality courses at U of T in the early 1990s, he had no idea his choice held some prophetic significance. He was just interested in sex. Ten years later, though, Hirsh finds himself playing the role of a sexual anthropology professor in the TV series Naked Josh. “I thought, I’m perfect to play this part. I’ve studied some of this stuff and I’m fascinated by it.”He even remembers writing an essay comparing the Marquis de Sade with Freud – a subject that Professor Josh Gould, the show’s namesake, would probably be delighted to weigh in on. Gould is an authority on the theoretical aspects of sex and love, but is much less skilled in handling real-life relationships.
Hirsh was a criminology student at U of T with an official plan of becoming a lawyer and an unofficial dream of becoming an actor when he served as an extra on an episode of Class of ’96, a short-lived FOX TV series filming on campus. Spurred on by the experience, he left U of T in 1994 – just one course short of his degree – to study acting in New York. Since then he has had starring roles in theatre, TV and film, including a role alongside Penelope Cruz in the big-screen drama Noel, set to open this winter.
But his three years in academe have not gone to waste. Hirsh says he draws on his university experiences to bring Josh alive. “The best professors I had somehow lived their subject. They brought in their personal experiences instead of being formulaic, which is much more exciting.” Josh’s classroom discussions are definitely, well, stimulating, with topics ranging from celibacy to sadomasochism to polygamy. Naked Josh is filmed in Montreal and airs on Showcase.