How Jay Ellis Kept Lawrence's Return to 'Insecure' a Secret — And What's Next

Jessica Napoli
HBO

Did you miss Lawrence? Because we sure did!

In Insecure's latest episode, "High-Like," fans got a very special treat: The return of Jay Ellis aka Lawrence aka Issa's ex-boyfriend from the first and second seasons.

And what makes it even more exciting is that the producers were faking us out this entire time! They marketed Season 3 without Lawrence's cute little face. All the while, they were hiding this fun secret from us.

After a night of partying at Coachella and ramping up her romance with new love interest Nathan (Kendrick Sampson), Issa (Issa Rae) stops by a convenient store in the desert to pick up some snacks. There, she runs into Lawrence's pal Chad (Neil Brown Jr.) and, before she can process it, her ex shows up, too.

In the previews for next week, it looks like we're going to have a whole episode dedicated to what the aspiring tech guru has been up to. #LawrenceHive forever.

After the episode aired, Ellis addressed his character's comeback, explaining why the show took a "break" from him.

"I think what Issa actually said was, 'We're taking a break from Lawrence,'" Ellis told Entertainment Weekly. "A break doesn’t mean a season. A break could mean an episode, it could mean 30 minutes, it could mean a year. She didn’t actually put a time limit on what the break was. I think that because she said we're taking a break from Lawrence this season, people ran with what they thought that break was and therefore they thought that break was for the entire season, and that wasn’t the case."

The actor found out about the break when he stumbled into the writer's room. He then kept his return a secret — a secret kept so under wraps that he wasn't on the call sheet until the day he turned up for production. "It was like a homecoming feeling. It was like seeing friends and seeing family that you haven’t seen in a while, but people were also kind of shocked when they saw me, which was really interesting," Ellis explained.

The break felt natural for Ellis and the storyline because that's what actually happens to a couple in real life. "What happens in life when you break up with somebody?" he asked. "You don’t always see your exes again. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t. Our writers took the stance of, these two aren’t going to see each other for a while, and they’re going to randomly bump into each other."

Ellis actually liked stepping away for a short time because he watches the show as a fan — "I don't know what’s going on. I’m watching this stuff in real-time just like everybody else."

So, has Lawrence changed? Ellis says he "hopefully [has] grown up a little bit" but we'll have to keep watching to see if our favorite couple might wind up back together.

Insecure, Sundays, 10/9c, HBO

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