As Jacob Elordi’s gripping turn as Nate in HBO’s Euphoria sent his career into high gear, here, the real Elordi—a thoughtful Aussie with a penchant for fellow good-guy actors—jumps into the driver’s seat.
Brisbane-born actor Jacob Elordi did not so much catapult into the public’s consciousness as he did saunter into it. With his slow-mo entrance in 2018’s The Kissing Booth on Netflix, which emphasized his ripped build and grinning insouciance, Elordi’s overnight-heartthrob status seemed inevitable. The rest might have been history, were it not for the actor’s next big break: playing the closeted, sociopathic Nate on HBO’s Euphoria. Though technically young-adult-driven, the Sam Levinson drama, dubbed the “most shocking teen show ever” by The Guardian, was purpose-built to break taboos and shift paradigms.
In no small part, the show’s shock factor stemmed from Elordi’s Nate, which laid waste to the hunky purity the actor embodied in his rom-com debut. All id and muscle, Nate courses with hardly-contained rage. “You want my advice?” he snarls to his footballer friends in Episode 1. “You fuck her like the whore she is.” His wrath telegraphs a primordial yet still-relevant brand of masculinity: “Keep your head down,” he warns a trans student whom he’s attempting to blackmail. “Keep your mouth shut. Don’t try to ruin my life, and I won’t have to ruin yours.”
Even for an experienced actor, playing a guy like Nate would be intimidating. For a relative unknown, to take on such a role is risky, if not hubristic. But not to Elordi. “Pretty quickly after meeting Sam, I had an idea that it was something I was going to enjoy tremendously,” he says. “Obviously you never know how something is going to be received in the wider world, but I knew that I was going to have a good time making it.”
Still, the character of Nate is daunting by nature. One climactic scene offered particularly good PTSD fodder: the physical fight between Nate and his father (Eric Dane). “The breakdown scene came toward the end of [shooting]. So I guess I had been building up to that, and I knew there was that climax coming for the character,” Elordi says, calling in from a New Orleans-based film set. In said tussle, Nate flip-flops between aggressor and terrified child, eventually using his own head to beat himself half-unconscious. In watching the disturbing sequence, the viewer flip-flops, too: between hating Nate, fearing him, and pitying him, but never wavering in the thrill of watching a young actor do something great.“That scene was definitely a lot,” Elordi continues. “But then, the whole thing was [a lot]; I hadn’t worked that much. I’d thought a lot about being an actor, but I never imagined that I’d be doing a big TV show at this stage in my career.” Elordi was on the verge of audition burnout when he heard about Euphoria—first through an L.A.peer who was up for a role. “I helped a friend [make] a tape for it,” he recalls. “Then a few weeks later, I got the brief myself. It was such a standard-procedure kind of thing: I went in for the casting, then went back in for it, and again, and again…The caliber of writing was spectacular from the get-go.”
Critics agreed, largely extolling the show’s genre-pushing storylines, inclusive cast, and stellar acting. Besides its substantive and aesthetic achievements (“Euphoria threw a glitter bomb at its audience,” The New York Times summarized), Euphoria opened up the current golden age of TV to the YA genre—maneuvering a dizzying tightrope between tenderness and shock. Unlike much prestige TV, it relied on mostly newcomers to play its cadre of high schoolers. (The exception being Zendaya, who stars as Rue.) “It’s very rare to get a script…at HBO where they tell you they don’t need any names, just whoever is best to make this story,” casting director Jessica Kelly pointed out to IndieWire. Thus Elordi is not wrong in calling himself “really, really lucky” to have landed his role. Another stroke of luck: having muscled through one of the most talked-about first seasons of 2019, and leaving fans scrambling for more with its finale, Euphoria will return later this year for another round of can’t-miss histrionics.
He might be objectively a newcomer, but Elordi’s tour de force performance as Nate involved serious-actor methodology: On set, he would stay in character by keeping a journal as Nate. “It was about keeping tabs on my thoughts, as a character,” he explains. (Those entries, along with snapshots Elordi, an avid photographer, took on set, were later extracted and published as a zine by HBO.) Elordi also says he studies his actor role models the way other 22-year-olds might study math or English Lit. “I’m obsessed with actors in general,” he says. “More and more so as I get older, especially as I meet them. Seeing them work just blows my mind.”
Chief among Elordi’s objects of fascination is another Australian leading man, the late Heath Ledger: Before moving to L.A. with camera in-tow, Elordi discovered the photos Ledger took throughout his early years in Hollywood. Before that, Elordi’s actor-worship had guided his movie diet. “I was particularly influenced by Michael Fassbender and Ryan Gosling,” he says. “As I watched more movies, it was Marlon Brando and James Dean. After that, it was Montgomery Clift…I think all young men who want to act [have] that period of falling in love with [those actors]…I’m also a huge fan of James Franco as an artist. I have such a major interest in almost everyone working in the field, even down to someone like Nicolas Cage…I find that [so many actors] are doing something interesting, most of the time.”
Elordi is poised to make a career of doing something interesting, all of the time. He’s on set in New Orleans doing just that: the project is an adaptation of the 1957 Patricia Highsmith novel Deep Water, about an open marriage between a dysfunctional, possibly murderous couple (Ben Affleck, Ana de Armas). The film, which Elordi describes as “a marriage-drama-cum-thriller kind of thing,” promises a compelling mix of new blood and industry clout: In addition to a screenplay Euphoria’s Levinson, the adaptation is directed by thriller master Adrian Lyne (Fatal Attraction, Lolita).“It is really cool,” Elordi says. “Every day I wake up incredibly excited. [Lyne] is a legend, and I love Patricia Highsmith; she is such an interesting woman, and had the most unusual life.”
Whether immersing himself in the chilling mind of Highsmith or character-journaling for the second season of Euphoria, soon to be in production, Elordi seems poised to be the handsome face of Neo-noir. Still, the actor doesn’t plan on sticking to any one genre for too long. “I’m not actually someone who makes a lot of plans,” he shrugs. “One thing I’d like to do is to make more movies, because I enjoy the fact that they allow [for] these sin-gular experiences: You can play a character for a period of time. More than anything else, I’d love to do plays. That’s sort of my favorite thing in the whole world. I’m trying to build a space over the next two years where I’m in a position to be able to drop [everything] and do a play.” For somebody who cares so much about the work, making it as an actor has to feel euphoric.
Category: Photo Sessions
Jacob Elordi Is Only Just Getting Started
The 22-year-old Aussie actor went from mainstream teen heartthrob to starring in one of this year’s most acclaimed – and controversial – TV series.
A couple of years ago, Jacob Elordi was ready to come home. Like many young Aussie actors with dreams of Hollywood, the Brisbane native had arrived in LA to roll the dice, and found his luck and his bank balance were starting to run out. More to the point, so was his visa.
“I’d been in LA for about a year, I didn’t have any work and I had no money,” he says when we meet in Sydney for today’s shoot.
“I didn’t really have anywhere to live and I was in my car and on mates’ couches. My visa had like two weeks before it expired, so
I was going to dip out and go back to Australia.”
Not that Elordi was entirely unknown. In fact, he had just appeared in a Netflix film called The Kissing Booth, a squeaky-clean teen romcom in which he plays heartthrob Noah Flynn alongside American actress Joey King. While it’s unlikely to have cost the Oscars judges much sleep, the film turned out to be a massive hit.
Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos told The New York Times it was “hugely popular” when it hit screens in May last year, adding that their internal data showed The Kissing Booth had been “one of the most-watched movies in the country, and maybe the world”.
Elordi’s IMDB rating went from 25,000 to one, he gained six million followers on Instagram and he would soon be begged for selfies with strangers everywhere he went, including during this photo shoot. Still, that initial taste of fame wasn’t exactly all Champagne and private jets.
“It was one of my first movies and your money runs out pretty quickly in Los Angeles,” he says. “I had my mum and dad making sure I was eating and I had a lot of support from friends, so I was very lucky. I was never down and out. But in terms of America,
I was done.”
Though he hadn’t entirely given up hope. Towards the end of his time spent on couches and in cars, Elordi auditioned for a role in a new HBO drama, created by American screenwriter and director Sam Levinson.
“I knew from the moment I auditioned that the content was going to be good because Sam’s writing is so impressive,” he says. “I didn’t know if people would respond to it or not, but I knew it was something I wanted to play and the world was something
I wanted to live in.”
The show was Euphoria, a gritty teen drama that centered on Rue (played by Zendaya), a 17-year-old recovering drug addict, and her circle of diverse, divergent friends, family and fellow high-schoolers. Among them Nate Jacobs, the cool, handsome jock who Elordi ended up being cast to play. But this was no Kissing Booth.
On the surface, Nate seems to be the perfect all-American kid, but behind the scenes he struggles with his identity and anger, and has a volatile relationship with his dad (Eric Dane). Elordi delivers a powerful performance, all the more so because it feels like such a departure for him as an actor.
In person, he’s taller and skinnier than you might expect, with angular features and a strong jawline that makes him look classically handsome. It’s a face Calvin Klein enlisted for its most recent underwear campaign, alongside Bella Hadid, Naomi Campbell and Diplo. So you can’t help but feel it would have been easier for Elordi to play it safe and stick to the clean-cut romcom path, rather than risk turning off any of the young fans he won with The Kissing Booth.
“I didn’t think about that at all,” he says of his decision to play Nate. “In fact I was kind of hoping that some people would start to dislike me – I was so excited to shed the skin of what everyone thought about me.
“I wanted to make things like Euphoria before I even came to Hollywood, when I was still in high school,” he adds. “So there was no change in my brain where I was like, ‘OK now I need to do serious work’. I knew the calibre of work that I wanted to do and I’m just lucky that I’ve been able to step up and do it so early on.”
Shot over about nine months in LA, the young cast spent more or less every day together and grew incredibly close on set. But Elordi is quick to clarify there is nothing to the idea that he and Zendaya are more than just castmates (“she’s like my sister”), rumours that had been doing the rounds online for a while.
“Zendaya is an amazing creative, you know? She’s super dope to work with. She’s an incredible artist and a very caring person to all of us,” he says. “But we’re all really close. There is not one weak link in that show. We’ve spent so much time together and everyone is just so cool to work with. Sam Levinson is just a genius and working with him, it was just like electricity all the time. I was in awe. Like a kid in a candy shop.”
After Elordi wrapped the final episode of Euphoria, he flew to Cape Town to start shooting the sequel to The Kissing Booth. And for the next few months he was out of the country, unaware of what the response had been when Euphoria premiered in June, or if there had been any response at all.
“I’ve been on the go since it came out,” he says. “I was in South Africa for the longest time, so I really had no connection with the world, in a way.”
But there had been a reaction. In fact, before Euphoria even hit screens, it had made an impact.
“HBO’s Euphoria flashes 30 dicks on screen,” screamed one headline. “Euphoria wants to shock you with penis episode,” read another. “HBO had to edit out 80 dicks from one scene,” revealed yet another take. Eighty dicks? Little wonder the conservative group Parents Television Council denounced the show for “overtly, intentionally, marketing extremely graphic adult content… to teens and preteens.”
“I know,” says Elordi, when we bring up the reviewers who’d been left clutching their pearls. “It was ridiculous. And even if you watch that scene, it’s not like you’re watching some aggressive porno. They want to have that clickbait title and everyone thinks it’s so crazy. I thought that was so silly but that’s the way it’s always going to go with this stuff.”
Euphoria is a raw, unvarnished look at teen life in America, tackling issues like sexuality, gender, substance abuse, depression, body image, sex, sexting and all the things that people struggle with when they’re young and just trying to figure it all out.
Yes, the series doesn’t shy away from nudity, but that’s kind of the point. The scene that caught everyone’s attention – the “30 dicks” – takes place as Nate walks through a crowded locker room. In other words, just another day for most high-schoolers.
And even if many reviews focused on its shock factor, titles such as The Guardian and Variety also praised the show’s performances, plot and the fact it doesn’t shy away from its more confronting subject matter. “Parents are the ones who might need a trigger warning as opposed to teenagers,” quipped the Hollywood Reporter.
Another of Euphoria’s strengths is its diversity – across race, gender, sexuality and size – of the characters it depicts. Besides Zendaya and Elordi, another actor singled out for praise was Hunter Schafter, who plays trans girl Jules Vaughan and who is herself trans.
“It’s a no-brainer, right? If you want honesty and truth and you want to portray people properly,” says Elordi, of casting a trans actor in the role. “And you have incredible actors out there – it’s the way that it should always be done.
“It is really nice that as a result of your work, maybe some kids can watch that show and feel like they’re a little bit more at home, that there’s people like them,” he adds. “That’s really important because I think that when I was a teenager I would have been looking for the same kind of thing, if I could relate to a character.”
Needless to say, Elordi didn’t end up coming home for good. He has a place in LA now and after The Kissing Booth 2 wraps he’ll be onto the second season of Euphoria, with plans to write and direct one day. He also has a few movies in the pipeline, though he’s quick to point out he’s just enjoying the ride.
“I don’t really feel like I’m building a career or trying to be this kind of actor or that kind of actor,” he says. “Every morning I want to wake up and be excited about what I’m going to do. I want it to be honest and fulfilling for me personally, and then maybe it can be fulfilling for the rest of the world, too.
“I still feel like I have a lot to prove, but I’m finally in a place where I can be proud of the work that I’ve done,” he says. “It’s been a blur and it’s definitely a version of living the dream. But it’s starting to feel a little more normal now.”
Next Gen Talent 2019: Hollywood’s Rising Young Stars Revealed
From HBO’s ‘Euphoria’ breakouts to a ‘Daily Show’ comic and the new Little Mermaid, meet 25 talents positioned for big- and small-screen stardom.
Get to know these names. Whether they’re leading tentpole films (Shang-Chi’s Simu Liu, Mulan’s Liu Yifei) or fronting must-see-TV (Pose’s Indya Moore, Unbelievable’s Kaitlyn Dever), this batch of 25 rising stars are here to stay. They’re who every producer in town is looking to cast, agent is vying to sign and studio is hoping will carry their next franchise. From recent big-screen breakouts like Once Upon a Time’s Margaret Qualley and The Last Black Man in San Francisco’s Jonathan Majors to a handful of stars from one of the year’s hottest shows (Euphoria), The Hollywood Reporter anoints the top emerging talent of 2019.
Jacob Elordi, 22
The Australian actor became an instant heartthrob after starring in Netflix’s breakout rom-com The Kissing Booth, opposite Joey King. In the wake of his newfound stardom, he took a more serious turn in HBO’s edgy teen drama Euphoria playing Nate Jacobs, a jock with a host of anger issues and sexual insecurities. Elordi currently has his hands full with the second installments of both projects. Having just wrapped Kissing Booth 2 in Cape Town, South Africa, he’s gearing up for the second season of the Zendaya-fronted drama series in Los Angeles — but not before he takes a trip back to his hometown of Brisbane.
CRAZIEST WAY MY LIFE HAS CHANGED
“I live in America now, which is quite strange.”
PERSON I’D LOVE TO WORK WITH
LAST SHOW I BINGED
ONSCREEN CHARACTER I MOST IDENTIFIED WITH AS A KID
CURRENT SONG I’M LISTENING TO ON REPEAT
“‘A Very Good Year’ by Frank Sinatra.”
Remove the filter and watch what happens #IRL. Introducing the Fall 2019 CALVIN KLEIN UNDERWEAR Campaign featuring Naomi Campbell, Bella Hadid, Odell Beckham Jr, Jacob Elordi, Diplo, Beth Ditto, Lay Zhang, Jelly Lin, Hayley Foster, Abby Champion, Cara Taylor and Matthew Noszka.
This June, HBO’s Euphoria will propel an already impressive cast into superstardom. The show — produced by Drake — follows a group of teenagers (played by Zendaya, Algee Smith, Storm Reid and more) who’re navigating the minefield of experiencing first-time independence, while trying to define who they are.
Given a contemporary update over your classic high school tropes, Euphoria’s inclusive storyline follows authentic facets of life like addiction, affairs and LGBTQ+ relationships as well as slut-shaming and body shaming. Our cover star Jacob Elordi plays Nate, perhaps one of your more typical high school characters, a “jock” type and a straight up bully, but Elordi assures us things are more complex than they may seem.
We won’t know until it airs on 16 June, but pre-order the Summer issue of Wonderland in the meantime where we get existential and lost in a DMC with The Kissing Booth star.
– Source / Buy Magazine