The Euphoria and Deep Water star talks dating in the public eye, playing opposite Ben Affleck, and his admiration for Zendaya.
Every generation has its heartthrobs; Gen Z has Jacob Elordi. The lothario of streaming, thanks to Netflix’s The Kissing Booth trilogy, shocked Hollywood as a demented jock in HBO’s Euphoria. Next, he’ll tangle with Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas in Adrian Lyne’s erotic adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s classic thriller Deep Water—this Australian-born movie buff is picking his roles to build a leading man that lasts.
Elordi was auditioning for Australian soaps in Sydney and studying Noah Baumbach films when he landed The Kissing Booth. “I’m a purist and love the movie theater, so I had this weird moral battle of ‘What am I aiding and abetting? Am I the face of this robotic, terrifying new age? Am I murdering this thing that I love?’ But there was this mentality of, ‘I’ll do whatever the fuck I’ve got to do to get to the United States and do what I love.’ ”
The movie spawned two sequels. “This is really the last kiss,” he says of the final installation.
He fumbled his Euphoria audition but “got a callback and met Sam [Levinson]; he will stop at nothing to get that goal. To be one of the soldiers out there for him…that’s the environment I love to work in.”
He wasn’t surprised when Zendaya made Emmy history as the youngest-ever best actress in a drama series. “She’s a power unto herself and so talented, such a sweetheart.”
Affleck, his colleague in Deep Water, is “a hero”—“I have a picture in my house of him and Matt Damon with the Oscars for Good Will Hunting”—and he was thrilled to work with Lyne following his nearly 20-year hiatus. Elordi plays Charlie, a classical pianist and lover to de Armas’s character. “She had me on my toes and was surprising every single take.”
His perfect date is “a night in Paris with wine, and you’re dressed to the nines,” but he’s still adjusting to dating in the public eye (and has been snapped jet-setting with model Kaia Gerber). “You want it to be genuine and real and have all the feelings of what you read in 1920s literature, but when people are watching and talking about it, it makes it a little bit difficult.”
Jacob Elordi isn’t just another heartthrob. The 23-year-old actor has the grit to travel to dark places on the HBO TV series “Euphoria,” where he plays Nate, a high school jock with anger management issues. More recently, Elordi switched courses to reprise his role as Noah in the Netflix rom-com “The Kissing Booth 2,” a sequel to the hit 2018 movie (a third installment has already been shot). Up next he stars in the indie drama “2 Hearts” (in theaters on Oct. 16) and in “Deep Water,” a thriller with Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas, scheduled for release later this year.
For Variety’s Power of Young Hollywood issue, Elordi talked over Zoom from his home in Brisbane, Australia, about preferring to play the bad guy.
“Euphoria” is set in high school. What shows about high school did you watch growing up?
I watched “High School Musical.” I was actually a big fan of that. I watched “Gossip Girl” start to finish. It’s intense. The soundtrack on that is crazy, by the way, if you go back and watch it. Also, Chuck Bass. What an irredeemable character. I believe he rapes two girls in the first episode, and then by the last season, you love him. How do you do that? What kind of arc is that?
What’s it like playing a morally questionable character?
When I was younger, I didn’t question it so much. I just wanted to work and make movies. If the script is acknowledging them — and they’re meant to be there, and not just an outcome of bad writing — then I think it’s much more interesting to play it. I’d hate to play someone who’s morally correct all the time. We do shitty things all the time to each other.
Did you have to audition for “Euphoria”?
It was super simple. It was really just like a conventional audition process. I went down to the casting office, fumbled through my lines and ended up getting called back. And yeah, it was just like that. Sorry, I have a cough. I think I have this asthma thing going on. It’s not the virus. Please don’t jump to any conclusions.
What can you tell us about “Euphoria” Season 2?
Sam [Levinson] changes scripts like a madman. I could tell you something now, and it would not be at all relevant to what I’m going to read when we go back. It’s ever changing, even up until the day that we’re shooting.
Head over to Variety to read the rest of the interview!
The Kissing Booth star is actually really bothered by your extreme thirst.
Even with his mom cutting through the background of a Zoom call from Brisbane, Australia, Jacob Elordi looks at peace. He’s been quarantining with his family in the land down under ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and as a result, he’s many miles away from the hype that’s about to hit a certain subset of people in the United States, prompting his latest film, The Kissing Booth 2, to reach the top of Netflix’s charts.
Elordi’s come a long way since 2018, when he had his breakout moment in the original Kissing Booth, a full year before he became perhaps the definitive zoomer sociopath in HBO’s Euphoria. Fans swooned over his portrayal of Noah Flynn, a self-centered womanizer who eventually falls in love with his brother’s best friend. But it wasn’t the 23-year-old’s performance they vehemently responded to—it was his washboard abs that became the piece de resistance, on display whenever the scene warranted it—and the scene warranted it quite a bit.
“I trained extensively for the first film, because it said it in the script,” he says with a laugh when reflecting back to the time. “I was so terribly nervous that I wouldn’t be what the script wanted me to be.”
While shooting the first Kissing Booth in South Africa, Elordi developed an intense fitness regimen that required him to be in the gym seven days a week, twice a day. The routine never changed—it was strictly about lifting heavy weights, gaining muscle and looking well-defined whenever the camera turned to him. As the world became enamored with the result of his diligent workout schedule, Elordi became disillusioned with how people only seemed to remark on his physical appearance, rather than the work he was doing when the cameras were rolling.
“At the time, I was super young and got thrown into a world where everyone wanted to talk about my body… it really fucking bothered me,” he says. “I don’t identify with that whatsoever. I was trying to prove myself and be known as an actor. It was so much working out and I hated every second of it.”
You can read the full article by going to the Men’s Health website.
I have just added 15 digital scans from the July/August 2020 issue of GQ Australia into the gallery. Enjoy!