LIVING THE DREAM. Twenty-year-old Jacob Artist may only have a little acting experience for now; so little that you can count the number of the projects in his filmography on one hand. But with a breakthrough role on today’s most talked about TV show—Glee, that is—this rising star is set to live up to his last name. By M. Berlian
Forget “Kingdom of God.” It’s probably easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for anyone to get into the Juilliard School. The prestigious New York-based performing arts school is greatly known not only for generating a list of world-famous alumni (including Oscaraward winning actor Jamie Foxx and Grammywinning cellist Yo-Yo Ma), but also for having highly competitive admissions. The data on its official website shows that, in the fall of 2012, out of 2,657 undergraduate applicants, only 7.2% were accepted.
So imagine getting accepted, only to turn down the offer later. Somebody who made that choice might end up being called “crazy” or “foolish.” But, when it comes to Jacob Artist, “lucky” would be the right word. Born in New York on 17 October 1992, Artist grew up thinking he was going to be a dancer. So, as soon as he finished high school, he applied for a spot in Juilliard for dancing— which he got and, later, declined. You could say that he had an epiphany, or an insight, or a hunch. Whatever it was, Artist suddenly decided that it was a career in acting, and not dancing, that he wanted to pursue. With that in mind, he left New York and Juilliard behind him, packed his bags and set off for Los Angeles. Artist began his acting career by gueststarring on a number of cable TV series such as Nickelodeon’s How to Rock and family comedy Melissa & Joey.
Although he started small, Artist never intended to stay small. He proved that by securing a role in the hit musical TV show, Glee.
Artist made his Glee debut in the first episode of the show’s fourth season that aired in September 2012. Playing Jake Puckerman, one of the glee club newbies, Artist suddenly found himself thrown into the limelight. Audiences have been drawn to his character’s bad boy persona, not to mention the love triangle drama he’s involved in with fellow students Marley and Kitty (played by Melissa Benoist and Becca Tobin respectively). But the TV audience is not the only one he captivates; Artist has also been offered roles in feature-length movies. His first is The Philosophers, which will come out later this year. Shot in Indonesia, the movie also stars actors and actresses of various nationalities such as England’s Bonnie Wright and Freddie Stroma (who both starred in the Harry Potter movies), as well as Indonesia’s own Cinta Laura and Natasha Gott. He will also be featured in White Bird in a Blizzard, a thriller that also stars Eva Green and is now currently in post-production.
DA MAN: Can you take us back to the moment when they told you that you got the part in Glee? What went through your mind back then?
Jacob Artist: I was actually sitting down for dinner with a group of friends when I got the phone call. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone until the next day, so I had to contain all this overwhelming excitement. It was probably the best acting I’ve ever done in my life because not one of my friends could tell something was up.
DA MAN: What similarities, if any, do you have with your character, Glee’s new resident bad boy Jake Puckerman?
Jacob Artist: I guess we both kind of look alike, but I’m definitely the better dancer.
DA MAN: Is it a total coincidence that the character has the same first name as you?
Jacob Artist: Total coincidence. I’m pretty sure his name was Jake from the start so I like to think it was meant to be.
DA MAN: Your character is involved in a love triangle. Is being a ladies’ man something you have experience with in your life as well?
Jacob Artist: I don’t think anyone can be more of a ladies’ man than Jake Puckerman. If only I had that kind of game when I was in high school! Girls probably would have returned my phone calls more frequently.
DA MAN: What do you think is the greatest thing about fame?
Jacob Artist: Being a part of a something like Glee—a show with all of these great messages that help people on a global level is absolutely the most rewarding part of all of this.
DA MAN: What got you interested in acting in the first place?
Jacob Artist: I started dancing at the age of 5, and at 15 I auditioned to be a principal dancer in High School Musical 3. It was just a brief taste of what this whole world was like but I was pretty much hooked. This was the industry for me… Only instead of dancing, I wanted to act.
DA MAN: Do you think that dancing and acting are connected at all? Do you think there are any ways that your dance training has helped you with your acting?
Jacob Artist: I think so. To me, art is all about expression and that can be through movement in dance or the words on the pages of our Glee scripts. It’s all connected.
DA MAN: You got accepted to Juilliard, but turned it down. What exactly went through your mind when you decided to do that?
Jacob Artist: I just kept asking myself “Jacob, if you go to Juilliard and carry on with the rest of your life, can you really live with yourself not knowing what would have happened if you went to LA?” And I knew I couldn’t.
DA MAN: Would you say that you’re a risk-taker?
Jacob Artist: I would say so, yeah! I guess theoretically there would be no story about me and Glee if I wasn’t.
DA MAN: What was your family’s reaction when you told them you wanted to give up the coveted spot in Juilliard?
Jacob Artist: Initially they were pretty shocked. After all, I was telling my parents I was turning down Juilliard and changing my whole future all in one conversation! But my family has always been incredible in supporting me in whatever I wanted to do and it didn’t take them long to see I was genuinely passionate about this.
DA MAN: What do you miss the most about New York, now that you’re living in LA?
Jacob Artist: Seasonal changes!
DA MAN: What were you like growing up?
Jacob Artist: A ball of energy. I never wanted to sit still and I was always talking to somebody.
DA MAN: You also will star in The Philosophers. Can you tell us more about the movie?
Jacob Artist: I think people are really going to enjoy it! It’s a very fresh and cool take on the whole apocalypse genre. You get to chronicle everything through 20 philosophy students and see how this adventure plays out with such an interesting group dynamic. Conceptually I think it separates itself as not just another teen sci-fi/fantasy movie.
DA MAN: What was shooting in Indonesia like? Was that your first time working outside the US?
Jacob Artist: It was my first time ever overseas and it was hands down one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Just being in a brand new country with 20 other kids my age and experiencing that all together for the first time was so special. Those are the memories I’ll be telling my grandkids about.
DA MAN: Some people compare Jakarta to New York, calling it the Indonesian equivalent of the Big Apple and all; do you see any similarities?
Jacob Artist: Definitely. All Jakarta needs is a Time Square and they’ll be basically one in the same.
DA MAN: Others would say that Jakarta’s traffic is even worse than LA’s; true or false?
Jacob Artist: 100% true!
DA MAN: Did you have any scenes with our very own Cinta Laura and Natasha Gott?
Jacob Artist: I did! They were both lovely to work with and excellent personal tour guides.
DA MAN: In what other countries would you like to work after this?
Jacob Artist: Bora Bora. Preferably a project that will allow me to stay in one of those huts on the water!
Photographs: Eric Silverberg
Styling: Juliet Vo