ARCHITECT OF HIS OWN FORTUNE. Riding on the waves of his breakout hit, Jonny Weston continues to set the foundations of an outstanding acting career
Like many of his contemporaries, Jonny Weston fell in love with acting while attending university and then decided to seek fame and fortune as a professional performer. It didn’t take long, though, before he found the role that would jumpstart his career. In 2012 he appeared as the lead in “Chasing Mavericks,” the true story of surfing legend Jay Moriarty who was well-known for his prowess in riding Northern California’s massive maverick waves. Weston’s own wave of success continues to this day, with high-profile roles in movies such as “The Divergent Series: Allegiant” and “Beyond Skyline.” In the latter, he plays alongside Frank Grillo, who’s on this issue’s cover, as well as two of Indonesia’s leading action stars: “The Raid” alumni Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian. He’s not always a man of many words, but Jonny Weston certainly has a tale to tell.
DA MAN: Hi, Jonny, glad to have you with us. So, by now, “The Divergent Series: Allegiant” will have been running for a couple of weeks. How would you describe your experience with the “Divergent” series?
Jonny Weston: I’m a militant enforcer in a future war. How could I not love that?
DA MAN: Now, your character, Edgar, is not present in the original novels and was created expressly for the movies. Do you think that this made getting into character more difficult as opposed to if you were playing a canon character with a more established background? Or did it allow you more freedom to improvise?
Jonny Weston: It was difficult not knowing what was going to happen next, for sure. But they were writing the part for me. Literally writing for the way I speak.
DA MAN: Is there anything you can tell us about the finale of the movie series?
Jonny Weston: I can’t and I won’t. There’s still the final installment, which we’ll be shooting this summer, to come out next year. It will be epic. “The Divergent Series: Allegiant” is a pretty heavy setup for the finale.
DA MAN: What would you say is your favorite moment from working on the last two “Divergent” movies?
Jonny Weston: Wow, that’s a tough question. There are moments when creativity is at an ultimate high on set, then there are moments when the stunt team gives me a 700 horsepower military truck and tells me to drive fast. It’s a close tie.
“I flipped out when I saw that [Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian] were in a film with me”
DA MAN: We’ve also learnt that you’ll be appearing in “Beyond Skyline.” Can you give us a brief rundown of this movie?
Jonny Weston: It’s based on a graphic novel and it’s a totally badass alien invasion concept. Frank Grillo plays my father. The visual effects should be insane. I really can’t get enough of sci-fi.
DA MAN: People are really excited about “Beyond Skyline” here in Indonesia, what with Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian being in it. What was it like filming with these two action stars?
Jonny Weston: “The Raid 2” is, hands down, the greatest martial arts movie ever created. Ever. I flipped out when I saw that they were in a film with me. They created a new standard for stunt work and executing on camera. Respect.
DA MAN: And what was it like working on location here in Indonesia?
Jonny Weston: I didn’t actually film any of my scenes in Indonesia. They managed to get my shots here in California, but I felt left out and I made a trip to Indonesia on my own—to Bali for a little surfing and spiritual time.
DA MAN: Do you have any other movies or maybe TV shows planned for later this year?
Jonny Weston: Couple things in development; can’t say much about them. [Laughs]
DA MAN: On a related note, what are your current long-term career goals?
Jonny Weston: I’m looking into some theater these days; the writing is so layered and complex. I guess in the long run, I hope to do everything. All of it. I’ve always switched characters dramatically. I get to love different parts of myself.
DA MAN: Looking back, one of your most memorable roles was as surfing legend Jay Moriarty in “Chasing Mavericks.” Four years later, what are your fondest memories about being in that movie?
Jonny Weston: I’m still in touch with all those guys: Jay’s family, his friends and all the pro surfers. I get to go back to my Mavericks family whenever I like and to jump off 50-foot cliffs into the ocean at night.
DA MAN: How did starring in “Chasing Mavericks” affect your career?
Jonny Weston: It certainly got me the experience of shooting a major picture. I suppose it also gave Hollywood the confidence that I can play as the lead of a film.
“I’ve always switched characters dramatically. I get to love different parts of myself”
DA MAN: As the story goes, you took an acting class back in university, fell in love with it and then decided to pursue it in earnest. What was it about acting that drew you in?
Jonny Weston: Theater class was the best part of my day, the only thing I looked forward to back then. I don’t know that I really thought into it any further. The fact that it is a profession blew my mind. I had to do it.
DA MAN: At that time, how did you imagine life as a professional actor was going to be?
Jonny Weston: I didn’t plan on being successful. I just wanted to go to New York City to find a creative home for myself.
DA MAN: Now, after 20 or so movie and TV roles to your name, do you still feel that this is the right career for you?
Jonny Weston: I’m sure of it. Whenever I stop acting, my life gets weird.
DA MAN: What would you say is the most important lesson you’ve learnt about being a professional actor? The key to your success, if you will…
Jonny Weston: The ability to return to the uncarved block after each role and suffering many ego-deaths.
DA MAN: People tend to forget that being a professional actor means that it’s your, well, profession. So, how busy does it usually get on a typical working day?
Jonny Weston: I’m constantly working. When I’m not, I’m rehearsing.
DA MAN: How do you usually balance out the “work” part of your life?
Jonny Weston: The trick is to take a break and be a human from time to time.
DA MAN: Is there anything non-work related that you want to do more of in the future?
Jonny Weston: Maybe pick up what I left behind in college, which was architecture.
To see more images from this shoot, get DA MAN April/May’16 here.