ON TOP OF THE WORLD. Talent can be a deciding factor, and education can be a game changer. Levi Meaden shows DA MAN how having both in one package is even better
Like many gifted actors, Canadian-born Levi Meaden started channeling his talents at a young age through local theaters. However, before jumping into the world of TV shows and feature films, he crossed the Atlantic to study at the Prague Center for Film Education in the Czech Republic. Today, the results of the time spent honing his skills a continent away from home—along with his talent and experience—is plain to see on the big and small screens across the globe.
DA MAN: Your latest TV series, “Olympus,” is currently airing. Can you give us a brief description of the show?
Levi Meaden: Olympus is a story of lust, power and greed set in Ancient Greece. It is the story of a power vacuum formed after King Aegeus falls ill, and the story of a fresh faced young hero’s transformation into a ruthless leader whose power could rival the gods.
DA: You’re also starring in the upcoming psychological thriller “Alice in the Attic.” Can you tell us a bit about the movie?
LM: It is a thriller that has some gothic elements. I play a young man who takes a much-needed vacation at his estranged aunt’s place. When I arrive, I discover my aunt has become a religious zealot and taken in two young Catholic women. I soon discover that she has locked my cousin away fearing she is mentally unstable. As I wrestle with my aunt’s faith and mental health, I fall into a love triangle with the two girls. It is steamy, dark and twisted. I cannot wait for people to see it.
“There is an entire world of inspiration out there”
DA: Did you encounter any new challenges while shooting this movie?
LM: Alice was a unique shooting situation. Due to the budget, we had an extremely tight shoot schedule. We lived in the house the film takes place in and would shoot really long days, sleep and get up early to do it again every day for almost a month. Due to this, there was very little down time. It really forced me to constantly remain focused, and partially in character. Staying in character is not something I agree with as it can turn the set into a nightmare. But given the extenuating circumstances during the shoot, I allowed myself to do it and discovered some interesting things.
DA: Looking back a bit, your definite breakout role seems to be in the hit TV series “The Killing.” How has this show affected your career?
LM: It has been a huge stepping-stone for me. It has only been a year but the reverberations have been felt. If nothing else, I proved to myself how much I was capable of. The show has such a devoted following too that it has really opened some doors for me.
DA: Speaking of the movies and TV shows you’ve done so far, do you have any unique methods or experiences with getting into character?
LM: On “The Killing” we had some on set military, nothing as far as battle tactics but a lot of drills. I spent quite a bit of time trying to get the right timbre when calling out commands. This meant I had to find a place to stand and yell at the top of my lungs, which is hard to do in a metropolitan city. I tried dozens of places, and ruined quite a few quiet days at the beach, before I finally stumbled across an empty lot with lousy security.
Jacket by G-Star RAW
DA: You’ve also made a name for yourself as a producer and director. How does sitting behind the camera suit you so far?
LM: I have spent a lot of time behind the camera. It is something that I continually work on, but I do not feel like I am quite at the level of craftsmanship I would like to be at yet. I am going to continue working on it until I feel confident in what I can put out to the world.
DA: Speaking of which, can you tell us a bit about your time studying at the Prague Center for Film Education? What was it that convinced you to move to a whole different continent to study?
LM: I grew up as huge film nerd. As far back as I can remember I have been obsessed with movies. At some point, though, I realized I had really only been exposed to American cinema and storytelling and decided I had to change that. So, I found Prague and decided that would do. The time I spent there was some of the most exhausting, rewarding, and productive time of my life. I made and lost friends, pushed myself beyond my limits, and fell in love.
DA: What was the best piece of acting or directing advice you’ve ever heard?
LM: A teacher I had in Prague, Simon Howard, used to say, “treat everything with the severity it deserves, but with a lightness of touch.” He said it all the time, about writing, directing, acting—basically any component of storytelling. It is something that is always stuck with me, especially when I have been handed dark roles to play—finding the lightness in it is key, it makes the performance more enjoyable for the audience.
DA: Finally, what bits of advice would you give to aspiring actors and directors?
LM: If you are doing any of it for money or fame, you better rethink your priorities. There is so much down time spent just waiting, and grinding that you question yourself and your intentions over and over. If you are not doing it for the love of the medium or a passion for storytelling, it might not be right for you. On that note: learn cinematic history! If you are going to be working in the medium try to be knowledgeable about it. There is an entire world of inspiration out there. The amount of people I meet whose film knowledge does not extend past the 1980’s is infuriating.
Outfit by American Apparel
Creative Director Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
Photography Austin Anderton
Styling Rebecca Rea
Grooming Grace Phillips
Styling Assistant Gabriela Diaz
Videography Jon Norris
Video Editing Dimas Anggakara