Alex Neustaedter talks about starring in action/adventure flick “A.X.L,” writing and his passion for the ocean

ALEX AND A-X-L. American actor Alex Neustaedter chats with DA MAN about his latest movie and his interests beyond acting

Shirt by Soulstar; jeans by Calvin Klein

More often than not, when Alex Neustaedter plays in a movie, he acts alongside his fellow actors and actresses. For his latest hit, however, Neustaedter works together with something a bit inhuman. So, if you haven’t already, catch a showing of “A.X.L.” in a theater near you and continue reading for some insight from the star of the movie.

Sweater by FourTwoFour on Fairfax
Jacket by Paraval; shirt by Soulstar; jeans by Levi’s; sandals by REEF

DAMAN: Hi, Alex. Awesome to have you with us. How are you?
Alex Neustaedter: Thanks for having me!

DAMAN: First and foremost, “A.X.L.” is hitting theaters right now. How excited are you for the release of this movie?
Alex Neustaedter: Very! It’s been a couple years in the making since I first read this script. So, to see it completed and being released is really exciting for everyone involved with the project.

DAMAN: Now, your character in “A.X.L.” is described as an “up-and-coming motor cross star.” How did you prepare for this part of the role?
Alex Neustaedter: I started watching and going to motocross events in my local area. Talked to riders and their parents to gain perspective from them on what this lifestyle is all about. We had amazing riders that worked on this film as well that were really generous with helping me fit into this world and making Miles’ riding look amazing. Then I put on weight by working out with a trainer to get the body that a lot of these riders have.

DAMAN: You also spent quite a lot of screen time acting opposite a CGI model. How did you find that part of filming the movie? Challenging? Fun?
Alex Neustaedter: It was one of the best parts of the process. The guys over at Legacy Effects built a life like version of “A.X.L.” that we got to play with every day at work. It took three guys to control him, but this made him become so real to us. I could touch him, interact with him and I know he would be listening and respond. It was so helpful to have that as an actor because it’s what sells the connection Miles has with A-X-L, which is the heart of the film.

Hoodie by FourTwoFour on Fairfax
T-shirt by Soulstar; jeans by Guess; sneakers by Puma
Jacket and tanktop by Soulstar; sweatpants by Paraval; sneakers by Puma

DAMAN: Reading the synopsis and watching the trailer, “A.X.L.” feels like a nod to classic sci-fi adventures like “E.T.” or “Flight of the Navigator.” Would you say that this is a fitting description?
Alex Neustaedter: Absolutely. Those are both projects we were inspired by when making this film. I think “A.X.L.”has similar elements with some of its own unique points as well, that are really current in the time we are living now.

DAMAN: All in all, though, what do you see as the best part of “A.X.L.”?
Alex Neustaedter: My favorite part of this film is how Miles sees this giant weaponized dog, a potential killing machine and humanizes him and brings out his good side. He knows what the dog is capable of, but he also knows there is a good and bad side to everything. Him bringing that out in A-X-L is something really special in this film and something I think we need more of in our world today.

Sweatshirt and jeans by Guess
Shirt by Guess; jeans by Calvin Klein Jeans
Shirt by Guess

DAMAN: And what was the most memorable part of working on the movie?
Alex Neustaedter: With every film I do, I think by the end of it the most memorable part is the people you create this film with. I made some really great friends while on this project and that’s something I’ll take with me the rest of my life.

DAMAN: We’ve noticed that you also have two other movies in the works: “American Woman” and “Low Tide.” Can you give us a short intro to these two titles?
Alex Neustaedter: “Low Tide” is about what four boys get up to one summer on the East Coast when their parents aren’t around and they appear to be on their own. “American Woman” is about a woman who loses her daughter and has to pick the pieces up in her life and figure out what happened to her, while also raising her daughter’s newborn.

DAMAN: Moving on to TV, the last season of “Colony” wrapped up not too long ago. Do you have any other series that you’re looking into at the moment?
Alex Neustaedter: Nothing yet, back to auditioning.

Tanktop by Soulstar; jeans by Calvin Klein; sandals by REEF
Outfit by FourTwoFour on Fairfax

DAMAN: By the way, what do you usually look for when taking up new film projects? What usually draws you to a script or a role?
Alex Neustaedter: There isn’t one particular thing that draws me to a script, but typically the roles I’m most attracted to begin with reading a script I can’t put down. And when I read something like that I immediately want to be involved. I just want to be passionate about every project I make, that’s my goal.

DAMAN: Are there any other aspects of filmmaking that you’re particularly interested in?
Alex Neustaedter: I’ve been dabbling in writing a bit, nothing too serious right now, but I do enjoy it. Ultimately, I’d love to write and direct something down the line. I will only make something when I feel like it’s a story I have to tell. So, we’ll see.

DAMAN: You’ve been acting for close to a decade now. What would you say is the one role that really solidified your career? The one that put you on the map, so to speak…
Alex Neustaedter: I think the role I played in “Ithaca” that was directed by the wonderful Meg Ryan really gave me my footing. It was my first lead project I booked since I moved to L.A. and I had just turned 16. I worked with some incredible actors in that film and I really discovered throughout the process of that film that this is what I wanted to do.

Sweatshirt by Ermenegildo Zegna
Hoodie by Paraval; jeans by Calvin Klein Jeans; sandals by REEF
Jacket by Paraval; shirt by Mitchell Evan; pants by Atzion; sneakers by Puma

DAMAN: Looking ahead, what are your long term goals for now?
Alex Neustaedter: I try not to look too far ahead, I just want to keep doing what I love. And I’m so grateful to say that making movies is just that.

DAMAN: Beyond acting and filmmaking, what else are you passionate about?
Alex Neustaedter: This summer I partnered with Oceana, which I am incredibly excited about. They work toward conserving and protecting our oceans and their ecosystems so we can continue to feed our growing population and keep our trash out of the ocean. I am a huge lover of our ocean, and it is so important to me that we treat it well because of everything it provides us. As large and vast as it may be, it is vulnerable to our impact. Collectively we need to take responsibility for our actions that indirectly and directly affect the oceans for our future generations.

T-shirt by BOND VAULT
Hoodie by FourTwoFour on Fairfax; jeans by Calvin Klein Jeans
T-shirt by Guess; jeans by Levi’s; sandals by REEF
Jacket and sweatpants by Paraval; sneakers by Puma
Shirt by Paraval; jeans by FourTwoFour on Fairfax
Sweater by Soulstar; sweatpants by Paraval

Photography Jalen Turner
Styling Ty Headlee
Grooming Amanda Tralle using Burt’s Bees
US based Creative Director Mitchell Nguyen McCormack