DA MAN exclusive: Shiloh Fernandez of ‘Red Riding Hood’

Shiloh Fernandez, the guy who nearly became Twilight‘s Ed Cullen, is now the top dog in Red Riding Hood as well as the hip indie flick Skateland.

The 26-year-old Fernandez has come a long way since being spurned at the altar just before the Twilight sensation kicked off (as has been reported repeatedly, he was the front-runner for the role of Edward Cullen before getting pipped at the post by Robert Pattinson). With his brooding looks, he is a legitimate acting talent in the mold of Johnny Depp (and there are whispers of a Depp-like role … stay tuned) and an intense hunger to hone his craft as a thespian.

Leading man in the recently released film Red Riding Hood, Shiloh Fernandez is a super-cool, mellow Californian with some serious acting chops. His future looks golden. In this DA MAN exclusive, he models some fashionable attire and gives us a piece of his heart.

Growing up in Ukiah, California a place known more for its hippie communes of the 1960s and ’70s (as well as Super Bowl champ Aaron Rodgers) than for its actors, has not deterred Shiloh Fernandez from reaching the cusp of greatness.

With a fairly extensive list of minor parts on TV (Gossip Girl, United States of Tara, for example) and in movies (Deadgirl, Gardens of the Night, Cadillac Records) as well as a brief stint as a teen model for American Apparel, it was never a given that he would have a huge breakout. However, this year he is living the dream with Red Riding Hood, Skateland and couple of other very intriguing roles.

DA MAN: You’ve been acting on and off since you were very young. If you weren’t acting what would you be doing?
Shiloh Fernandez:
I would love to learn how to build houses. I wish I was a better writer. Maybe I would finish college and get a degree so I could get paid to sit down and chat with folks. That question is a persistent one that’s always in the back of my mind.

DA MAN: What can you tell us about how you got the part in Red Riding Hood?
Shiloh Fernandez:
I can’t talk to you about that. (laughs) I had known Director Catherine Hardwicke and when I read the script I felt that would be a really great movie for us to work on together. After numerous auditions and haircuts, she finally relented and agreed. Finally, it was about convincing [co-star] Amanda Seyfried and convincing Warner Bros., which took time and lots of effort.

DA MAN: Tell us about playing the role of Peter in the Red Riding Hood.
Shiloh Fernandez:
The film is a re-imagining of the beloved fairy tale we all grew up with. But this is a dark romance filled with a ‘whodunit’ plot and a thrilling mystery. I play Peter, a mysterious outsider who is willing to do anything and everything for the love of his life, Red (played by Amanda Seyfried). I admire his ‘actions speak louder than words’ philosophy and found many similarities between the character and myself.

DA MAN: Now that you’ve been in a blockbuster-type movie, do you plan to keep doing movies or will you focus on TV?
Shiloh Fernandez:
I like the experience of a film because you sign up for a particular role and it has a start date and an end date. I think it would be a great experience to be on a TV show where you play a character that’s always changing, always different, but I haven’t had a lot of opportunities come up in TV recently. I’d absolutely be open to it. I feel like, for me right now, film seems a better fit.

DA MAN: Tell us about your role in Skateland, which is opening in the U.S. in May and won praise at The Sundance Film Festival.
Shiloh Fernandez:
Skateland means so much to me, because I identify so clearly with the main character. He is a young man, just out of high school who feels a sense of complacency and doesn’t quite believe in himself yet. It’s a very trying time just out of high school and, through a shocking series of events, my character is forced to face reality and his talent and take on the responsibility of life—to move forward.

DA MAN: Is it true that you did a bit of modeling at the age of 15?
Shiloh Fernandez:
It’s sort of true that I did modeling. It was pretty much a fluke, though—a one-off job (with American Apparel founder Dov Charney).

DA MAN: What did your parents think back in your small hometown in northern California?
Shiloh Fernandez:
They were apprehensive and a bit pessimistic.

DA MAN: Was that a good learning experience?
Shiloh Fernandez:
It exposed me to something that I never would have been aware of and gave me a look into a world outside of my small hometown. I am always interested in new experiences and this was no exception.

DA MAN: We read that you went back to your hometown in northern California to work with a small theater company in late 2010. How was that experience?
Shiloh Fernandez:
Fantastic. I hadn’t done a play in a long time and to balance a larger film with a small intimate play was exactly what I wanted to do. It’s necessary to be different and fresh every night in a play, whereas in a film you have many takes of each line. A play is a fantastic challenge and something that can really help you grow as an actor if you’re open to the experience.

DA MAN: You mentioned being impressed working alongside Adrien Brody in Cadillac Records. What was impressive about him?
Shiloh Fernandez:
It’s his ability to make every take absolutely new and different, his ability to set up relationships outside of the set that help him fall into character when he is in the scene. His openness in the way he embraced me was so absolutely impressive.

DA MAN: What would be your ideal next film role?
Shiloh Fernandez:
I would love to play a country singer or a baseball player. The next film that I’m doing I’m really excited about. It’s a film with my friend Thomas Dekker, that’s a kind of true-to-life story about young people who come to L.A. to be actors and have trouble making it, then turn to other ways and means of sustaining themselves and staying alive.

DA MAN: What do you do when you have leisure time?
Shiloh Fernandez:
I do a lot of thinking, reading and watching people. In the Los Angeles neighborhood I live in, there are cafés where you can sit for hours. It’s kind of a walking neighborhood, so people go out and walk around. I like to hear tidbits
of conversation and imagine what’s behind their words. I like to play the guitar. I like to imagine that if I keep writing, one day the things I write will be readable. I spend time with people that I enjoy.

DA MAN: How do you get yourself up for a big performance?
Shiloh Fernandez:
I was curious about that when I did the play that I just finished, I would ask around people, ‘how do you prepare for a play?’ because the performance is at night and you have all day to feel good for the run at night. For me, it came down to staying hungry and passionate about the project and the character, listening to music that I’ve decided goes well with the scenes that we’re doing, trying to create as many circumstances outside of the set or the scene that helps me kind of fall into character when I get there and smoking lots of cigarettes—no, I’m just joking.

DA MAN: What has been your favorite role, big or small, in your acting career thus far?
Shiloh Fernandez:
I really enjoyed playing Bill Sikes in the theater production of Oliver!, because in a play I suppose you have an opportunity to make it new every single night whereas a character on film or TV is recorded on film, so there’s no changing it. There’s no making it new. I also have really great experiences on sets and I hope that the next couple movies that I do will be my favorite, I’m always hoping that the next one will be the most fantastic.

DA MAN: What’s you favorite thing to eat?
Shiloh Fernandez:
I don’t eat meat, that’s important. I really like popcorn. I love the vegetarian burrito from Machos Tacos on the corner of Prospect and Vermont streets in Los Feliz, California. That’s my favorite thing, with two buckets of salsa.

DA MAN: What do you like to listen to?
Shiloh Fernandez:
‘Caravan’ by Van Morrison, ‘Seven Days’ by Bob Dylan, ‘Laundry Room’ by The Avett Brothers, ‘Dust Bowl Dance’ by Mumford & Sons.

DA MAN: Are you in a good place, overall, at the moment?
Shiloh Fernandez:
I am. It’s a very exciting time for me and I’m really grateful to be able to do what I love and be able to work with people that inspire me. Also, a lot of things are changing in my personal life which could be viewed as daunting, but at the same time, bring new challenges that excite me.

DA MAN: What do you do for recreation and regeneration?
Shiloh Fernandez:
I like to play catch with a baseball. I like to go to my hometown and smell the aroma of Grape Crush. I like to play with my baby brother and baby sister (ages five and three), chat and drink wine until the wee hours of the night.

DA MAN: What gets you really elated?
Shiloh Fernandez:

Photographs: Mitchell Nguyen McCormack

Clothing and Accessories:
Dior Homme
3.1 Phillip Lim
Ben Sherman
Emporio Armani

This feature on Shiloh Fernandez appears in the DA MAN April/May 2011 issue. To see all the images in High Resolution and the full article, get the magazine.