Devin Druid On The Final Season Of “13 Reasons Why,” His Next Projects And More

The American actor shares some deep insight into the long-awaited conclusion of the hit TV series, as well as into what he’s been up to during the pandemic.

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Three years ago—in 2017—we talked with Devin Druid about hit show “13 Reasons Why” when the show first started airing. Quite a bit of time has passed since then and, with the world in semi-quarantine, it’s definitely nice to catch up with the American actor and see how he is doing.

DAMAN: Hi Devin, thank you for having us. How are you holding up these days?
Devin Druid:
Hi, I’m doing really well. I’m really lucky that I’ve got my whole family here all under one roof, quarantining, staying safe.

DA: The last time we spoke was when “13 Reasons Why” season one came out, and now the show is on its fourth and final season. For those of us who have not caught up with it yet, can you give us a short breakdown of what to expect from this season?
DD:
Season four of “13 Reasons Why” is typical “13 Reasons Why”: it’s crazy. The characters go through all sorts of ups and downs. There’s mysteries and interesting things that you find out from different characters. It is a finale, so we actually have a conclusion in typical “13 Reasons Why” style. It’s still very topical and relevant to real-life social events.

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DA: With all the ups and downs throughout the seasons, it was really hard to predict where your character’s storyline was heading. What’s surprised you the most about his journey?
DD:
I think that what surprised me the most about my character Tyler Down’s journey is probably how all these other characters did learn from the tragedy of Hannah Baker and that they all came together to help protect their friend, to try to be better moving forward and to help Down heal and move on and become stronger.

DA: Your character have been involved in some of the series’ most talked about scenes, ranging from Down dealing with the aftermath of his sexual assault to the actual assault. As an actor, how do you prepare yourself for scenes like that?
DD:
Yeah, those scenes are difficult to prep for, but we’re so lucky with our production environment in having just the most incredible talent in our cast and crew—writers, producers, everyone. They give us the comfort and the ability to put ourselves in these vulnerable situations so that we can play these scenes as truthful as we can. Also, my scene partner for that particular scene was, of course, Timothy Grenaderos, who plays Montgomery. He’s just such a kind, empathetic human being. The communication that we had for that scene and the ability to work off of each other and take care of each other in the moment was amazing and really helped us to be even more comfortable and safe while doing it.

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DA: After you’re done filming those emotional and intense scenes, how do you decompress?
DD:
I would go home and I like to play a lot of videogames. It helps kind of take my mind off of something else while also giving me some visual stimulation and something to focus on. During season two, I also got really into writing and producing my own music, and I think it’s incredibly cathartic for me. It became like a diary and also gave me a kind of mental stimulation with auditory stimulation. With sounds and being able to create something that encompassed an emotion and then being able to just delete it and throw it away as a cathartic release.

DA: “13 Reasons Why” tackles a lot of dark themes like depression, suicide and even the rarely depicted experience of male-on-male sexual assault. At the end of the day, what do you hope viewers who are struggling with those issues will take away from the show?
DD:
I really hope that viewers will take away how Tyler Down and all the other characters were able to heal and overcome their trauma and find a path through that dark tunnel. These characters didn’t make it out by themselves, they had people who were there for him, people who were willing to listen, people who were empathetic and who listened to their stories and were there for them, as all as well as having mental health professionals. I think, all of those things are incredibly important and should not be stigmatized or as seen as taboo as they are. I hope viewers recognize that from the show and know that whatever they’ve been through, it doesn’t make them something that isn’t human. They’re human beings who have been through something and it’s possible to heal from that with the right support system. And, you know, other people that maybe haven’t been through that should try to be that support system for other people. Try to listen, try to see the signs, try to think about maybe what someone else has gone through before you make a judgment about them.

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DA: Do you think that the finale will bring closure to fans who have been with the show since the beginning?
DD:
You know, trying to please everyone is an impossible task. But I do know that we are a rare instance on Netflix where we got a final season, where we got to write an ending and write a conclusion. And I’m very grateful for that and I hope the audiences are.

DA: All in all, did you find shooting for this series particularly challenging?
DD:
Yes and no. I love working and going on the set and filming and working with my castmates and my amazing crew. Season one of this show was my first time ever working for such a long amount of time—six months of filming—while also being so far away from home. That was heavily challenging. And finding ways to balance my social life, my personal life and my work life was a learning curve for me. I was a young kid. I was 18 and now I’m 22. I think I found my footing and I found my way.

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DA: In a nutshell, what is it like being part of this phenomenal series?
DD:
It’s an amazing feeling. I feel so proud to be a part of not only such a loving family that cares so much about each other, but also talking about these important stories and being part of the conversation moving forward. You see, so many young people right now are continuing that conversation and are really being at the forefront of it for real change. And to be a part of that in a way where I also got to do my job and my dream of getting to perform with such a high caliber of talent … it was amazing.

DA: Were there any times on set where things got emotional to the point where you had to take a step back and catch your breath?
DD:
Definitely. For instance, the assault scene with Montgomery. You know, we were very fortunate to be in a position where we were comfortable with each other for that scene. But it still takes a lot of emotion from you. And it kind of puts you in this predicament, in this situation that you never saw yourself being in, even if it is just a performance in front of a camera. You kind of give it your all and you have to make it real in your head and that can be kind of traumatic and take you a minute to pull yourself out of that.

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DA: They say that every project you work on helps you grow. What do you take away from the experience of working on “13 Reasons Why” that you’re going to apply in future endeavors?
DD:
Everything, literally everything, from the technical aspects of making a TV show, the things that I’ve learned on set about how to be a better actor and how to move around the camera and set. Working with other actor, props and choreographed fight sequences and putting in training and research and preparation—I’m going to take that all with me. From an emotional standpoint, you know, the things that I’ve learned from the show about looking out for your fellow human beings around you and looking at signs for mental illness and depression and people who might have thoughts of self-harm … these are all things that I’m going to carry with me forward.

DA: Speaking about the future, since the pandemic basically has upended everybody’s lives, do you still have any exciting projects coming up?
DD:
Yeah, I do. I was lucky enough to get to film some projects a couple of years ago. And they’re finally done with the editing process and the final cuts are there.

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DA: If we’re not mistaken, your upcoming projects include “Greyhound” and “The Pale Door.” First of all, can you tell us more about “Greyhound”?
DD:
For “Greyhound,” I filmed right after season two and it’s a World War II Navy film which is written by Tom Hanks. It was such a pleasure to get to meet him and work alongside him and have conversations with him. He’s such an inspiration as a talent and a human being. I’m not going to say too much about “Greyhound,” but it’s exciting.

DA: Can you tell us a bit about your role in this movie?
DD:
I play an officer named Wallace on the ship. And you know, it’s a World War II movie. So, there’s a lot of crazy stuff happening with ship battles, cannon fire, gunfire and things like that. I’m excited to see it.

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DA: Is there anything you can share with us about “The Pale Door”?
DD:
“The Pale Door” is a horror movie that takes place in the 1600s in the Wild West with a band of cowboys, and they find themselves up against a coven of evil witches.

DA: From what we’ve learned, your character would be a guy name Jake. What first attracted you to playing the character and how did you end up being cast for this one?
DD:
I was sent the script for “The Pale Door” and I started reading it. I’m super intrigued by horror and thrillers right now. I feel like we’re in a golden age of them with some incredible newfound talents exploring that medium as not just like a genre piece, but, you know, room for more stories. I was so fascinated at the idea of taking a horror movie back to the 1600s. I met with the director, Aaron Koontz, who’s just such an awesome guy and such a warm personality with an eye for story, character and incorporating all that into this crazy script along with Keith Landsdale and Cameron Burns. It just really piqued my interest.

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DA: Moving on to more personal stuff, how do you keep yourself positive during these hard times?
DD: I think what really keeps my hope alive and keeps me positive right now is seeing the incredible conversations by young people on Twitter and at these protests and seeing what they have to say and how they’re moving the conversations forward and keeping the world moving towards a progressive future for equality for everyone. These kids are our future. A lot of the conversations that we started on the show are based on what these young kids are going through and how they’re reacting to it and being a leader for themselves. They inspire me and everyone around me.

DA: Last but not least, going forward, are there any specific challenges—maybe certain roles or certain genres—that you’d like to tackle as an actor?
DD:
I would really like to do some more indie drama films. That’s definitely something that I would love to get back into since I really started my career doing, you know, indie dramas and going to festivals and things like that. On the other hand, I’d love to do a superhero movie. I love comic books and I love superheroes. It’s so cool having “superhero movies” as a new genre unto itself where you can do different things in them, such as “Thor: Ragnarok” being a comedy kind of superhero movie or “Deadpool” being like a comedy edgy R-rated movie. I think that you can go even further with any kind of superhero movie. I’m excited to see what it holds and I hope that I get to be a part of it.

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PHOTOGRAPHY Ian Phillips
STYLING
Kimberly Goodnight
GROOMING
Robert Bryan
U.S.—BASED CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Mitchell Nguyen McCormack

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