DA MAN chats with young actor Jack Dylan Grazer about his creative process when building a character and on evolving to be the actor that he is today.
Jack Dylan Grazer is on the cusp of transforming from a child actor to a truly mature performer, and he has quite the lineup of mature roles to show for it. You may best remember him as one of the misfits who brought down Pennywise in the movie adaptation of iconic Stephen King novel “It” as well as its sequel “It Chapter Two” or as one of the kids in “Shazam!”, and it is safe to say that Grazer is one of the most promising young actors today, or perhaps, his generation. There’s something about the way he acts that just comes naturally and makes us believe in his characters. The kid’s a natural. And more importantly, he’s not a kid anymore.
Now he turns to the small screen for a role in the HBO series “We Are Who We Are”, created and directed by “Call Me By Your Name” director Luca Guadagnino. To date, his role as Frasier was his most serious part and, more importantly, he really nailed it. DA MAN chats with the L.A.-native about his experience with the show and digs deeper into his passion for acting.
DAMAN: Hi, Jack. Awesome to talked a lot about his vision for the have you with us! So, how have been you doing these days?
Jack Dylan Grazer: I’m actually doing great! I’m so grateful to have this opportunity.
DA: Congratulations on the success of “We Are Who We Are”! And on that note, how does it feel working with Luca Guadagnino?
JDG: Luca Guadagnino is honestly one of the greatest directors of this generation. His dedication and commitment to the art of it all is unreal. He’s so devoted to bringing stories to life and making them so that the emotions are always in the foreground without being too dramatic. He’s definitely one of my biggest inspirations.
DA: Tell us about the role you play—Fraser. How did you build him as character?
JDG: It was definitely a process creating Fraser. Playing him was unlike playing any other character I have ever played before. Fraser doesn’t have too many lines of dialogue, but a lot of what he expresses is silent and with his eyes. So, for those pieces, I couldn’t just “act”—I had to understand what drove him and his internality and his struggles and what he’s truly, truly feeling. This was a challenge, but a great and super fun challenge. I had no other choice but to surrender myself as Jack and become Fraser if I wanted to deliver a good performance. And I did want to deliver a good performance, so I was fully committed to building that character through and through with Luca.
DA: Did you audition for the role? Were there any memorable moments from the process?
JDG: I did audition for the role and I thought I totally tanked it when I walked out. Little did I know that later on in the coming weeks I would be on a FaceTime call with Luca and he would offer me the role. I was in Chicago doing a press junket for “Shazam!” and when I got back to L.A., Luca and I had a meeting and talked a lot about his vision for the show. Then, I had a chemistry read with a few of the actors auditioning to play Caitlyn and Danny, and from there, it all came together.
DA: Did you face any particular difficulties in portraying Fraser?
JDG: It was all a big leap for me. Playing Fraser required a lot of my psyche and dedication to acting. It was beyond acting, though. I had to actually become him which was so transformative for me. It wasn’t necessarily difficult, but it did require a lot of me as an actor which was such excellent exercise.
DA: What was the most memorable moment from filming “We Are Who We Are” for you?
JDG: Every single day that I spent on set with my lovely cast is a wonderful memory. All of my most memorable scenes were the ones that I did either alone or together with Tom Mercier, who played Jonathan. It was those scenes that were of the most emotional intensity, and it was just so much fun to play pretend with Tom and the rest of the cast, too.
DA: How do you usually prepare yourself to get into the roles you play before filming begins?
JDG: A consistent piece of my process in preparing myself for any character is that I always make a playlist for them. When I’m not shooting, I’m listening to it or adding to my playlist. The music on the playlists isn’t necessarily music that I, Jack, would like, but it’s music that I know that the character likes or music from the actual soundtrack.
For Fraser’s playlist I added a curated blend of music, ranging from classical to hip hop to even abstract jazz. I also would add music that I, playing Fraser not even on set, would hear out on the streets of Abano Terme listening in on the sounds of Andrea Bocelli and Mina. At the time, I was also reading a book called “The Stranger” by [French philosopher] Albert Camus which so perfectly synchronized with Fraser’s constant questioning of existentialism and the delusions of hope and fate. All of the pieces of the process aided me so heavily into delving deeper into the internality of Fraser.
DA: Tell us, how did you first discover acting?
JDG: I don’t really know if there was an actual noted moment in my life where I discovered acting. I think that I’ve just always been acting. Since I was a toddler, I would dress up in costumes and stand in front of my mirror and do scenes and voices. The defining moment though, was when I was eight years old and I found myself on the Magicopolis Stage in a musical called “Anything Goes” that I was acting in as Sir Evelyn Oakley with the Adderley School. I remember the feeling of the audience and the freedom and liberation that I had finally felt. Right then and there I knew that there was nothing else that I wanted to do more for the rest of my life than this.
DA: And besides acting, what would you say is your biggest passion at the moment?
JDG: I have many passions aside from acting. Acting would definitely be my favorite, though. But when I’m not acting, I’m usually skateboarding, playing the flute or doing some creative writing. I’m also teaching myself to play guitar right now.
DA: We’ve learned that you have been writing a few scripts of you own during the pandemic. Can you tell us more about that?
JDG: I’ve always been eager to tell stories. Whether it’s in front or behind the camera, it’s my favorite thing in the world. It’s the best form of self-expression to me and writing is just one of the ways in which I let that loose. I wrote two scripts over the duration of the pandemic and a pretty good number of short stories and poems. I love writing; it’s therapeutic for me.
DA: And where do you get inspiration from?
JDG: I mostly just get my ideas from life experience. Sometimes I’ll think of a scene first and then build a movie around that.
DA: In your opinion, what makes a great script?
JDG: Emotionality being displayed inrealandrawwayiskeytoagood script. Also, a unique perspective and overall plot is important to me. Most of all, the dialogue needs to be believable. The dialogue carries a lot of the movie’s message, but without considering the pressure of that, the script should be densely devoted to making the story feel true to life even if it’s something fictional.
DA: You act, you write … but would directing be in your future too?
JDG: Absolutely. I’d love to direct. It’s an aspiration of mine to direct something that I wrote.
DA: Your new film, “Don’t Tell A Soul,” just came out after being postponed due to the pandemic. Tell us about the film and your character, Joey…
JDG: “Don’t Tell A Soul” is a thriller film about two brothers who struggle a lot with their demons associated with the absence of a father figure. Together they find themselves in all sorts of trouble. I play Joey who is naive and gullible but always manages to bring forth his heart of gold.
DA: What do you enjoy most in playing that role?
JDG: It was so enjoyable for me to play this character and act alongside some really talented actors who I look up to. Fionn Whitehead who plays my brother in the film was so kind and sweet and treated me like I was brother in real life, minus the violence. Of course, Mena Suvari and Rainn Wilson were also just such beautiful and generous people who mean so much to me.
DA: Are there any specific genres that you love in particular?
JDG: Honestly, I just love any script that is well-written. It could be any genre, as long as it’s created with care and thoughtfulness, I love it.
DA: How do you see yourself evolve from the first role you played up until now?
JDG: I’ve definitely learned a lot about myself and my capabilities as an actor since my first time acting in front of a camera. I think that now I have more of an insight on what being a truly good actor is. It’s about full commitment to the art of it and applying yourself to your highest potential.
DA: Do you have any upcoming film projects that you can share with us?
JDG: I have a few coming up but only two of them aren’t confidential. We all know about “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” I think, and of course there’s “Don’t Tell A Soul.” I have a lot brewing right now which I’m so grateful for, but “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” is bound to be released in 2023.
DA: What was the best advice that anyone has given you?
JDG: “The show must go on.” In every realm of life. Not just in show business. In the world. Keep on truckin’, mo matter what.
DA: This may sound clichéd, but going into the new year, what are your hopes for 2021?
JDG: I hope to just continue doing what I love to do and what I’m passionate about and hopefully create some exciting art for everyone who’s anticipating it.
PHOTOGRAPHY MITCHELL NGUYEN McCORMACK
STYLING MONTY JACKSON AT A-FRAME AGENCY
GROOMING DYLAN MICHAEL
STYLING INTERN CLAUDIA VLASIMSKY
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