DA MAN Exclusive with Lucas Till

COOL HAND LUCAS. You may recognize him as the love interest of Miley Cyrus from Hannah Montana The Movie or the object of affection in Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” music video, but make no mistake, Lucas Till is now a man’s man with a couple of action films in the works. By Ronald Liem

Even if he may seem like one of the film industry’s young shooting stars, Lucas Till is actually a veteran actor. He’s been in the acting game since he was 13 (in particular, playing a role in 2003’s The Adventures of Ociee Nash), mostly doing kid’s roles.

But now he is a relatively mature 20-year-old and is getting a lot of attention from Hollywood directors for major roles in action blockbusters, such as Battle: Los Angeles (March 2011) and X-Men: First Class (Uune 2011).

In addition, he has a production company that produced an indie film Vacation 8 (set in Thailand) and is involved in a charity called Night Light International which assists women who have been victims of human trafficking (mostly in India and Thailand). In this DA MAN exclusive, he posed for and spoke with us about all the latest on his career, his passions and his aspirations.

DA MAN: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us again, since we featured you last summer in our ‘Young Hollywood’ issue. Tell us about Battle: Los Angeles and your role in the film.
Lucas Till:
Well, basically, the story centers around about a dozen marines in a platoon responding to a call about an unknown force that strikes earth. Their orders are to go to Los Angles and defend the city when they discover it to be a full-scale invasion. The marines have to fight their way out, and I am one of those marines. I play Corporal Grayston.

DA MAN: So this is your first big action blockbuster, correct?
Yes. It’s a big action movie and it’s also my first. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and definitely something, afterwards, I want to keep doing.

DA MAN: So how was the overall experience making it? What was it like working alongside stars like Aaron Eckhart and Michelle Rodriguez?
Lucas Till:
I’ve always liked Aaron Eckhart since Thank you for Smoking and then I saw him as Harvey Dent/Two Face in The Dark Knight.  That guy is awesome. I was excited to work with someone I really liked. And, of course, I love Michelle Rodriguez from the Fast and the Furious movies. So, that was pretty awesome getting to work with her. But it really, I’d have to say, was more about all of us getting along no matter what; it was really easy, really quick, really well and it made it such a fun experience. These guys become your close friends in the course of four months of shooting, so it’s like going to work with your friends, have a laugh every day and shoot machine guns. What more could you ask for? It was definitely a new experience for me.

DA MAN: Where was the movie shot?
Lucas Till:
We actually shot it in Shreveport and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and it was incredibly hot and humid.

DA MAN: For a while, your picture on Twitter was you in the desert dressed in a military outfit. Tell us about that.
Lucas Till:
That was from when we were shooting Battle: Los Angeles. That was on location with a crashed helicopter in the background and that was me in my marine uniform from the movie.

DA MAN: Do you feel like you can’t believe you’re being paid to do this? Shooting machine guns with the guys?
Lucas Till:
Exactly! We wake up in our pajamas and get a little breakfast in the morning—really early in the morning—probably around 5:30 a.m. before the sun is up and then eat breakfast and shoot machine guns until lunch and then eat lunch. What more could you ask for?

DA MAN: How did you go about landing the role of Corporal Grayston
Lucas Till:
I did a pre-reading for an audition and I got a call-back. All of us were reading for one specific character and then they would divide us off afterward depending on what character we fit the most. I got the call back and met the director, Jonathan Liebesman and I remember after doing a scene for him I was panting heavily and getting a little lightheaded and I said, ‘well that was intense.’ He said, ‘well get ready for six months of that,’ or something like that. It scared me a little bit, but then I ended up getting a different role. Then I got put on tape together with Taylor Handley, as a pair, who became a close friend of mine over the course of shooting. I ended up finding out I got the role while I was actually in Thailand doing my own movie, Vacation 8. .

DA MAN: How does it feel to move on from the Disney and Hannah Montana crowd and into more mature roles? What was the transition like?
Lucas Till:
It was definitely not the world I expected going in. The way my career is going now is the direction I’ve always wanted to go.  I just did X-Men. I’ve always dreamed of being a superhero and I actually got to play one. I just took different kind of stepping stone into that, which was the whole Disney Hannah Montana sort of thing. It’s been a very welcome, but unexpected path into what I really want to do, which is what I’m doing now.

DA MAN: You’re currently shooting X-Men: First Class, correct?
Lucas Till:
Yes. I’m pretty much finished. I play Alex Summers whose mutant name is Havok and has the ability to absorb cosmic energy and shoot plasma beams.  He is the brother of Scott Summers, or Cyclops, which everyone would know even if you’re not a comic book fan from the previous movies.

DA MAN: Tell us about the charities you’re involved in.
Lucas Till:
I would love to say that I’m more involved than I am, but it was just brought to my attention by my aunt, who told me that January 11 was Human Trafficking Awareness Day. You see movies like Taken or some lifelike movies about human trafficking and you think, ‘it doesn’t happen in real life,’ but you’d be surprised that it does. Slavery is more prolific and affordable now than it was in ancient Rome. It’s made it into some cultures more than others but you’d you be surprised where you’d find slavery. Slavery seems like such a foreign term that’s irrelevant, but it is actually going on.

DA MAN: In Asia, this is still very relevant, what message do you have for our readers?
Lucas Till:
Like I said before, you’d be surprised how prolific [human trafficking] is and how far it’s reached. You can find it in the coffee you buy, the chocolate you buy, the sugar you buy… you’ll find that, somewhere down the line, there was a connection between the product and slave labor. I think I heard about this new App that’s coming out on the iPhone 4 that can scan the barcode of the products you buy and it’ll tell you the likelihood of the product you’re about to buy having to do with slave labor. Other than that, really be aware of who you’re buying from and do your research.

DA MAN: So you traveled to India and Thailand?
Lucas Till:
I’ve been to Thailand, I’ve never been to India.

DA MAN: You were working on Vacation 8 during your time in Thailand. What was it like to work and travel around the region?
Lucas Till:
It was awesome. I had never been to any part of Asia before. It’s gorgeous and it’s such a different landscape that you find on the other side of the planet. I’ve never seen anything like it except in fantasy movies. It seemed too far away to achieve and yet we were there working. It was pretty awesome.

DA MAN: What’s your state of mind at the moment? How are you feeling about life in general?
Lucas Till:
Well, I’ve been thinking it’s been moving really fast. At one point, I was waiting for a job, then I get X-Men and I’m in another country [the film is largely being shot in England] for four months. It’s definitely an awesome change. It’s good to keep busy. I think 2011 might be fun.

DA MAN: Are you dating anyone at the moment?
Lucas Till:
I am still single at the moment.

DA MAN: What qualities do you look for in a partner?
Lucas Till:
Intelligence is important for me, but it doesn’t hurt if she looks really good. It’s really just more like a case-by-case basis. I might like her and I can’t really figure out why, I just do. But, I like brunettes, that’s for sure.

DA MAN: What do you consider your biggest achievement so far?
Lucas Till:
Making my first movie.

DA MAN: Is it true you love video games?
Lucas Till:
Oh yes. I absolutely love video games to a fault.

DA MAN: If you could be any video game character, who would you be and why?
Lucas Till:
I think I’d have to say Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII.

DA MAN: Who do you look up to as a role model?
Lucas Till:
George Clooney.

To see the full feature with full-size images, click here to get the DA MAN February/March 2011 issue.