Personalities / Insights

Eric Hutchinson on New Album and City Favorites

Up-and-coming artist talks tours, Twitter, and top spots in New York City.

July 03, 2012

Eric Hutchinson is a fairly common name. And one Eric Hutchinson's face is a fairly common (albeit handsome) face. That face sings songs that appear in fairly common places: commercials ("not enough of them" he jokes), television shows, and mid-level venues across the country. Yet, somehow, these commonalities combine to produce a dynamic talent who's on the verge of becoming the next big thing you'll feel like you personally discovered.

Or maybe you already have: Enjoying an afternoon beer at Spitzer’s, sharing a table at Joe's Shanghai, or listening to the first single off his new Moving Up Living Down album, “Watching You Watch Him,” softly playing on a store’s intercom. He's a loyal New Yorker the city can claim as its own, despite the fact he’s often on the road (most recently completing a nearly 50-city tour). I caught up with him during a second stop at Highline Ballroom, a date he added as part of an extended schedule due to overwhelming demand.

Returning to the Highline is also a return home for Hutchinson, a place that inspired many songs off the new album. “I have such a strong memory of writing ‘Not There Yet,’” he told me. “I had a very late night of drinking here in New York and I woke up the next morning so hungover. I just sat on the couch and starting messing around and writing…. A lot of these songs I write when I’m trying to cheer myself up or when I’m trying to sort through what’s going on in my life. [When I play them], it’s nice to be able to think about everything and take stock.”

Judging by sold-out shows and, in particular, the line already gathering outside of the Highline Ballroom two hours before his show that evening, what’s “going on” in Hutchinson’s life is resonating quite loudly with fans. And if that weren’t enough evidence, one need only check his Twitter feed for absolute confirmation. “I’m kind of addicted to Twitter,” he admits. “I used to have an email address set up but people would write paragraphs and paragraphs. Twitter is so instant and quick. I really like hearing what people have to say, especially after shows.”

Perhaps it’s this transparency that helps him retain old fans while gaining new ones. He says he questions whether or not he’s sold out already, but then corrects himself: “It’s more about making little upgrades over and over…That’s what the album title is about: Moving Up Living Down. Everyone is constantly trying to move up but stay true to themselves...I try to do that.”

In real estate, little upgrades can have a major impact on one’s life (as I file this story, I’ll be rushing off to pack up boxes for a move to the UWS this weekend). In music, little upgrades can have a major impact on one’s career. Hutchinson isn’t afraid to put in the time or travel to see those results, but he’s also not being Machiavellian about it. “Sure, I would love to play Radio City Music Hall, that’s a big goal for me…maybe one day Madison Square Garden,” he says. “But, right now, I’m just happy if there are people and it’s a halfway decent room, you know?”


Favorite pizza

-Luzzo’s (211 1st Ave. # 1, 212-473-7447). “The tartufata is the best thing! That’s the first place I always take people from out of town.”

-Arturo’s (106 W. Houston St., 212-677-3820). “It’s maybe one of my favorite places in the city. It’s got a neighborhood feel and they crammed a piano in there and they’re playing jazz. The bartender is always cleaning the glasses, [and has] a nice New York accent. It feels like old school New York or what I imagine it would have felt like.”

Favorite bars

-JG Melon (1291 Third Ave., 212-744-0585), Wilfie and Nell (228 West 4th St., 212-242-2990), Loreley (7 Rivington St., 212-253-7077)

Favorite restaurants

-Locanda Verde (377 Greenwich St., 212-925-3797), Momofuku (171 1st Ave., 212-777-7773)

Favorite neighborhood

-Lower East Side. “I used to go out in the LES and then when I moved there, I stopped. Mainly, because I can’t get my friends to come and meet me. They’re in better areas like Gramercy Park….LES is kind of a shit show but I like it.”

—Julie Bensman


Q&A: Colin Hanks Talks 'High School'

Last seen as a serial killer on Dexter, Hanks makes a comedic jump to the big screen.

May 31, 2012

Colin Hanks stars in Anchor Bay Films’ High School

Following in the footsteps of his two-time Academy Award-winning father, Colin Hanks stars in this month's High School, a comedy wherein Hanks plays the assistant principal of a school that's drug testing its entire student body. As a result, an unlikely duo—the school stoner and class valedictorian—team up to bake an epic batch of hashbrownies and get the whole school high, so that if they go down, the whole school goes down (faculty and all). Here, Hanks discuss the film and his famous father.      

What appealed to you most about this film, High School?
It sounded like a fun time. I'm always looking to sort of entertain myself. As much as I want the movie to be entertaining, I want to try to have as much fun as I can and it seemed like a really good opportunity to do some silly stuff. It’s a really funny movie with a lot of really great people and a lot of great cameos. 

You were great on Dexter, and you've done a lot of other TV work. Do you look at that as a stepping stone, or do you see yourself doing both films and TV for a long time to come?
CH: When I was starting out, there was sort of a stigma with television. You had your start on TV and then you went off to do movies—and you never went back to television. Now TV is so good and the stories are so good and the show runners are so good [that] it’s kind of a liberating thing. I think a lot more people work on television now because they take more chances and they are able to tell interesting stories. Obviously, I think they both serve a great purpose. I like to work, I don’t care what the medium is. 

How has your father's career helped to shape your own?
CH: It hasn’t! He’s been working for over 30 years now, and obviously he is very good at his job and he is very successful and I'm very proud of him. The circumstances in which we’ve come up in the business are very different, the circumstances that we find ourselves in are very different. But we have a common thread because we’re both actors. That’s really it. I can’t really sit there and try and think too much about his career, because his career is so unique and so special and so rare that you would drive yourself crazy [thinking about it]. I just try and worry about where I’m going to work next and what I'm going to do next and what is available to me.

Any new projects on the horizon?
I’m just working on the Tower Records documentary that I've been working on for the past five or six years [about the rise and fall of Tower Records]. It’ll be a couple of more years working on that. I'm looking forward to the next job, whatever it may be.

High School hits theaters June 1


—anna ben yehuda


Morgan Spurlock on 'Mansome'

Spurlock’s latest film takes a hilarious look at the relationship between men and their hair.

May 17, 2012

Spurlock in a scene from Mansome

It’s no longer enough our looks be judged by family, friends, and coworkers; in an age of online social networks and instant uploads, we now open ourselves up to be critiqued by millions of followers, friends of friends, and virtual avatars we may never meet in real life. It’s no wonder that more modern men are doing a double take when they pass a mirror.

Oscar-nominee Morgan Spurlock’s latest documentary Mansome takes a good, hard look at what is commonly referred to as “manscaping,” as well as the people, places, and egos that make the process possible. Spurlock joined forces with executive producers Jason Bateman and Will Arnett to ask men of all ages, hair lengths, and vanity levels the heavily-loaded question: What does it mean to be a man? Through interviews with the likes of Zach Galifianakis, Judd Apatow, Paul Rudd, and musician, author, and world beard champion Jack Passion, Mansome is a hilarious and surprisingly thought-provoking film that will make you think twice about the metrosexuals in your life.

When you first started working on Mansome, did you have a bucket list of people with whom you knew you wanted to speak?
MORGAN SPURLOCK: We definitely wanted ZZ Top, which we got, but there were other people we wanted that we didn’t get, like Tom Selleck. Tom Selleck! I wanted him to talk about the mustache and how it feels to be handsome Tom Selleck. Or Burt Reynolds, we tried like crazy but we couldn’t get him, either.

How did you find someone like Jack Passion?
MS: I knew there were beard contests and when we started moving forward with the film, I knew we had to get a guy who grows a crazy beard. And suddenly you start learning about beard competitions and you find Jack Passion, who is the face of every beard competition there is. There is no pretense with Jack Passion. You’re seeing Jack Passion in all his Passion glory.

How much footage was left on the cutting room floor?
MS: Editing is always the most difficult part of this process. Each interview went on for another 20 to 30 minutes than what you see in the film, and there are things we shot that just didn’t make sense in the end. We filmed someone who had a full-on hair transplant, which is a bloody process and it’s neither attractive nor funny. Ultimately, we wanted to ask the question, What does ‘masculine’ mean?

There aren’t many stigma-free outlets for men to talk about grooming. Were guys excited to open up about this?
MS: It’s amazing because a lot of men didn’t want to talk about it and I think that’s because they don’t want you to know they do it. We want to believe that men don’t do this, that they don’t take any time.

According to Cosmopolitan editor in chief Kate White, women do want men to take time to groom, but just not that much time. In matters of manscaping, how far is too far?
MS: It’s like plastic surgery, once you start, you think, well, I can do one more thing here and one more thing there. Once you start down the plastic surgery road, the next thing you know, you’re looking like the Bride of Wildenstein or The Cat Guy. Remember the Cat Guy? You gotta find one person in your life to give it to you straight and say, ‘This is a terrible idea.’

Spurlock’s New York Favorites:

Neighborhood: I know people love to give names for all the areas of NYC, so I like to call our office area “Shitly,” which is the border of SoHo and Little Italy. In Shitly, there’s a great pub around the corner I like to go to called Puck Fair. We’re also across the street from Brinkley’s, which is a great bar. Despaña is my favorite place to go, especially now that they’ve opened that wine shop next door. And I eat at Balthazar at least once a week when I’m in town.

Giants or Jets? I’m more Jets than Giants; more Yankees than Mets.

LaGuardia or JFK? When I fly home to West Virginia, I fly out of La Guardia 90 percent of the time. La Guardia is still kind of sad. You pull in and suddenly you’re in Cairo. Like, what is this terminal I’m coming into? I expect people to be pulled up on rickshaws. I want vendors outside with ducks hanging on strings. I don’t even know if they deliver food there, I think they just cook whatever dies.

—Julie Bensman
photograph by Warrior Poets


Tribeca Film Focus: 'Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal'

Writer/director Boris Rodriguez brings his quirky Canadian dramedy to New York.

April 18, 2012

Thure Lindhardt as Lars Olafssen in Eddie: the Sleepwalking Cannibal

Boris Rodriguez co-writes and directs his first feature film, Eddie: the Sleepwalking Cannibal, showing at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) Cinemania section. Running the fine line between comedy and drama, the film tells the story of a washed up painter who develops a friendship with an offbeat mute named Eddie, who has pesky little habit of sleepwalking and eating humans. Here, Rodriguez talks about the talent in his film, the festival itself, and his future projects. 

Why make a film about cannibalism?
It was actually a co-writer friend of mine that had pitched the original story. At the time, it was taking place in the outer banks of Northern Carolina and it was [about] a werewolf and a novelist. He eventually went to Los Angeles and I came to Canada, and, therefore, North Carolina became the snowy mountains of Canada. The werewolf became a sleepwalking cannibal and the novelist a painter.

Speaking of the painter, how was it working with Thure Lindhardt?
Working with Thure was amazing. He taught me so much about acting for film. He just looked at my script sometimes in the morning of, or the night before [a shoot] and he would scratch out lines of dialogue. I was like, ‘Oh my God! What are you doing? You’re killing the scene!’ And he just had this confidence in how much he could do just with his presence and his intention. I never worked with someone in that caliber, so I was worried, but then he would run the scene and it was all there. The collaboration created a film and a performance that I’m amazed at.

What are your expectations from the TFF?
So far, the festival has already exceeded them. The expectations for the North American premiere were to garner a lot of attention so as to set up subsequent releases—hopefully, theatrical [ones]. We are definitely pushing for a theatrical release in Canada. The fact that Eddie was chosen to be a part of a small group of films in Cinemania is even more amazing.

What are you working on now?
Both projects I’m working on are quite different. One is a psychological thriller about a kidnapping that takes place in Mexico and the other one is a Bollywood time-travel love triangle. Two completely different projects that speak to my sensibilities.

Eddie: the Sleepwalking Cannibal premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival on Friday, April 20


—anna ben yehuda


Girls Regular Alex Karpovsky Doubles Up at Tribeca Film

A recurring cast member on HBO's Girls, Karpovsky appears in not one, but two films this Tribeca Film Festival.

April 17, 2012

Alex Karpovsky in Rubberneck

Alex Karpovsky is no stranger to film festivals. Having appeared in films debuting at Sundance, Abu Dhabi, and Raindance, among others, the actor/director is now tackling the Tribeca Film Festival (TFF). We spoke with Karpovsky about his two Tribeca film debuts and his character on HBO's newest show, Girls.

You co-wrote, directed, edited, and starred in Rubberneck. What gave you the gumption to do all of that?
Rubberneck is my fourth movie, but it’s the first movie that isn’t a comedy. I wanted to do something different. I love thrillers, it’s my favorite genre as a viewer. So I always fantasized about making one, and finally, a little while ago, the opportunity manifested to make it in Boston with a filmmaker called Garth Donovan. It’s a slow-burning, character-driven, psychosexual thriller set in a laboratory on the outskirts of Boston.

What can you tell me about Supporting Characters, your other project, also premiering at TFF?
AK: Supporting Characters is a movie directed by Daniel Schechter. It’s a really funny, corky, moving comedy that focuses on two dudes, Nick and Darryl, who are film editors. While they’re sort of juggling the challenges of completing a film and working with a kind of problematic director, they’re also navigating through personal relationship issues, which come to the point of ripping their whole lives and friendship apart. I’m very curious to see how it plays at Tribeca.

What do you feel most comfortable working in, drama or comedy?
AK: Comedies. I don’t know why, but its sort of where I nurture more comfort and familiarity.
What can you tell me about Ray, your character on HBO’s Girls?
AK: Ray is a strange one. He basically tries to give the girls a sort of perspective. Even advice, at times, about their world view and their struggles and plights. But oftentimes, because of his own issues and his own anger, his words of advice and wisdom are anything but. And they’re just this tortured and very confused diatribes that have no applicability to these girls’ lives.

Rubberneck and Supporting Characters premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on Friday, April 20


—anna ben yehuda


Paul Blackthorne’s Route to The River

The actor discusses the new show, his army brat days, and the movie role that had him speaking Hindi.

February 23, 2012

On an unseasonably warm day in Brooklyn, we visited with Paul Blackthorne, star of ABC’s newest series, The River. Seeing as the show is set in the humid Amazon and Blackthorne plays the oft-sweaty film producer tasked with documenting the rescue mission of a wildlife explorer, the day’s weather could not be more fitting.

You spent most of your childhood as an army brat in the UK and Germany. What was that like?
It was a textbook childhood. That of an only child of divorced parents desperately seeking approval [laughs]. Seriously, I saw the world through the eyes of an ‘army brat’ and I honestly have very fond memories of my time in both the UK and Germany.

You were great as Captain Andrew Russell in Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India. What was it like being in a Bollywood movie and learning Hindi?       
At first, I wasn’t sure what do to with the offer and I was constantly questioning if I should commit to the project. My friends looked at me like I was nuts. In the end, it was a terrific script and an amazing journey through India.  I also had the opportunity to learn to play cricket, badly, and learn Hindi, even more poorly.

The River has a paranormal edge to it. Can you tell us more about the plot?
This is a group of ordinary people asked to accomplish the extraordinary. Not only do we need to find a ‘needle in a haystack,’ but we also suddenly have to deal with things beyond the realm of normal. This show truly is a paranormal adventure with more than its fair share of scary moments.

What is the biggest misconception about you?
I am not sure if this is a misconception, but many people don’t realize I also have a love for photography. Well, to be honest, I enjoy taking photographs and I will let the masses decide if I am truly any good at it. I’m a bit of an oddball who plays cricket badly, speaks a dash of Hindi, and I have some of my best conversations with my dog.

Read more from Joshua Estrin at

—joshua estrin
Photograph by Tyler Parker


Getting to Know Linda Cardellini

Tackling a unique character in her upcoming movie, Return, Linda Cardellini opens up about life after ER.

February 06, 2012

Linda Cardellini and John Slattery in Return

Set to star in her first feature lead role in this month’s Return, Linda Cardellini discusses the timeliness of the movie, working with costars Michael Shannon and John Slattery, and what's still in store for her.

What made you decide to take on Return and play such a complex character?
After ER, I slowed down and decided that I would wait until I found something I was really moved by to work on next. I was in New York when I got the script for Liza [Johnson, director]’s movie, and I just thought, “Wow! What an amazing role for a woman!” and for anybody, for that matter. There have been stories about people returning from war throughout movie history, but the way she spoke about  the intricacies of this woman coming back and the slow unraveling of her life, and the small details that told the story, rather than a huge catastrophic event that told the story – I just found that would be so interesting and delicate to play .

How did you prepare for the role? How was the experience of playing a woman coming back from war?
It was very enlightening. I think so many of us hear about the war every day, and know of people who have been over there. But I don’t think that we know quite enough about it as citizens. To me, it was a great responsibility to try to learn as much as I could. I tried to speak to as many women as I could, but I also spoke to men. I really liked how Liza wrote it. Because, even though it is told by a woman, I think that there are certain things that are common thread for any soldier who might have gone over there.

How was working with Michael Shannon and John Slattery?
They’re fantastic. They are both really funny and warm, and incredible actors. It was so great for me, because I spent so much time on screen alone. It was so great when they showed up because they completely changed the energy and [lent] so much support to my character and so much more life and texture to what she was going through.

Any future plans you’d like to discuss?
I’m due to produce a child any day now! I’ve [also] been working on writing and have something in development, and, if that happens, it’ll be something I might be interested in starring in, writing, and producing. I’m spreading my wings a little bit.

Return opens in New York on February 10th.


—anna ben yehuda


Sir Ivan Wilzig’s World

A chat with the caped crooner Sir Ivan reveals more than what meets the eye.

November 14, 2011

Sir Ivan Wilzig

Infamous for his cape bedazzled with a peace sign and his annual Hamptons “castle party,” musician and philanthropist Sir Ivan Wilzig is living his version of the American dream—his latest single, "Live for Today," was a top ten hit in the U.K. The son of Siegbert Wilzig—Auschwitz survivor, banking and oil tycoon and philanthropist—Sir Ivan spent 20 years dutifully plugging away at his father’s Trust Company Bank before making a U-turn into a music career at the age of 45. “I never had any banking aspirations. I had showbiz aspirations since I was five years old,” says Wilzig of his ultimate departure from banking. No matter his direction in life, Sir Ivan remains dedicated to philanthropy—a value instilled by his father—through his Peaceman Foundation, which aims to eliminate hate crime and assists those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. We spoke with Sir Ivan to learn more about his music (which he describes as “technippie,” or techno-hippie), his mission and his eccentric lifestyle. 

What kind of music did you listen to when you were growing up?
SIR IVAN WILZIG: Elvis Presley. But I was weaned on Motown. The three big albums that were my biggest influences were The Greatest Hits of the Temptations, The Four Tops and The Supremes.

Why did you choose to cover John Lennon’s Imagine for your first single?
SIW: Well, in the late ’90s I just felt the world was taking a turn for the worse with events like the murders of Matthew Shepard, James Byrd, Jr. [and] all the seemingly daily bombings in Israel—a murder every week. World events and news drove me to believe that people needed to hear the words of Imagine again. I feel like Lennon was a prophet and we didn’t take the warnings the first time and paid for it. I decided after that that all my songs would be from the ’60s or have ’60s-type lyrics.

What did your father think of your trading banking for music—and a cape?
SIW: My dad didn’t think much of it at first because he wanted stability for us, and he didn’t think the entertainment business was stable. He knew it was a one-in-a-million shot to become a famous entertainer. But he and my mother always encouraged me to sing as a hobby. They took me to all the Broadway shows as a child.

Are you happy with the choice you made?
SIW: Well, I’ve had seven singles and all of them have charted on Billboard. So I’m seven for seven.

All of your work has been with cover songs. Will you transition to original songs?
SIW: I wrote my first three original songs recently with a writer and a producer who works with American Idol-level talents and I will be recording them soon.

What will those songs sound like?
SIW: Still in the vein of wanting to help and heal the world. One song is a campy, cult-like song of a utopian world without bullies—La-La Land is the name of that song. The others are a bit more serious.

How does your look, namely the cape, fit your musical persona?
SIW: The things I wear and the parties I throw both draw attention to me as an artist so that people realize that the banker Ivan no longer exists and that I’m all about being the artist. I wear the peace sign because it represents how sincere I am about it. It all draws attention to the charity and the music.

Sir Ivan's second album is planned to be released in 2012 and will feature contributions from Debbie Gibson and Kimberley Locke.

—April Walloga


Character Notes with Nelsan Ellis

The True Blood star talks candidly about being a straight man playing a gay role.

July 30, 2011

We know him as Lafayette, True Blood’s gumbo-slinging cook cum vampire blood dealer with flashy head wraps and trademark quips (“Hooker, please”) in spades. But Nelsan Ellis is more than the sum of his character’s parts. The Alabama native moved to Chicago at 14, fell in love with acting and moved again to attend New York’s prestigious Juilliard School, where his play, Ugly, won Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award. A role in the HBO movie Warm Springs, alongside Cynthia Nixon and Kenneth Branagh, solidified his passion for acting and snowballed into a television and film career that brought True Blood calling.

What went through your head when you got the call to audition for True Blood?
NELSAN ELLIS: Just another call.

How did you perceive the character of Lafayette when you first read the script?
NE: I perceived [him] like a drag queen. But that’s not what they wanted.

What did they want?
NE: They wanted something more real. A drag queen isn’t a mix between man and woman. A drag queen aspires to be a female impersonator or a woman. Lafayette is not that. [True Blood's creator] Alan [Ball] wanted a man who was tough yet feminine and just so happens to wear lipstick and makeup and a head wrap when he wants to. I mean, he was asking a lot.

Who inspired that feminine aura that Lafayette possesses?
NE: My mother. I’ve seen my mother and I know my mother inside and out. I can mimic her. I can be her; because part of her spirit is in me. So in order to make Lafayette real, I literally channeled my mother to make his movements, his speech and his behavior natural and not like ‘Nelsan putting on gay,’ which would just offend the gay community. I channeled my mama.

You have a love interest this season. How do love scenes challenge you as a straight man portraying a gay relationship?
NE: It’s odd. You have to get used to another penis, another man, another hairy dude and all the things that come with another dude that all the chicks complain about. When we kiss and we’re cutting each other from our hair, or man-breath, or man-smell, because I’m a musty dude, I feel sorry for him a lot of the time. [But] if I’m squeamish or complaining you won’t know; that’s how it’s supposed to be. We are a gay couple and we try to make this love real, and I hope we succeeded.

  Ellis as Lafayette on True Blood

There aren’t many mortals left on the show. Ever wish your character had special powers?
NE: I like being mortal. When you get power, things get less fun because your control is so absolute. When you’re mortal, there are so many more tricks you can play and do to maneuver in this world because you don’t have the power. The survival playtime is, to me, more fun. I don’t want to be a vampire. If I’m a witch, then I would want to possess the power of fire—so I could burn some mugs up.

What is it like working with Alan Ball?
NE: He’s genius. I mean, the man does nothing by mistake, it’s all by design. Even when I talk to him about character choices and scenes and plotlines: ‘Maybe we should do this and maybe we should do that,’ and he goes ‘No, this is why this is the way it is.’ And he breaks it down and I go ‘Oh, well no wonder you’re Alan Ball, because you’re so frickin’ smart.’

The plotlines unfold at such an exponential rate. Do you have reservations about where the show is going?
NE: I have reservations on how big it’s getting—the bigness of it. I don’t want to spread too far out because I think the audience’s attention span is a little short and that they fall in love with snapshots. When it gets so large to where the actor in the world can’t keep up, then I’m like, Maybe it is getting too big. But other than that, no, you don’t really question too much what Alan does because obviously something is working.

Did you have any clue that the show would blow up like it did?
NE: No. The second season premiere was madness. That’s when everybody’s lives changed, where you have to move to a different place where no one has access to you. We were just like, Well, I guess I have to change gyms.

Vampire show fans are hardcore, like, Trekkie hardcore.
NE: They’re very much like Trekkies. They’re loyal, they’ll dress up like you, they know your birthday and your mama’s name.

Is that flattering, scary or both?
NE: Scary. It’s flattering when a fan is flattering. When they’re coming up telling you your girlfriend’s last name and where she works and who your mama is and where you grew up and all this stuff, then you’re kind of like…. It’s life changing. Where you go changes. What you say changes. Who you let into your circle changes. You’re not even a celebrity, you’re just somebody who’s on a show that’s popular for the moment. All of the sudden you’re like, Jesus, I need to move into a house with bushes.

Working in the over-saturated vampire genre, do you worry about getting typecast?
NE: Not as a black man, no. I would get typed with the character I’m playing, not the genre. Because I’ve done all kinds of movies while I’ve been on the show, and none of them were related to Sci-Fi. But, I’ve also been offered gay roles out the wazoo.

Who in the business has given you good advice and helped you get to where you are today?
NE: I would have to say Robert Downey Jr. first, then John Malkovich, then Jill Right. Also, Jamie Foxx, Cynthia Nixon and Kenneth Branagh. He was the first person I worked with; he taught me set etiquette.

—April Walloga
phototgraphs by art streiber/hbo; John P. Johnson/HBO


One to Watch: Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien

Find out how the 19-year-old actor went from a YouTube sensation to an MTV series star.

July 06, 2011

Native New Yorker Dylan O’Brien was just another teenager until a series of homemade YouTube videos caught flame. Riding high on his YouTube success, at 19-years-old, O’Brien took a leap of faith and chose to pursue an acting career rather than college. Soon after that decision, O’Brien was cast in the series remake of the 1985 movie Teen Wolf, as well as 2012’s teen romance flick The First Time. We chatted up the MTV star on the differences between life in New York and LA and how he parlayed a YouTube hobby into a full-fledged acting career.

Do you miss the east coast?
DYLAN O’BRIEN: Everyday. It’s just like… Things make sense over there.

What does New York have that LA can’t touch?
DO: Where do I start? Chinese food, pizza, bagels… My favorite pizza place is Sutton Pizza. My favorite bagel place is actually a bagel place in New Jersey called Bagels 4U.

For the role of Stiles, did you take any cues from Jerry Levine’s 1985 portrayal of the character?
DO: It’s got to be different and it’s got to be reinvented for the next generation. But, with that said, I think there are certain things that Stiles needs to have, which Jerry Levine, obviously, is the originator of. He’s got to be cool, but in a weird way.

Have you always wanted to act?
DO: I guess on some level, but I never really thought it was a realistic thing until it just kind of happened to me. I guess I had always been toying around with a camera and making my own little videos since I was ten.

Right. You have a YouTube claim to fame.
DO: Yeah, my YouTube videos. That was just something that I liked to do. And I didn’t want anybody to see. God forbid if any of my friends saw, or anyone from my school. I was terrified to put it on YouTube.

How did you go from YouTube to MTV?
DO: This woman came to a little league game I was coaching [and] said she had seen my videos and asked if I wanted to be a part of a web series that she was doing. That was my first “acting” experience, I guess. They basically told me they would take me on and send me on auditions. I just had stuff to reconsider and I went home and I talked about it with my parents. I decided that I wasn’t going to go to Syracuse University, which is where I was intending on going.

It sounds like you made the right decision.
DO: Yeah, and now I’m acting every day. I just got off my first lead in a movie. It was just incredible.

—Stephanie Stark

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