Jacob Elordi: Breathing Cinema
Jacob Elordi has big ambitions. He does not want to be just another heartthrob in rom-coms, he prefers digging his teeth into deep and complex characters that are not necessarily nice guys. He plays the somewhat self-centered womanizer Noah Flynn in Netflix’s teen films The Kissing Booth and goes to darker places as the sociopathic and manipulative high school quarterback Nate Jacob in the gritty HBO show Euphoria. In the upcoming Adrian Lyne thriller Deep Water, he plays a pianist who has an affair with another man’s wife. The psychological thriller is based on the Patricia Highsmith novel of the same name from 1957 and is Adrian Lyne’s first feature since Unfaithful, 2002. We spoke with Jacob Elordi via phone from Los Angeles.
You are from Australia and at only 23 years old have already made a name in Hollywood. How did this happen?
I’m not sure. I was auditioning for movies in Australia and making self-tape videos. I was in acting school and I come from making plays while I was growing up. It just naturally fell into place, which was kind of lucky.
What are your dreams and aspirations professionally?
I hope that I am lucky enough to keep doing what I am doing. I want to keep doing it for as long as I can because I really love it. I love cinema. I love movies. I hope that I can stay curious and excited and happy for all my life while doing that. That is all I really ask for.
What is it that you love about it?
Everything. It is everything to me. It is breathing.
You have played relatively nice guy Noah Flynn in Netflix’s popular teen films The Kissing Booth and the less nice guy Nate Jacobs in HBO’s Euphoria. Talk about the differences between these jobs and what they have brought to the table for you professionally.
I am not sure either of them are really nice guys. The films I made with Netflix were some of the first movies I ever made, and they obviously resounded with people across the world, so I was very lucky in that regard to be able to have such a kind of big introduction to Hollywood. Euphoria is a TV show, so there are massive differences between making the two. I come from the theater and I am kind of new to all of it, so I am still kind of learning what is what and what the differences are.
I believe there is going to be a Kissing Booth 3. They are fun to watch, but what is the attraction for you of these films?
Probably just that when I meet 12- or 13-year-olds I can see the joy that it brings them. That would be the joy that it brings to me, too.
Nate Jacobs in Euphoria is a troubled high school quarterback, who is a rather complex character with anger management issues, and issues with his sexuality. Do you like playing characters whose actions are morally questionable?
I like playing anyone who is interesting and who is a real human being. I don’t like when a TV or movie character is written as a cliché, I like to play realistic people and characters that mirror what we see in our everyday life.
When you read the script for Euphoria the first time, what did you think about its depiction of teenagers in America?
When I read it, I didn’t think too much about teens in America necessarily. I just thought that on paper it looked like a really good TV show and a lot of fun to make.
Have you started working on the second season of Euphoria, and what can the fans expect from it?
I have no idea what we can expect. We all read it at the start of the year, and it’s changing a lot so when we start filming next year, I will probably know more.
In 2018, you were in Swinging Safari with Guy Pierce and Kylie Minogue. Talk about that experience.
Making Swinging Safari was amazing. I was in acting school at the time, and I felt like I made it with Guy Pierce filming next to me, so it was honestly wonderful. And we were on the beach all day, which was so nice.
Is there an Australian film community in Los Angeles?
Not explicitly an Australian community, but we find each other and gravitate towards each other naturally.
If we were in Australia right now and we were in a bar, what would people recognize you for?
I reckon that if we were having a beer in an Australian bar, we might be all right. No one would talk to us. I think we would have a peaceful beer. It would be the American movies that I get recognized for because they are on streaming platforms so they’re universal.
You are in the indie drama 2 Hearts, a romantic drama based on a true story. What is your role in it?
I made that movie three years ago, and it has taken a long time to come out. It was a true story about a boy named Chris Gregory, who donated his organs and changed another man’s life entirely. I play Chris.
I play a pianist, who is one of Ben Affleck’s wife’s lovers. It’s an Adrian Lyne film: he’s one of the great directors, and it has Ben Affleck in it, who’s one of the best at what he’s doing. He’s an idol of mine, and he is brilliant at making and being in movies. I decided that it was the greatest experience ever.
Did you have to learn to play the piano for it?
I tried, but I didn’t have very long to prepare. I learned to play a small blues progression. You’ll see in the movie if I did it well or if I didn’t do it well.
You have a lot of followers on social media. How important is a social media profile for a young actor’s career, and how do you use it to promote yourself?
I am going to confess to being a hypocrite here because, although I have it, I also think it is the antithesis to being an actor. I think social media is the worst tool that an actor could have, and yet somehow for so many people it has become what seems to be their entire persona. It’s become part of making movies and performing. It’s a selling point, which to me seems insane. I don’t use it very much. Some people use it a lot, and some people have other people do it. I very much wish we lived in a world where social media did not exist and had nothing to do with acting, performance, film and television.
You are a social activist. Why is it important for you not just to be an observer, but to be involved?
It isn’t any more important to me now than it has ever been, nor would I call myself an activist. I think I have always been the same since before I came to Hollywood – for me, nothing has really changed in the time that I have been here. I have always been someone who cared as deeply as everyone else about other people and the environment around us. It is something that has been constant in my life, and not something that I am using somehow, or something I am doing now because I am an actor.
What are you working on now and what part of the world are you in?
I am in Los Angeles at the moment. I am not doing a lot right now. As I have heard people say: ‘I’ve got movies in the pipeline’. It’s all just based on when I can make them safely and when they will go ahead with filming. I imagine that the next thing I have coming out will probably be Euphoria. I just shot a Christmas episode. I worked on that a couple of weeks ago. I believe it is coming out in December.
You have said that you are happiest when you are back home in Australia with your mates. Are you also happy in Los Angeles?
Relatively so, yes. It’s growing on me.