In Euphoria, Australian actor Jacob Elordi’s character, Nate, is a case study in American teenage toxic masculinity, a complete 180 from the more conventionally romantic role in his breakthrough film, The Kissing Booth. Off-screen, however, the 23-year-old embodies something of a new type of masculinity unbothered by convention. Perhaps it’s because he spent parts of his childhood dressed in a curly wig and wearing red lipstick. For W’s annual Best Performances issue, Elordi, who is set to appear in the upcoming Deep Water, discusses his first kiss, audiences’ reactions to his role as Nate, and his early crush on Orlando Bloom in The Lord of the Rings.
Have you wanted to be an actor your whole life, or was that a sudden desire?
I think subconsciously, my whole life I wanted to be an actor, because I demanded all the attention from my parents and friends and people around me. Probably from when I was 12, I started doing musical theater. I did Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Seussical. From there I took drama classes. And then from about 15, there was not much else for me to do.
Were you a dramatic child?
Yeah, still am. I still am a dramatic child, for sure.
You'd start singing in the middle of public places?
No, I don't think I would call myself a theater kid necessarily, who just starts whooping out ballads and songs. I'm more dramatic like in a drama movie. I'll make everything 10 times more intense, serious, or heartbreaking than it needs to be.
You’re the baby of a large family. Did your sisters dress you up like a doll?
I think it was all of us dressing up. My mom has videos of me with this great ginger curly wig, with red lipstick on, and my sister's purse. I don't remember ever resenting it or putting up much of a fight.
What was the casting process for Euphoria like for you? When you show up, it's an incredible performance. You're so attractive and so dark and so complicated and so handsome. You're also so tortured. It's not an easy character to play, because you have to be an ass.
The casting process was so much fun. It was so standard, and I hadn't had a movie come out. I was just trying to be a working actor and just went in. Call back. Call back. And then next thing I know, we were making the show.
And how was Nate defined in the script that you were given?
Honestly, the first thing that I read were audition sides, and he was really just a macho college asshole. He was abusive and drinking and yelling at people and throwing his chest around. I had no idea of the scope or the depth that was to come.
I don't know what it says about women that they find your character very attractive.
I know, it's so scary when you read that stuff. It's bad, it's so bad.
I mean, he's blackmailing a poor girl, and he's abusing his ex-girlfriend.
He's an emotional terrorist, a narcissist, a sociopath, a freak. All those things.
Where was your first kiss?
Train station in East Malvern, in Melbourne, with a girl named Ruby. A party would happen, and everyone would be like, "Oh, I hooked up with so-and-so," or "I got hooks with so-and-so," and I just never had the hooks.
She was a tall girl, and I was myself a tall girl. We met at the station at, I think, 4:20 sharp. It was a date to meet and kiss. It’s probably still one of the most romantic moments in my life.
Who was your first cinematic crush growing up?
It would have probably been Orlando Bloom, who played Legolas from The Lord of the Rings. I was like, "Wow, this guy is perfect." He was so pure and fine.