Nico Tortorella on Getting Kicked Out of Hotels and the Perfect Gravy

Photo by Santiago Felipe. Nico wears: Coat by Pierre Cardin. Turtleneck by Haider Ackermann. Camellia Brooch by Chanel.

Nico Tortorella—the actor, author, poet, and activist—is once again reintroducing themselves to the world. In 2018, when I first spoke to them about All of It Is You, their poetry book written in 45 days, Tortorella was embarking on a journey of self-discovery. In just two years, after a wildly successful run in the series Younger opposite Sutton Foster and Hillary Duff, a memoir, and a marriage, the actor has become a vibrant voice in the fight for visibility and education in the LGBTQIA+ community. In addition to their advocacy work, Tortorella is now becoming the world’s first gay zombie fighter as Felix in The Walking Dead: World Beyond, the new limb of AMC’s zombie apocalypse franchise. Though the actor has dipped their toes in the gore-horror genre before with appearances in Scream 4 and The Following, their role in World Beyond is allowing the actor to flex their muscles, both figuratively and literally. A few days before the weekend’s two-episode season finale of World Beyond, Tortorella took some time from working out and slaying zombies to answer a few questions from the mind of Andy Warhol himself. —ERNESTO MACIAS


WARHOL: What did you eat for breakfast?

TORTORELLA: I didn’t. I took a sauna at six o’clock this morning and had a bunch of vitamins and a giant glass of water.

WARHOL: What was your first job ever?

TORTORELLA: I worked at an auto body shop. I was the front desk girl, and he let me smoke cigarettes at the front desk in high school, which was something.

WARHOL: Who was the nicest person you worked for?

TORTORELLA: I’m going to say Matt Negrete, who’s the showrunner on The Walking Dead. It’s really hard to find people that are not controlled by the ego in this industry. He is a gem among gems.

WARHOL: What’s your favorite movie?


WARHOL: Who are your favorite actors?

TORTORELLA: Joaquin Phoenix. Jim Carrey.

WARHOL: Do you play any instruments?

TORTORELLA: I do. I taught myself how to play guitar and bass. I grew up playing cello, standup bass. I am not a professional player by any means, but I have fun.

WARHOL: Do you dream?

TORTORELLA: Every single night. I sometimes just go to sleep in the middle of the day, if I’m not tired, just to dream. My dream universe is quite vast and really important to me. A lot of my work actually is channeled through dreams.

WARHOL: Showers or baths?

TORTORELLA: Showers. Baths: eww. Showers is the answer; baths: eww. Just clarifying in case there’s a misunderstanding.

WARHOL: Are you a good cook? And if so, what’s your specialty?

TORTORELLA: I’m Italian. I mean, I have to be. Just sauces, gravies. And when I say gravy, I mean a red sauce and not a brown sauce. It’s an Italian-American thing. It’s not really an Italian thing. That’s what I was raised on.

WARHOL: Is there anything that you regret not doing?

TORTORELLA: I feel like every actor is a wannabe musician. I regret not taking it more seriously when I was younger.

WARHOL: How many tubes of lipstick do you use a day?

TORTORELLA: That’s quite a question. None. I mean, I have dozens and dozens, but on a daily basis, none.

WARHOL: When do you get nervous?

TORTORELLA: When I have to have a difficult conversation.

WARHOL: What do you think about love?

TORTORELLA: Everything. I think that we are love. I don’t think it’s something that we do or something that we strive for.

WARHOL: Why can’t it just be magic all the time?

TORTORELLA: It is. What are you talking about? If it’s not magic, what is it? It’s definitely not worth it if it isn’t.

WARHOL: How many hotels have you been kicked out of?

TORTORELLA: A couple. I mean, I’ve dated some questionable people over the years. Let’s just leave it at that.

WARHOL: What’s the craziest thing a fan has ever sent you?

TORTORELLA: A letter from prison. It was nice in theory. But there were pictures of me on a cross and bleeding, and it was just a lot. And a dog! Yes, really. 

WARHOL: Who’s the greatest artist currently living?

TORTORELLA: Numbers. Math. Code! The internet?”

WARHOL: What are you reading right now?

TORTORELLA: Today, I’ve been reading a script that I’m in the process of auditioning for. I know it’s kind of a lame answer and they can’t really give you a name for it, but that was the first thing that came to mind. I’m going to stick with it.

WARHOL: Do you have a dream role?

TORTORELLA: A superhero. A real superhero.

WARHOL: What kind of roles are you after now?

TORTORELLA: I mean, the fact of the matter is I’ve been unavailable for years. I haven’t been able to do anything—Younger is coming to an end and The Walking Dead is supposed to be only a two-season show. So there are conversations happening.

WARHOL: What do you do in your spare time?

TORTORELLA: I spend a lot of time at my house upstate with my two dogs and my partner. I write a lot. I work out a lot. I am a professional online shopper and I mean that in a way that’s not like I spend a lot of money. I grew up in an antique store and with very frugal, Italian women raising me. So a treasure hunt and the ultimate find is the greatest satisfaction.


Fashion Direction: Sam Ratelle

Grooming: Laila Hayani

Creative Direction: Ryan and Sam Ratelle

Retouching: Matthew Holler 

Fashion Assistants: Ashley Stephens, Megan Carthon 

Production Assistant: Joshua Farner