BENEDICT SAMUEL IN LOS ANGELES, NOVEMBER 2013. STYLING: DAVID THOMAS. JACKET: SAINT LAURENT BY HEDI SLIMANE. T-SHIRT: A|X ARMANI EXCHANGE. JEANS: LEVI’S. NECKLACE AND RING: SAMUEL’S OWN. GROOMING PRODUCTS: L’OREÌAL PROFESSIONNEL HAIR CARE, INCLUDING FRESH DUST AND TEXTURE EXPERT SMOOTH ESSENCE. GROOMING: CHARLES MCNAIR FOR L’OREÌAL/JED ROOT L.A.
“Our parents used to pay us to stay quiet,” recalls Benedict Samuel about attending plays as a kid with his actor big brother and Twilight Saga heartthrob Xavier Samuel. “They gave us around five dollars a show.” Today, the brooding 25-year-old Sydney native is no longer being paid to keep his mouth shut. He’s landed the lead role in Asthma, the hotly anticipated directorial debut from Jake Hoffman (son of the screen savant Dustin). The coming-of-age indie, featuring a cast that includes Krysten Ritter, Rosanna Arquette, Nick Nolte, and Iggy Pop—burrows deep into the New York indie-rock scene. “All of a sudden I found myself with the ultimate dream role,” says Samuel, “one of those rare passion projects that you can’t quite believe you’re involved in.”
A cross between Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting and Terrence Malick’s Badlands, the movie sees the National Institute of Dramatic Arts grad bring a raw, Holden Caulfield-like character to the fore with scenes of unadulterated improvisation. “It’s a real collaboration,” Samuel says. “Jake was so absorbed in the film, you couldn’t talk to him about anything else.” Asked if he identifies with his character, the fray-edged outsider, Samuel says, “On the street, people think I’m a guitar-carrying band member with a rock-‘n’-roll lifestyle, but the closest I have ever got to being one is probably lip-synching.”
Having developed his craft in the Australian TV shows Home and Away and Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo, the young actor’s Hollywood break came after a string of directing short films himself, including the 2012 psychological thriller Sanctuary, starring his brother. “Good films that get made are so few and far between,” he says. “I want to write and direct more but only so I can keep a fresh perspective.” Before playing the high-stakes game of celebrity, however, Samuel is content to hone his gardening and woodworking hobbies. “I actually built my own dining table back home in Australia. It’s a secret hobby of mine that I weirdly find transfixing.” He will soon have less time for such diversions, however, as he prepares for future work—hopefully with more appearances alongside his brother. “Xavier has been the ultimate role model,” Samuel says proudly. “No matter how far away we are geographically, working together is something we feed off of. It’s about finding the right project, which is when everything falls into place.”
For 10 things Benedict Samuel can’t live without, click here.