CHARLIE HEWSON. PHOTO COURTESY OF JOBY HAROLD
Charlie Hewson may not yet be a household name, but he’s slowly but surely working his way into some pretty respectable roles. He’s appeared in everything from plays and indie flicks to popular television shows and big-name movies. The guy snags line time with the likes of Jessica Alba and Scarlett Johansson, as well as Jesse Eisenberg and Russell Brand. He portrays the puffed-up douchebag you love to hate and nails the goofy, fumbling novice. At 6’5,” the 29-year-old actor (and singer-songwriter, actually) towers above most; given the way things are going, it’s only a matter of time before his career in entertainment follows suit.
The recently transplanted Hewson, who four weeks ago abandoned New York for LA, discusses the experience of coast swapping, being brutally murdered onscreen and the art of auditioning. Plus, he shares some stuff about sex scenes and other insider info. Read on for the full rundown of this talented man, and be sure to keep an eye out for his cameo on the “Eastern Exposure” episode of Pan Am airing October 16.
HOMETOWN: I was born in Manhattan and raised in Darien, Connecticut. I lived in Manhattan for two years as a small babe and then cut my teeth in Connecticut.
ON MOVING FROM NYC TO LA AS A YOUNG ACTOR: Very interesting. That’s the big thing I’m dealing with right now. I spent seven years in New York working [as an] actor and making a good part of a living doing it. Trouble is, I’m sort of in a limbo place. It has been a limbo place for a while; I’m a very tall man, but I’m also of youthful face, so I was stuck. I couldn’t play younger characters because I was too tall, and I couldn’t play older characters who would be tall because I was a baby face. But now I’m actually starting to look like the man that I’ve always thought of myself as. Not only am I feeling a little more confident in my career, but also I was looking for a fresh start. It’s a bigger game out here and I feel like I’m ready for it. I really appreciate the chance to reinvent myself as an actor.ON ACTUALLY EARNING ROLES, EVEN WITH INDUSTRY “INS”: It’s tricky. You don’t necessarily have to. [My half sister,] Tory, [is a producer] and [we] have a policy where I audition for the roles that I get. So I don’t feel like I was handed something and she doesn’t feel like she’s spoon-feeding me my career.
BIGGEST SURPRISE SUCCESS: The biggest honor in my career so far is working on White Collar. I shot an episode with them, which was supposed to be a walk-on part with a couple lines. But they had plans for a featured extra and realized they could have me do that as well. They lumped those parts together, so I got more screen time. They ended up calling me back for another episode, which is a huge honor. That was the first time I didn’t have to audition for a day’s work. Then they ended up calling me in again.
BIGGEST SURPRISE IN LA: The biggest surprise moving to LA is that I’m not already a superstar. I thought it would be, like, three days and then I’d be on the cover of People.
ON PORTRAYING A DOUCHEBAG (I.E., GOING THE DISTANCE AND THE NANNY DIARIES): I like to think of douchebag as my niche. I was raised in New England and have a preppy way about me. I’m well-educated and confident. I don’t read as a douchebag in conversation, necessarily, but if you look at me from across a room, that may be one of your first thoughts. [laughs] But playing douchebags is a real pleasure. I would highly recommend it to any young actor.
DREAM GIG: I would like to be a lead in a television show. I don’t really care what it is, but I would like to be working every day as the same character. That kind of [immersion] in a role is something that I haven’t experienced in years. That is what I’m most enthusiastic about.
ON HIS SINGING AND SONGWRITING: I have an interesting relationship with my music. I love it very dearly. Inspiration doesn’t come to me very often, and I embrace it when it does. I brought my banjo with me [to LA] and I’m looking for the right kind of bar to play my music, if they’ll have me.
ON APPEARING ON GOSSIP GIRL: Gossip Girl was a lot of fun. It was a good crew of people. I didn’t hang out with any of the principals except for Chace Crawford, who was a very nice man. I am very sad to admit that I did not work with either Leighton Meester or Blake Lively. Damn shame. Maybe next time.
ON BEING BRUTALLY MURDERED IN MOVIES: I’ve been murdered two times in my career so far and, other than a sex scene that I did, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had as an actor. The first time, I had my throat slit and passed out in a heap on the ground. We did a take where I was laying dead for a while, something like 45 seconds. That acting challenge was really satisfying. I was proud because I had to not let my heart beat. This summer, I was drowned in a movie. That was terrifying. I’m a very confident swimmer, but the water was so cold that it threw off my breathing and I couldn’t physically get the breath I needed to fake drowning. So my body thought that I was actually drowning. My body and mind were in this fight. I managed, but it was not easy.
ON HIS FIRST SEX SCENE: It was very, very racy. I took all my clothes off. It’s R-rated, but only just barely. It’s seconds away from X.
ADVICE FOR OTHER YOUNG ACTORS: Just practice. [Go] to every audition that you can. And, if you don’t have representation, which most young actors don’t, especially at first, it’s really important to find whatever film you can get yourself in the room for, just to practice. The most important thing about an audition is confidence. And it’s totally different than the actual performance itself. It’s a totally unique life skill. Your job as an actor is to interview for jobs. You have to get comfortable with that. At first it’s very intimidating, and kind of drives you crazy. But that is the life. Even some of the most successful household names in film still have to audition for roles. It’s not always a done deal. The audition process is an unending element and your confidence in that arena is the most important thing. I think that’s the best piece of advice I can give.
ON KARMA IN HOLLYWOOD: Just be nice, because you never know who you’re going to be working with again. It’s good practice. When you’re optimistic like me, and you know that you’re going to be a superstar one day, it helps to practice your humility and your kindness to other people, because it’s very, very easy to get swept up in that kind of power trip of being someone everyone knows and respects by default.
ON CHOOSING THIS AS A CAREER PATH: I think one of the rules of being a performance artist is that you only do it if you can’t think of anything else to do. And it’s a terrible idea. It’s really not a good way to make a living. It’s not very reliable. But, I love it, so it’s what I do.