MCCAUL LOMBARDI IN NEW YORK, JULY 2016. STYLING: ANDREAS KOKKINO.ROBE: VIVIENNE WESTWOOD MAN. GROOMING: ENRICO MARIOTTI FOR THE LAND OF BARBERS
For McCaul Lombardi, breaking into acting was a hell of a hustle. “I gave myself until I was 25. If I hadn’t at least attempted to make it by then, bro, you need to figure something out. I made it a little earlier than my deadline.” Sitting in a coffee shop in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, the blue-eyed Baltimore native—all chiseled cheekbones, tattoos snaking between his fingers—exudes a natural, laid-back charisma. After fracturing his back in a high school football injury, Lombardi, now 25, took a string of detours—playing music, running a day care, substitute teaching, and modeling—before moving to Los Angeles to give Hollywood a shot.
“I did some things that helped pay bills, like the shirtless guy in a Lana Del Ray video. Stuff like that,” he says. That there were challenges getting off the ground is an understatement. “Me and my ex are broken up, I’m living in my car, and I’m using the gym I work at to shower and the Cheesecake Factory I work at to eat,” Lombardi recalls. “I called my mom and was like, ‘Hey, I’m coming home.’ I was probably, at most, 30 minutes into Arizona when I get a call from James Franco’s producers.”
In the upcoming coming-of-age film Age of the Moon, adapted from one of Franco’s high-school-set stories, Lombardi plays a rakish, popular dude who romances a loner. But it’s his breakout role as Corey, a hard-partying member of a ragtag crew of kids hawking magazine subscriptions in this month’s road movie American Honey that will have audiences taking notice. “My manager said, ‘There’s no sides. There’s no script. The audition is an interview.’ The character breakdown was, ‘Would fuck a wall if he could.’ ” Lombardi crisscrossed the Midwest in a van with the film’s director, Andrea Arnold, her crew, and his cast mates, including Riley Keough and Shia LaBeouf. The bonding was deep; Lombardi shows off the “071” tattoo (named for the highway route) the group got to commemorate the end of filming.
Next up is the lead in Matt Porterfield’s drama Sollers Point, which has Lombardi back in Baltimore as a drug dealer grappling with life after prison. “The bad-boy auditions keep coming. I guess I have resting bitch face or something,” he says with a laugh. “I want to change it up, play a marine, be in one or two period pieces. I want to do something super out there.”