by MariliaAugust 09 2018No Comments

Video: Finn Wittrock on His Second Emmy Nomination & Working With Ryan Murphy

The Hollywood Reporter interviewed Finn Wittrock about his second Emmy nomination for his portrayal of Jeff Trail in The Assassination of Gianni Versace. Watch bellow the interview:

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“I really wasn’t expecting it,” he told The Hollywood Reporter of his outstanding supporting actor in a limited series nomination for his portrayal of Jeff Trail in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. “It came my way, and it was dropped from the heavens.”

He added: “I feel like half of my competition is from the show. I’ll be happy whoever wins.”

Wittrock also spoke about co-star and fellow Emmy nominee Darren Criss, who stepped into the mind of serial killer Andrew Cunanan. “I think seeing him up close and personal, digging into that character was really a cool experience. He’s so great to work with and play with, and he kept things very light off-camera so that he could go to the darkness on camera.”

“He comes from music and theater, and I come from the theater, and I think that kind of loving the process of finding it together is mutually beneficial for us,” he said of his scenes with Criss.

The actor has starred in several seasons of American Horror Story, including Freak Show, which earned him his first Emmy nomination for his role as Dandy Mott. He called working with Ryan Murphy and his team “the best family.”

“Ryan, I think, is incredibly good at continuing to challenge you,” he said. “As soon as you kind of think you’ve nailed one thing, he throws you something that stretches you in a whole different, crazy way. And that’s what, I think, also keeps great actors coming to him, because he knows how to work your acting muscles.”

by RoryJanuary 19 2018No Comments

Finn Wittrock On Playing Andrew Cunanan’s First Victim in “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”

As a frequent member of Ryan Murphy’s core ensemble, Finn Wittrock is used to being murdered. But in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, there’s the added weight of playing the real-life victim of who is referred to as a America’s first gay serial killer.

“It was surreal,” Wittrock tells INTO. “It was one of the most, just physically and technically one of the hardest things. I was dead and covered in blood and prosthetics for about 12 hours for three days, and they kept telling me they were going to use a fake body double but they used me a lot more than I thought they would. I feel like I earned my stripes that day.”

In the new FX mini-series, Wittrock plays 28-year-old Jeffrey Traill, a former lieutenant in the U.S. Navy whose time in the military coincided with the realization of his homosexuality as well as the instatement of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Traill, a Gulf War veteran from a blue collar Illinois family, once appeared on 48 Hours to discuss being gay in the navy, though he was shrouded in shadowy anonymity to protect himself from dishonorable discharge.

“Gays are here in the military,” Traill told host Richard Schlesinger. “We perform our jobs and we do it well. … You’re gonna weaken our national defense if you remove gays from the military. And you’ll never be able to do it 100 percent—it’s just whether or not you continue to hunt us and force us to fear.”

“I watched that a lot—every day, over and over, and tried to get his cadence and his rhythm and his shame and also his pride,” Wittrock said of the 48 Hours segment. “He is a complicated fellow. And such a tragic ending because he seemed to have so much potential and just figuring out who he was and what he wanted to do with his life and he lived in a time when he was just a little too early for his time, kind of a trailblazer in a way, you know?”

Traill was, by all accounts, a good guy—maybe too good in that his friendliness and empathy may have cost him his life. Or perhaps it was just bad luck. Traill met Andrew Cunanan after leaving the Navy, but staying near port in San Diego, where Cunanan was a fixture of the nearby gayborhood. In her book Vulgar Favors, journalist Maureen Orth details both Cunanan’s history with wonts of flashiness and propensity for compulsive lying as well as Traill’s loneliness and internalized homophobia as he ventured out of the military and into gay bars. Their fateful meeting turned into a friendship that ended with Traill’s being beaten to death with a claw hammer in a mutual friend’s Minneapolis loft.

The Assassination of Giannini Versace writer Tom Rob Smith adapted his teleplay largely from Orth’s book, as she covered the case for Vanity Fairbefore Cunanan even reached Versace in Miami in July of 1997. (He would kill himself eight days later.) What Orth’s book offers is not just an in-depth look at Cunanan’s background and psyche, but extensive research into the victims (Traill and Versace as well as architect David Madson, real estate tycoon Lee Miglin, and cemetery worker William Reese), as well as the landscape of American homophobia that factored heavily into how Cunanan’s pre-meditated murder spree was able to unfold.

The FX series attempts to fit as much backstory as it can into a narrative that is by and large about Cunanan (Darren Criss) more than it is Versace (played by Edgar Ramirez), but it’s also more about the anti-gay rhetoric that existed in America at the time than it is about the specificity of Versace’s shooting.

“Certainly for me and I think for Ryan, too, the homophobia that runs through the story is—it brings up painful memories,” says out EP Nina Jacobson. “It is a reminder of how much had changed in 20 years. But to read even in Maureen’s book about where these guys are being outed as they are being murdered; [that police] go to the parents and say, ‘Well, there’s things you don’t know about your son’—it’s just so wrong and so disturbing.”

Jacobson brings up how the FBI knew Cunanan was not just gay, but a frequenter of gay nightclubs, and yet, they wouldn’t canvas gay bars in their manhunt.

“They wouldn’t go into the clubs, they wouldn’t put the flyers up,” Jacobson says. “They wouldn’t go into the community, into the gay bars saying, ‘Have you seen this guy?’ And he’s right there. The politics of that to me were really devastating.”

Versace, she says, didn’t have to die. And that’s one case that the show attempts to make as it tells the story of Cunanan and his murder spree in a backward fashion of sorts.

“There are so many chapters and its such a sprawling, interesting narrative—it’s like a tree that grows all these different branches,” Wittrock says of the show. “Episode by episode kind of takes you down this individual arc that leads back to the main thing, so I am amused by the structure of it and the writing.”

“Just learning about who Andrew Cunanan is just an amazing dark rabbit hole to go down,” Wittrock continues. “It’s like learning about Jack the Ripper. It’s like you are horrified, but can’t turn away.”

As Traill, Wittrock may meet an untimely death, but he otherwise poses a powerful authenticity that Cuanan seemed to be envious of. Although he was closeted while in the military, Traill risked his career doing not only the 48 Hours interview, but also protecting another soldier from being gay bashed, spurning rumors about his own sexual identity. When Cunanan attempted to out him to his father by sending a romantic sounding postcard to his family’s home address, Wittrock held his composure but decided to cut Cunanan out of his life—at least, that’s what he said he’d planned to do after allowing Cunanan to visit him one last time.

Despite the star power that Ramirez, Ricky Martin, and Penelope Cruz inevitably bring to the series (Martin plays Versace’s long-term lover Antonio D’Amico; Cruz is a campy yet convincing Donatella), Darren Criss is truly the star of Assassination. The name recognition that Versace brings has overshadowed the other victims’ deaths since they took place, but now, the cast and crew insist, they use it not just to draw viewers in, but to take away the iconography Cunanan would have wanted for himself as a fame-seeking serial killer. Instead, Jacobson says, the EPs were hoping the theme would be more about “the inability to be authentic and the struggle for authenticity.”

“And the courage of Versace’s heroism,” she adds, “which I didn’t realize really. When you put him in a timeline, the only other designers who were out were dead, and they were out because they died of AIDS. He chose to come out at a time when Ellen wasn’t out yet. It was a very different time.”

And while Versace’s own hard working history and public coming out was admirable (both on screen and in real life), it’s Wittrock’s broody but noble sailor-turned-factory worker that brings the most relatable heart to the series. Watching him spar with Criss as his scene partner are some of Assassination‘s most heartbreaking, too, when you know it’s based on a true horror story.

“We had a good time,” Wittrock said of working with Criss. “There are some projects where you really take the relationship off screen and this one was more us talking as co-conspirators figuring it out together. He is a very generous person on set and a remarkable versatile actor and really jumps in and out of the character very fluidly.”

Wittrock said Murphy approached him about the role right as he was finishing up The Glass Menagerie on Broadway, and the timing was right not just for him to jump at a new series, but at another chance to work with Murphy, whose prolific creativity can be hit or miss, but is at least always fun for the actors.

“I think that I have been lucky to fall into the Ryan Murphy fan group and that has its own niche within it,” Wittrock says. “I am honored to be in anything that he has me do, and its cool to play the spectrums of yourself.”

And for Wittrock, playing yet another queer role in the Murphy universe invites an opportunity for him to connect with a fanbase that has supported him in American Horror Story iterations and his role in The Normal Heart. A fanbase that, in 2018, is hopefully outraged by the homophobia that was implicit in the deaths of four gay men (Reese, victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, was straight) as it is excited by the idea of seeing Wittrock, Criss, Ramirez, and Martin play queer roles for nine episodes of Ryan Murphy television. It’s certainly a different landscape than when Versace came out, one of few public figures to acknowledge that not only was he gay, but he was happy, too.

Says Wittrock, “Bring on all the gay fans!”

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by MariliaJuly 19 2017No Comments

‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ Video & Caps

Finn Wittrock was at ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ yesterday (July 18) promoting his new movie Landline. He talked about growing up in an acting family, working with Sally Field on Broadway in ‘The Glass Menagerie’ and his new film Landline. You can find now the whole interview, also screen captures added in our gallery.

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by MariliaMarch 04 2017No Comments

Vanity Fair: The Best Stuff (and Beyoncé Songs) on Earth, According to Finn Wittrock

Though Wittrock checks his Twitter feed, he prefers to get his news the old-fashioned way. “I have not been a good millennial and have actually been going to a deli to buy the physical New York Times,” he says. “I’ll read it all day and all the next day.”

RESTAURANTS

Wittrock lives in Los Feliz, in Los Angeles, and cites the Thai restaurant Night + Market Song (“The spiciest food I’ve ever had in my life”) and the “high-end taco place” Petty Cash as his favorite spots. In New York City, his go-to bar is Spring Lounge: “It’s a great old dive.”

TELEVISION

The Crown is the most recent series Wittrock binge-watched. “It was so improbable that I would like that show, because I just thought, Oh, this is going to be very English and very . . . royal—but it was a page-turner!” (Another recent “obsession” of his: HBO’s High Maintenance.)

MUSIC

“I’m kind of an old man in my taste,” the 32-year-old jokes. He says he has been a “Bob Dylan head since [being] a teenager.” He’s also a fan of Arcade Fire, the National, Radiohead, and Beirut. “I have a bit of an eclectic mix of bands that I love.”

BOOKS

Wittrock likes to read two books at once and prefers pocket-size ones, so that he can carry them with him wherever he goes. Currently, he’s working his way through Tennessee Williams’s short fiction (“lush, very poetic, and incredibly sad”) and Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking (“also very sad”).

MOVIE

Though he himself had a supporting role in La La Land, Wittrock mentions a different awards favorite as a recent cinematic standout: Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea. “It is a very personal, quiet, sad drama, but it’s also very, I thought, beautifully filmed. I really felt like I was in that New England winter.”

BEYONCÉ SONG

Wittrock’s favorite is “Love on Top,” and he remembers well the first time he heard it. “When I was younger, I thought I was too cool for Beyoncé: like, ‘She’s so pop-y.’ [But then] that song came on, and I was like, ‘Oh, I get it.’ ” He’s since become something of a ‘Yoncé disciple. “I went with my wife to a Beyoncé concert and thought I would just kind of observe. [Then] I found myself at one point screaming, ‘I slay, I slay.’ ”

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by RoryDecember 13 2016No Comments

Finn Wittrock on Tackling Othello, Not Singing in La La Land, His ‘Magical’ Glass Menagerie Cast & More

• This interview is featured on broadway.com

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Since holding his own as a newcomer opposite powerhouses like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Linda Emond and Andrew Garfield in Mike Nichols’ Death of a Salesman on Broadway in 2012, Finn Wittrock has enjoyed many well-deserved big moments in Hollywood: an Emmy-nominated turn on American Horror Story: Freak Show (and showy roles on each subsequent season of the FX hit), a part in the SAG Award-nominated ensemble of the indie hit The Big Short and high-profile turns in Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, the acclaimed HBO film version of The Normal Heart and more. Now, he’s back on the theater scene doing back to back productions of Othello at New York Theater Workshop, which opens December 12 with David Oyelowo as Othello and Daniel Craig as Iago, and the hotly-anticipated The Glass Menagerie with Sally Field and Joe Mantello on Broadway in February. Broadway.com recently caught up with the stage and screen talent to talk about his golden year.

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by MariliaJune 26 2016No Comments

Finn Wittrock’s interview for LACHSA Alumni Network of the Los Angeles County High school

We’ve found an old interview of Finn Wittrock for the LACHSA Alumni Network of the Los Angeles County High school. He talked about his career, his time at LACHSA and personal life. Enjoy!

Professional Life
What ignited your passion for acting and why did you decide to make it your career?

I was introduced to acting through my dad, who worked at Shakespeare and Company, a summer theatre company in Massachusetts. I played lots of messenger boys [and] pages as a kid and when I wasn’t on I would watch and listen to every show. Just listening to those words every night kind of educated me through osmosis, I think, so by the time I got to LACHSA I was pretty sure this was what I wanted to do. I still went to public school during the year and did normal kid stuff, but the summers were full of theatre for me and that’s where I caught the bug.

What is the most satisfying part of your job?

It’s always nice to be congratulated, but every now and then you get someone who you can tell was genuinely moved by your performance, and/or inspired in some way. True inspiration, especially from a younger person, nothing really beats that.

What are some of the challenges that come along with your profession?

Everything’s a challenge. Getting a job in the first place is a challenge, and then once you start working you realize the challenge has just begun. There’s a lot of rejection in this job, which is something they don’t always tell you in school, and it takes some time before you can let the jobs you don’t get roll off and not take every “they went in a different direction” personally. Still, every now and then there is one that stings. I still audition for the vast majority of roles I get and I don’t get 90% of them, which is actually a good ratio.

What was your first reaction when you heard about your Emmy nomination?

I honestly felt like I won – I still do. I know people say “it’s an honor just to be nominated” but in this case I really mean that. It wasn’t something I was expecting or gunning for, so I’m just really humbled to be in that group of nominees. Hell, I’m up against bill Murray – I’m fine.

How has your life changed from the day before you were nominated for an Emmy to now?

Not that much, honestly. There’s a lot more fancy champagne in my fridge that people have sent me. But I’m still just trying to focus on the work – finding the best people to work with, and making sure in the job I do have I’m pushing myself to my limits, every day. 

Describe your best or favorite moment in your professional career.

I’ve had a few memorable ones. Meeting Daniel Day Lewis backstage of Death of a Salesman was one of the highlights. That show in general was a once in a lifetime experience. I remember people joking, saying “it doesn’t get better than this, you might as well stop now.” Working with Phil Hoffman and Mike Nichols in some of their last endeavors was very inspiring, and extremely educational.

What would you say to current LACHSA students who dream of doing what you’re doing? How should they pursue their goals?

Patience, persistence, and a focus on the fundamentals. I know that sounds so boring but really the stuff you learn in first year acting is some of the most valuable stuff you will take with you throughout your life. Keep doing theatre. Go to plays, and listen to the ones you’re in when you’re not onstage. Also, be flexible. I know a lot of LACHSA alumni who are in the business but have found other creative outlets besides acting – writers, producers, editors, musicians. This is a multi-faceted industry and there are many roads to take.

LACHSA
How would you characterize your time at LACHSA?

I had an amazing time. I was always busy, always working on something or other. I had a car and a license before any of my friends so I was always driving people home all over the place. I learned so much at school that my first year of Juilliard was like, “this is redundant.”

Describe your journey after LACHSA. Was it what you expected? Were there any unexpected turns?

Because it was such a conservatory on its own, I took a year off after LACHSA before going to college. I got some guest roles on TV, but also experienced what it was like not to work. I worked in a frozen yogurt place in Pasadena and a few random coffee shops. Even after college I was surprised at how long and slow the road sometimes seemed. Waiting tables and living on 157th street, scraping the bottom of my checking account to pay rent. But those experiences are important – they toughen you and enhance your perspective out of the narrow world of acting. And you’re supposed to have life experiences as an actor – what else are you going to draw from? Living life to the fullest doesn’t mean that life is always pleasant!

What do you think is the best thing you learned from LACHSA?

I learned a lot, more than I realized at the time. I guess all-in-all the most important thing is the importance of community. I made some of the best friends of my life there, who I still am extremely close to. A play, or any work of art, needs collaboration, teamwork, trust; the ability to be messy and wrong in front of other people who won’t judge you, and are just as willing to be messy and wrong in front of you. You are creating a company in your class, or in your cast or band, which is a cohesive whole. Visual art is perhaps the most solitary but I think even there, the best work comes out of a give-and-take with the audience, or a teacher or mentor, a conversation that happens between the work itself, its audience, and its creator(s).

Do you work professionally with other LACHSA alumni?

Yes – I wrote a film with my friend Eric Bilitch, which he directed and I was in, called the Submarine Kid. Zakk Eginton, also an alum[nus], was our Director of Photography and Harlan Silverman was our composer. And Deborah Del Prete, our Executive Prodcucer, was the mom of an alum[nus]. A real LACHSA party!  Also I’m still good friends with Alex Anfanger, who is killing it in the comedy world.

Personal
What is your favorite past time?
I like to hike. Anywhere really but been spending lots of time in Griffith Park.

Have you ever considered or done a profession outside of the arts?

I think I would be a journalist if I had the choice. I write also, which is akin to acting, and I’m trying to direct as well. Besides that honestly, I’m pretty useless outside of this profession.

 

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