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Acting, Accents and Saint Laurent: From Hollywood, with Sterling Beaumon
July 27, 2017
“The essential item in my wardrobe is my black suede Saint Laurent boots. I’ve had them for two years and they are perfect. Boots always get better with age.”
Scouted when he was just two months old to model, Sterling Beaumon (with a name like that, you’re kind of destined for fame, right?) can say with one hundred per cent accuracy that he’s been in the business all his life.
With a reputation for being one of Young Hollywood’s nicest guys – and one of its most capable actors – we caught up with him from a scorching Los Angeles to find out what it’s like to literally grow up in the entertainment industry (you’ve seen him in just about every prime time American television show), his obsession with designer suits and his new role on one of the most successful shows of all time, where he takes on yet another complicated character in Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders.
Hi Sterling, thanks for talking with Candid Magazine. Your name is pretty epic. Given name or stage name?
That was the name I was born with [laughs].
You started acting when you were quite young. Would you say it’s a product of growing up in California?
I don’t really think of it like that. This has always just been what I’ve done and it’s always been what I’ve wanted to do. It’s always been: this is it.
How old were you when you did your fist gig?
I was a baby model when I was really young, so from a couple months old; that was when I did my first gig, and that turned into commercials, and then commercials into television shows, and the bigger the shows I did, meant I could get bigger roles in the future.
And your grandfather worked in the entertainment industry, correct? Did your parents also work in entertainment?
No, it seemed to have skipped a generation. My grandfather and his brother both were actors here in the ‘20s. They were Cecil B. DeMille-featured players; they were in The Wizard of Oz, the King of Kings – some amazing old Hollywood movies. And then my great uncle had a chance to become big and there was this movie that he did and it ended up just being a total bomb and that kind of ruined his career. And my grandfather at that point was like, ‘I’m so over this’, took all the money he made acting and bought property – and that’s where my mom and her siblings grew up.
What do you think of the term ‘Young Hollywood’? It conjures up all sorts of images from the outside, but you’re it, you’re living it, you’re in that exclusive club; what’s it like?
I think of everyone that I grew up with; we call ourselves the ‘Child Actor Mafia’ [laughs]. People create their lifelong friends in high school and in college and we seem to have really done that – me and my acting peers. You know, us in LA, with our little group of young actors, when I think ‘Young Hollywood’ I don’t think ‘crazy’. I think young artists that are all working so hard every single day, fighting to make their dreams come true.
So are most of your friends in the business?
Oh yeah, well this world is so small, you could probably go down your list of young actors and I probably know all of them, personally [laughs]. We all intermix and all know each other; it’s just this small little place where everything is happening.
And do you feel like you had a foot in the door because of your grandfather?
Definitely not. Nobody gives a crap about my grandfather. Yeah, no, nobody gives a shit [laughs]. And honestly, this day and age, nobody has an advantage over anyone else. My friend is becoming a huge movie star, and he lives in Toronto!
You also have the reputation of being one of the nicest guys in Hollywood. What’s your secret?
Why thank you. Um, you know, I think it’s knowing how you got there. I didn’t get to do any of this by myself, and it is because of countless, countless people that I can’t even, the list is so long, that I can’t even start it, of why I’m here and why I’ve been successful, so I think it’s all about just knowing and being gracious to the people that helped you get there.
We’ve seen you in just about every insanely successful American primetime television show: LOST, Scrubs, ER, Bones, CSI, Criminal Minds and Law & Order, and you’re going to be in what’s already been hot-tipped as a must-watch: Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders; who do you portray in the show?
I’m playing Glenn Stevens. He is the Menendez brothers’ good friend, lifelong friend. He went to Princeton with Lyle [Menendez] and after the murders, he sort of became the bad influence and encouraged the guys to buy this and buy that, buy Rolexes, a Porsche, a condo and a Buffalo Wild Wings business. He pretty much encourages the spending of the trust fund and becomes Lyle’s business partner in a Buffalo Wild Wings business. He’s actually a really interesting character because at the start of it, he’s the most desperate to be famous – to be famous off these boys and when Diane Sawyer [American television journalist] wants to talk to him, he’s like, ‘oh shit, that’s awesome’ but what’s really interesting is [that] by the end of it, he wants nothing to do with it and thinks that all of this is derailing his career.
What was it like researching the role of Glenn? Did you meet with the ‘real Glenn’?
I didn’t and what’s really interesting is that there is only one person that kind of wanted to be involved in this and it sort of feels like a lot of people involved in it – most everyone is still alive – aren’t particularly keen to help. I think they know that it’s a story that people are going to tell and they’re fine about that, but I don’t particularly know what their feelings are about being involved.
Law & Order is such an integral television show to America. What’s it like being a part of the Law & Order family?
The Law & Order franchise is insanely huge and I’ve done a lot of television shows and I’ve been a lead on some, for ABC, some for Netflix and I can walk down the street and people will point me out for having been on Law & Order: SVU. The franchise is huge. The fandom is huge. And Dick Wolf, he’s the guy who created the Law & Order franchise, he is just a visionary to keep seeing new branches of this franchise. For example, what’s really exciting about this one in particular, is that this is the first of a Law & Order franchise that is not procedural. It’s not a new crime every episode. We are following this one crime and one set of people through the whole season. It’s a miniseries, sort of in the vein of ‘The OJ Show’ [The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story].
How did you get cast for it?
Originally I read for Lyle [Menendez] and a couple of months later, the casting directors called my manger and were like, ‘Listen there’s this other role. We really want to bring Sterling in.’ I went in, I read the new role for them and booked it off that. What was really cool about it, is that earlier, my old roommate and actor friend, Luke Benward – an up-and-coming actor as well and lifelong friend, he had read for another role and he told me, ‘yo, there’s like supporting roles in that Law & Order, you’ve gotta go back’ and I told him my manager and the casting directors had already called. It was perfect timing. Everything just fell perfectly into place for this one.
You seem to get cast in a lot of crime-related TV shows; would you say it’s your niche?
I ask my manger that a lot. They say it in a really good way, and I haven’t just done those [crime shows], but a lot of these shows have these more difficult characters. I’ve been so fortunate to always have another part of what I’ve been known for, is to be able to take on challenging roles that not every young actor can do. Those roles seem to be in these darker, grittier shows and that’s just where I’ve found a lot of success.
Why do you think that you’re good at playing the darker characters?
I don’t know; maybe I’m more open to my emotions for my age.
What kind of television do you like to watch?
I like to watch all types of television. I like to watch The Office to Mr. Robot to Boardwalk Empire – all the fun, gritty stuff.
You’ve also done voiceover work for Japanese anime. What’s that like?
Wow, no one ever asks about that. That’s awesome that you know that. It’s really fun. In fact it’s something I’ve sort of taken a break from for the last two or three years, but I really want to get back into it. I just signed with Innovative Artists actually for their voiceovers – they’re the biggest here. I’m really excited to get back into it. It used to be something I did all the time, because it’s the same guy that got the contracts to do all the English dubbing for all the big cartoons and he saw me in this play called All My Sons at the Geffen Playhouse that I did with Neil Patrick Harris and Laurie Metcalf, and he had a number of young boy roles that he needed a young actor to do [the voiceover for]. After the show, he offered me two television shows doing these voice roles and it was awesome.
And you don’t have to go into hair and makeup for voiceover.
Oh it’s so nice. You can roll in in your sweats and your Nikes and just chill.
Who would you say are your favourite actors? Who do you look up to?
I get asked this question all the time and I always answer the same way; and that’s I look up to and I aspire to be anyone that’s more successful than me. The list is so long, but to me, it would be obviously people like [Leonardo] DiCaprio and I love what Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have done with producing stuff and Christian Bale for the amount of different, crazy roles that he is willing to take on. There are so many different actors and artists in this town that I look up to for so many different reasons.
Do you still do stage work?
I haven’t been on the stage in a while. I would love to for the right project. There is actually a writer that I’m working with right now to get his play put up at the Geffen. It would be incredible. I would love to go back to the stage. I would love to do something in [London’s] West End as well. That is a dream for sure. London is one of the few places I haven’t been. One of my childhood friends, Kiril Kulish – he’s a Tony Award-winning actor, he won for Billy Elliot – he has told me so much about his rehearsal time in London and has nothing but amazing things to say.
Ever get stage fright?
No, but every once in a while I get nervous [laughs]. Very rarely.
Any good fan stories?
I got given Kings [hockey team in Los Angeles] tickets once. I wasn’t able to go to the game so I gave them to charity, to a special needs hockey team.
When you’re not portraying other people, what do you like to do?
Well, besides play hockey, I like to hang out with my friends and my awesome girlfriend.
Is she an actor as well?
Yeah, her name is Niki Koss; she’s on Famous in Love.
How long have you been playing hockey?
Since I was three. My mom took me to the ice ring after I watched The Mighty Ducks. It was probably one of the biggest influences in my life, ever. That movie is the reason I wanted to play hockey and the reason I wanted to act. So, thank you Charlie Conway [the main character on The Mighty Ducks hockey team, played by a young Joshua Jackson].
Moving into fashion, how would you describe your style?
I always describe it the same way. It’s very, very preppy and put together, with a lot of edge. And I’m not sure where my whole suit thing came from for me, but you can ask any of my friends, I have a vast collection of suits and I love to wear them.
Do you like a red carpet because you can go into your wardrobe and wear one of your incredible suits?
I like a red carpet because it gives me the opportunity to go find a new suit [laughs]!
What are your favourite brands?
Oh man, there are so many good ones, but I love Samuelsohn – they’re a brand that I actually work with quite often, and you have to love Hugo Boss for a suit; it’s just like a classic suit, anytime you get one. Let me think . . . Kooples has really good off-the-rack, affordable suits, and then of course a higher end, custom suits like Dior or Gucci – I love the embroidery that Gucci has done recently.
What’s your all-time favourite suit that will remain in your wardrobe forever?
That’s a really tough question. Ok there’s a suit that I got for The Killing premiere and I got on the GQ Ten Best-Dressed Men of the Week list for it. It is a Hardy Amies suit, custom, straight from Savile Row – fucking, amazing! This thing just literally fits me like a second skin. It’s plaid sharkskin. It’s dark grey. I wore it with a Louis Leeman loafer and a Kooples shirt with no tie, but it had a tie bar on the collar. It’s really cool looking. No socks and a Montblanc watch.
And off-duty, what do you like to wear?
Jeans and a cool T-shirt.
Favourite denim brand?
Diesel, by far. And I love CLOSED as well.
What’s your wardrobe essential?
The essential item in my wardrobe is my black suede Saint Laurent boots. I’ve had them for two years and they are perfect. I might actually have to get the heels redone, but other than that, they’re perfect. Boots always get better with age.
Before we sign off, and back to acting, do you ever have to do a British accent?
I have for a lot of auditions. The last one was for an audition for Gus Van Sant. I don’t think my accent was on par because I didn’t get it [laughs]. I’m really selective as to when I want to do it, because I want to do it really well and I want to do it for a really good project. The last one before that was a long time ago for a project I was auditioning for called Byzantium.
What’s your favourite accent to do?
Southern. Yeah, I love me a good Southern boy. Like somethin’ real, real Southern.
Anything else coming up?
There are some things that I would love to talk about as soon as they come to fruition [laughs], so maybe we’ll have to do something else around that.
– Sounds like a plan, Sterling. And Candid readers, we may have convinced Sterling to come to London for the next session of London Fashion Week Men’s – so he can make use of that suit collection. We’ll keep you posted.
Follow Sterling Beaumon on Instagram and watch him on Law & Order: True Crime: The Menendez Murders, which will premiere on 26 September on NBC in America. International details to follow.