Alex Wolff Is Acting Up

    A dangerous liaison with the rising actor

    by · March 25, 2016

    Photographed by Emman Montalvan.

    The following feature appears in the March 2016 issue of NYLON.

    Alex Wolff is so nice that he would rather risk an allergic reaction to an avocado on his steak sandwich than send it back—making this the riskiest interview he’s ever done. After deciding to throw caution to the wind and just scrape off the offending add-on at French Roast in New York City’s West Village, Wolff and I come up with a signal (flailing arms!) if in fact he goes into anaphylactic shock.

    But the (possibly life-threatening) sandwich is not all this guy with the unruly curls has ordered. Add to that a croissant, a cup of tea, and a bagel with cream cheese and lox. “All the weight goes to my hair or my ego, not my body,” he jokes about his thin build, currently covered in a gray thermal and jeans.

    Wolff explains that even though his first 2016 release is this month’s family dramedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (where he plays the love interest for Nia Vardalos’s on-screen teenage daughter), he’s become a voracious eater mainly because he’s been working out six days a week to shoot shirtless scenes in the coming-of-age dramedy Dude opposite Pretty Little Liars star Lucy Hale.

    Between taking huge bites of food (always politely wiping his mouth with a napkin before he utters a word), Wolff discusses his very daunting big-screen sex scene with Hale, his first ever. “I had to basically take off all of my clothes—on the very first day of filming,” he says. “I said to everyone, ‘Hey guys, nice to meet you. You’re all about to see a lot of me, and thank you for that.’”

    Read the rest of the feature after the jump.

    Photographed by Emman Montalvan.

    In Dude, Wolff plays Noah, a character he describes as a “clever, cocky, hotshot kid who wants to get high with and date Lucy’s character.” Coincidentally, Wolff gave himself the name of Noah in a short he wrote, directed, and starred in called Boots, before taking the role in Dude. Boots, an emotionally raw story of young love, also features his friend Gabriel Day-Lewis (actor Daniel Day-Lewis’s son). Wolff financed the short—which has more than 22,000 views on YouTube—himself with money from other acting gigs and a little help from his older brother, Nat, who is also his musical collaborator (the duo has songs on the soundtracks for Paper Towns and The Fault in Our Stars, among others).

    The New York City native—who finds it amusing that he was recently punched in the face by a complete stranger on the subway—got his start at age eight doing The Naked Brothers Band: The Movie, a musical comedy that co-starred his brother Nat and was directed by his mom, Polly Draper, with musical direction by his dad, jazz musician Michael Wolff. Two years later, the concept became a successful series for Nickelodeon. Ever since, the youngest Wolff knew he wanted to be an actor and never considered a plan B. “Well, I was going to be a doctor, but who makes it as a doctor anymore?” he quips.

    At just 18, the quirky star is already an industry vet, but that doesn’t mean self-doubts don’t creep in. “I relate to Michael Keaton’s character in Birdman so much, how he has that voice being so mean and then another boosting his confidence,” says Wolff. “I give myself pep talks. I have to tell myself how sexy I am—literally every day. I do. I look in the mirror and say, ‘You are so sexy,’ because everything else in my body is telling me, ‘No, you’re not.’”

    The high school senior’s college admissions essay was about how he feels more himself when he’s acting than any other time. “That’s why it’s really hard for me when I’m filming movies—I fall in love with everybody because it feels even more real than real life,” says Wolff, as he flags down the waitress and orders an apple cider.

    Wolff’s yet-to-be-released film Coming Through the Rye, which made the festival rounds late last year and into this year, was serendipitous casting to say the least. The movie focuses on Jamie Schwartz (Wolff), who is obsessed with Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye. So much so that he ditches boarding school to find the book’s reclusive author, J.D. Salinger (played by Chris Cooper). “I went into my audition with a copy of The Catcher in the Rye that my grandfather read,” says Wolff, stealing a few french fries from my plate. “He signed his name inside and wrote the date that he read it. Then when my dad turned 13, my grandpa gave him that copy. My dad read it, wrote his name and the date in it, and gave it to my brother when he turned 13. Nat read it and signed it, and I did the same when I was 13.”

    Family aside, Wolff cites The Catcher in the Rye and the Beatles as being his biggest personal and professional influences to date. Though he hates the color yellow, his bedroom is decorated in a Yellow Submarine design because he’s so devoted to the legendary band. “What can I say? I’m a complicated guy,” says Wolff, with a laugh. “If it’s Beatles yellow, it’s great. Anything else yellow, get outta here.”

    Stylist: Skye Stewart-Short. Grooming: Amber Duarte at the Rex Agency using R+Co.

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    Last updated: 2016-03-24T18:48:39-04:00
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