“Coincidences can be astronomical in a way, but you can also chalk it up to it just being your mind,” the actor says on a hot day in September. “A cynic could say that, but I think it’s more fun to believe in destiny.”
When we meet for tea at a café in Beachwood Canyon in Los Angeles, Smith—whose latest films include Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters and Stage Fright—admits that he has made some possibly foolish decisions. For example, he recently moved to New Orleans. “[It’s] completely horrible for my career…I’m surprised by where I ended up going.”
But there were clues throughout his life that pointed to the Big Easy all along, his path illuminated if only in hindsight. Smith asks of us: Is it merely coincidence that the music from his band of yore, His Orchestra, played on MTV’s Real World: New Orleans? And we ask back: Is it just coincidence that he was born on June 22nd, and New Orleans became the capital of French Louisiana in 1722? In all new-agey, moderately farfetched likelihood we’d like to believe no.
Or perhaps the actor just fell in love with rich cultural history of the city while filming Percy Jackson. Moving to New York is “the safest thing you can do as an actor.” He toyed with the idea himself three years ago after being unchained from Los Angeles following the finale of the HBO series Big Love, where he played the role of polygamously reared Ben Henrickson.
If you haven’t watched a movie since the late ’90s, you might recognize Smith as a young Brendan Fraser, a role he played when he was 12 years old in the romantic comedy Blast from the Past (1999). “They wanted a kid who looked kind of like Brendan Fraser, who was proficient in foreign languages.”
He began to actively pursue acting in high school. “It’s amazing how the public schools are here in L.A.—the industry seems to permeate… I turned into a cinephile freshman year in high school. End of freshman year I sought out an agent and I got an agent. It’s funny how easy it was.”
First, he was Johnny, the teenager who acquiesces to being locked inside a dirty and heavily graffitied locker room in Lock Her Room (2003). It’s a short film he considers a milestone, along with appearing on the Australian TV show Out There and his role in Brandon Cronenberg’s (son of director David Cronenberg) film Antiviral—“the first movie I did that went to the Cannes Festival”—and Percy Jackson, in which he plays a cyclops by the name of Tyson. His latest film, Stage Fright, takes a morbid tone: It’s a gory production at a performing arts summer program. “[The campers], they start dying, you know? Murdered. Grisly murders start happening while they’re trying to mount this big stage production…Meat Loaf is the head of the camp.”
Between auditions, Smith returns to Nawleans’ muggy climate to work on fixing up his house. “That’s sort of my thing that I obsess over and I think it’s healthy to have something other than your career to obsess over.”
Perhaps this obsession is another sign from the Universe. One could project that these home repairs are leading Smith to a future life as a carpenter. Or maybe he was always meant to play Jesus in a film. Or be Jesus? Is Douglas Smith the messiah? Who knows? Here’s another clue to consider: When Smith was on Big Love, his role involved plenty of shirtless wood-chopping scenes.
So there’s that to think about. Or maybe everything is just a coincidence.
Photographer: Matthew Tammaro for weheartcollective.net. Stylist: Jimi Urquiaga at JimiUrquiaga.com. Groomer: Paul Rizzo for BumbleandBumble.com.
Grooming Notes: Fortifying serum skin minerals for men by Giorgio Armani Beauty. Grooming Crème and does it all styling spray by Bumble and Bumble.