The new line is anchored to an elegant array of jackets which Rudes sees as the transformative nexus of a man’s wardrobe, as he explains: “When a guy puts on a great jacket, there is something transforming about it, and a personality gets created. There’s an attitude. If you have a silk shirt on with a great dinner jacket that’s got a little silver sparkle in it, you feel like Keith Richards. Or you put on a white shirt, with a single-breasted notch jacket and you feel like Sean Connery in a Bond movie. The jacket is the basis because it’s the piece that lets the personality out.”
Like Wittrock, Rudes is a keen observer of the power of transformation. He notes that there’s a big difference between looking cool, and being cool, and thinks that the right fashion is what can bridge that gap: “The way you dress creates an attitude. You know when you see Johnny Depp dressing really cool, it’s the attitude. If you took all the clothing and stuck it on a bed without him wearing it, it’s cool, but he creates the attitude—that persona gets created from the clothing. I think a guy wants to look sexy. He knows when he’s walking into a restaurant, the girls are going—even the guys—this man is dressed well. He’s sharp. That’s a great look. How do I get the balls to put that look together?”
For Finn Wittrock, having grown up immersed in the classics and the theatre (thanks to his father, a part of the Massachusetts-based Shakespeare & Company Theatre), and as a graduate of the venerable Juilliard School, for Finn Wittrock, acting was never a thought, so much as an inevitable reality (despite his father’s hope of him becoming, perhaps, a doctor, as those theatre-fathers are prone to hope). It’s a particular kind of normal to have been raised in: “I was always around these crazy wild actors growing up—it exposes you to a part of the world, to a personality that kids don’t often get exposed to. Most of those people had rebelled against their families to come do that, you know, and here I was.”
Wittrock is not afraid of shape-shifting. He has traversed both stage and screen with roles on Broadway as Harold “Happy” Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of A Salesman, on television as Damon Miller in All My Children, or as Dandy Mott and Tristan Duffy in the American Horror Story anthology, and on the screen as Francis “Mac” McNamara in Angelina Jolie’s 2014 Unbroken—a role which entailed legitimate starvation.
Wittrock sees transformation as an essential element of the art of being an actor, yet he believes much of the transformation should be a consequence of the performance, rather than a precursor to it: “There’s a change I see in actors today,” he observes, “where the physical transformation can sometimes take the place of the real work of acting. People start to think that that’s what acting is—getting big or getting small. It’s awe-inspiring, it makes you go ‘wow! look’—in some ways, it should be the opposite, we shouldn’t be noticing how much work you did as an actor, we should be moved by your performance.”
The actor’s debut as a writer will be making the festival rounds imminently, with the dark drama The Submarine Kid, in which he also stars, while this winter, Wittrock stars in two big-screen ventures: My All American, a football drama with Aaron Eckhart, and The Big Short, an all-star bonanza (Pitt, Bale, Gosling, Gomez, Tomei, et al.) about the financial crisis of the late 2000s. We’ll see you around the neighborhood Finn, wearing that jacket with confidence.