The Nocturnal Animals actor talks to us about filming with Tom Ford.
Karl Glusman met Tom Ford at Cannes while the former was presenting Love (2015), Gaspar Noé’s exceptional and provocative 3-D film starring Glusman. “I went to meet Tom at his hotel room,” Glusman recalls, “and he opened the door wearing a velvet tuxedo and diamond buttons holding his shirt together, and he said, ‘Welcome’ in the most elegant way I’ve ever been greeted.” Nearly two years later, the young actor is reminiscing about working with Ford on the director and fashion designer’s second film, Nocturnal Animals, an intriguing story about love, betrayal, and revenge. Glusman and I meet for coffee shortly before the film’s release to talk about the twisting plot, onscreen chemistry, and the surreality of it all.
Nocturnal Animals is so layered that it feels like two films in one: a riveting thriller inside an emotional dramathat manipulates time and fluctuates between the characters’ sense of reality and fiction, moving fluidly through flashbacks and imaginations. Beautiful and disturbing, the film showcases the director’s gift for storytelling and his sophisticated eye for all aspects of style: design, composition, light, color, music, and how these components interact to achieve a unified aesthetic.
In the film Glusman plays one of a terrifying trio of Texans, who, in a single night scene, drive the most suspenseful plot of the thriller. Acting alongside megastars like Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon drew more excitement than intimidation for Glusman—an opportunity for growth in his practice. He describes a scene with Shannon as comparable to “playing jazz with somebody: you just feel each other, you kind of know the tune—the scene or where it’s going to go—[but] you don’t know exactly how you’re going to get there.”
Although the budding roots of his talent go back to his childhood, acting is not something Glusman grew up studying but rather an art form that he took a casual chance on during college. “I used to do little performances for my mother and she would laugh,” he remembers, “and I think that’s where it started, [but] it never seemed like it would be a reality or that I could live off of acting.” Currently based in New York while shooting an upcoming television drama, Glusman emanates a joie de vivre that is envious and infectious. When he expresses, “Most actors realize what an enchanted life they live—how blessed they are to play pretend for a living,” you get the feeling he is one of those who really appreciates it all.
His scenes in Nocturnal Animals were shot mostly at night—which he admits “makes you feel a little strange after a while, because you don’t see the sun”—and perhaps the uneasiness contributed to his haunting performance. He attributes much of the positive experience on set to Ford: “[Tom] has a tremendous amount of respect for actors, and so he really takes care of you on set.” Glusman does not take the support for granted, noting that an actor’s job is “kind of the most obscure. You’re interpreting something [that’s] not so concrete,” and as “the last piece of the puzzle, it can feel like there’s a lot of pressure.” As the afternoon dips into a Manhattan evening, I say goodbye to Glusman and hail a cab, acutely aware of how contrary his warm personality is from the night creature he portrays.
Written by Kathleen Hefty
Stylist: Joshua Liebman for Honey Artists.
Groomer: Nelson Vercher for Artmix Creative.
Location: Studio11NY, Brooklyn, NY.