“There were some death threats. There were some cockroaches. Some blood,” Nolan Funk admits of his first few years as a working actor in L.A., just as his green tea latte arrives. We’ve met at a traditional teahouse deep in a Koreatown strip mall, Funk’s choice. It’s utterly quiet, with the exception of the faint instrumentation of a zither. This city has squashed and snuffed out many a young actor’s dreams, but Funk emits a Machiavellian charisma, giving the impression that he eased into prominence.
He didn’t. His Romanesque stature and boyish face may have gotten him to the world of professional acting, but his locomotive drive is responsible for keeping him in it. “Obviously you know what it’s like to come out to L.A. I mean, my first years out here I took the bus to all my castings.” And that’s when it happens, that’s when you look past the looks (if you can) that have no doubt caused much cajolery and trouble, and see the gumption, the will to achieve. “You know, I was so driven. At that point I just had so much energy that I could commute like, six hours all across town for all these different meetings.” It’s paying off in spades.
Funk’s recent ascension stemmed from his role on Glee and expanding role on MTV’s Awkward, shows idolized by teens around the world. The 27-year-old Vancouverite is now moving forward with leading roles in three films coming out the remainder of the year. The first, The Canyons, saw him handpicked by Bret Easton Ellis. The tangential author of ’80s white-lined decadence turned his writing to the contemporary crop of youthful Angelenos, inviting Funk to play the off-the-boat and eventually off-the-rails Ryan.
Nolan empathizes with his character’s naiveté, “I was lucky that I started working at a younger age. By the time I did this project, I’d been lucky enough to be on Broadway and man different projects. But I definitely know what it’s like to come to L.A. with a dream and struggle and be dealing with shady people with ulterior motives.”
Funk remains reticent through some of our conversation. At some point the recorder is turned off, and conversation eases. Funk understands his place in teen idolatry, and has slowly moved toward more serious roles on the larger screen. It won’t be an easy climb from the cocoon of youthful high school roles, but he’s poised for metamorphosis.
Photographer: Eric Ray Davidson for artmixcreative.com. Stylist: Yohanna Logan at YohannaLogan.com. Groomer: Paul Rizzo for bumbleandbumble.com. Photography Assistants: Jules Bates and Alec Saint Martin.
Grooming Notes: Radiant Day moisturizer Omega 6 by Nude skincare. Thickening full form mousse and sumowax by Bumble and Bumble.