Jack Reynor | “Midsommar”
It’s a busy time of the year for Jack Reynor — his latest project, the dread-soaked cinematic fairytale titled Midsommar, premiers in New York. A week slammed with premiere socials and press receptions and yet, the award-winning Irish actor fashions time between screenings to chat recent endeavors.
The shoot wraps in an industrial warehouse-turned-photo studio. While the editorial team packs hastily, Jack unlaces his black and blue Zegna’s. “All set?” he asks. We have about a half-hour to catch up on his current ventures in the film industry and the staunch loyalty he holds for his Irish origins.
Jack’s passion for film transcends the bounds of mere acting crafts; Reynor is withal a writer, director and educator whose passion for film stems from adolescence. “I remember being six years old and watching Die Hard, which I shouldn't have seen at six,” he laughs charismatically. “From that moment on, I don't remember wanting to do anything else.”
Growing up in the Irish County of Wicklow, which Jack describes as being ‘in the middle of nowhere’, the future actor spent a lot of time on his own, expanding the limits of his imagination — dreaming up his own little world, from surroundings to characters to traditions and customs. That creative capacity is what ultimately came to be the groundwork for Reynor’s looming stardom.The multi-faceted filmster has made a point to protect his genius: taking this boundless imagination, to refine and focus somewhere in the Hollywood hills. Though he still prefers Wicklow to any other place on Earth.
First gaining global recognition in 2014 for Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, he was cast as Shane, an Irish race car driver. Fast forward five years, and Reynor is well on-track for a breakout summer, playing a lead role in Ari Aster’s latest mystery horror feature.
This psycho-thrilling motion-picture is not at all reminiscent of sinister slasher movies, where a group of twenty-somethings voyage and later die in grotesque fashion. To be fair, it still deserves it’s R-rated title, albeit with a lot less cut-throat and bloodshed than, say, the Saw franchise. Ari Aster’s unique approach to horror drew Reynor’s attention from the get-go — A project which proved to be a challenge for both himself and the audience.
Intrigued by Aster’s filmmaking creed, Reynor found himself tantalized by his profoundly pensive visual references. “I felt that he was a very cultured filmmaker, and I could see the refinement of his choices,” Reynor said, with a charming half-smile. "Then I went and met Ari, we sat down and we spoke about the film, and he outlined exactly how he wanted to execute it. From that point, I couldn't say no.”
In this sinister yet spellbinding art house thriller, Jack plays the role of Christian — an archetypical toxic Alpha Male who is subjected to a retrograde hero’s journey. In the end, Christian’s selfish yet sensitive identity is stripped away from him entirely, until the character is left with nothing but humiliation and utter vulnerability in a sex scene that is equally horrific as it is humorous. “I feel like that kind of exposure in a film has historically been reserved for women, especially in the context of sex,” the actor said. “I saw it as an opportunity to do that as a male actor, and that doesn't come along very often. I was glad to do it.”
This is an exceptional, unequaled project added Jack’s portfolio — a once-in-a-lifetime experience of ghastly shot ritual scenes in the blistering plains of Hungary. Apropos of the exhausting experience on set, trying to separate himself from the character proved to be a serious challenge for the young actor. And Reynor was up for it.
“I knew right when we started that, because the film is so heavy and there was so much horrible stuff that was going to happen, it was going to be an exercise in practicing peak mental health all the time,” he said. For Jack, practicing ‘peak mental health’ meant running at least 5K a day, reading and cooking, all while mastering mindful meditation and eight hours of beauty sleep.
That being said, he hopes that Christian-the-character has inherited some part of Jack’s personal journey and life experiences. “That doesn't necessarily mean that I am the character, but I certainly hope that it exhibits my personal experience,” the actor explained.
Jack made it his proviso to partake in movies of ‘substance’ with a moral message or lesson to be learned. A self-proclaimed cinephile, he funnels his infatuation for the film industry into an educational-elucidating Instagram account, @jrcinemania. The zestful cinematic doesn’t normally see himself as a social media buff, but in this particular instance, he saw Instagram as an opportunity to share his passion for unmatched works of cinematic art. “We need exposure to that stuff,” Reynor explained. “If anything, I hope that my Instagram account is going to help create a conversation about cinema that exposes young people to important films that they might not otherwise have seen.”
To round off his vast involvements in cinematography, Reynor has now embarked on a movie directing journey with the release of Bainne — a short black-and-white film, divulging in the Irish scarcities of British colonialism. To start, he went back to one of his favorite Irish writers, Lafcadio Hearn. Translating one of Hearn’s Japanese folk tales, he turned it into cinematic artwork — guided by history of the Great Famine and conventions of Japanese filmmaking. Will Poulter, an English actor and one of Jack’s best friends, took the lead role.
“I was lucky enough to be able to pull a great crew of people together, many of whom I've worked with before,” Reynor explained. “They all helped me to execute what my vision was."
The multi-hyphenate talent is currently working on a couple of directing projects, with a full-length feature film coming soon. As for his acting career, Reynor’s approach is to take it one step at a time and let the opportunities fall into place in their due course. When asked about what’s next, the actor laughed, a mischievous smirk setting in on his face: “I don't know, we'll see!” That we certainly will.