Interview by James Patrick Herman Photographs by Jeff Vespa
Where are you from?
New York. The one characteristic that has stuck with me? How fast I walk. And how frustrated I get by how slow people tend to walk when I am in other places.
Are you a Sundance virgin?
I am a Sundance virgin. I am really amped about it. Sundance is an American independent film institution and it feels like a rite of passage.
How does it feel to be a Sundance sensation?
In this context, it feels flattering and humbling and lovely. I just hope the film speaks to people.
What’s the buzz about your movie?
The fact that Nick Jonas is in it. We play brothers. So basically, I am the fourth Jonas Brother.
Tell me about your character.
I am a college student who is pledging my brother’s fraternity. He is a young guy who is searching for something that a lot of young men find themselves searching for at his age — late teens, early twenties. And he is doing so in the face of really difficult circumstances. I don’t want to give too much away, but he discovers that identifying yourself is not always aconscious decision. It’s not always a choice. A lot of times what we do is what defines us as a person rather than how we want to be seen — or who we want to be seen as — if that makes any sense.
Why is it called Goat?
Um, you’ll have to see the movie to find out.
Is there a literal goat in the movie?
Is it about beastiality? Sex with goats?
It could be. I have to plead the fifth on this one.
Killer Films does have a reputation for edgy cinema.
Yes, they do. And it is edgy.
What was your first acting experience?
I did the play Oliver when I was eleven. And that is when I fell in love with acting — and was totally bewitched with being on stage and performing in front of an audience. I played the artful dodger. He artfully dodges stuff. And he is the head of a pick-pocket gang.
Did you ever have a normal job?
I was a camp counselor all through high school. And I iced cupcakes at the Magnolia Bakery in New York for eight months because I took a gap year after high school. I was auditioning and taking acting classes in the city.
Describe the Sundance selfie of your dreams.
Funny hats and snow would have to be involved. I think the coolest thing about this festival is that actors I have grown up admiring will also be there. So a selfie with any willing participant whose movies I grew up watching — in funny hats, in the snow — would be the ideal Sundance selfie. Robert Redford would be amazing.
What do you think of Robert Redford?
Oh, God. Major influence! Huge fan. Sneakers is my personal favorite of his films. But I also love All the President’s Men, Ordinary People, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, The Natural. I mean, he is the dude.