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luke grimes: the laterals magazine


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Luke Grimes is a purist. There has always been something effortless about his work. He possesses a deferential boyishness that is instantly likeable, a sort of earnest charm. Perhaps it can be attributed to his Ohio upbringing as the son of a preacher. Yet he diverges from this persona with performances that relentlessly engulf you into his vortex. Luke takes risks when he develops a role, and even the best of actors come up against failure. This exposure does not infringe on his career, because it's currently thriving. The risk is about doing something great. This has been a central theme throughout much of his success. Luke is charged with an aptitude for pursuing roles that dare to push his creative autonomy right into stardom.  

The work Luke produces is indiscernible, but exceptionally multifaceted - he was inherently complex on Brothers & Sisters, audacious and fantastical on True Blood, motley and hued on Fifty Shade of Grey and in The Magnificent Seven, well... he was magnificent. If that summation wasn't already impressive, note his performance on Clint Eastwood's American Sniper. Starring alongside Bradley Cooper, he portrays Marc Lee, the first Navy SEAL to give his life fighting in Iraq. Given the somber and intricate subject matter, Luke elevates the narrative by delving into new dimensions. You feel him, the imperious vulnerability that takes you with his character's sudden loss. Currently, Luke is working in company with Kevin Costner on Yellowstone. Now in its second season, the series follows the conflicts of a family living on a cattle ranch that shares borders with an Indian reservation, land developers and Yellowstone National Park. He is layered in this role, punctuated with stagy, rough and tumble dialogue. He is in his element here. Luke Grimes continues prove that an unapologetic credo and unwavering talent is potent in this industry. Whether he's out in the deserts of Iraq or the Wild Wild West, he always knocks it out of the (national) park.  

Ohio seems like a world away from Los Angeles. Growing up there with a dad who is a pastor, what part of that life do you still keep with you?

There are some really great moral and ethical values that are drilled into you when you grow up Christian. Religion aside, I feel like I have tried to hold onto those core values of love and kindness.

Tell us about the first time you auditioned. What was the experience like and did you get the role?

One of my very first auditions was for an Elvis mini-series. I was so incredibly nervous and the last thing you feel like doing in that state is shaking your hips and singing at the top of your lungs. Needless to say, I didn’t get the part.

To get to where you are now was no easy task. Tell us about a time when you truly felt the struggle. With the foresight you have now, what knowledge would you give yourself?

I remember it took over an entire year of auditioning a few times a week before I actually booked my first job. There were some dark times in there where I wondered if I would ever work as an actor or if I was lying to myself and not built for this business. The thing that really turned everything around for me was when I stopped treating auditions as the enemy and saw it as a chance to do what I love. I wish I had made that distinction much earlier.  

We heard you never had a plan b. If you had to give it all up and pursue anything you wanted, what would it be?

I have never wanted to do anything else for a living. If I absolutely had to I would probably be a landscaper. Working outside with my hands and doing something creative seems like a charmed life.

In The Magnificent Seven, you starred alongside Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, and many others. What was it like working on this incredible endeavor?

It’s an interesting thing working with people that you have idolized since childhood. There are a lot of different ways that can go. I learned and grew so much from that experience. 

The ensemble of talent must have been incredible to work with. Can you share one of your favorite behind-the-scenes moments?

We shot most of the film in Baton Rouge in the middle of the summer for 4 months. It was so incredibly hot and the shoot was tough. The last two weeks of filming we re-located to Santa Fe and all of a sudden we were in this beautiful place with perfect weather and we all stayed at the same hotel and hung out every night. We were like a big happy family. Some of my best working memories were those two weeks. 

Speaking of incredible moments, you were fantastic in American Sniper. Is it true you were given zero prep time? Booked the role, jumped on a plane that very night for Morocco and thrown on set?

Yes I was shooting another film near the Grand Canyon when I found out I got the film. A car picked me up at 2am and drove me 4 hours to the Phoenix airport to start the journey to Morocco. I read the script for the first time on the plane. I went straight from the airport to the production office and they shaved my head and I started gun training. 

Your performance with Bradley Cooper was absolutely striking. What was it like working with him?

Bradley, on top of being an incredible actor, is a top-notch person. He couldn’t be a cooler, nicer guy. I’m a HUGE fan of his.

You have such a dynamic career, spanning sexy blood-sucking vampire to a valorous Navy SEAL. How do you approach each role with such accessibility and dedication?

I just really enjoy the work. I find human beings endlessly fascinating and love going as deep into the psyche of the characters as I can.

Considering the range you already have in your repertoire, is there any role or genre you are dying to try?

I’d love to do theater professionally. A legendary play, like a Tennessee Williams or a Sam Shepard play. 

It's refreshing to see an actor who is really driven by the content he's working with. Where do you find the intersection of preserving your morality while taking on roles because, well, it's show business?

Like in any other business there are good folks and not so good. I try to surround myself with good people. I’ve been very lucky with the people who have come into my life in my career. 

You are currently starring in the series Yellowstone. Tell us about playing Kayce Dutton alongside Kevin Costner. How does your character navigate the constant conflict that ensues?

I find myself saying “poor Kayce” quite a bit. The guy just can’t catch a break. Kayce has a big heart but can’t seem to stay out of trouble. It’s a very juicy character and as difficult as it is to go to all the emotional places required it is exactly the kind of character I’ve always wanted to play. 

Going into the second season of Yellowstone, how do you further develop your character the second time around? What parts of Kayce Dutton do you most connect to?

The more I put on his wardrobe and am surrounded by all the natural beauty of the locations where we shoot I feel like I get closer and closer to him. I think my favorite part of him is that deep down he is a family man. He is selfless in that way.

Thank you, Luke Grimes! Before we go just one more question. What is the first thought that comes to mind when you hear the word “action”?

No thoughts whatsoever. When I hear action I get fully out of my head. It’s like dancing, you don’t think, you just do it.