Griffin Gluck

5 June 2023

Photography Shanna Fisher
Fashion Alvin Stillwell
Interview David Gillespie
Grooming Amy Galibut
Production Trevor Person

At the heart and soul of every photograph, there’s a story to be told. A moment caught in the threads of time, weaved softly into the intricacies of our memories forever. As the film-roll unfolds from the beginning, middle to end, we escape to the aperture of times so raw and nostalgic. As I sit down to chat with Griffin Gluck, he takes me through those snapshots of his life so far. We start from his childhood as he became enchanted by theatre for the first time to his adolescence christened by a 16-hour road trip with Pete Davidson. Our conversation closes on his learning deeper emotional expression when filming season two of Cruel Summer and he looks toward blank film rolls stretching across his future as he opens up about where his gut seems to be guiding him.

Griffin is an artist at heart. As he reflects on his early years, he speaks in verse-like decrees embodied with love and gratitude for his family and the opportunities he’s had. His detailed accounts assemble in my mind like the fragile folds of origami swans, gliding on the still of a gentle stream. Growing up surrounded by those with love for the performing art, his destiny as an actor seemed set in stone. But the actor reveals he was torn as a child between the pursuit of a career in acting or delving along an alternative path. Spoiler: he chose the former, a risk he admits ‘paid off’.

For Griffin, acting is as much a challenge as it is second nature. Each new endeavour is a quest to the peak of his ability, reaching new heights on each successive expedition. Although his achievements speak for themselves, Griffin’s humility and grounded character acts as a bridge to cross to the deeper edges of his inner being, whilst enabling him to expand his evergreen horizons. From his debut in The Office to his new role in Cruel Summer season 2, each stepping stone is as sentimental as the last. As Griffin continues to explore new roles as an actor, he is yet to land on the world of directing. Equipped with an army of ideas and a passion for exploration, the Arthouse sphere will never be the same.

In the enigmatic realm beyond the limelight, where Griffin roams free from prying eyes, a secret tapestry of his essence unfolds. It lies hidden, nestled within the hallowed confines of an archive, safeguarding seemingly infinite cherished moments of his existence on film as he tells me about his longtime passion for photography. All we have seen so far is but a fleeting glimpse of Griffin’s kaleidoscopic soul, while an uncharted cinema beckons, awaiting our enraptured gaze.

Cruel Summer season two premieres today, June 5, 2023 on Freeform. It will be available for streaming on Hulu tomorrow.

Let’s imagine you’re the director for a new movie titled Griffin Gluck, what would be three of the most important scenes?
Wow, what a great question! I need to take a moment to think about it. Let me see...the first thing that comes to mind as an important moment in my life is probably my birth, but then again, maybe that's not something I want to include. The first scene would be about my first experience as an actor, which is how I got my start. I was around seven years old and had difficulty socialising in school, but my older sister Caroline was into theatre, and I went to see one of her plays. I was completely entertained and captivated by the sense of unity and humour among the actors on stage. That's what got me interested in acting in the first place. I started doing theatre myself a few years later and eventually started working professionally. So, the first scene would be about me as a little boy getting into theatre.

This is a tough question because there are so many important moments in my life, but another significant one would be when I decided to put off college to pursue more acting opportunities. I had been accepted to Bard College to study creative writing, but I also had some exciting acting opportunities come my way, such as auditioning for American Vandal season three and getting the role in Big Time Adolescence. I had to make a decision about whether to go to school and put acting on hold or to pursue acting and defer college. I ultimately chose to pursue acting and I'm glad I did because it led to some great experiences and opportunities.

Third scene would be when I found my pet squirrel. I'm only thinking that because I'm looking at squirrels right now, but I really did love that squirrel. And I think the movie can use a little bit of levity and have like a nice cute little moment with the squirrel in it.

I'm so curious about this pet squirrel, did the squirrel just miraculously end up in your lap?
I was parking my car one day and I noticed a furry object in the road that I almost ran over. My friend was with me and I let out a really girlish yell. When I got out to investigate, I found a baby squirrel that had fallen out of a tree near my house. I attempted to put it back on the tree, but it kept running back to me and curling up in my hand. I took care of it for about six months until it became attached to me as if I were its mother. We tried to release it slowly back into the wild but it kept coming back. We posted on our local neighbourhood app to see if it belonged to someone because we thought it might be domesticated. Eventually it started exploring on its own and never came back which was bittersweet for me.

Paint us a picture of your perfect day. Where would it be and who would be in it?
Oh man, you really know how to come up with great questions! Honestly, I don't think about these things very often, but if I had to imagine my perfect day, it would be something I've experienced a couple of times, and those days have been my absolute favourites. I won't make up a fake scenario, let me tell you about a real one. There have been instances where I had to travel for work, and my two favourite cities are LA and New York. Let me tell you, there's nothing better. Picture this: I wake up in the morning, I'm in LA, and I head out to drive down to Malibu to grab my all-time favourite breakfast burrito from Lily's Malibu breakfast burrito joint. The drive is so beautiful, and the burrito is simply amazing. Then I drive back and spend some time with my friends in LA, enjoying their company. I've always lived near the beach, so as long as I have good friends and the sun is shining, it's a fantastic morning. And let's not forget the breakfast burrito from Lily's - it's the cherry on top.

After that, I catch a flight to New York. Now, in my perfect day, it's one of those days where I'm travelling for work, so I get to enjoy all the comforts. Once I land in New York, I head straight to my favourite restaurant for a delicious dinner. And you know what? I can't resist ordering the Perfect Bite dessert - they really nailed it with that one. Then, it's time to meet up with some friends for drinks and have a great time together. Finally, I find a cosy hotel or somewhere similar to wind down and relax. I absolutely love travelling, so for me, a perfect day involves exploring new places and being able to see my friends who are spread out all over the world. I know it might sound crazy, because travel days can be a bit exhausting, but to me, they are the perfect way to spend a day. And of course, food is a big part of it too. So, travel, good food, and spending time with my awesome friends - those are the ingredients for my perfect day.

Wow that was a great description! You’ve come from a family of actors and filmmakers, is there any advice from your family that has stuck with you throughout your career so far?
Yeah, so I kind of grew up in the industry. I don't remember one specific piece of advice, but my sister has always been the go-to person for advice. She's like a wise old sage, especially when I was younger. I loved working so much, it was super fun, but there was a part of me that missed the normal stuff like going to school, playing soccer, and all that. I was torn between the two. And my sister would tell me, "You're young, do what you want to do. You can always do the other stuff later." It may sound corny, but it was a big moment for me. I committed to acting and it's paid off. As the saying goes, "If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life." My sister pushed me in the right direction, and I'm grateful for that.

That’s lovely, I’m sure your sister is really proud of how far you’ve come. Is she still in the industry?
No, she wasn't really in the industry. She was always the athlete in the fam. When I was a kid, they thought I might become an athlete too, and my sis did theatre before I did. So they figured she would be the actor in the family. But the moment I got into theatre, she was like, peace out. You made it uncool. And she became the jock while I pursued acting. But she still works in the industry in some capacity.

Let’s talk Cruel Summer - season 2 is due to be released this summer! You’re starring as Luke Chambers. Since we’re yet to meet Luke, if you could describe him in one word, what would it be and why?
Yeah, it's tough when the show is full of so many secrets, you know? No one is who they seem to be. And Luke is no exception. It's hard to define him with just one word because he changes so much throughout the show. Maybe "youthful" is the closest thing, but not in the sense that he's just young, because obviously he's a teenager. I mean, he's kind of sneaky, mischievous, and sometimes dumb, but he's still trying to figure things out. Can you think of a better word for it?

Not a word but ‘a work in progress’, maybe?
He’s a work in progress, that’s for sure.

You have said in other interviews that you personally feel older than you are, but you have also been in many roles playing a character younger than you are. For you, how do you feel about the disparity between how you perceive yourself and how roles are often dependent on how others perceive you?
I've had to take on a lot of responsibility and grow up fast. It's just the way things go sometimes. I totally agree with you that we can't control how other people see us or our characters. It's just out of our hands. I mean, I'm only 22 myself, and people still think I look like a teenager, which is kind of annoying but also a good thing, I guess, since I can still play younger roles. But the key is to not let the fact that we're young be the only thing that defines us or our characters, you know? Like, in Tall Girl, I wasn't just trying to play a young character. I was trying to make it fun and interesting and give it some depth.

In Cruel Summer, season 2 is based at the turn of the millennium but follows Luke at different points in his life. Does your preparation as an actor change throughout the different timelines?
Honestly, my preparation doesn't really change much for this show, especially for the full summer season. It's a tough show to shoot because we're jumping back and forth between three different timelines, and it's hard to keep track of what my character knows or doesn't know at a certain point in time. Sometimes we shoot scenes without knowing what's going to happen two or three episodes later, and then when we get the next script, everything we did before might need to be changed. So, I don't do any conventional preparation because it could all be for nothing. Instead, I just make sure I know my lines and have a basic understanding of who my character is. I believe in playing in the moment and reacting to my co-stars, which luckily, they all feel the same way. We prepare together and talk about the scenes, but we don't really know what it's going to look like until we get there. We just focus on the present moment and try to stay in that mindset. It's a tough show, but I like the challenge of just shooting and seeing what happens naturally.

You also starred as Gabe in the acclaimed series Locke & Key – I love it by the way. You had said in a previous interview that playing Gabe felt like the equivalent of going into an anger room. Was there any particular release you felt in playing Luke in Cruel Summer?
I think there's a lot of emotional stuff in the upcoming season, but I'm not the best at showing emotions, to be honest. Seeing how other actors can cry on cue without much preparation amazes me. That's why working on Locke & Key was more enjoyable because I got to release my anger and be a demon on set. On the other hand, Cruel Summer required me to connect with my emotions more, which I don't usually do. It was like reopening old wounds to play the scene right. It's not as fun, but it's still a different kind of release. It's not like there are rooms where you can go and cry just for fun, like how they have anger rooms to break things!

Has stepping into different characters taught you anything about yourself?
I hope that my real-life experiences are what's influencing my acting, not the other way around. Acting is basically creating a fantasy world and trying to make it believable, but it's not real. I can't really think of any situations where I was glad to have experienced something similar in real life so I could use it in my acting. Maybe some romantic scenes where I've played a romantic guy before, but even that doesn't feel completely real.

You’ve been acting from a really young age. You made your TV debut in The Office in 2010. Looking back, how have you grown as an actor over the past 13 years?
Wow, I've been fortunate enough to work with some amazing actors, and I've learned a lot from them. I never went to acting school, but being on set has been my best teacher. I've worked with Bryan Cranston and Octavia Spencer, and they've shared their experiences and insights with me. I've learned a lot about why people act and how they do it. My perspective has changed over the years, and I hope it continues to do so. I want to work with cool people and keep learning and improving. It's interesting to see how other actors work and I like to try new things myself. I feel like I'm building up a little encyclopaedia of acting knowledge, but I still have a lot to learn.

Are there any genres that you'd be keen to kind of explore going forward? Whether it be TV or film, is there something you'd like to step into and try out?
Yeah, I think so. And I don't mean to sound like I'm bragging, but I do feel like I've had a good mix of experiences. I've tried my hand at most genres, starting with comedy which I love and have been lucky enough to do quite a bit of. I've also done drama, horror, sci-fi, thrillers, rom-coms - you name it, I've done it. But what I'd really love to do next is an Arthouse film - something that's not going to be a big commercial success or make it to theatres nationwide. I just want to do something really weird and fun that no one's ever going to see.

I’m not too familiar with Arthouse films myself, what are they like?
It's not necessarily a genre, but more like a type of film that's really artsy and pretentious. Like those weird, trippy movies from 1970s Soviet Russia, with no real plot, just a bunch of visually stunning shots. It's like how some art snobs go to a museum and admire a blank piece of paper on the wall because it makes them think. These films are like the movie version of that - just a bunch of random shots that may not make sense together, but still make you feel something.

I’d love to know how you balance what you keep to yourself and what you share with the world as someone who’s found fame, especially with social media. How do you manage it?
Honestly, I don't think I handle fame very well. I've never really seen myself as famous, you know? It's hard for me to view myself in that way. I've worked with some big names who remind me not to let fame get to my head, but I'm always like, "What fame?" I'm able to live my life pretty normally. I might get stopped for a photo once in a while, but that's cool. My main struggle is my relationship with social media. I think a lot of people confuse it with real life, and that can be scary. The internet has no filter, and people can say whatever they want. It's not good for your mental health. I don't think we were made to know what every single person is thinking every time they look at us. It's just too much. So, I try not to put too much value on social media. I've been on both sides of it - the good and the bad - and the bad can be really bad.

You have an impressive 1 million followers on Instagram. Do you ever feel a sense of pressure with so many eyes watching you?
There's so much pressure to get it right every time you post. Like you're always thinking, "Okay, here we go, time to be judged." No matter what you share, people are going to judge it, like it or not. It's just a strange feeling. That's why I don't really post that much on social media.

It’s clear you’re an artist at heart, would you like to direct in the future?
I would love to. I really enjoy being on set and learning from the director, especially when it comes to cinematography. I always try to stick close to the cinematographer and watch what they're doing, the lenses they use, and any cool camera tricks they have up their sleeve. It's fascinating to see how they think about shots and how they execute them. I would love to direct someday, but I know I need to prepare a lot more before taking that on. Maybe in a few years, I'll be ready and can make a great film.

At BoysByGirls we love to discover facts about people others won’t necessarily know. Are you happy to share something about yourself many people won’t know about you?
I've been in the game since I was nine, so it feels like everyone already knows so much about me, which is kind of lame but also not really. Honestly, I wouldn't mind if people knew even more about me. I like answering these kinds of things because people mostly know stuff about me from when I was younger. I'm evolving into a different person now.

I think that's really interesting in itself, people might think they know you but they only know a version of you from what they’ve seen but not everything is shown, so in actual fact there is a lot we don’t know that we might discover in future.
I always find that stuff kind of interesting to think about, a little stressful but interesting. I don’t hide things intentionally, I just show the world parts of my life without thinking about it, so I’m sure people will get to see more as time goes on.

Is there a particular role you’ve been in that will always be special to you?
I don't want to diss any of my other projects or anything, but the ones that are most special to me and that I'm most proud of are Big Time Adolescence and American Vandal. They really hold a special place in my heart. When people ask me what my favourite thing I've done is, those two always come to mind first.

American Vandal is a show about someone spray-painting penises on cars at a high school, and two kids take it upon themselves to investigate and prove someone's innocence. It might sound silly, but it's actually hilarious and really clever. When I first got the role, people were like, "Are you sure you want to do a show about penises?" But I knew it was going to be great, and it was. It never got as big as some other Netflix shows like Stranger Things, but I think it became a cult classic and the people who love it, really love it.

And then Big Time Adolescence was just an incredible experience. It was so much fun to work on and the people I worked with were amazing. I don't think I'll ever have as much fun on a set as I did on that one.

Was there something in particular that was so special about Big Time Adolescence?
So I was 17 or 18, I can't really remember, but I felt like it was the start of a new chapter in my life. You know, turning 18 and all, like I had this big opportunity and I didn't want to mess it up. Plus, I was working with Pete Davidson, who I thought was hilarious. He was just so chill and cool, like an older brother I never had. It was really fun because I got to hang out with my childhood friend Thomas Barbusca who also had a role in the movie. It was like a bunch of friends making a movie, and the movie was almost secondary to all the fun we were having. When we weren't shooting, we would find ways to kill time, like going to Ohio to watch Machine Gun Kelly's show at his music festival. We drove eight hours to get there, stayed for the show, and then drove back in time for a 4am call time. We finished shooting at 6am the day before, got there at 2pm, and then slept a little before the long drive back. It was crazy but so much fun!

Earlier I asked if your family gave you any advice when you were younger. If you could give your younger self one bit of advice, what would it be?
I think my advice would be to follow your instincts and not worry too much about what others say, but maybe that's not the best advice for everyone. For me personally, I struggled with confidence when I was younger and often worried about whether I was doing the right thing or making the right choices for my future. So, if I could go back and give advice to my younger self, I would say to trust your gut and do what feels right for you. In my experience, the jobs that turned out to be the best were the ones where I followed my instincts.

We’re well into 2023, what do you hope to achieve by the end of the year? You know, it could be career wise or personal. Is there anything in particular that springs to mind?
Honestly, I've always wanted to make a photography book, just a compilation of all the photos I've taken. I've been into film photography since I was thirteen and have collected around 4000 photos over the years. So I've been thinking about finally putting it all together in a book or something. That's just what my gut tells me.

I'd love to see it, so actually go through with that.
Well, if I ever make it, I'll send you a copy.

I'd absolutely love that.

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above left: Griffin wears jumper by Luca Faloni and sunglasses by Warby Parker
above right: Griffin wears shirt and jacket by Kenzo and trousers by BR

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above left: Griffin wears shirt by Kenzo, trousers by BR and shoes by Underground
above right: Griffin wears blazer by Dries Van Noten and shirt by Zara

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above left: Griffin wears jacket by Aykut Ozen, vest by Zara, jeans by Acne and necklace by Pyrrha
above right: outfit as before

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above: Griffin wears jumper and trousers by Luca Faloni, sunglasses by Warby Parker and watch by Disney

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above left: Griffin wears jacket by YMC, vintage t-shirt, trousers by Marni and shoes by Comme des Garcons
above right: outfit as before

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above left: Griffin wears jumper and trousers by Luca Faloni, shoes by Underground and watch by Disney
above right: outfit as before

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above left: outfit as before
above right: Griffin wears blazer by Dries Van Noten, ring Griffin's own and bandana by Uncuffed Leather

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above left: Griffin wears blazer and trousers by Dries Van Noten and shirt by Zara
above right: outfit as before

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above left: outfit as before
above right: Griffin wears shirt by Issey Miyake

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above left: outfit as before
above right: Griffin wears blazer and trousers by Dries Van Noten, shirt by Zara and shoes by Underground

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above: Griffin wears shirt and trousers by Issey Miyake and boots by Opening Ceremony

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above left: outfit as before
above right: Griffin wears jacket by Aykut Ozen, vest by Zara, jeans by Acne, shoes by T.u.k, socks by Pair of Thieves and necklace by Pyrrha

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