- How were you drawn into the world of acting?
I’ve been acting since I was kid. I’ve always loved music, and that drew me, initially, to musical theatre at a pretty young age. From there, I consumed as much theatre, of all kinds, as I could. I learned pretty early on that everything — whether it’s theatre, film, or tv — starts with the quality of the material. As I dug deeper into why I liked some material and didn’t like others, I began to explore writing things on my own. Today, as an actor and a writer, I see how intertwined the two are, it’s all storytelling, which I love.
- Let’s talk about your biggest role to date on Hunters – what was the audition process like?
When I got the material, I knew it was a rare and special opportunity, in terms of the scale of the project and the people I would get to work with, but more importantly in terms of the character I might get to play. I quickly learned Polish in order to do the audition completely in Polish, and I lost as much weight as I could in that short period of time. It was a big swing, but it felt important in a couple ways; it was my only opportunity to have them see me as the character, and it was a way in for me as an actor. I knew I wouldn’t feel right — I wouldn’t feel like Meyer Offerman in that audition if I was fully fed and did it in English.
The audition itself was pretty typical. I went to John Papsidera’s office — he’s the Casting Director for the series — and read the material a couple times, a couple different ways. After an audition, I throw away the sides (the audition scenes) because until I hear otherwise, my job is done. It’s my job to go in and show them what the character looks like on me, and if it doesn’t match what they’re looking for, that’s okay. This time it did. About a week later, I got the call that I had been cast as Young Meyer.
- As a young Polish Jew, how close did you connect to the story?
My grandparents are Holocaust survivors, so I have a deeply personal connection to this story. Their history made it especially important to me to do justice to the role and the horrific circumstances that Meyer Offerman was living through. A big part of that was losing a ton of weight and learning Polish, but more importantly it meant investing myself in going to some pretty dark places emotionally. All of it was challenging, but because of my connection to the story, it felt really important.
- Did you ever have any second thoughts or were you worried on tackling this role?
Honestly, I can’t say that I did. It’s a sensitive subject, and you want to be as respectful as you can, but really it was the job of the writers — who wrote a beautiful series — to manage the larger picture of how we portrayed the concentration camps. I put my trust in them. I did a ton of preparation to play my character as honestly as I could, and then took a leap of faith.
- The show has Jordan Peele as an executive producer – so can we expect more of a Get Out a la Twilight Zone vibe or rather more something like Inglourious Basterds?
I understand those comparisons, for sure, but I would say Hunters is its own thing. In my view, Jordan Peele and Monkeypaw cultivated the desire to say something about the world we’re living in, with a show that takes place in the past. All my scenes are in flashbacks, which are darker, but I guess you could say the 1977 period of the show has a Tarantino-esque vibe. Amidst the violence and the intrigue, the show has a ton of heart.
- Do you borrow inspiration from any previous roles of his?
From Al Pacino’s previous roles? Not really, because I’m not sure he’s ever played a role quite like Meyer Offerman. That’s what makes it so exciting.
- Did you get to actually sit with him and discuss the role?
I wish there had been more time for that. By the time I got on the project, everything was moving pretty fast. I put my trust in the writing to steer us both in the right direction.
- Speaking of which, what was the most challenging aspect of playing Meyer Offerman?
I lost 35 pounds for the role, and I didn’t start with an extra 35 pounds to lose. It’s hard to say that that wasn’t the most challenging part — it was a very challenging thing to maintain, physically, mentally, and emotionally — but the truth is, for me, it wasn’t a choice, I had to do it. And there’s a certain simplicity in that.
- What else is happening next in Zack Schor’s world?
There’s been a lot to do with the show coming and I’m excited for the world to see it. Beyond that, exploring different acting and writing projects. We’ll see what takes off first.