There aren’t many actors who can say that they’ve worked with some of the best in the business. And newcomer Alex Neustaedter is definitely one of the lucky (and extremely talented) ones to earn some entertainment bragging rights when it comes to people he’s already gotten to work with. The young star started acting at the ripe age of five, and we’d have to say that it’s no coincidence that this handsome lad is popping up all over the place these days. If it’s not his role on USA Network’s new series Colony, you can see him starring in a new film called Ithaca alongside acting legends like Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Not too shabby, eh?
Neustaedter went into detail about the role of Bram in USA’s new espionage thriller and doesn’t leave anything out when describing working with a stellar cast, including Lost’s Josh Holloway. What’s in store for this captivating 17-year-old? Read on to find out!
MCKENZIE MORRELL: So to start off, can you tell us a little about the show and about your role in it?
ALEX NEUSTAEDTER: The way we are describing this show is a family espionage thriller with some sci fi but that’s just a bunch of genres. Really it’s a family oriented TV show in this new, occupied LA. It’s really based around family and what you do for your family and the lengths you go to protect your family. It’s set in this crazy world that really could happen if you think about it and that’s why it’s so scary. A lot of the decisions we make our life and death. So that’s what the show’s about. My character, Bram, is 16 years old and what’s so fascinating for me is, when you’re 16, most kids are having fun, in high school, experimenting and doing whatever but in this new world, he can’t do that at all. He has no liberties, really. All his liberties are taken away essentially. He has to rely on his family and trust them to get him through things. He’s a very adventurous young man and very independent as well. In his new occupation, people were controlling him and he goes to lengths to figure out what’s happening. THe character itself is very interesting because he has his own plot right next to the main plot so it’s good writing and a lot of fun to play around with it.
MM: Do you share any personality traits with your character or is there anything really different about you two?
AN: I’d say we do. That’s initially why I liked this character because did have some similarities. I’m a pretty independent guy at times and I like to do things on my own and learn through my mistakes and figure out things on my own. I like being taught but I always like to experiment and that’s exactly what he does. He gets some help but it’s really driven through him and his experiences. That’s one really key thing we have in common. He’s also a very smart guy and it’s really interesting. The only thing we don’t have in common is I’m an only child and he has two siblings. One of his siblings is gone so that’s something I had to experiment with and find out what that’s like.
MM: The show is very action oriented. Were you able to do anything cool while playing Bram?
AN: Yeah, I would say so. I wasn’t really jumping off buildings but we have a lot of running scenes and action-based scenes, not really being shot at but very adventurous. What’s really interesting is the drones and that’s kind of what we always look out for in the show and characters, you know, the drones kind of take on a character of their own and have their own almost personality which is very creepy and scary. That’s kind of one thing we always try to avoid and that adds a lot of action, almost not physical action but action in the mind that you can see. We’re always trying to not get caught and not be seen by these foreign people, whoever they are.
MM: It sounds super exciting and you get to work with folks like Josh Holloway who of course is known for his role on Lost. How is it working with him and the rest of the cast? Were you intimidated at all, working with people who might have been more experienced?
AN: I wouldn’t say I was intimidated. I just wanted to learn from them because they’ve had tremendous success and are fantastic actors. So being able to work with them and learn the nuance, I was just able to soak it up on set and we all have a really good chemistry with each other and all have our own things that we cater to and Josh and I get along really well. We’re both kind of outdoorsmen and we have similar personalities in that aspect. We like to get things done and are very physical. It was a ton of fun, not only working with Josh but Sarah and everyone else. It was really an honor just to be able to see how they work and take something of my own and discuss with them and push each other. It was a blast.
MM: That’s amazing. If you could perfect one skill, be it knife throwing or martial arts or something random, what would it be?
AN: In my life personally? I don’t know. Just an action or something I do?
MM: Is there anything you’d like to take up? Any hobbies?
AN: Outside of acting, I would say either surfing or snowboarding. Those are my two hobbies that I love dearly. I have definitely not perfected both of them so if I could do that, that would be amazing.
MM: You have a wide range of talents from ballet to sports to acting. Do you find yourself gravitating toward one more than the other?
AN: Yeah, I would say acting because I can do it until — I can do it forever, really. It’s the one thing that I’ve always done, for my entire life. I started when I was five or six and it wasn’t really acting for movies, it was just something. I did plays and I’ve never really experienced not having that as a part of my life. I would say acting because it’s something that I root myself in and I know I can never be a professional baseball player or football player but I can work really hard and be able to work professionally as an actor for the rest of my life. For sure acting. It’s also my biggest passion, not just acting but filmmaking in general and storytelling. If I can surround myself with that for the rest of my life, I’ll be happy.
MM: That’s a great mindset to have. This year, you also starred in a film called Ithaca with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. How did that part come about?
AN: I did it through the audition process and I recorded it in the middle of the night with my acting coach and two weeks later, I get a call that Meg wants to meet me and wants me to audition in front of her in New York. So I flew out to New York and auditioned in front of her and one of the producers and I finished the audition and it went really well and an hour later, I was in the hotel lobby eating lunch, and I got a call saying I got the part and Meg wanted to have pie with me the next day. So it was crazy how fast it happened and I was seriously blown away and I was kind of freaking out in this hotel. It was hilarious. People around me were just like “what are you doing?” The next day I had pie with Meg and Janet, the producer and we talked about it. It was so surreal because this is a project that just reading for it, I was passionate about. Anything WW2 oriented I”m passionate about. I had a lot of family who served and it’s an interest of mine, I guess. It was such an honor to be able to work with them, Tom, and Sam Shepherd are absolute legends and to be able to work with them is crazy.
MM: That’s got to be a highlight for sure. Did playing Homer affect you in any way that you didn’t expect it to?
AN: Yeah, I really think it did, actually. It was a surprise to me because I didn’t really notice it until after. The story is kind of a coming of age piece and it really is 100% coming of age from being a boy to becoming the man of the house. Before I auditioned for this part, I was in LA for three years and it was an eye opening awakening that this was my passion and what I need to do for as long as I can. It opened up my perspective and reopened and exploded my passion for filmmaking and being able to do this. People told me, after I finished this, the day I finished the movie, I already grew out of the character and was almost a different person in that perspective. I kind of had a different look on life. It’s difficult to describe but it was almost surreal in that sense. I can’t describe how it affected me in terms of personality or something but it really did change me. Most of it is that I found what I love and when you find what you love, everything changes. That movie, I will never forget it. It really changed my life.
MM: That’s great to hear. Since you have such a passion for TV and movies, if you could be trapped in a TV show for three months, which show would you want to be trapped in?
AN: On right now or ever?
MM: We’ll open it up to everything that has been on?
AN: If I don’t die in it, I would say maybe House of Cards or Breaking Bad. Those are kind of two of my favorite and I’m interested in government so that’d be fun. Breaking Bad just seems like the biggest adrenaline rush ever. Those would be the two.
MM: Those are two awesome shows so I approve of that. Do you have any nerdy guilty pleasures? Do you have a favorite show or superhero movie?
AN: I would say Superman is always kind of my movie. But in terms of guilty pleasures, for some reason I’ve always enjoyed video games so I guess that’s something. Along with sports and all that it’s kind of interesting because I have a lot of jock friends and then I go home and play video games and they’re like “what are you doing?” But, you know..
MM: There’s nothing that says you can’t be nerdy and sporty at the same time.
AN: It’s fun to do it all and see everyone’s experience.
MM: What’s next for you? Can you tell us anything about shovel buddies that’s set to come out next year or anything else you want to let the fans know about?
AN: I think Shovel Buddies will come out next year, I have no idea when. Ithaca is still looking for the right distribution so I’m sure we’re trying to get that out as well, to the right audiences. Shovel Buddies has it’s certain vibe. It’s really great and a cool cast with Bella Thorne. It’s about four friends and one of them passes away and has a death wish, what he wants after he passes and he did pass so we go on this crazy adventure to achieve what he wanted us to do for him. It was a really fun shoot and I think it’ll turn out really well. So that’s one thing. There’s also another movie I finished and I can’t really talk about it yet. They’re going to start talking about it in January but we filmed it in Montana and it’s a very intense and kind of creature-esque and western-esque movie and it’s kind of gone wrong in that sense. I’m in a flashback scene but the flashbacks have very important ties to the main characters. That was fun and we filmed it in Montana and what’s not to love about Montana. Right now, everything else is in pre production. I’m looking forward and trying to find the next right one.
MM: Everything seems amazing. We’re excited to see what 2016 has to offer. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me about everything coming up.
AN: Thank you for doing it. I appreciate it a lot.