From performing his first lines on TV in sign language, to playing a future evil dictator whose worldviews are completely warped by an immortal madman, Cory Grüter-Andrew sure does know how to make an entrance in the entertainment world. The Canadian-born actor has become well-known for his roles on The CW’s The 100 and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and burst onto The 100 scene as Aden, a young Nightblood in Polis trained and groomed to take the throne in Polis once his Commander met her demise.
The most promising of Lexa’s novitiates, Aden was cunning, cutthroat and caring. Unfortunately, after a stray bullet took the life of our beloved Heda, the conclave began and Aden quickly found himself in a bloody predicament. Rogue Nightblood Ontari (Rhiannon Fish) returned to Polis determined to claim what was hers and slaughtered each Nightbleeder with a vengeance. His short time spent in this post apocalyptic world did not go unnoticed as fans flocked to him on social media expressing their love of his character.
Even at such a tender age, Grüter-Andrew excels at captivating audiences with each project he takes on, and spoke eloquently about his time on set. He even shared an exclusive tidbit with NoWhiteNoise that is sure to make any Legends of Tomorrow and The 100 fan geek out over. From working with The 100 co-star Alycia Debnam-Carey to shaving his head for a challenging movie about cancer, this rising star spared no detail when we recently chatted about his developing career.
MCKENZIE MORRELL: The story of how you got into this business is pretty wild, you went to a week-long acting camp over the summer that lead to enrolling in a class for professional actors– and shortly after landed a role after your first audition, what was that whole experience like? I’m sure it all happened so fast and was super exciting?
CORY GRÜTER-ANDREW: Yeah, it was crazy that I actually landed my first TV and film audition, which was Fargo, that was pretty crazy because it was really fast paced. I got an agent in the first four months of the TV and film acting classes. It was also pretty good timing because they were having an open casting call then.
MM: Right? It all just kind of fell into place. In terms of Fargo, you performed sign language during that role, was that difficult to learn or pick up? Or was it daunting to have that as your first role?
CGA: It was actually really exciting for me, because I was like ‘wow, this is something that I’m definitely gonna remember.’ My first lines on TV were in sign language. The other kid that I was on set with named Artem [Fomitchev], nice guy, he was actually fluent in sign language. His mom taught sign language so she was able to help me out with the lines a little bit.
MM: Well, that’s good. It’ll definitely be something you’ll remember for the rest of your life and definitely people will remember for your career. I think that’s pretty exciting. Obviously, you’ve become widely known in The 100 fandom as Aden, one of the Nightbloods in Polis. We were very sad to see you go, but in terms of when you got the role, did you do any research? Watch any episodes or anything like that?
CGA: I have actually been a fan of The 100 since the pilot.
MM: Oh wow! That’s awesome!
CGA: I was jumping for joy when I got this role. I was like ‘wow, I’m going to be able to work with all of these people that I love, yay!’
MM: That’s so amazing. And now, since you were a fan of the show, did you have a character that you really enjoyed or someone that you would have loved to go in and work alongside?
CGA: The person that I would have liked to have worked with a bit more, I mean I got to work with Alycia a lot, which was awesome. She’s a great actress! But one of the people that I would have liked to work with a lot more is Bob Morley, the guy who plays Bellamy.
MM: Ya never know, that might happen. We could cross our fingers that maybe you pop back up in future seasons.
CGA: [Laughs] yeah.
MM: You mentioned working with Alycia. That Nightblood training session with Lexa was pretty great. How was it sparring with her, it looked like hard work, but a lot of fun!
CGA: Yeah, it was a lot of work and it was also a lot of fun, yes. The sparring session was good because, a couple weeks before we went into the studio with the stunt coordinator, he showed us everything. And then we kind of just reviewed it in the field before the actual shooting. During the actual shooting, it was really fun because in between takes we’d just play around with them.
MM: It’s like every kid’s dream, right? I would even love doing that [laughs]. Is that something that you’d like to pursue as you take on some new roles, have an action element to it?
CGA: Yes! I find shows and books about survival and stuff like that a lot more, to me, are a lot more interesting than shows about lawyers, or business executives and that. I would love to have more of an action genre goal.
MM: I’m right there with ya, it’s right up my alley as well. Obviously, if Aden had survived Ontari’s wrath and became the next Commander, do you think he would have risen to the occasion and fulfilled his promise to Lexa to protect Clarke (Eliza Taylor) and her people?
CGA: Yeah, absolutely. Because a promise coming from his Commander is very meaningful to him and I think he definitely would have tried his best to stabilize the alliance between Arkadia and the other 12 clans.
MM: Of course, would you say Aden saw Lexa as more of a mother figure or perhaps big sister? I know the fans said that they envisioned a family dynamic between your character, Lexa and even Clarke.
CGA: Because the Nightbloods are taken from their villages to go train at Polis, he didn’t really have a mother, I don’t think. He was taken at such a young age, maybe 3 or 4, so Lexa was definitely the closest thing he’s ever had to a mother. I think there was definitely more than a teacher/student relationship there. There was a family connection, too.
MM: The fans have pointed out a pretty interesting fact, that your character on Legends of Tomorrow used the same dagger to kill his father that Lexa regularly used on The 100. How fun of a coincidence is that? Aden got the torch passed to him after all. [Laughs]
CGA: I’m not quite sure, I must not have as good of an eye as many of the fans [laughs]. But, I might have to go and look back at that and check it out.
MM: Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. I think people were elated to see a little bit of Aden live on on another CW show. But, if you were trying to survive in a post apocalyptic world, what would be your weapon of choice?
CGA: I think I would love to use a bow and arrow. That would be pretty cool, because then you’re at a safe distance.
MM: Brilliant! It’s also probably easier to make arrows versus trying to make bullets or mold something out of steel and metal.
MM: Good thinking. Good thinking. And your episode of Legends of Tomorrow just aired, you played a super-villain in the making. Per Degaton goes through this extreme transformation in a short period of time, what was the best thing about playing this character from the DC comics?
CGA: I love comic books, as a person, but the best thing about playing him was that was such an unusual character that I would get to play. Usually I might just play a kid playing baseball. But now, actually Aden and Per Degaton are both quite unusual. Now I get to play this future evil dictator that has these worldviews completely warped by an immortal madman.
MM: Now, do you prefer playing the good guy or the bad guy?
CGA: I like them both a lot, but if I had to pick one I would say the good guy. Just because then people aren’t making comments, like “I want to kill this kid.”
MM: Yeah, the fans can be a bit overzealous and take it to heart if the character is doing bad things, but critics and fans have already been praising you for your role on Legends of Tomorrow, despite his bad nature and being compared to baby Hitler. What’s it like getting that positive feedback for your work? Have you been getting on social media to see what people are saying?
CGA: Yeah, I’ve been very interested in what people have to say. I see almost every tweet that people comment my name in and the fan response is great.
MM: Are you ever hesitant to look at what people are saying in the reviews? Do you think that discourages you?
CGA: I’m not hesitant about it, because if someone says something bad about me I’m just kind of like “oh, okay. That person has an opinion.” That’s fine.
MM: That is true. Do you have any advice for any of the younger fans who look up to you, and want to start a career in acting?
CGA: Don’t do anything stupid on social media.
CGA: That is like the number one.
MM: That is a wise piece of advice there.
CGA: And keep going at it. If you don’t get your first audition, don’t be upset. There’s definitely going to be another.
MM: That’s pretty solid advice, I think those two pieces are essential to moving forward. A question I ask all of my interviewees has to do with donuts. If you could invent your own donut based on your personality, what kind would it be and what toppings would be on it?
CGA: Oh, I love donuts.
MM: Right? They’re the best!
CGA: A meat lovers pizza donut.
MM: Okay! That’s the first of that I’ve ever gotten. You get food and dessert at the same time, I like the way you think.
CGA: Same time!
MM: Are there any random facts about you that the fans might not know about that you’d like to share?
CGA: Let’s see, oh! Every set that I go to I collect a little piece of memorabilia. So from The 100, I have, you know the pill that people take to go to the City of Light?
CGA: I have a replica of that, and then from Legends, if you see how everybody in the robotics industry, they’re all wearing a small piece of red cloth somewhere on them. For me it was on my neck and I asked costumes and they were like ‘yeah! Sure, it’s a piece of red cloth, why not?’
MM: That’s pretty unique, though. To have a little piece of something that you’ve worked on. That’s a pretty cool tidbit. And now, I heard you shaved your head to play a pretty challenging role, can you tell us about that project This Is Your Death and perhaps a little bit about Elliot, the character you play?
CGA: Elliot is a 12-year-old cancer patient who has a strong connection with this nurse. It’s not just ‘oh, hi nurse’ and ‘thanks.’ They get into conversations and they talk about their lives and how everything’s going. Elliot has a strong relationship with this nurse and it definitely influences the different choices that are made throughout the movie.
MM: Did you find it hard to play that type of role? Did you ever feel pressure to live up to such a heavy topic?
CGA: Not really. I actually connected to the character, it was really easy for me, but also sad because I related the character to an old friend I used to have who had leukemia. Sadly, he passed away but I definitely saw a similarity between the two.
MM: At least you were able to connect to it, and I’m sure that the character that you portray is going to be phenomenal on screen, so we’re excited to see that. And I guess, lastly, do you have any message to the fans who have hopped on the train and are eager to see you in new things?
CGA: I’d love to thank them. They’re a very warming, and welcoming in the community and it’s wonderful. And definitely wait and find out, I would definitely announce it on my Twitter when I can say that I’m going to be showing up in other things.
MM: Wonderful. We’re looking forward to seeing what’s in store for you! Thanks for taking the time to chat, Cory.
CGA: Oh no, thank you!
Catch up with Cory on Twitter: @CoryGruter