×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Variety and Hamptons International Film Festival Host 10 Actors to Watch Brunch

A quartet of up-and-coming actors talked about breaking in, the struggles with auditions and their most difficult roles at Variety’s annual 10 Actors to Watch panel at the Hamptons International Film Festival. Held Oct. 10 at Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton, the brunch featured actors Christopher Abbott (“James White”), Thomas Mann (“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”), Bel Powley (“The Diary of a Teenage Girl”) and Keith Stanfield (“Selma”) and was moderated by Variety editor Jenelle Riley. Special guests in attendance included chef Bobby Flay and Oscar winner Morgan Freeman.

Asked when they first fell in love with acting, many of the actors revealed they started out doing plays in school. “I did ‘Shrek’ in sixth grade,” said Powely. “All the girls in my class auditioned for Princess Fiona, but I decided I wanted to play the donkey.” Powley added that she didn’t originally want to be an actor: “I wanted to be the Prime Minister.”

Stanfield began taking acting classes in high school, and noted, “That was the only class I got anything above a D. In fact, I got an A and it was the only class I liked.” He said that he had no idea where to begin an acting career, and actually Googled “actory stuff.”

Stanfield got his break in the indie “Short Term 12,” and recalled the moment he realized the film was going to have an impact. “I had a lady who was my manager at the time and she started talking about the money she was going to take,” he said. “Then I realized it was getting real and I was utterly terrified.”

All the actors agreed the audition process feels unnatural. “I got a note at an audition once and my own ego kicked in,” Abbott recalled. “The note was, ‘He was not of this world.’ I took that as a compliment like, ‘He was out of this world.’ I soon realized it was more like, ‘We don’t know what he was doing.’”

The actors all made their breakthroughs in independent films, but are starting to move on to bigger-budget pictures. Mann is about to shoot “Kong: Skull Island” after he earned raves for the Sundance hit “Me and Earl.” He noted the difference between indies and studio films: “You try to approach the material the exact same way, but just the experience of shooting is different. It’s a much larger crew, it’s less intimate and you’ll shoot a page a day, as opposed to ‘Me and Earl,’ where you’re shooting 16 pages a day.”

Stanfield says the biggest difference between an indie like “Short Term 12” and a studio film like “Straight Outta Compton” was that “the food was good!” He added, “When I did ‘Purge: Anarchy,’ it was the first big-budget film and I walked into the trailer and was like, ‘Damn, this is better than my house!’”

When asked about their most difficult roles to date, most actors cited their most recent films. Of “Diary of a Teenage Girl,” Powley said, “It was my first leading role on screen and pretty much every other line is mine. It kind of felt like doing a play for 25 days. It was also laying everything bare, physically and mentally. I’d never been nude in a movie, never done sex scenes. We shot sex scenes for a whole week.”

Stanfield said playing Snoop Dogg in “Compton” was hard only because he found out at 10 p.m. he landed the role and was needed on set at 5 a.m. He later got to meet his alter ego. “I met him at the premiere. He was in this big cloud of smoke,” Stanfield said with a laugh. Asked what Snoop Dogg thought of his turn, Stanfield recalled, “What did he say? ‘Great job nephew, or something like that.’”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Mindy Kaling Constance Wu

    Mindy Kaling, Constance Wu on Working With Women Directors: 'Nothing Felt Exploitative'

    Constance Wu (“Hustlers”) and Mindy Kaling (“Late Night”) discussed the importance of women directors during a conversation for “Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.” Kaling began the interview by acknowledging how having female directors on “Hustlers” and “Late Night” benefited the films. “[‘Hustlers’ director Lorene Scafaria] doesn’t come from a place of, ‘Oh, let’s humanize this [...]

  • Mindy Kaling Actors on Actors

    Why Mindy Kaling Turned to Social Media to Find the Lead of Her Netflix Series

    Constance Wu (“Hustlers”) and Mindy Kaling (“Late Night”) explained how the internet helped expand the casting pool for their projects during a conversation for “Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.” Wu began the interview: “When I did ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and they were looking for actors, it was crazy how many people said, ‘Well, there are [...]

  • Christian Bale and Matt Damon in

    Box Office: 'Ford v Ferrari' Races to First Place, 'Charlie's Angels' Collapses

    “Ford v Ferrari” left its box office competitors in the dust as the historical sports drama from Disney and 20th Century Fox sped its way to $31 million in North America. Directed by James Mangold and starring Christian Bale and Matt Damon, “Ford v Ferrari” debuted ahead of expectations, thanks to strong word-of-mouth from moviegoers. [...]

  • In ‘Motherless Brooklyn,’ Edward Norton Takes

    In 'Motherless Brooklyn,' Edward Norton Takes on Timeless Power Struggles

    In Edward Norton’s “Motherless Brooklyn,” the ‘50s-set New York noir detective story he produced, directed, wrote and stars in, politics are never far from the surface. But they’re not the obvious parallels to any racist autocrats from New York of modern times, but instead focus on more timeless politics – the way disabled people and [...]

  • Gods of Mexico

    'Twentieth Century,' 'Dove and the Wolf,' 'Hurricane Season' Win Los Cabos Festival

    LOS CABOS  —  “The Twentieth Century,” Matthew Rankin’s crazed retelling of Canadian history, won the main Los Cabos Competition this Saturday, beating out a prestige lineup of some of the most notable festival standouts of the year. The win at Los Cabos, whose competition is focused on movies from the U.S., Mexico and Canada, adds [...]

  • 'Joker' Cinematographer Lawrence Sher Wins at

    'Joker' Cinematographer Lawrence Sher Wins at EnergaCamerimage Film Festival

    “Joker” cinematographer Lawrence Sher’s bid, along with director Todd Phillips, to try something “perhaps even a bit artful” won big Saturday in Torun, Poland as he took the top prize at the EnergaCamerimage Intl. Film Festival. The Golden Frog for cinematography, along with the audience prize, went to his work filming Joaquin Phoenix in the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content