Noah Centineo on the ‘Absurdity’ of Netflix CIA Show ‘The Recruit’ and Why He’s the ‘Anti-Tom Cruise’

Noah Centineo

You might remember Noah Centineo from his breakout role as the charming and affable Peter Kavinsky in 2018’s “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” Since then, he’s steadily expanded his repertoire, playing a crush-worthy quarterback in “Sierra Burgess is a Loser” and Atom Smasher in DC’s “Black Adam.”

Now Centineo is adding “lawyer” to his résumé with his starring turn in Netflix series “The Recruit,” set to debut on Dec. 16. Created by “The Rookie” showrunner Alexi Hawley and inspired by journalist Adam Ciralsky, who also executive produced the show, “The Recruit” centers on Centineo’s Owen Hendricks, a rookie attorney at the CIA who quickly realizes that if he wants to succeed in the Office of the General Counsel, he must learn how to navigate the complicated, overlapping worlds of law and espionage.

In an interview with Variety, Centineo breaks down what made “The Recruit” stand out to him — and why he thinks of himself as the “anti-Tom Cruise.”

What excited you about the role of Owen Hendricks in “The Recruit”? 

I’ve never seen the CIA portrayed from the lens of a young kid fresh out of school, being recruited to work there as a lawyer. I’ve always seen it from the perspective of operations and spies. This was very fresh and new, and I loved that.

What kind of stunt training or prep work did you have to do? 

Owen Hendricks is not a spy, so he is not trained to fight. The preparation for this role did not require learning to use a gun, learning how to fight. If anything, my lack of experience turns into an asset for the filming, which is funny, because that’s the catchphrase of the entire show. A lot of [preparation] was learning the different terms that a lawyer would use, especially in the Office of the General Counsel at the CIA. 

Did you talk to any lawyers when preparing for the show? 

The person that inspired the show is Adam [Ciralsky]. He’s a journalist, but before he was a journalist, he was a lawyer at the CIA. I was able to ask him as many questions as I could possibly think of and also get these crazy stories that mirror the show. 

Were any of those stories that he told you direct inspiration for what happens in “The Recruit”?  

What happens in the show is not a massive exaggeration by any means. The actual stories that I was told from Adam are in line and in parallel with what happens in the show, which is actually really, really exciting, because when you watch it, you’re going to go, “This is absurd, this is outrageous. There’s no way that this is somewhat mundane, but also extraordinary at the same time.” The absurdity of it is that that is what it’s like, and that’s why it’s so fucking crazy to think about. 

Did you do all your own stunts? 

I like to think of myself as the anti-Tom Cruise. I don’t do all my own stunts. We had this guy, his name is Kenny [Parent] — he’s incredible. He came with us to Vienna, and he and I worked very closely together. I did a lot of the fight scenes that you’ll see. I definitely did some of the masters and some of the close-ups. It was an equal-opportunity relationship. I would like to do as much as I possibly can, but there are some things where even the producers are like, “We don’t want you to do this, because if you do this and you get hurt, then we can’t [film],” and it’s like, “Okay, I don’t do that then.” But it was actually really, really engaging and really fun with Kenny, because Owen is inexperienced and that doesn’t really know how to be cool when he’s fighting. Kenny knows how to fight really cool and fall and hit the ground hard and get up and look like a badass. So for me and Kenny’s work relationship, it was very much like, “Okay, you shouldn’t look so cool, so when you’re running, duck and throw your hands in the air and freak out a little bit.” It adds a little bit of comedy, and it looks a lot more like me. 

In the trailer, we see Owen ordering a White Claw at the bar. What’s your drink of choice? 

It depends, right? Like am I trying to be good? Would I just have a Heineken Zero? And then pretend to drink a beer? Or would I get a triple Long Island Iced tea? I don’t know, it depends what night you’re catching me on, I suppose.

Are there any particular TV shows or films that you’ve watched recently that you’re a really big fan of? 


What about “Severance” stood out to you? 

The cinematography, the way they decided to shoot it. The storyline is so captivating. Ben Stiller as a director is just a monster. The performances are incredibly compelling and suck you in. It’s confusing, you know. It’s a whirlwind. They just drip irrigate information to the audience so slowly, but every single piece of information that you get helps you start to formulate an extraordinarily captivating image of whatever plot you’re heading towards discovering. It’s one of my favorite shows I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I love it so much.

Is there a particular actor that you’ve tried to model your career on? 

When I was younger, I’d be like, “Ashton Kutcher.” Then I got older, and I was like, “Matthew McConaughey.” Now as I’m 26, I’m like, I really, really love Brad Pitt’s career. I just always go back to his role in “True Romance” as that stoner on the couch. There’s not one, I just feel like there’s different examples of incredible ways to tell stories, and I guess I’m just trying to, as I get older, choose mine. 

Things you didn’t know about Noah Centineo

Age: 26 

Birthplace: Boca Raton, Florida 

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