With roles in TV series such as American Horror Story, a few years ago Nolan Gross was cast in Noah where he played the role of the younger version of Logan Lerman’s character Ham and also starred in Any Day as Jimmy alongside Eva Longoria and Sean Bean. Nolan enjoys uploading videos to his self-titled YouTube channel and has worked with popular sport brand Nike in recent years. Chatting to the multi-talented actor recently, he tells us about filming for Any Day, working with Nike and his future career plans.
How was the experience working on Any Day alongside Eva Longoria and Sean Bean and what do you remember from your time on set?
My experience working on Any Day was eye-opening. Working alongside three great actors such as Sean Bean, Eva Longoria and Kate Walsh was such an excellent learning opportunity for me. Most of my scenes on set were either with Sean, Kate and I or me with each of them separately. I remember most of the relationships were established throughout the movie. The more we got to know each other, all the scenes were better and more authentic that we shot together.
Can you tell us about your character Jimmy and what would you say was the most challenging part of playing this role?
My character Jimmy is super optimistic and sweet. He wants to know everything about his Uncle Vian, who is an ex-boxer that just got out of prison and is trying to get his life back together. Jimmy looks up to Vian because he is a boxer and Jimmy gets picked on often. My character is super bold but super young and innocent at the same time. I start out as a young kid but eventually start maturing as the movie progresses. The most challenging part of playing the role was probably when I had to learn how to punch the right way on a punching bag. Those things are really hard and it did hurt to hit it the wrong way. The director wanted it to look authentic and brought in a boxing coach to teach me how to hit it the correct way.
How did you feel when watching the completed film for the first time?
I felt so excited and grateful that I got to be in the film. I remember watching it with my family and cast members at a small theatre. It was one of the first movies I was in that I was one of the leading roles, so seeing myself on the screen for a significant amount of time, was pretty crazy. It was cool to understand the process of shooting the movie for a few weeks, going through ADR and the anticipation, it was so sweet.
Had you seen American Horror Story before appearing in an episode as Young Johnny?
I had seen a few episodes of American Horror Story before this, but I was a little young at the time, so I hadn’t watched a full season. Nowadays, everyone that watches American Horror Story recognises me even though I’m so young in it. The other day actually, I was in the car with my friend and his brother said, “Dude! I saw you in American Horror Story when I was watching it the other day”. It’s crazy that the one scene I was in, people can still remember it.
What was your episode like to film and how rewarding did it feel when booking the role on such a popular TV series?
The episode was really different to film. I had never worked on a set stage, so they didn’t have to set up a whole scene because it was already set up. It wasn’t on an indoor sound stage, it was outdoor. It was like if you go on one of the Universal Studios tours and you see the fake buildings that look real… this was that. I got beat up by this guy, but then I got to stand up to him, which was a twist. Whenever I get a gig, it feels rewarding. I put my best foot forward, and because of this, I feel like my work has paid off, so when I booked this role, it was the same feeling. After I auditioned, I walked out of the room and told my dad, I got that. I knew… I had a feeling. I didn’t know at the time how big of a role it was at such a crucial part of that season.
Can you tell us about the short film PUSH and your character Sev?
The short film PUSH was directed by the fantastic Justine Bateman. When I walked out of that audition, I knew I had gotten the role. Justine and I clicked while we were doing the scene and that’s why I felt like I got the role. In PUSH, my character Sev is going through a tough time at home with his mom navigating her love life and when he meets a pregnant woman, he feels like he sees a glimmer of light in someone that is older and can help him out. But the twist is that she was having a hard time herself and so they both gave each other a little boost.
How long were you filming for All Summers End and how much did you know about Eric before auditioning for the role?
I filmed All Summers End for only one day, it was a flashback scene and before auditioning, I knew nothing about the script. When I saw the movie for the first time, it was at the end of 2018, and I was watching it with my friend. We both looked at each other and took a closer look at the TV because it didn’t look like me at all because it had been filmed so long ago and took a long time to come out. It was actually supposed to be called Grass Stains when I was filming it.
Where did you film for your role of Young Ham in Noah?
I filmed for seven weeks in Iceland and then for three weeks in New York. In Iceland, the kids had to stay closest to the shooting areas, so we got to move around a lot. We visited all different locations and cities throughout Iceland which was super cool to get to experience all different scenery. There were some really crazy parts about Iceland – like eating whale, going to the Blue Lagoon, seeing soccer games, all of the scenery and of course, shooting the movie!
Who did you get chance to work alongside in this role?
I got to work alongside Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly. They were my parents in the movie, but when I eventually grow older, that part was played by Logan Lerman. I didn’t get to work alongside Logan because he’s the older version of me, but it was super cool to meet him and have the interactions that we had. For this being my first movie at such a young age, it was a dream come true for this cast to be the first one that I got to work with.
How did you prepare for this job and how would you describe Ham?
I prepared for this job by reading the script three times through and noting all the different interactions and emotions that could help me play my character even better. Getting to know the other characters in the story really helped develop my understanding for my character Ham. He’s an innocent kid who wants to learn everything and is very curious about the things that are happening in this world of change. Even though he’s a young boy at the time, he really makes an impact on his family.
You’ve most recently appeared in Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot; how long were you on set for?
I was only on set for one day. Even though it was one day, it was still such an excellent experience to be on a set like that with some pristine actors and also kids my age that I got to connect with.
Can you tell us about your YouTube channel?
I love creating and my YouTube channel has given me a place to display that. My YouTube channel revolves around fashion, vlogs, concerts and anything that I’m doing that I would love for people to experience with me. When I started my YouTube channel in seventh grade, I got a phone to shoot these videos on. I did it because if I posted once a week, my dad would let me keep my phone. He did this because my school at the time had no homework and I wasn’t motivated to keep a deadline. Over the years, I upgraded from camera to camera and now shoot on a Sony a7s and I love making videos more than ever. I have spent hours editing, trying to make the content 1000x better than it used to be and I am starting to post the material that I would like to watch instead of just doing it for someone else.
How was the experience working with Nike?
My experience working with Nike was terrific. I had modelled for them in the past but eventually grew out of their sample sizes. This time working for them I got to direct a commercial and it was something new for me. I got to learn a ton about directing and producing a project like this in a short amount of time. I was super stoked on the outcome of the video because artistically and aesthetically, it was my vision coming to life.
When did you get into acting and music?
I got into acting up when I was seven years old, I knew I wanted to do this since a young age because I used to watch Shake It Up on Disney Channel and I wanted to be on it. My family moved back to LA to pursue acting and when we did, more and more opportunities started to come into play. For music, I’ve always been into listening to music since I was a little kid. I started listening to the Jonas Brothers, moved to Justin Bieber, then to Macklemore and eventually, it has evolved into something way more significant than that. Last year on Spotify it said I listened to forty-two hours of music; hopefully that gives you an indication of how much I like it. My music taste ranges from rap, alternative, pop, R&B, I’m into any music honestly… maybe not rock, sorry! I also listened to my favourite band LANY so much that I got invited to their private fifty people Spotify listening party for their new album. CRAZY! This year will be my third year attending Coachella, and it’s one of my favourite times of the year. I recently got more into making music when I started learning the piano and learning that I had an ear for making beats. It’s just at the start right now, and I know that I’m not going to put any music out until I see that it’s quality and it’s ready to be put out.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
In my free time, I love any form of creating. I’m taking a photography class right now and I was taking an animation class before that. I love painting and anything that’s creative. Also, I live right by the beach so I love going down to the water, plus going to the gym. I graduated high school early, so I am getting a head start on the things I want to pursue in life. Most of the time, the things that I’m doing don’t even feel like work because it’s the work that I have sought and I genuinely enjoy.
What are your music and future acting plans?
My plans for acting and music in the future include training, dedication, and staying persistent with what I love. I am currently training with Marjorie Ballentine for acting and that has changed the way I look at it. She’s showed me a whole different side of acting, which has reignited my love for the craft. While getting older as an actor, at times, I wanted to quit. Learning from her, I got the fire for acting back more than ever. For music, I’m just going to keep making beats and growing. Also, meeting people and trying to get in the right places that’ll help me bring out the love and drive I have for music.
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