Blake Draper

📷 : Josh Rountos

In the Disney Channel and Disney+ feature film Prom Pact, Blake Draper stars as one of the lead characters – popular school basketball captain Graham Lansing – opposite Peyton Elizabeth Lee as Mandy Yang and Milo Manheim as Ben Plunkett. Prom Pact was directed by Anya Adams, and Blake attended this year’s film premiere, reuniting with some of his fellow cast members. Since Blake booked his first professional job as Gus Martinez in Australian soap Neighbours, he has played regular character Julius in Bad Mothers, Michael Hastings in an episode of Netflix’s Clickbait, and he voiced Thomas in the Audible Original series The Orchard. Blake answered our questions about starring in Prom Pact as Graham Lansing, filming as Julius in Bad Mothers and booking his first job in Neighbours.

Can you tell us about the new Disney film Prom Pact and about your character Graham Lansing?

Prom Pact follows Mandy Yang (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) in her final year of high school. Her dream is to be accepted into Harvard but when she is waitlisted, she has to come up with a plan to get in. She decides to tutor the all-star jock Graham Lansing (me, hehe), a person who on the surface represents everything Mandy despises. As they get to know each other, Mandy realises that people aren’t always as they seem and maybe there’s more to life than Harvard. As mentioned, Graham Lansing is the role I play. Graham is the most popular boy in school, he’s the basketball captain that can do no wrong. One of my favourite things about Prom Pact is how the audiences’ expectations are constantly subverted. Graham is initially viewed as the classic jock archetype, which is a staple of the genre. As the film unfolds, you start to learn more about him, his life, desires and see that he is so much more complex than once deemed.

Was there anything that drew you to the role of Graham and what is he like to play?

Graham is an incredibly fun and rewarding character to play. The biggest thing that drew me to him and subsequently this film was how he felt like a human, not a cardboard cutout. He was complex and rich with emotions that really aren’t usually seen in your everyday romcom and that was so fun to dive into.

Do you remember how you felt finding out you’d booked the role and how was it reading the script for the first time?

I do indeed. I was obviously overjoyed by the news and couldn’t contain my excitement. I think I was also extremely relieved. It can be pretty unnerving to audition, wait, audition, wait, audition, wait over and over but I managed to keep the faith and confidence through the process. The first time reading the script was during this process and I knew immediately after the first 10 pages that I had to be involved.

What was it like filming alongside a cast including Peyton Elizabeth Lee and Milo Manheim, and being directed by Anya Adams?

It was an absolute dream. I’ve said it many times but I adore Peyton and Milo, they made my experience on this film what it was and I’ll be forever grateful for that. There was never a dull moment. To be directed by Anya Adams was brilliant. She’s so forward and strong in her direction and ideas that it made filming very comfortable for me. She was the fearless captain of the ship that had my back and I could always rely on.

📷 : Josh Rountos

How did you find the experience on set of the film and what did you enjoy most about being part of a Disney release?

The experience of making Prom Pact is one of my most cherished. Every day was filled with joy and laughter which really elevated the film. It subsequently has so many authentic and beautiful moments that you can’t really manufacture. To be part of a Disney film is so unbelievably surreal to me, it’s always been a dream of mine. What once seemed unattainable has now become reality.

What are some of your favourite memories from your time filming for Prom Pact?

Every day on set was jam-packed with hilarious stories and good fun. I think a favourite memory of mine was watching Deal or No Deal with Peyton and Milo during lunch. I initially scoffed at the show having never seen it before but soon became absolutely enthralled with it. I was completely hooked and invested like never before. The commotion watching that with Milo and Peyton was unreal.

How was it attending the film’s premiere and seeing the finished version of the film?

The premiere felt like a dream. It still doesn’t feel quite real. To be at a premiere for a film, let alone a film I starred in, was terrific. It wasn’t the first time that I saw the completed film but it was the first time seeing it with an audience. I wasn’t nervous until I sat down in my seat. It was pretty frightening for the first five minutes but after hearing the laughs, I started to ease up a bit.

Who do you think will enjoy watching Prom Pact and how does it feel now the film is released on Disney Channel and Disney+?

I really think Prom Pact is a film that can be enjoyed by anyone. I think the throwbacks and tone will have a strong impact on the adult audience as it is so reminiscent of the classic romcoms of the past while also speaking to the younger audience in regards to its morals and message. I feel incredibly proud now that it has been released into the world. The response thus far has been so overwhelmingly positive, more than I initially anticipated so it feels wonderful.

📷 : Josh Rountos

You voiced the role of Thomas in the Audible Original series The Orchard, what was this like to work on?

Ooh, deep cut! That was an incredibly different yet fun experience. It was my first time doing voice work, which was kind of liberating. It’s strange to act when there’s really no stimuli around you but that’s when the imagination starts to work overtime.

How was it playing Michael Hastings in an episode of Clickbait for Netflix?

Playing Michael was a great time. It’s always pleasurable to play the bad guy. I was only in a few scenes but that experience turned out to be quite fruitful. I met a plethora of amazing people on that show that I’m still in contact with to this day. It was an honour to be a small part of that story.

In 2019, you played Julius in the Australian drama series Bad Mothers, can you tell us about this?

Julius in Bad Mothers was, in a way, my first sort of juicy role. I learnt so much making that show that I still hold close today. It was great to be part of a series where I had an arc that spanned throughout a season rather than just an episode or two. I think my biggest takeaway from Bad Mothers was my time working with Don Hany. He was unbelievably kind and generous as an actor and person, I strive to try and be the same in everyday life and on set.

What do you remember most from filming as Gus Martinez in Neighbours?

I think I remember the sheer excitement the most. It was my first job that I booked and I felt like such a hot shot. Neighbours is such a cultural staple in Australian history so it was such a privilege to be involved. That first day of filming Neighbours is so engrained into my brain, I’ll never forget it.

Where does your love of acting come from and how did you get into it?

I always had a strong love for film as a child but I didn’t know I wanted to be an actor until I was cast in my primary school’s production of Aladdin. That rush of adrenaline and creativity, being able to express myself freely on stage stuck with me and I’ve never looked back.

What are some of your favourite films and TV shows to watch and how do you like to spend your time away from your career?

I’m constantly devouring film and television. It’s always been a comfort for me but now it’s a great way to learn more and appreciate the craft of acting and filmmaking. I recently started binging It’s Always Sunny along with Succession (a weird duo, I know). Both are such masterclasses in regards to comedic and dramatic acting. I think film-wise, the films that have stuck with me the most during my recent viewings would be Good Time (2017) and Three Colours: Blue (1993). They’re just fantastic.

Have you been given any advice over your time as an actor so far that has stuck with you?

I think a favourite of mine I was told was to not forget how weird I am. I think when cast as the heartthrob jock in a film, it’s easy to stay in that realm of comfortability, but a reminder is needed here and there to go out of that comfort zone and not be afraid to express myself in all types of projects. I adore all the characters I’ve had the pleasure of playing thus far, and I can’t wait to keep exploring new ones, extending my mind and soul.

Do you have any projects coming up that you can tell us about and what are you hoping 2023 brings for you?

Nothing I can reveal as of yet but I anticipate that some fun surprises are around the corner. I’m hoping that the rest of 2023 brings happiness and good health to my loved ones and some more jobs for me!

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Categories: Film & TV, home, Interview

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