Luke Bracey on fragrance, Hollywood and working with Selena Gomez
It's always a risk interviewing actors and comparing them to other successful Aussies, like the Hemsworth brothers. Or bringing up an one of their old movies, even if it happens to star fangirl-baiting talent such as Selena Gomez and Leighton Meester. But it's a credit to how unchanged Luke Bracey is by Hollywood, that when I do both during our interview, it only raises a smile. The Point Break and Hacksaw Ridge star, fresh from being announced as the newest face of Ralph Lauren's Polo Red fragrances, is every inch the leading man. Handsome, articulate and refreshingly humble, he possesses the exact dosage of rugged masculinity needed to front a Ralph Lauren fragrance campaign.
And thanks to a slew of exciting and diverse film projects, he could very well the next Hemsworth-esque success story. Returning to his hometown Sydney last week to launch the campaign, the former Home and Away star chatted with Yeong Sassall about his bright future.
What was it like shooting the Polo Ralph Lauren campaign?
It was great. You know, it's so different to a movie. I'm used to having a script, a character and words. The freedom that was involved in this campaign was amazing. It's a little nerve wracking, to let yourself go that way, and try and be open, and try and really give yourself to the camera without that safety net of a character. It was like, "Okay. We'll just run with what we feel." That was something that I loved about ut. It was exciting to try this thing that I'd never tried before.
Is this the first modelling campaign you've done?
Yeah it is. When I started acting it was one of those things that I never wanted to say out loud in case I jinxed it, but I've really always wanted to be involved in a fragrance campaign. I love smell, it's the one luxury item I would treat myself to. I love the idea of it adding to peoples' lives; and adding to their confidence. It doesn't change who you are as a person, it allows you to be who you are. To be a part of that is a really positive thing.
I feel so lucky that I got to be a part of this, and more importantly, to be a face for the brand. I really connect to it more than any other brand. I think Ralph Lauren has this ability to meld elegance and masculinity in a way that no one else can and to really kind of construct that idea of man in a really beautiful way.
Did you come away with like a newfound appreciation for how hard it is to model?
Yeah! And also that idea, you think you know what you look like in your head and you think it's going well, but the idea of shapes and portraying stuff silently is really interesting. And using body language has been really, really interesting too. It was a challenge.
What are you working at the moment movie-wise?
I just finished a job a couple weeks ago in Toronto for a movie called Lucky Day. It was written and directed by Roger Avary. He co-wrote Reservoir Dogs, and co-wrote Pulp Fiction; won the Oscar for that. Co-wrote True Romance, he wrote and direct a movie called Killing Zoe, which is great. Another one, Rules of Attraction, from the Bret Easton Elis book... he's just such a talent - and the nicest guy in the world.
It's really going be right in that Pulp Fiction, True Romance, Killing Zoe kind of universe. Very, very funny and ultra-violent and the adult fairytale that we love to see. I'm really proud of it. And then I'm just starting to prep for shooting a movie here in Australia at the end March. It's called Poacher and it's about abalone poachers in Tasmania. It's kind of like a gangster movie but instead of drugs, the drugs are abalone. I think it's going to be amazing. Kriv Stenders, who directed Red Dog, is doing it.
Your first movie was [Monte Carlo] with Selena Gomez. What was that experience like?
It was great. It was a pretty "whoa" moment. We started in Budapest for a few weeks, then we went to Paris. I remember one day where we were filming on the Eiffel Tower at sunrise. There was no one there. It was just amazing and then after that we went to lunch in this beautiful restaurant. It was Selena, Leighton [Meester], and Katie [Cassidy], and all the people that are in the film, and I remember coming out, and it was] the first time I'd seen paparazzi.
It was kind of crazy. To get in the car and drive back to your hotel and have people on mopeds following you with cameras. It was pretty hectic. I remember it was just before Selena turned 18. She'd turned 18 I think, after we'd finished filming, so to see a 17 year old handle that was just very impressive. She was really sincere. She was working so hard making a movie where she's playing two characters, then recording an album, and filming music videos on the weekend. It was kind of mind blowing to see how motivated and how strong she was. Lovely girl.
Do you think you could handle that kind of fame?
No, I think that's something that must be kind of tough to do. That pressure, that expectation, that kind of scrutiny is something that I think is unfair on anyone. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. But, I think if you come to that, if you've had success, then you've affected people's lives. So in a way it's a very positive thing. If you've created art or moments that people have responded to and that really enjoy it, that's the part that comes with it.
You seem to have kind of done a few action movies. Is that something you are attracted to?
It's kind of how it's gone, I've been lucky. As you say, there's been a couple action movies like November Man, Point Break and Hacksaw Ridge. It's something I love. I grew up playing so many sports - surfing and footie all the time - everything I did was really physical. I actually wanted to be a professional rugby player and so that aspect of it I really enjoy. But, being an actor... it's much easier pretending to be a tough guy! [laughs]. And I get paid more.
I enjoy watching all different types of movies and I've been lucky to have that kind of range. I think it'll keep going that way. I've just been open to things that have come my way and said "Yes" to a lot things and I'm not really worried about what it's going to look like and all that. If it's been a cool opportunity, I've just grabbed it with both hands.
I guess sometimes it's out of your hands. You can have all the right elements with a film but it just doesn't...there's so many different variables that go into how the product ends up.
Exactly! And you can worry a bit too much. Putting yourself out there on camera is kind of terrifying in that way. You really are leaving it up to a lot of other people. It is one of those things where you just hold your breath and dive in.
How was the experience of going from Home and Away, then to a big-budget movie like Monte Carlo, and then settling in LA? Was it a culture shock?
Yeah, it was and also I was pretty young. I think I'd just turned 20 when I went over and did Monte Carlo, and then I moved to Los Angeles after that. My first night in Los Angeles I remember being in this hotel in West Hollywood, sitting there with a bottle of Jack Daniels having couple of sips like, "Okay. What am I doing here? City's huge! I don't know anything and I have no idea - I don't know anyone." For me, I took those first few years there as my university. I was lucky enough to get Monte Carlo and that's an invite to the town. And I was really lucky that I got that half invite and went straight into meetings with agents and stuff.
How do you detach or from all the Hollywood stuff?
I guess because growing up it was never my be all and end all desire. I never thought of doing this. So, I was lucky that when I'd found it, I found it in a really pure way. I just love doing the work. I love preparing for a movie and I love shooting a movie, and then all that other stuff is a little difficult.
I like hanging out with my friends and family, and keeping it quiet, and so I was lucky that I didn't have that real need to go out and live a Hollywood, LA life. All those parties and all that, it didn't appeal to me so much. I knew ultimately that's not going to fulfil me. I think I got an opportunity and for me I didn't want to waste it. I also wanted to prove to my friends and family- and myself as well that I was the person I thought I was.
Do you think that attitude is an Australian thing as well?
Oh I think I've met some Aussies that don't mind it [laughs].
Lastly, have you ever been mistaken for one of the Hemsworths?
[laughs] Yeah! A number of times. It's funny, cause when people come up and go, "Oh, Hi there. Can I have a photograph?" I always want to say, "You know I'm not Hemsworth, right?" Kind of like, "Do you know who I am?" But I don't just say it because maybe I'd just give them a good story. And I'm flattered because Chris is like 6'5. Like, massive. And they're all good boys as well. We've got the same management here in Australia and they're all great blokes.
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