Alden Ehrenreich: Hollywood is high school, it really is the same thing

Alden Ehrenreich is enjoying something of a career renaissance this year, only he kind of hates that we’re describing it that way. Alden was a much-hyped up-and-coming actor when he scored the lead in Solo, the Han Solo “prequel” movie. Solo sort of bombed and they hung the whole thing on Alden, which was pretty unfair given all of the shenanigans behind-the-scenes. After Solo, he took some time off, then there were some fits and starts during the pandemic, but now he’s back with a trilogy of well-reviewed performances in 2023. He was adorable in Cocaine Bear, critics singled him out for his performance in Oppenheimer and he’s the co-lead in Fair Play, a Sundance darling which was bought by Netflix in a bidding war. I watched Fair Play recently and he was good (at playing a psycho). Alden recently chatted with Vanity Fair and here are some highlights:

How he judges success: “We all live under this mythology that success in a certain way is salvational and changes everything. The actual back end of success or failure ends up revealing itself to be not nearly as meaningful as you think on the front end. I’ve had that experience so many times. A movie comes out and you want to go like, ‘Yes!’—and you just don’t.”

On the disappointment of ‘Solo’: “I loved the original spirit of how they wanted to make [Solo], and I did it because it was this great platform from which I could do my own thing. But what I realized at that point is: I hadn’t built my own thing enough to be able to do it…. I knew that I didn’t know myself in that way yet, and that takes a certain amount of time and effort and failure in its own kind of enclosed way. That’s what I spent that time doing.”

The combination of ‘Solo’ & the pandemic: “When you go back and want to do something, you realize that there’s other people on the list who have surpassed you, and you have to fight harder for a particular role that you want. I’ve lived that over and over again.”

He’s selective on what he says “yes” to: “There’s a practical arithmetic as an actor now that, frankly, I just don’t have the stomach for in the long run. I don’t want to do projects on the cut. I don’t want to do things I don’t really love if I can avoid it—and with the cadence now, you kind of have to be doing a certain amount of projects. There are things that I really wanted that I didn’t get. The heartbreaker is when the director goes, ‘You’re who I want, but I can’t cast you because they need to have this guy who came off this thing.’”

Working with Christopher Nolan: “The people who are on that set are thinking and feeling and paying attention in an entirely different way, and you feel like you’re a part of something meaningful,” he says. There were no trailers in sight; the work could feel as intimate as a play, despite the scale of the production. “And there’s no f–king video village—the rise of that is such anathema to me as far as how films should be made.Especially the ones that turn into these different camps of corporate entities that are watching at the same time. It’s just such sh-t.”

Working with big-name actors: “I’ve had really good experiences working with big names—very few a–holes—but the drill typically is a ‘Hi, nice to meet you,’ and you do your work together, and you have some nice chitchat, and then they go into their world with their assistants and they travel into that universe that they live in. So with Robert [Downey Jr.], I was very much prepared for that to be the case.” Instead, Downey Jr. took Ehrenreich to dinner the first day they met. Then they went on a road trip. “We developed as much of a friendship as I’ve really ever developed with any actor I’ve ever worked with.”

RDJ learned his lines inside and out. “I’ve come to sometimes expect from big names that they are not prepared, and it’s depressing.”

His feelings on Hollywood now: “Hollywood is high school, it really is the same thing. It’s the same sort of mentality and you’re trying to get at the cool kids’ table and whatever year, some people at the cool kids’ table are the people who made the most amount of money. For me, it’s not that way.”

[From Vanity Fair]

He’s 33 years old now, and it probably feels, to him, like he missed his window for being a leading man in studio films. To that I say, who needs it? Alden has the potential to become something far more interesting – a talented character actor who dabbles in lead-character work. I appreciate the fact that he took some time away from the grind and figured out what he wanted and how to sort of remake his career to give himself professional and creative fulfillment.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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