A TV and movie star, Keiynan Lonsdale talks with us about his work in Love, Simon and more.
Despite being only 26 years old, Keiynan Lonsdale has had a storied career already. The Australian actor started his career on TV in his home country before appearing in the Divergent series of films and appearing as Kid Flash in The Flash and other superhero shows on The CW. This year, he appears in the film Love, Simon. The story of a high schooler attempting to deal with his sexuality, Love, Simon is an adaptation of Becky Albertalli’s novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda starring Nick Robinson as Simon Spier. Lonsdale plays Bram Greenfeld, a friend of Simon’s. Lonsdale talks to us about his character in the film, and how he found himself while on the set of the film.
The Knockturnal: Tell me a bit about your role and how it came to be.
Keiynan Lonsdale: Yeah, my team sent me the project to audition at the beginning of 2017, and I saw that [director] Greg Berlanti was attached, who I’ve worked with on The Flash and with the DC universe. I was really excited to work with an openly gay man, it made me really trust that the film was going to be told with honesty and with a lot of heart. So obviously I was just excited about the fact that the project was being made. I didn’t think that I would get to be a part of it because the dates clashed with filming that I had, but they seemed to love the take and they felt like I was the right guy and yeah.
The Knockturnal: Especially in times like this, I think the film carries such an important and prolific message. What is it that you are personally hoping people will take away when they see this film?
Keiynan Lonsdale: I think that it’ll be different for so many people. I think that for anyone that has struggled in the past with their sexuality and self-acceptance, I think that they’re going to wish this movie had been around when [they] were growing up. That’s what I felt when I watched it, and that’s one of the main comments I hear from other people who’ve seen it. And also that they’re just so happy for the next generation to have it, and thankful that it’s happening at all. And then for the youth, I think it’s knowing that you’re not alone. It’s the coolest thing. Not just that you’re not alone, but this is something to be excited about. Being yourself is the most beautiful, wholesome thing you can do, and I think that this film will really inspire people to live a life of joy, to know that they deserve that.
The Knockturnal: For you in particular, how do you think that this movie will have an impact on LGBTQ+ youth in particular?
Keiynan Lonsdale: I think that it’s just knowing that they are capable of finding true love. I know when I was growing up, I didn’t feel like I was meant to fall in love or have a full love experience. Like, I knew that I was allowed to fall in love with girls, but I had made up this story in my mind based on what I’d read from society that I wouldn’t be able to fully explore feelings with guys, that I wouldn’t be able to have the career that I wanted or this or that. I think that this movie definitely shows kids that this isn’t the case. That this is really common and something to be embraced, something that Hollywood is really embracing. Everyone deserves a great love story.
The Knockturnal: I think across the country that this film is going to have a wide impact. If you were talking to a 14-year old kid in Texas and they were struggling with their sexual orientation, would there be advice that you would give them?
Keiynan Lonsdale: I would say to them to think everything in their own time. Every story is different, every person’s journey is different. There’s no one way to live life. Other than just letting them know that exactly the way they are is perfect. It’s not something that you can fix, it’s not something that needs to be changed… Who they are and how their heart is, that’s exactly as it’s supposed to be. And whether they’re ready to share that now or not, that’s totally okay. But one day they will be ready, and just letting them know that there will be a whole world ready to support [them] when that day comes, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
The Knockturnal: I think that’s so beautiful. Was there anything during this filming process that just stood out to you? Whether it was something with the cast or with the director, was there anything to your own personal journey to this process?
Keiynan Lonsdale: Yeah, I was very nervous to go into it. I was nervous that I was going to not be good enough or that I was wouldn’t deserve it because I was still going through the different stages of self-acceptance. The film really helped me with that. It’s such a nurturing environment. The whole cast became such good friends, and Greg created such a steady, calm, fun productive time on set. And I think that everything was great from the top down. And I think that Nick Robinson being the lead, he’s such a great guy, that it really became such a safe environment, and it’s so important that you can make good acting choices without feeling afraid. You can also just have a good time at work and it doesn’t feel like you’re shooting a movie. We were just hanging out. So now it’s kind of weird to see these posters and these trailers and to remember, like, “This was a whole thing!” It was so chill and such a sweet time to be together.
Rachel Lipkin contributed reporting.
Love, Simon hits theaters on March 16th.