Tell us about your story. Who is Owen Teague in and out of camera?
Well, I’ve been acting since I was around four years old, but I also do a lot of other things. I think the only thing that keeps me sane is art, and my ability to retreat into whatever I’m creating at the time.
I’m working on something almost constantly — be it visual, written, or performed.
I have to be.
Once I start, I get caught up and don't want to stop. It’s deﬁnitely my way dealing with things.
I’m also very much an introvert. I value my privacy more and more with each passing day, especially with the rise of social media and our constant need to be connected. I have a few very close friends, but otherwise, I’m a little shy.
People say it’s ironic for an actor, but I think a lot of actors are shy.
It’s when we get to be other people that we can actually come out of our shells.
Where are you originally from? Tell us about your hometown.
I’m from Tampa, Florida, which is where I still live. It’s really blown up in the last few years, and now is thought of as one of the coolest new cities in Florida. I’m pretty sure we also have a public park every ﬁve feet or so, so a lot of festivals happen in Tampa.
Until I started going to high school in the downtown area, I really hadn’t explored that part of the city, and it’s a fun place to be.
How did acting start for you? What inspired you to pursue it?
I decided I wanted to act when I was around four years old, and my parents actually took my request seriously (and if they hadn’t, and hadn’t supported me the whole way through, I deﬁnitely wouldn’t be doing this).
One day I just blurted out, “I wanna be in a movie,” and so my parents found a community theater nearby and I ended up playing Little Jake in Annie Get Your Gun. I think just the early childhood fascination with being anything other than myself — especially non-humans — was what got me into acting. I was really into, like, the Beast (from Beauty and the Beast), King Kong, Gollum… going inside their heads and bodies was kind of an obsession for me. I wanted to understand them. And in ﬁlm, I saw these creatures being brought to life, so I decided that’s what I wanted to do.
What’s your most memorable audition so far?
One time I ﬂew to New Orleans for a callback for Free State of Jones, had a great read, and then ended up talking for about half an hour with casting director Debra Zane (the same one who casts Bloodline) and director Gary Ross about college. He gave me some really good advice, which actually inﬂuenced what I chose to major in. I was just starting to look into universities, and told him I was interested in ﬁlm. He told me to go the more academic route — more focused on the theory and writing of ﬁlm as opposed to production.
What inspires Owen Teague?
Art inspires me — movies, music, writing, photography, whatever.
Whenever I see a really good performance I get all this energy. Daniel Day-Lewis’ milkshake monologue from There Will Be Blood gets me excited every time I see it. I’ll see something, and I’ll get really obsessed with that thing or that artist, and I’ll try to do my own version, which usually ends up being completely diﬀerent, which is good. And then my brain kinda riﬀs on whatever it became, which turns it into something else.
Life also inspires me. That is not nearly as optimistic as it sounds. Whenever something bad happens, I have to create something to get it out of me. That’s the only way I can cope, really.
How is it playing a complex, dark character (Nolan Rayburn) in Bloodlines? Do you relate in any way to Nolan’s character?
I deﬁnitely relate. Not on a speciﬁc level, because Nolan and I have extremely diﬀerent lives, but in a more vague way, yeah, I can relate.
We have the same wariness of the world, the same worn perspective on life. We don’t trust people. We’re both kinda loners. But with him, I can pinpoint a reason, whereas with me, I can’t.
Or maybe I just don’t want to. But in his case, having a manipulative con-man of a dad and a druggie mess of a mom will give you some defense mechanisms.
Playing Nolan has deﬁnitely been one of the best roles I’ve had so far, as well as one of the most challenging. I’m sad I don't get to do it anymore, because I would've loved to see where he went and how he turned out. He started a diﬀerent person the ﬁrst season than he ended at the end of this season, in both his situation and the way I played him, I think.
As he learned things, and as I learned things, we both changed, and hopefully by the end of last season, even, people thought of him in a totally diﬀerent light than they did when the season began. His views are constantly changing because of the tumult of his surroundings (and family), and so I had to make that real and make it make sense.
Much of Bloodline was kind of being a detective for the character, ﬁguring out what he’s been doing, what his innermost thoughts are even when he’s far oﬀ screen (especially because so much of the show, people aren't telling the truth). And I found something interesting — when you start doing that with a character, going through every one of their days as if they were real people, you start thinking of them as if they were just that: real people. And even though I’m not playing him anymore, Nolan still seems very real to me, like a friend I used to have. I probably sound weird, but that's the truth.
Are you excited to be a part of the remake of the classic thriller ﬁlm “IT”?
I’m beyond excited. I’m excited to be a part of it. I’m excited for the movie, period.
Regardless of the fact that I’m in it.
I’ve been a Stephen King fan since 8th grade, and so to play one of his characters is a huge honor.
How did you channel Patrick Hockstetter's character?
Well, he’s a pyro-junkie psychopath who likes to traumatize children, so I didn’t really have to do anything.
I’m kidding. No, actually — and this is probably going to sound kind of messed up, but not as messed up as bullying kids — one of the things I would do is think about really awful things until they just became funny from how much I was thinking about them. One of the things about Patrick is that he giggles constantly, especially at someone else’s expense, and so I tried to put myself into that sort of mindset. And I hope it worked. I did feel a bit guilty afterwards though.
What do you think is the proudest moment in your career so far?
Deﬁnitely being in Bloodline. The show has brilliant creators and some of the most talented, devoted, and kind cast and crew I’ve ever known. It was an honor and a pleasure to work on it, and to be as involved as I was from the beginning. Playing two characters on one show is also pretty cool.
How do you balance your time?
Um… I get a lot less sleep than I should. Honestly, I don’t know. Balancing school and work can be tricky, but it’s not like I really have a method for it. I just get stuﬀ done and it works out.
What is your dream project?
Well, I would’ve said the Dark Tower, but that’s coming out in a few months. I actually would have loved to direct that, though. Those are some of my favorite books ever. Other than that… I would love to be in an Alien movie. Maybe get facehugged or something.
Book you’re currently reading.
Currently binge watching
The news. Right now, it’s just as entertaining and disturbing as most thrillers out there.
Any advice you can give to any aspiring actors out there?
I’d love to be all inspiring, but really, it’s a very diﬃcult business, and there’s a lot of luck involved. Throw yourself into it, get the best training you can, and try to get into the social media thing even if you can’t stand it. That’s been one of the hardest parts for me. Always take classes, and pay attention on set.
Watch what the other actors are doing. You can learn a lot from them. Working with the cast of Bloodline was probably the best acting class I’ll ever get.
If you’re going to have a book what title would it be?
The Creature Within.
If you will be given the chance and opportunity to help a speciﬁc charity, what would it be and why?
I really admire Glenn Close’s work with Bring Change 2 Mind, an organization working against the stigma surrounding mental illness.
I think that the treatment of attitude surrounding mental illness is an extremely important issue, as well as one that’s not talked about a lot. When someone has a physical problem — heart disease or a broken leg or whatever — nobody bats an eye. When someone is mentally ill, though — nobody wants to deal with it. There’s this immediate fear response. It’s an issue I care a lot about, so I’ll deﬁnitely be researching it more and hopefully getting involved with an organization.
Catch Owen on IT in theaters September 8, 2017.