A profession in modeling or acting had never once crossed Mitchell Slaggert’s mind, and yet, at 23 years old, the insanely charismatic blond all-American boy has carved out a career in both. He’s posed in Calvin Klein and Versace campaigns, he’s walked in some of the most prestigious runways in fashion, he was featured in the last issue of CR, and most recently, he’s starred as the lead in Moss, an indie film by Daniel Peddle—the same film director, screenwriter, and casting director who has a knack for discovering talent (which he’s proven time and time again when he casts for fashion houses like Givenchy and 3.1 Phillip Lim).
But just three years ago, Slaggert was like any other ordinary college student (albeit an extraordinarily good-looking one) pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering—until fate intervened. “I was walking from class one day in Wilmington, North Carolina when Daniel Peddle stops me and asks, ‘Hey man, do you want to model?’ I said no thank you, but he gives me his card and says he discovered Jennifer Lawrence. I thought it couldn’t be true, but he’s the real deal,” Slaggert recalls to CR. “Six photos with an iPhone later, I’m getting signed to one of the most prestigious modeling agencies in NYC—DNA Models—and two weeks later, I’m going to Europe for Calvin Klein for the first time in my life.”
And the whirlwind of firsts hasn’t stopped since: Slaggert’s breakout role in Moss (which premiered earlier this week; the DVD is set to be released today) marks his onscreen debut. Set in rural North Carolina, the emotionally heavy coming-of-age Southern Goth film follows the brooding character Moss on his 18th birthday as he traverses the wilderness for a taste of newfound freedom, all the while coming to terms with his mother’s death.
We chatted with Slaggert over the phone about the entire shooting experience, how he prepared for his role, whether he’ll go back to school, if he’ll continue to model, and more.
So this was your first movie—how exciting!
I had no acting training or experience before I shot this and neither did Billy [Ray Suggs], the good guy that plays my father in the movie. Billy got cast because Daniel saw one of my Instagram photos and called me up: “Who the hell is this guy?” He’s my mentor, he trained me for the Marine Corps, and just by speaking with Billy over the phone, Daniel got a sense of his energy and cast him. It worked out well because we already had that father-son relationship.
Did you ever think about acting?
Never once did it cross my mind. I was hesitant at first, especially with crying scenes. If there are three cameras and 50 people there, I thought I don’t know if I’d want to do that. But then I mentally chucked it in the eff it bucket and just started doing it. Now, I’m at Stella Adler, one of the best theater and acting development classes in New York.
Would you go back to school to finish your degree?
Even if I make it as the next Brad Pitt, I still want to finish my mechanical engineering degree. It kind of runs in the family: my brother was studying it, my father’s got it. I just have too many fond memories of staying up too late with my dad drinking beers and tinkering with stuff. I want to do the same for my kids.
What was your reaction when you first read the script?
I loved it. Daniel wanted to make a modern fable of Little Red Riding Hood, so that’s why I wear a red hood in the film. There’s a gender twist and I’m the little red riding hood, and the wolf in the story is the older woman. But another twist in the story is that she’s actually not a villain. I thought it was a beautiful story.
How’d you prep for the role?
Daniel grew up in very rural North Carolina and I grew up in Fayetteville, Georgia, so we always have a deep love for Mother Nature. Growing up, I wanted to be Steve Irwin one day. I’ve always spent a lot of time out in the woods, in the creek, just catching stuff, fishing, hunting. It’s amazing how being in the woods for hours on end can do for the soul. Mentally, I had to go back to my middle school and high school years and then it was just me being back out in nature. I was also able to turn nervousness into excitement—and I just dove right in.
So it must have been easy for you to do a Southern accent.
I was born in Michigan, but I was raised in Georgia. I can definitely turn the accent on and off. If I have a couple whiskeys in me, it’ll come out.
What was the hardest scene for you?
The crying scenes because there are other people around and it’s uncomfortable. So as long as you’re surrounded by people who make you feel comfortable, it’s easier. But it was hard to draw that emotion, especially for someone who’s not a trained actor. Eventually we got there, but it took some doing.
And your favorite scene?
The whole movie. We had so much fun working on set and it wasn’t your typical indie experience—because everybody was doing everything. We had a skeleton crew; we couldn’t take a big group out into the bayou. We were like a family, doing everything together for 24 days. It was a lot of fun, and it made me realize how dedicated you have to be to your vision. Everyone who worked on this film was just so passionate, and I believe that is directly correlated with the outcome of the movie. I felt like I found my true passion through this journey of making my first film.
Will you continue to model?
It’s currently 50-50. I’ve landed one box office movie and then there’s a TV show on Amazon Prime and there are four other independent movies on the way. I’m been very fortunate. It’s crazy. With modeling, I just go with the flow. I get a phone call and then see if it works with my schedule. I just walked the Moschino show in LA – that was a fun one. I missed the Milan shows because of school and work—sometimes you just have to go by the seat of your pants.
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createdAt:Mon, 09 Jul 2018 21:37:11 +0000