We know him best for his role as Chuck Bass in Gossip Girl. But Ed Westwick is so much more than that. Read on to find out a little bit more about the enigmatic actor.
Ed, you're the son of a psychologist and a university professor. How did you get into acting?
It's a love I've had since childhood, when my mother brought me to see my first-ever musical. I was totally fascinated by that world. And the same happened whenever I watched movies in the cinema or on TV — I would daydream about it. I was also part of amateur groups at the National Youth Theatre in London. It was on the set of Anthony Minghella's Breaking and Entering that I realised acting was what I really wanted to do.
Was it an easy path?
Not at all, especially in the beginning. I ran into many difficulties. Between one engagement and another I didn't know what to do with my life. At times, I even felt repulsed by this profession.
Who supported you in those moments of difficulty?
You were also in a band. Is music still important to you?
Very. I just directed my first short film, Tether. We shot it in Los Angeles, and whenever I imagined a scene, I would immediately associate it with a track or a melody that could express the emotions I felt. I have also written and recorded several songs, which will be released soon, I hope.
The fame came with Gossip Girl... Did you expect such success?
It was unexpected. When you start a new project, you never know where it will take you or if it will be successful. On the set, however, I quickly realised that I was lucky enough to work with such capable professionals. What's more, the studio and the network supported us in everything. That's what it takes, along with a little luck and the right timing.
How important is luck?
It is very important. Without luck, none of this would have happened. But it's not just about being in the right place at the right time, or having the perfect script. It's also important to work hard and focus on your goals. It's what I've always tried to do in my life.
What are you like in everyday life?
Thoughtful. I like to mull over things; I leave little or nothing to chance.
Your biggest mistake?
All my tattoos.
Your favourite food?
Chinese. Of course, Italian food is pretty good too.
You/ve worked with some of the biggest names in cinema, including Jude Law, Juliette Binoche, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Felicity Jones. Who left a particularly strong impression on you?
On the set of Breaking and Entering, I was spellbound by Juliette. Between scenes she would rub her hands and pinch herself to "refresh" herself. We often rehearsed the same scene over and over again, but each take would have to seem like the very first. She taught me that. I was 17 and still very green. And that was one of the best acting lessons I've ever received.
What was it like to work with Clint Eastwood?
Filming J. Edgar with Clint Eastwood, I remember a very calm atmosphere on set. He managed to create the ideal environment for each actor. Mr. Eastwood doesn't say, "Action!" Instead, it's always, "I am ready when you are ready". That's the approach I've adopted for my short film, Tether, as it's the best way to put an actor at ease.
Which director would you like to work with?
Richard Linklater. I love his Before trilogy. I literally lost it during Before Sunrise.
Are you interested in fashion?
I like to dress well. I don't care about trends or hype. I've been invited to some very cool events, and even if sometimes I don't like or understand it, I always appreciate the environments where you can express yourself freely. I follow the same philosophy for my films.
Can you tell us more about the two films coming out in 2020, Enemy Lines and Me, You, Madness?
Enemy Lines is an action drama about the World War Two. I play an American soldier, Major Kaminski. The story is based on real events, and focuses on a secret mission in occupied Poland. Me, You Madness, on the other hand, is a romantic comedy. It's set in contemporary times, but features an '80s soundtrack. It talks about a serial killer and a thief with a special bond.
In Tether, your first short film, you were co-writer, director, producer, and actor. What was that like?
It was unbelievable. After years spent in front of the camera, I was finally able to experiment. I've always wanted to direct and I would like to keep doing it. I loved every step in the process from beginning to end. Being an artist means evolving continuously. I took a lot of inspiration from [Federico] Fellini, and I chose to include "Al Di Là" in the film, which is sung partly in Italian. No country produces works of art as beautiful as Italy does.
What advice would you give to aspiring young actors?
Try something new. Everything has changed, and everything will change. Do not try to do what has already been done.
Photography Frederic Monceau
Words Paolo Briscese
Styling Marco by Lucia
Hair & Makeup Virginie Pineda
Production Federica Fragnoli @ luisaviaroma.com