Extreme sports addict turned actor, Australia’s Luke Bracey is trading in his board for life on the big screen.
Luke wears vintage leather jacket, white cotton tee and black jeans both by Tom Ford.
If you don’t know Luke Bracey’s name just yet, don’t worry — you’ll almost certainly recognise the 24-year-old Australian’s face, and since his new film, a Nicholas Sparks adaptation called Best of Me, came out last month, it’s probably plastered over every teenage girl’s bedroom wall. In the film, he plays the young protagonist Dawson (the older Dawson is played by the equally irresistible James Marsden.) When we catch up over the phone for Wonderland, I subtly question him about his thoughts on his imminent heartthrob status and he bursts out laughing, acknowledging the absurdity of the situation in his charming Australian drawl.
“I can’t say I’ve given it much thought,” he finally concludes. “It’s something that I’ve been avoiding and not thinking about. It’s a strange idea to me, but I guess it’s something that comes when you make a film like this. I mean the whole time I was filming I just kept thinking, ‘This Dawson dude is such a nice guy, he’s just such a good bloke.’ You understand people are going to see the movie and fall in love with Dawson, he’s such a great guy.
It’s an attitude that sort of sums up Luke’s approach to his career thus far: open, positive and enthusiastic. But he has been lucky: while thousands of hopeful actors fail to catch a star-making break, Luke fell into acting by accident, after being spotted by a casting agent when he was a rugby-playing teenager. “I kind of did a casting and didn’t know what was going on at all, and then the next day I got the job,” he recalls. The job in question was a prominent part in Aussie institution Home and Away, and three days into the gig Luke concluded that acting might be a career worth pursuing.
Fortunately the show became his vehicle into wider success, and taught him much of what he knows about acting, providing him with a chance to learn on the job. “You realise that for TV shows and movies to work and be successful everyone has to be putting in everything they’ve got, and that’s showing up on time, knowing your lines, being fit and healthy and ready to go,” he tells me. “I couldn’t think of a better place to start: the pace is really intense, you’re filming five episodes in five days, and filming exteriors for next week’s episodes in that week: it’s sink or swim. Either you get through it or it’ll break you. And luckily I took it day by day and I learnt so much. I’m very thankful for the experience.”
Luke has adopted that same grateful attitude to each part he has won, from upcoming spy thriller The November Man, with Mr Bond himself Pierce Brosnan, to the forthcoming remake of cult classic Point Break, for which he’s stepping into Keanu Reeves’s well-worn shoes, to play an updated version of hero Johnny Utah. Casting Luke in a film about surfers seems a canny move from the producers, given his sportsman pedigree — did the shoot give him a chance to flex his extreme-sports-loving muscles?
“Oh, absolutely! I mean I actually grew up surfing in Sydney, but surfing’s only one part of the film,” he says. “In this new version there’s snow boarding, rock climbing, windsurfing, motocross and wing-suiting. It covers all extreme sports, and we’ve got the best people in these fields doing these stunts.”
“I got to do some pretty gnarly skateboarding in and around this car park, which was a lot of fun. I got to be towed around and do some surfing in Tahiti. It was a dream come true. And I get to go to Barcelona on Wednesday and do four days of rock climbing with Chris Sharma who’s the best rock climber in the world,” he enthuses, listing some of the better perks of the job. “It’s kinda surreal,” he admits. “You’re meeting all these people who are at the absolute top of their game, and it’s a thrill to talk to them and try and take something away from meeting all these people who’ve achieved so much.”
At 24, Luke is totally living the dream. Before saying goodbye I make sure to ask him where it’s all headed. Are we going to see him writing? Directing? Or even packing it all in to become a professional rugby player? “Honestly, I’m just trying to get acting down and trying to get better at that. I think that’s a tough enough task as it is. It’s a complex art form and craft, and it’s something I really want to work on,” he says. “But there’s a part of me that still wants to be a fireman, so you never know…”
Words: Maya Hambro.
Photographer: Doug Inglish.
Fashion: Sarah Schussheim.