In the October issue of InStyle, on newsstands and available for digital download now, actor Boyd Holbrook shows off his ruggedly handsome side and discusses his bevy of upcoming projects. The following is an excerpt from his Man of Style feature.
From a coal-mining region of Kentucky to a love nest with an Olsen in Brooklyn, the actor, artist, and hot polymath Boyd Holbrook hasn't just arrived on the scene—he's stealing it.
Thirteen years ago, the 33-year-old actor was working as a stagehand at a theater in his small Appalachian hometown of Prestonsburg when he was scouted by a local girl with big-city connections and his photo was sent to modeling agencies. Soon the delicately featured Holbrook traded in his saw and nails for high-profile ad campaigns with Dior Homme and H&M. Then it was on to acting school at Manhattan's William Esper Studio. In 2008, he scored his first film role, as Harvey Milk's friend Denton Smith in Milk, after he sent director Gus Van Sant an unsolicited script he had written. "I naïvely thought he'd want to direct it," he says to InStyle with a laugh, running a hand through his unruly blond hair inside a café just a few feet from the apartment he shares with his fiancée, actress Elizabeth Olsen.
In the intervening years, the actor has turned ruggedly, leading-man handsome. This fall he transitions from relative obscurity to ubiquity with diverse roles in three major movies. In the dark comedy The Skeleton Twins, starring Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, he plays a lascivious Australian scuba instructor. He's a backwoods thief in David Fincher's whodunit thriller Gone Girl and a recovering addict in the crime drama A Walk Among the Tombstones with Liam Neeson. It goes on: In January, he'll appear in his meatiest role to date, as the sole survivor in the Sundance favorite Little Accidents, a drama about the aftermath of a coal mine collapse in small-town West Virginia; he also just began filming the new Netflix series Narcos, about Pablo Escobar. But it's not all darkness and grit. His wedding to Olsen glimmers on the horizon. Does all this constitute his big moment? Holbrook lights an American Spirit and shrugs: "Gosh, I just really held out for some good projects."
In The Skeleton Twins you seduce Kristen Wiig's character in a steamy performance reminiscent of Brad Pitt's in Thelma & Louise. That must have been fun.Yeah, my character is kind of a sleazebag, right? But maybe in the right way?
Why did you decide to use an Aussie accent? Is it just sexier?I thought the role needed something like that. Craig [Johnson, the director] was unsure. The weird assumption is that English actors can do American accents but American actors can't do anything else. I ran the accent by an Australian friend of mine, Sia, the singer-songwriter. She gave me a couple of notes. In the end Craig was really happy with it.
I'm guessing that film was very different from doing Gone Girl. What was it like working with the famously exacting director David Fincher?It was the best experience ever. He's incredible. In truth, it was kind of like an athletic endurance test.
You just directed Peacock Killer, a short film based on the Sam Shepard story. You're also a screenwriter, a photographer, and a sculptor. Is there anything you don't do?The way I look at it, either you're looking for something to be interested in or you're creating something you're interested in. It's about starting something and finishing it, especially with sculpture or writing. You're making something out of nothing, and what you learn along the way, not to sound pretentious, is meditative.
Now for the important question: How would you describe your style?Oh, gosh, the most important [laughs]. I'm pretty easy. I just like to be comfortable. I'm a collector of hats. I like Stetsons, and I just bought some classic ones at O'Farrell's in Santa Fe.
Does Elizabeth have a say in your fashion choices?Yeah, she thinks my socks are really crucial [laughs]. She also makes sure I'm bathed and wearing clean clothes. She'll tell me, "You need to take those pants off. You've been wearing them for a month."
What do you like about her style?She's super-simple and elegant. It's sexy not being really provocative. She's classic like that.
So is it the Kentucky in you, wanting to get married and do right by the girl?There's a lot to be said about stability. So many people don't get married nowadays—you see it less and less—but it's a shame if you don't ever have that experience of sharing something with someone else. It's a real shame. Love is the prize in life.
Do you feel like you've won?So far.
To read Boyd Holbrook's full Man of Style feature and see more handsome photos of the star, pick up the October issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download now.