For Gregg Sulkin, landing a role in Hulu’s much-anticipated superhero series Marvel’s Runaways was a total game-changer—especially when the British actor learned that the producers behind iconic teen shows The O.C. and Gossip Girl were set to produce the show. “I think any young actor hears the words Marvel, Josh Schwartz, and Stephanie Savage and is extremely attracted to the project,” Sulkin recently told InStyle. “Josh and Steph are geniuses, and they know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to giving the audience enough to fall in love with the characters, but holding back just enough to keep the audience wanting more.”
The show—which follows a group of teenagers who band together to take down their evil group of parents—has already been pegged as The O.C. of the Marvel Universe. So, does Sulkin think that’s a fair sentiment? “Yes, but I think it’s a mixture of a few other shows, too,” the former Faking It star, who's also had roles in Pretty Little Liars and Wizards of Waverly Place, said. “It’s a bit like Stranger Things, and it has a glossy darkness to it similar to Gossip Girl. Our show is fun. You don’t just want to come back for each episode; you’re excited for the next scene.”
Of course, in addition to the soapy teen drama, the show is rooted in Marvel’s superhero-packed saga—and that was another major draw for Sulkin, who plays jock-meets-engineering whiz Chase Stein. “I’ve always been a Marvel fan, for sure,” he said. “I was more into athletics than comics when I was a kid, because I wanted to be a soccer player and I was mostly concentrated on that. But once I started getting into film, I really began to appreciate the message of Marvel stories. I love what the brand represents in terms of diversity, and I think that we’re living in a time where the world needs it more than ever.” Scroll down for our full chat with Sulkin, and catch the premiere of Marvel’s Runaways today (Nov. 21) on Hulu.
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You’ve been acting since you were 10 years old. Did you ever have a moment where you really had to take charge of your own future the way these characters do?
Yes, definitely. I grew up in a beautiful household. I’ve got an older brother who’s now married, and we were all very supportive of each other. However, I was on my own when I moved to America [from London] when I was 17. I had to make new friends, and for the first time, I had to learn how to do everything on my own, like paying bills. I had to take my life into my own hands without the support of a very caring and loving mother, and that was is very, very intimidating. In the show, once our characters find out that our parents are not who they seem to be and are “evil,” Chase then has to take his life into his own hands. He has to try and figure out what’s best for him and the group, and it sort of becomes survival of the fittest.
When you were a teen, what was your relationship like with your parents?
The whole point of the show is that every teenager thinks their parents are evil—but what if they actually were? I had a very normal upbringing. I’m very close with my mom. She’s the most supportive person in the world. And my dad has been a mentor throughout my life, mostly when it comes to business and being financially stable. I always go to my dad for advice. Chase, my character, doesn’t really have that luxury. He wants what I had, which is an open-door policy with his parents. He wants to be able to go to his parents and talk about certain things, whether it’s love or his passions. Thankfully, during the first season, engineering is something that brings Chase and his dad closer for the first time in their lives. Chase is left in a little bit of a dodgy situation, though. He loves his dad—and although he isn’t the kindest, warmest, friendliest father, he is still his father. So Chase is in a sticky situation when he finds out that his father is evil and that he needs to bring him down.
What's it like to work with Josh Schwartz, who's known for creating teen classics like The O.C. and Gossip Girl?
Josh Schwartz is one of my favorite human beings on the planet. I told him last [week] at the wrap party, “Josh, you don’t understand—I would like to be you some day.” He was like, "You need to put the tequila down." I was like, "Josh, I’ve had a water so far. I was actually opening up." He was like, "Great! ...Put the tequila down," [laughs]. He’s the nicest, funniest, warmest, and friendliest person. He and Stephanie are a delight to work with.
You’ve been on shows in the past with rabid fan-bases, like Pretty Little Liars and Wizards of Waverly Place. Have you had any crazy fan encounters?
I think the craziest was in Brazil. I’ve dealt with passionate fans in my life, but they take passion to a whole new level. They tried to break into where my friend and I were staying, and once we left our premises, we had people literally chasing us in cars down the street. I felt like I was one of the Beatles. We had police with us carrying guns, because it was actually dangerous at that point. There were hundreds of people camping out outside where we were staying, screaming and shouting for five days straight. It was the wildest experience. I can’t wait for Brazil and South America to see this show. I’ve already warned the cast to make sure they bring a big body guard with them [laughs].
How do you choose what you share with your followers and what you want to keep private?
I love Instagram, and I like to share things that are important to me—my family, my passions, animals, and nature. But I only do it if and when I want—for instance, I don’t like to share my moments with people in the moment. I don’t really like live streaming; I like my moments in my life be my moments, and then if I look back later on in the day, I can share them if I want. Sometimes I’ll post a selfie just to say, "What’s up?" to my fans and allow them to know I’m thinking of them. I don’t really put too much time or thought into it. I think I would post the same thing whether I had one follower or 3.6 million followers. I just like the app!
Are you purposely trying to melt hearts with your animal photos?
Aww! I love animals. It’s funny I was at a film festival last weekend and Ian Somerhalder and Nikki Reed were awarded a humanitarian award for their work with animals. They gave me a lot of inspiration, because I think that’s something I want to do. Way too many animals don't have homes, and I would love to partner with an organization or do one of my own. I had a dog growing up, and she was the love and heart of my household. I actually want to get a dog, hopefully in the next couple of months. Animals are like human beings—they have to be treated correctly, loved, and taken care of. As an actor, it’s very tough getting a dog because I’m always traveling. But I do love taking my dog photos, for sure.
You also post a lot of shirtless photos. How many pics of abs or flexed biceps is too many, in your opinion?
It’s funny you say that because recently, there was probably nine months where I didn’t post any. And I probably won’t be posting many more over the next few months. The reason why I share my Instagram stories when I work out is because I hope to inspire people when they watch my story so they may think to themselves, “Oh, I should go to the gym today.” Going to the gym isn't really so much about vanity—it’s more about being healthy. If you go to the gym, suddenly your mind becomes healthier. So that’s why I like to share anything when it comes to fitness. To each their own, but I’m an actor and fitness is part of my life. So you won’t be seeing many more shirtless photos for the next little while.
What's your favorite indulgence?
You literally say that, and I’m looking over and I can see an empty cookie wrapper that I indulged in last night. Chocolate chip cookies, ugh, I just love them. I actually love them soft, but hard, if that makes sense. If I see a chocolate chip cookie, it’s very hard for me to resist. Being on a very strict diet for three to four months when we were doing the show was hard for me, so over the holidays ... I’m praying that I don't end January 10 lbs. heavier than what I am now. It’s easy to do that, though, because it’s cuddle weather and you can put on the fire and start drinking some wine. Then two months later, you’ve had 14 leftover Thanksgiving dinners, four leftover Christmas dinners, and you come back not even looking like yourself. But you know what, this is the time to do it, and the way you look is not everything. Happiness is way more important.