Jake recently spoke with Esquire Latinoamerica via Zoom to discuss his latest project, The Right Stuff, and more! This article is originally in Spanish, so apologies if the automatic translation is inaccurate.
ESQUIRE: Tell us about The Right Stuff.
JAKE MCDORMAN: The series is based on Tom Wolfe’s book of the same name, which tells the story of a group of astronauts in the American Space Program , where they tested experimental aircraft and rockets.
It tells who they were, what they did, enters their personal lives and shows us what their relationships with their wives were like.
It was very interesting because they became famous in the world, the American media projected them as celebrities and they were not necessarily prepared for that level of fame.
ESQ: What made you decide to participate in this production?
JM: Honestly, it was a bit of everything. The pilot script was fantastic, one of the best I’ve read in years for a single camera drama.
He had a lot of different characters to introduce and juggle ; all that, in one hour of broadcast, is impressive. I think Mark Lafferty (the producer) did incredibly well.
Plus, Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company was involved, which has a certain pedigree and makes you feel like you’re in good hands, and the fact that it was for NatGeo (Disney + wasn’t involved at the time) gave it even more exposure.
ESQ: Do you have anything in common with your character, Alan Shepard?
JM: Yes, I think you always find coincidences with the characters you play. I would say insecurities can be pretty universal, and even though these guys did very brave things, they are still human.
Alan’s reluctance to be famous, as well as his ongoing struggle with being a celebrity and the fame that came with the Space Program, are things any actor can relate to.
Alan and the other six astronauts were among the most famous people in the 1960s; I, obviously, have not lived something like that or at that level, but in my microcosm I can understand the anxiety of being in the public eye.
ESQ: Of all the characters you have played so far, which has been your favorite?
JM: Brian Finch from Limitless. I didn’t play it for that long, but it was a show focused on this character’s experience and the show’s writers were terrific, they wrote according to my strengths and allowed me to have fun with it.
I also really enjoyed my experience on HBO’s Watchmen, the character was kind of nefarious, but it was a fun world and I’m a huge fan of comics.
ESQ: What do you look for when accepting a new project?
JM: Most of the time I look for characters that are different from the ones I have played before. The older I get, the more deeply I get involved in choosing my roles ; I like to go to different ends of the spectrum, try to have more range and be a chameleon.
Although sometimes if they offer you something similar to what you just did, it can be worth it if it involves a great director or writer.
ESQ: Any projects in the door?
JM: I did a movie called Happiest Season with Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davies, it’s a project I’m very excited about and it’s planned for November, although with all the changes I don’t know what will happen now.
Maybe they pre-release on iTunes or expect some theaters to start opening by then . It is hard for me to imagine that this will happen, especially in the United States.
ESQ: With everything happening this year, how do you think the film and television industry will change?
JM: I think that’s a two-part question: on the one hand, obviously there will be a lot of safety and social distancing measures related to COVID-19, but I also hope that we can come together to bring about a serious change regarding the Black Lives Matter movement. and to the representation of people of color and indigenous people in the industry.
That is a fight that has been going on for many years and in many settings, I think the attention it has received recently is exciting. I hope it serves to change the industry.
ESQ: What have you been doing during quarantine? Have you discovered any new hobby?
JM: I discovered the bathtubs! (laughs) I have one in my house and I’ve never used it. I had been filming abroad in New York, Pittsburgh and Toronto for a long time, so my home in Los Angeles was almost always empty, but being back here, with time and looking for a way to disconnect and relax, I realized that I had the tub. Now it’s quite a routine that I do almost daily, I bought bath bombs and everything.
ESQ: What qualities do you think the Esquire man must have?
JM: Oh my! I do not know what to say. I think he is someone with a vision for the future, who knows how to dress and make a good piña colada! I only mention the last one because I just learned how to do it, I think it’s a good skill and they come perfect for the heat.
ESQ: How would you describe your style?
JM: I don’t know, I hope it’s timeless. That may sound a bit pretentious, but that’s not why. I don’t really like things with logos, I use a lot of basics and layers. It’s hard to say now, because I’ve been wearing pants for seven months, but it depends a bit on how my hair is: if it’s short or long, I wear different things.
ESQ: Is there anything you would never use?
JM: The round neck sweaters in maroon.
ESQ: What is your style that never fails?
JM: Probably some Chinese style pants and a t-shirt.