Starring international man of mystery Karl Glusman
In acting, they say you have to commit—to a gesture, a characterization—the point being there’s no time to half-ass anything. Every move counts. Karl Glusman could give a master class. You can see it on camera in movies like Nocturnal Animals, but he’s been going all in since college, when he switched his major to acting on the strength of one public-speaking award. And at 19, when he realized this could be his future, he thought nothing of moving cross-country from Portland, Oregon, to New York City to go and get it.
What came next was a riff on the story of any starving striver. He joined an actors’ studio and spent hours watching taped performances in the library at Lincoln Center. He was an elf at Macy’s Santa Land and played a junkie for med students in training. He slept in a crawl space above a toilet in Chelsea with a curtain for a wall. He felt like a cliché. “In this business, it’s about how you’re introduced,” he says. “How do you start if no one’s going to give you a break?” Then he got one. And in the grand tradition of actors like Sly Stallone and Jackie Chan, it was a very adult debut.
Glusman was at a club in Paris when he met a girl who was friends with French-Argentine provocateur Gaspar Noé. Glusman and the girl got close, and a few months later, Noé gave him a call. The director didn’t so much ask Glusman to be in his next film: He asked how he felt about performing a whole lot of sex scenes in his next film—no body doubles, no simulations. Never one to waver, Glusman decided he was up for the, uh, exposure.
In the resulting movie, Love, Glusman plays a morose young man reliving a series of past sexual encounters in vivid coital flashbacks. It isn’t porn—not really. If you had to call it that, you’d still have to admit it’s very, very highbrow smut. Reviewers called it “hardcore,” “romantic,” “wistful,” and “squelchy.” Whatever you call it, it got Glusman a lot more of those introductions he wanted. On Noé’s recommendation, Nicolas Winding Refn cast the young actor as a photographer in glam gorefest The Neon Demon. After seeing Love’s Cannes premiere, designer-director Tom Ford snagged Glusman for a role in Nocturnal Animals, in which he plays one of three vicious Texas malcontents. Together, those two films have raised his stock and rounded out an IMDb page that’s heavy on graphic content, whether it’s sex or violence or both.
His latest project, Gypsy (out now on Netflix), may not get quite so . . . squelchy, but it’s a dark drama just the same, one that adds him to an A-list team with actress Naomi Watts and director Sam Taylor-Johnson (one of the most profitable female directors on earth following her work on Fifty Shades of Grey). Watts plays a therapist who gets a little too involved with her patients’ lives, and as one of those patients, Glusman explores a new kind of character. “It’s an opportunity for me to showcase a side of myself that I haven’t before,” he says. “I’m playing this emotional, articulate guy who has dropped out of work because he has a broken heart and he can’t get over it.”
In real life, the 29-year-old actor’s about as far from heartbroken as it gets. He’s got a girlfriend by the name of Zoë Kravitz. (You may know her from Big Little Lies, or Rough Night, or for her preternatural beauty.) “I’m madly in love with her, and she loves me back,” he says. “It’s like a dream.” We’re talking on the phone just before he catches a flight from L.A. to meet her at their apartment in N. Y. C. “I can’t wait to see her. I’m gonna get back to the house at two in the morning. I’m gonna wake her up and start ringing the bell and smashing the lightbulbs with my shoe.” Like we said, the man isn’t afraid to commit.
Jacket, shirt, trousers, and tie by Dior Homme; shoes by Paul Andrew. Opposite: Suit and shirt by Prada; shoes by Tod’s; socks by Pantherella.