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Jacob Elordi says he started welcoming his femininity after being called gay in high school

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Okay, we can breathe easy: We have confirmation that Jacob Elordi was not at all like his rage-filled Euphoria character when he was in high school. Phew!

In a new GQ profile—in which he’s dubbed “Gen Z’s leading man”—Elordi opened up about his overnight fame thanks to the success of Netflix‘s teen rom-com series, The Kissing Booth, and how the phenomenon that is Euphoria is shaping the future of his career.

 

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It’s that latter role that might give the impression that Elordi’s some sort of brooding bruiser not to be crossed. His Nate Jacobs is a physically and mentally abusive alpha-jock, a reprehensible rager made only slightly sympathetic by the fact that his strict father is harboring more than a few dark secrets of his own.

As we come to find out over the course of this series, much of Nate’s behavior is a result of internalized homophobia—a macho mask to ensure no one even suspects he might be gay. Nate is toxic masculinity personified.

At 6’5″ tall, the chiseled Elordi might look the part. But, as the GQ feature makes clear, he’s much more thoughtful and secure in himself than his Euphoria role—and he takes his acting very seriously.

Related: Where the boys are: 5 shows to stream that feature full-frontal male nudity

In the piece, the Australian star reflects on his high school experience. In balancing his athletic side with the emerging thespian in him, Elordi encountered more than a few classmates who teased him because of his interests.

“From the moment I did a play I was called gay at school,” he shares. “But I had this abundance of confidence in myself. Because I could do both: I was quite good at sport and I think I was quite good at theater. I felt like I was above it, or it made me feel older. It made me feel wiser. I never was worried that my peers would think that I was less than a man.”

 

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As Elordi tells it, the name-calling only made him double down on his artistic pursuits. He cites a specific instance where he played Oberon, King of the Fairies, in a staging of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

“When they said I was gay, I remember leaning into the makeup. I was like, if I’m going to be the King of the Fairies, I’m going to be the f*cking hottest King of the Fairies you’ve ever seen. I started welcoming those kinds of characters. I started welcoming the femininity. I started speaking with my hands. I started really playing the thespian.”

Related: Euphoria’s Jacob Elordi has something to show you

That role was a transformative one for the young actor, helping him realize that there was a power in subverting expectations, in breaking free of a black-and-white way of thinking.

“I stepped away from beer culture and from sport culture,” Elordi remembers, “and I was like, ‘Well, if you think this is gay, I’m going to be who I am when I was your friend, which is this hetero guy, but I’m going to play the arts. I’m going to do it, and I’m going to show you that’s bullshit.’ I could never understand, how could you label anything, ever? How could you label sport as masculine? How does your sexuality inform your prowess as an athlete, or your prowess as a performer?”

Citing screen legends like Marlon Brando and Laurence Olivier as his inspirations, Elordi aims to follow in the grand tradition of “the leading man,” but gives us hope that the future of Hollywood is one with less hang-ups about the gender binary, sexuality, and masculinity.

At the very least, it’s a relief that he seems like a pretty well-adjusted, open-minded guy—thankfully not at all like the one he plays on TV.

And now back to your regularly scheduled thirsting.

 

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