A CONVERSATION WITH TOM BLYTH
A rising star on stage and screen, Tom Blyth has emerged as an undeniable talent, captivating audiences with the energy and depth he brings to each of his characters. He is starring in the highly anticipated ‘The HungerGames: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes’, that was released this November. He is also starring in MGM+’s series ‘Billy the Kid’, which will air the second part of its second season in 2024.
Tom, you’re the leading man in recenytly released and highly anticipated ‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes’. How exciting was it being cast on this film and also filming it, alongside such a talented cast?
It’s funny hearing myself referred to as a ‘leading man’. It’s happened a lot recently and I always get the urge to turn around and see who people are referring to, and then I’m like “oh you mean me?” My dream since I was very young was always just to be an actor with a capital A and to make a living getting to transform with juicy, complex roles. So to be leading this huge movie, in an incredible fictional world that I grew up admiring, alongside some of the greatest actors in the world, has far surpassed my dreams. I feel very grateful.
In the film you portray President Coriolanus Snow. What challenged you the most about this character? What is your favorite thing about him?
I think the biggest challenge initially was to try and forget who he becomes in his later life, all the terrible things he does. To play any character convincingly you have to empathize with them with your whole self. It’s impossible to empathize with a violent dictator who forces kids to fight to death for entertainment in an arena. But this is him as a much younger, much more hopeful person. He’s still innocent when our film begins, so the exciting challenge was forcing myself to see him with fresh eyes and take him from hero to villain by the film’s end.
full look BOTTEGA
How exciting was it to go on the world tour, promoting the film, especially after such a long strike and getting the green light to promote it even before the strike ended?
Honestly, it was amazing. I got to travel the world with a dozen of my friends and co-creators who I love dearly, promoting a film that we worked really hard on and fully believe in. We became close during filming, but we all got even closer during the press tour. Not to mention the ‘Hunger Games’ fans who are some of the warmest, most welcoming people I’ve ever met. Any fear I had of not being accepted by the franchise’s already built-in fans was totally dashed. It was a great experience.
You are also starring in MGM+’s series ‘Billy the Kid’, which just aired the first part of its second season. What can we expect from the second part when it comes out in 2024?
Billy has a special place in my heart. That job is what kind of kicked everything off for me career-wise, so I’ll always be thankful for it. Not to mention that Billy himself is such a fascinating, volcanic character study. If season 1 was him witnessing the old West and coming of age within it, then season 2 is him stepping into the shoes of a leader and warrior. He is no longer the follower, but the one who others follow. He has a unique set of skills and he’s not afraid to use them. And there’s loads of action and horse stunts. It’s all very thrilling.
In the series, you portray the cowboy, gunslinger and American folk legend Billy the Kid. The story offers the viewers a deeper understanding of one of the most famous and contradictory characters of the American West. What have you learned through this role?
A major takeaway from playing Billy is that it’s nice to be good at things and being good at things takes time and hard work. The reason Billy can survive all these crazy circumstances is because he puts time into practicing his shooting, riding, lassoing, etc. I’ve had to learn all these things to portray him in the show and it feels incredible to be capable and skilled at these unique skills. I sometimes feel we’ve lost that as a culture. Our attention span is so short these days that it can be hard to just stick with one thing at a time and become proficient at it. But that’s the only way to truly get the reward. I feel like that’s what I’m doing with acting, it’s a lifelong puzzle that I’m determined to keep working at.
coat SALT MURPHY
jumper & jeans ISABEL MARANT
As the series is set in the 19th century and is about the American Western, how did you prepare for it?
Anyone who’s seen the show will know that horse riding is a huge part of it. I do all of my own riding, except for when we have to send a second unit crew off to get aerial shots to save time. Shout out to stunt double Quillan Lowry who does all of that. Before starting the show, I had only ridden once as a kid and fallen off. I went through a pretty intensive training with Canadian cowboys who are the real deal. These guys will take a fall from a horse and get up grinning from ear-to-ear. It’s in their blood. I was in good hands and spent about a month learning to ride. Now I love it and can’t get enough. I feel very at-home in the saddle.
What kind of roles generally challenge and excite you the most? What do you look for when booking the roles?
Coriolanus in ‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes’ and Billy in ‘Billy the Kid’ are both conflicted and multi-layered young men. They’re never just one thing, they’re a hero and a villain simultaneously. They’re brave and they’re brutal. I think I gravitate to these kind of roles because they reflect the many dimensions of what it means to be human. We live in a very judgemental society now and the internet has made people think in a binary way about morality. There’s a lot of pressure to show everyone that you’re more moral than the next person and it can be really easy to get sucked into that way of thinking. Characters like these remind me that life and decision-making is incredibly complex, and that our society is not a finished product. It’s an ever-changing, evolving collection of flawed mammals who are all just trying to get by and do right by themselves and others. There’s something refreshing in that. It takes the pressure off being right all the time and teaches you that it’s ok just to be alive and making an effort.
full look SALT MURPHY
boots ISABEL MARANT
sunglasses TOM FORD
You trained in theater school and you’ve been in many stage productions. How does the excitement of being on stage compare with the excitement you feel filming a TV or film production?
For me, they’re both equally exciting, but they live in different places in your body, they require different stamina. Theater is this rush that cannot be recreated. You get ready to go out on stage and need the stamina to stay in the character’s experience for 2 – 3 hours per night, 6 nights per week. It’s physical and athletic and a huge adrenaline rush. TV and film is a longer, more drawn out experience and your interior life is doing more heavy lifting than your exterior life, because the camera has to come to you and see your inner thoughts. So in that way it’s a more psychological stamina. I love both equally and doing one always makes me crave the other. It’s been a while since I’ve done a play, so I’m absolutely craving theater deep in my bones right now and actively looking to bring something to the stage.
Tell us more about yourself. Who is Tom outside of his acting career?
When I’m not acting, I tend to gravitate to being outdoors as much as possible. I spend a lot of time in upstate New York and still go there to get away in between jobs. I also took up surfing 6 years ago and that gives me a lot of joy. I oscillate between being introverted and extraverted, so one week I’m going out and seeing friends as much as possible, the next I’m hibernating in my apartment, reading and watching movies.
What can you tell us about your upcoming projects and goals?
It’s the first time in my life where I’ve got multiple projects lined up way ahead of time. And projects that I’m very excited about. They’ll be announced in the new year, so for now I’m just prepping. I have to study Italian for one project, kite making/flying for another, krav maga for another. I have to get to work now.
full look OUR LEGACY
full look SAINT LAURENT
Talent: TOM BLYTH @tomblyth
Photography: DEBORA BRUNE @ Diller Global @debora_brune @dillerglobal
Styling: MAX KATT @maxkatt
Grooming: LUCY HALPERIN @ A-Frame Agency @lucyhalperin @aframe_agency
Production: DEBORA BRUNE @debora_brune
On set production: LEA BÜTEFISCH @leadebutier
Assistant: OLA REBISZ @olarebiszz
Styling assistant: DAYANA ARRIETA BATISTA @dayngel_
Editor: TIMI LETONJA @timiletonja
Interview: JANA LETONJA @janaletonja
Cover design: ARTHUR ROELOFFZEN @arthurroeloffze