interview by JANA LETONJA

Rising Australian actor and musician Charlie Evans made his big screen debut in Netflix’s ‘Leave the World Behind’ this past December. Before this role, he recurred on Freeform’s ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Okay’. As a musician, Charlie is trained in classical singing, opera, piano, guitar and bass guitar.

Charlie, you just starred in Netflix’s ‘Leave the World Behind’, an apocalyptic thriller that tells the story of two families as they fight for survival amid an inexplicable blackout. How exciting was being a part of this film for you, which also marked your big screen debut?
It was incredibly exciting, albeit a little intimidating to work with such icons of cinema. Sam Esmail is a genius and a real auteur. Rumaan Alam crafted something so unique by grounding an apocalyptic thriller in human folly. The film asks the question of how much do we know, but also how much do we really want to know. Sam understands that landscape and how to deliver a cautionary tale for these uncertain times. 

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To film your big screen debut alongside icons like Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke and Kevin Bacon must have been a really special experience for you. What have you learned from them on set of this thriller?
I learned so much from everyone on set, not just the actors. Mahershala Ali is one of my favorite actors. He is so present and calm, in life and art. Ethan is brilliant at analyzing the text and he’s so smart. Julia effortlessly drops in and out of a scene, delivering a perfect performance every time. She’s also completely unaffected by her movie star status and the funniest person on set. She’s the hardest worker and was never above getting in the mud, quite literally, to do a reverse shot for anyone. She’s very cool. Myha’la has this amazing combination of gravitas and grace. She crafted Ruth so beautifully. Mahershala, Julia, Ethan, Kevin, Myha’la and Farrah were all gracious and generous with me. I felt very lucky to be able to watch them work.

Before ‘Leave the World Behind’, you had a recurring role on Freeform’s ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Okay’. How has this series prepared you for your upcoming acting career?
‘Everything’s Gonna Be Okay’ was helpful in that it taught me how to be on set. I learned how phenomenally talented crews are. They are all experts in their fields. On both projects, watching the crew work with such skill and artistry gave me an appreciation for how truly collaborative film and TV are. Josh Thomas, like Sam Esmail, is very relaxed and open. They both welcome ideas and adaptation in the moment. I think art needs that feeling of never holding something too tight. 

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boots HEREU

What got you passionate about acting in the first place?
As a child, I was always very imaginative. Fantasy literature like ‘Lord of The Rings’ and comics got me interested in make-believe. I grew up without TV, but I had this little DVD player. I watched a lot of ‘Miyazaki’ and ‘The Mighty Boosh’, a British comedy troupe, when I was young. That might seem like an odd combination, but one is beautiful art and the other an absurdist play. Theatre always felt like a place to play when I was a child and I still see it that way. 

What are your dream roles you would like to star in the future?
I’d love to do so many things. I love fantasy genres, but I also like quiet, contemplative writing that delves into the human condition. If Guillermo del Toro did ‘Star Wars’, any role in that would be the dream. For me, it’s more about the people I work with. I don’t really mind which roles I play, I just want to collaborate with interesting, kind, authentic people who have not lost an imaginative sense of play. Being professional, without losing a sense of play is what I aspire to. Mahershala Ali has that. He’s an astounding performer, but in life, he has a levity, a joy and a playfulness.

vest and trousers J. LINDEBERG
boes SHOES

Besides acting, you are also a musician. How did both of your parents being musicians impact your own interest in music? 
My parents are both very creative and surrounded me with instruments and books from the day I was born. My mother had Radiohead’s ‘The Bends’ on repeat for the first week of my life. Sigur Rós was my first concert as a baby in a sling. I remember watching the work ethic when my parents would rehearse and record. Mostly, I appreciate my mother teaching me the importance of trusting myself through music. She gave me permission to fail, which is the best gift you can give an artist. Before a performance, she would say “Fail spectacularly.” The idea of being intuitive, experimental and unpretentious in music informed how I learned to create generally. In music, the only way through is to fail over and over. That is the practice. She taught me to make what I like without concern for popular taste. Art over ambition always. That might be why I’m writing Irish sea shanties no one will listen to.

suit, shirt and tie PAUL SMITH SUIT
shoes BALLY

Tell us more about your musical career. Are there any musical projects you are currently working on?
Apart from my Irish sea shanties, I write what might sound like alternative rock with a slow, ambient twist. I’m a classically trained singer so opera inevitably informs my music. I’m always trying to record music, but I’m not very tech savvy so it’s definitely a struggle. I’m sitting on books of songs I have written. Work permitting, I hope to record an EP this year. I was accepted to Berklee College of Music, but I had to defer due to acting work. I have been taking classes with them online. They have a great faculty there, although ironically, I’m taking all essay writing classes because I’m trying to avoid classes that require tech. 

glasses PAUL SMITH
shirt, jacket and trousers GRAYSCALE

You are originally from Australia, but moved to the States to pursue your creative career. How challenging was getting started in a completely new country and in this industry?
Australia is a very laid back, beautiful country and I miss that, but there is a lot of enthusiasm and support for the arts in America. Despite the reputation of the industry being harsh, I’ve found people to be incredibly kind and generous. Honestly, from producers to Netflix executives, to directors, crew, actors, casting directors, everyone is so supportive and gracious. There’s even genuine camaraderie amongst actors competing for the same roles. America takes some adjustment for a kid from the rainforest in Australia. It’s competitive here and you need to work hard, but it’s always a privilege to experience a new culture and learn another way of seeing and being in the world. There are brilliant, interesting people everywhere. That said, I would love to live in The Netherlands. It’s perhaps more my speed. I’m not sure I will ever get used to the way people drive in LA.

What are some of the things you enjoy in life the most, when you are not working?
Things I enjoy when I’m not working are spending time with my family, yum cha, playing music and sleeping. My ideal day would be spent in a hammock, in a field, in the countryside somewhere in Europe. A stone cottage, nature, a piano, a good bakery, tea, live music, a bookshop, people with a sense of humor and you can’t go wrong. 


What can you share with us about your exciting, upcoming projects?
I have a few things on the horizon in acting that I’m not able to talk about yet. At this point, I feel very grateful to the people who have supported me and taken a chance on me. I’d love to play more live shows this year. I love the immediacy and imperfection of performing live. This may be an unpopular opinion in 2024, but I’m hoping for a rickety stage at an outdoor music festival with good vibes where I can fail spectacularly. 


photography RAUL ROMO
editorial director and interview JANA LETONJA