IN CONVERSATION WITH FROY GUTIERREZ
interview by JANA LETONJA
Froy Gutierrez is an actor best known for his role as Nolan in ‘Teen Wolf’. In 2021, he starred in his first series regular role as Jamie in Freeform’s hit series ‘Cruel Summer’, which notched Freeform’s most-watched series debut ever. This fall he starred in Disney+’s highly anticipated ‘Hocus Pocus 2’, the sequel to the 1993 cult classic film ‘Hocus Pocus’, alongside Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and others.
Froy, you got discovered when an agent saw you in a local play and sent you on a series of auditions. Have you ever though of becoming an actor before that?
I think everyone has a desire to create. Acting was just the avenue that helped me find myself and find others like me. I’ll forever be grateful that my mom signed me up for that improv class. I don’t know where I’d be without the craft.
You made your TV debut in 2015 with the role of Charlie in Nickelodeon’s ‘Bella and the Bulldogs’, but your breakthrough came when you were cast as the emotionally and physically fragile Nolan in season six of ‘Teen Wolf’. Which of the roles you played so far left the biggest impact on you as a person and why?
I imagine art like a party – it might be an artist’s job to set up the decorations and pick the music, but it is experienced by the audience. It leaves a huge impact when you meet the people who made it happen, to hear their conversations and experience their joy. Working on projects like ‘Hocus Pocus 2’, ‘Teen Wolf’ and ‘Cruel Summer’ you can’t help but appreciate the people who pour their love and time into it. I think of them when I get aimless.
Last year you starred in your first series regular role as Jamie in Freeform’s hit series ‘Cruel Summer’, which notched Freeform’s most watched series debut ever and is also available to stream on Hulu. What is the most special storyline of this series for you?
‘Cruel Summer’ is one of those once in a lifetime experiences, I think. It’s rare to be invited to a set that is telling a story that feels so personal to you. I think the most special thread, to me, is the cautionary tale about expecting people to hide their imperfections or experiences. When I was young, I learned the hard way that keeping things to yourself doesn’t make you stronger, it makes you vulnerable to the wrong kinds of people. I like to think we helped somebody feel less alone in their experiences.
Just recently, we’ve been able to see you in Disney+’s highly anticipated ‘Hocus Pocus 2’, the sequel to the 1993 cult classic film ‘Hocus Pocus’, where you starred alongside Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker among others. How would you compare the classic and this sequel? Especially as the sequel came out almost 20 years after the classic film.
‘Hocus Pocus 2′ is a real delight to be a part of. I grew up with the original and it was surreal to be able to see Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy at their best while we filmed the sequel. We got to have some fun and bring the witches into the 2020s. It’s a classic for good reason and I just hope our sequel lives up to the original.
You split your childhood years between Texas and Mexico. How did splitting your time between these two countries impact your childhood?
Over the years, I’ve realized my experience can’t be summed up neatly. I often felt like my heritage was inconvenient to others. When I was a kid, I felt the need to hide half of my life because I didn’t want to have to explain myself. Sometimes it was hearing people make fun of my name, sometimes it was the neighbor’s kids calling my dad a drug dealer, sometimes it’s just the pressure of knowing what my father gave up to come to this country. But all of the time, it’s a real gift. I got to learn English and Spanish at the same time, I grew up in two cultures, I have a family that loves me. I am so profoundly fortunate and I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world.
In Dallas, you went to Booker T Washington high school for the performing and visual arts and were part of a performance group at Planned Parenthood, working on peer-to-peer outreach on issues important to teens. Why do you believe what Planned Parenthood does is so important, especially these days, with everything going on in the States?
I am the man I am today because of Planned Parenthood. The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is infuriating. I wholeheartedly support everyone’s reproductive autonomy. Abortion is healthcare. End of discussion. Abortion saves lives. Abortion should be decided by the person and their doctor, not politicians. Planned Parenthood is healthcare and does so much for all kinds of people and performs all kinds of necessary services. Had it not been for Planned Parenthood, I would have never had a comprehensive education in high school about sexual safety, the reality of HIV/AIDS, disordered eating, depression, dating violence, inclusivity and alcoholism. The Texas public school system draws the line at abstinence only sex education and I witnessed firsthand how my peers suffered as a result.
Currently you’re filming the Lionsgate’s remake of the 2008 horror film ‘The Strangers’ alongside Madelaine Petsch. What’s the most exciting thing about filming a horror film?
There’s a distinction between the genre of the medium and the genre your character thinks they’re in. ‘The Strangers’ might be a horror film, but my character thinks he’s in an action movie. And each day I got to set, I got to learn a new physical skill. Director Renny Harlin and producer Courtney Solomon taught me so much and I can’t wait to take those lessons forward with me throughout my career.
Froy, after all these auditions and filming, we would love to hear the craziest of funniest story that happened to you at an audition or on set?
Everything has been on Zoom lately, so there’s not a ton of fun stories over the computer. Earlier this year though, my rural cabin I was staying in had terrible WiFi, so I drove two hours to a self tape studio to do a Zoom callback. They didn’t have WiFi either. It was a wash. Not making that mistake again.
Where would you love to see your career take you in the next few years?
With how accessible everything is on the internet, I hope to keep a bit of mystery to my career. I want to take on roles that scare me. Life is short and I want to commit to the things I’m afraid of.
Talent: Froy Gutierrez
Photographer / Creative director / Set design: Tyler Patrick Kenny
Styling: Gloria Johnson @ Tunnel Media Group
Grooming: Erin Anderson for Exclusive Artists using Charlotte Tilbury
Styling assistant: Mia Jackson
Studio techs: Reno Ronquillo & Heather Anderson
Cat: Bambi (Minion Baatar)
PR: Natasha Desai @ Full Coverage
Editor: Timi Letonja