Dog man star

Emilie Hirsch talks to i-D

by Holly Shackleton and i-D Staff
07 October 2010, 6:25pm

Vintage T-shirt by Tommy Hilfiger, Jeans by Levi’s, Shoes by Vans.

From wild child skater to bruised teen, 20-year-old Emile Hirsch is carving a rep as Hollywood's most fearless actor. And he says his only vice is the rusty one in the garage. Is this boy for real? The Eighties, Venice Beach. A surfer's paradise. Think big waves, long curbs and a mere slip of wood against the surging torrent. 20-year-old Emile Hirsch grew up in the place. With a nomadic childhood encompassing California, New Mexico and Topanga Canyon, acting has been a natural progression for someone raised on the rush of the ocean. From the tempestuous ocean to the gruelling pavement to the silver screen, this is one skate-punk with enough fearless energy and determination to flood an ocean with waves or carve a pavement with dreams.

With his career surging, recent film choices span a disquieted teen in Imaginary Heroes, a forthcoming lead role opposite Justin Timberlake in Nick Cassavetes' Alpha Dog and playing real life wild child Jay Adams in the skate flick Lords of Dogtown, a feature based on Stacy Peralta's documentary, Dogtown and Z-boys. "I grew up in Venice and I grew up skateboarding," he explains. Unsurprising, then, that the free spirit and spontaneous energy of skate-ace Adams hooked him in. "Jay has a very different energy to me" Emile reveals, 'but I admired certain qualities he had.' Troubled and compulsively impelling, with bewitchingly bleached locks and gravity-defying skate moves, Hirsch's performance blazes amongst the ashes of the beach, an alcohol addled hippy mother, dazed board manager and prepubescent co-stars. "When I was younger there were people I aspired to be like, but not anymore," Hirsch says. "I just want to go my own path, be my own actor, walk my own course." While at state school - "I grew up pooooor, man" - Hirsch started auditioning and with hang tough determination landed guest appearances on TV shows such as ER and NYPD Blue. "Did my Mum and Dad influence me? Yeah they strapped me to the car and threw chains over me". While acting "definitely made school a lot more boring" he stuck it out, rocking boats with ballsy performances in The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys and The Emperor's Club.

Vintage T-shirt by Tommy Hilfiger, jeans by Levi's, sunglasses by Ray-Ban, shoes by Vans.

Cheekily refusing to comment on whether he shares any of Jay Adam's bad-boy antics, Emile claims to have no vices at all. "Oh apart from this really rusty one in the garage," he joshes. Playful, charismatic, and unrulyingly charming, he deems himself 'a jack of all trades'. With a similarly sharp sense of humour, he reels off an eclectic list of musical tastes that spans everything from Nirvana, Eminem and Alanis Morisette to rap, Mozart and Luciano Pavarotti, before later confessing to cribbing his answers from a CD list in his hotel room. Charming. Nontheless, Emile strongly elieves that "there's something to be said for curiosity and a desire for knowledge and wanting to grow. I think kids today have no responsibility and aren't very mature about the world around them. Most neglect a lot of things that are actually important. I think they need to grow up faster. Not by watching a lot of R-Rated movies or anything but definitely in terms of responsibility." Drawing his inspiration from art and literature, the dogged bohemian has taken his own advice this summer and just finished writing a screenplay. "I always had a fantasy of getting a script to the point where I could direct and act in it with fellow friend actors," he explains. "There's nothing more boring than knowing what's going to happen next." One thing's for sure, Emile doesn't actually want to be a movie star. While celebrity status may await, the serious young actor merely rolls his eyes at encroaching fame. "You've got to be super careful or you'll end up either a retarded arrogant airhead, a dick, or so rich that all of a sudden you're too good for everyone around you." Any suggestions for a way round it? "I've got to keep perspective. I've got to look at it continuously like I'm trying to learn, I'm trying to live my life. If you try to be cool then you're fucked!"

Lords of Dogtown is released on September 16.


Text Holly Shackleton
Photography Matt Jones
Styling Jennifer Johnson

Lords of Dogtown
emile hirsch
Jennifer Johnson
matt jones
holly shackleton
the nationality issue