Exclusive Interview with Zander by Tom Peaks from @MrPeaksNValleys
At first glance, model and actor Zander Hodgson looks like a typical California surfer boy with the flowing blonde hair and adorable grin. But, that is far from his story!!! He is actually from a small town in England; he started tap dancing and acting at age 5…taking trains to London. In the UK, he had small parts in TV shows like “Hollyoaks,” “Coronation Street” and “Shameless.” He moved to LA to advance his career and study his craft in Hollywood. Zander is a deep thinker…cerebral, analytical and self-aware…yet his heartstrings pull easily. This is Zander in his words:
So some basic stats, Zander: age, height/weight, hair & eye color. What is your hometown? Where do you currently live? Any agencies?
I’m 25, 5’11, 170 pounds, blonde hair & green eyes. I’m from Market Drayton Shropshire, England. I now live in Laurel Canyon, CA. No agency currently.
So, when did you decide you wanted to model and act? I’m guessing you have always known!
I decided I wanted to act when I was a kid. I grew up watching musicals and James Bond movies. I would be so engaged by what was going on, and the stories that the actors would take you on. I then started going to acting classes after school with friends and that’s how it began.
With modeling I decided it was something I wanted when I was a teenager as I looked up to the models in cool editorials and campaigns. When people scouted me, that was when I thought, I could actually do this!
How did your family support you in these endeavors? I know you’re very close to them.
My mum and dad were both very supportive. They were unsure at first, but even when I was little my mum saw I loved dance and she put me in a tap dancing class. I was very shy so it helped that she took the initiative and pushed me. My parents would also come to every show I was in even if I was just a small part. My dad and mum were always proud of me. We lived in a really small town and my parents aren’t part of the industry at all but they helped how they could by driving me to the train station to catch the train early in the mornings and picking me up late at night coming home from castings/shoots. My mum laughs about the different hairstyles I’d come home with from shoots that I had done.
So, you have done some acting gigs when you lived in England. Give us some highlights from your perspective of that time.
One highlight, even though it was small, was getting to be on one of the longest running ‘soaps’. It was called “Coronation Street” and I was the barman in ‘Nicks Bar’. I was an extra but it was surreal being on the same set I had watched with my mum growing up. When we watched the episode, my mum screamed and called everyone as I turned into a close up shot of me smiling 🙂 My hometown is so tiny that even though it was a small role loads of people came up to me in the street and said they saw me.
At the same time, you did modeling in the UK. There was even “The Book of Zander” by photographer Ian Cole. Tell us about that.
‘The Book Of Zander’ came about because Ian Cole was the person who started my career. He was the first to shoot me and then I got signed to M&P Models 🙂 Me and Ian became really good friends and shot together for a number of magazines. He had seen so many changes in me and in my appearance; we had so many awesome images it was his idea to put it together.
So, why did you make the career-decision less than 2 years ago to move to LA? It seems like things were going well for you in London.
I had always wanted to live in LA. Anytime I visited it, I felt crazy for coming back home to the UK. There were fears holding me back though. After finishing training at the Actors Temple, which helped me to overcome a lot of what held me back, I decided I wasn’t going to let fear rule my life and I moved to the US. In England it’s a lot harder to break in to the acting circle unless you have been to a prestigious drama school. In LA, training is huge but there are more opportunities, and it’s more based on talent and sometimes your look.
How have you adjusted to LA? Any regrets? Tell us about the ups and downs of LA.
LA really has had so many highs and lows. The highs being some of the people I’ve met, places I’ve been, opportunities I’ve had. The lows being some of the exact same things.
A high for me was booking the Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue and being flown over to Columbus, Ohio to shoot with 3 other models. However, on the flip side of that, soon after I got back to LA, I was walking to see my dialect coach and some crazy guy on the street attacked me for no reason. There was a moment when I could have ran, but I chose to stay and fight the man. I remember it crossed my mind “I am not a victim.” I was so angry. We fought for a while and he fractured my nose. That experience was challenging—along with the aftermath. But, overall, I learned so much about myself. I changed so much from that random event.
People that say they have no regrets are lying! I trust the experiences I’ve had are all part of my journey to become who I am. But I won’t lie, I regret my behavior in certain situations and how that has driven people away.
So what are the biggest differences you observe in Americans compared to British?
I feel the British are more accepting of whatever mood you’re in where as Americans have a tendency to push you to be happy. British don’t like to talk about their feelings a lot of the time whereas Americans do and therapy is completely acceptable. I love how in America everyone is really active, they hike and people are into eating well. That’s in England too but it’s more niche. LA has a lot of flakey people too. Something that bothers me about LA are people who think they have power and abuse it or see how far they can push you…but I feel like that is probably universal too. One thing we don’t have in Britain is Thanksgiving 🙂 It’s my favorite holiday now because there’s less pressure then Christmas and it’s more about coming together with family and friends.
So you’re studying acting. How has that experience been?
Studying acting has been a real journey in itself. It’s what I love so that drives me. The techniques I chose to dive into demand you to take a look inside yourself. My go to behavioral tendencies, why I do that and if it serves me or the character in the scene. It’s shown me things I want to change about myself and its enabled me to push through that with scenes that have been challenging to me because I’m using a part of myself that I’m not familiar with. It’s given me permission to react fully whereas in life we can’t always do that. I’ve become a lot more accepting of who I am and who everyone else is. I’m a lot more intuitive of what people are feeling and why they do certain things. I’ve read more and watched so many more films then I would have if I hadn’t studied this craft.
I know you love actors Leonardo DiCaprio and River Phoenix, and hope to one day have the kind of roles they played. Tell us about what draws you to them.
When I was younger, I grew up watching their films as they grew up and matured too. It seems like the characters they chose and the messages of their films really resonated with me at the time and even now. They both played characters with depth I could relate to or was interested in. I believe am a lot like them: people driven, vulnerable, love of the craft of acting, at war with myself sometimes and a curiosity about why we are the way we are.
What is the genre of film/TV that best fits your talents? Why?
I enjoy most genres and wouldn’t want to get stuck in just one genre.
I love adventure/action films like ‘The Goonies’ because I was like that as a kid and still am. I like thrillers where characters are not as they seem; a good romantic comedy is always great too!
I was obsessed with horror as a kid. I think I had seen every scary movie you can think of by the time I was 12. I would play ‘Scream/I Know What You Did Last Summer’ with friends running around each other’s houses and out late on summer nights from the killer 🙂
I could see myself in shows like How To Get Away with Murder, Breaking Bad, Prison Break, LOST, Teen Wolf.
What are some of your all-time favorite films? Why?
What a difficult question!! I have so many. I love Stand By Me, The Talented Mr Ripley, Something’s Gotta Give, The Goonies, Point Break, Blue is the Warmest Colour, Silence of the Lambs, American History X, Paperboy, Cruel Intentions, Overboard, Almost Famous, Ghost.
Tell us about any weird jobs or modeling experiences. You have done a lot of different things, Zander.
So many weird jobs! I once went to a casting where I had to hold my breath as long as I could and pretend to be swimming in water while they filmed me. I found out from the call back holding your breath out of water is not he same as under water!!!!! The actual campaign was models swimming naked in a tank for the Las Vegas nightclub Drais!
What is your personal fashion style?
I’m quite adaptable to any situation with my style and have fun with it. My mood reflects my style a lot. Usually it’s pretty relaxed: some ripped jeans, Converse and a vintage t-shirt always look good. Some people say I’m quite grungy.
Who are some male models whom inspire you?
Everyone inspires me! I like Boyd Holbrook who I think is a good actor too. Ash Stymest and Luke Worrall inspired me when I was starting, too, because they were British and goofy and came up with interesting poses or did funny expressions. Mainly the stories the photographers dream up and the personality or moment they capture with their models inspire me. Something that makes you go back to it and notice something more maybe in the eyes or pose. There is an art to it.
I would say my hair is my best feature! People always comment on it or touch it 🙂 I used to want braces really bad as a kid; I would still get Invisalign clear braces.
Your hair is indeed amazing, Zander. Long, golden locks! But, it hasn’t always been that way as seen in your older photos. Tell us about the journey of Zander’s hair and how it got to where it is today.
My hair has been so many different colours and cuts. When I first started modeling, I had bleach blonde hair and my agency wanted me to keep it like that but after a year or so I didn’t like that anymore or feel like that was me. So I tried to get my natural colour back so you see it looks darker in some pictures. Now that I’m in LA my hair got a lot lighter in the sun. My hairdresser Shah at Salon Benjamin keeps it looking so amazing. I decided to grow it since I’ve never had it this long before. My mum always used to get me to shave my head when I was a kid, then when you’re with an agency they pretty much have control over the look they want you to portray. So now, this was my decision.
Give us the best and worst of your personality traits.
I am intrigued by everyone and try to make a connection. I can be very sensitive and I can be really reactive.
You have a wonderful blog at zanderhodgson.com. What motivated you to do that?
I started to get more followers on Instagram and blogs posting about me. Then moving to LA made me see how important it is to have a site people can refer to for up to date information about me and what I’m doing. It’s also like a diary that I can go look back. It’s fun, but also takes time and effort.
Now, Zander, our Flash Bulb quick answer session:
–Fave sin food: Betty Crocker chocolate fudge cake with cream
–Musical artist/group: Fleetwood mac
–Biggest vice or worst habit: Over analyzing
—Fave place you have visited in USA: Grand Canyon
–% of time you leave home going commando: 20%
–% of time you are naked when at home: 80%…maybe 85% when it’s hot out.
–What is the one political issue that could make you an activist: Fracking
–How long does it take your hair to dry: 20 minutes
–One must-see for someone visiting England: Trafalgar Square
–Two classic movies that should star you as the lead if Hollywood re-makes them: Rebel Without a Cause, A place in the Sun
–Are you attracted to introverts or extroverts: Extroverts mainly
What is the best way for readers to reach you on social media?
Or shoot me an email at the contact section on my site www.zanderhodgson.com
All photos by Peter Dive: