It’s likely you’d seen Jack Dylan Grazer in other things before you saw him in We Are Who We Are — prior to the HBO series from Luca Guadagnino, the 17-year-old starred in Shazam! and It — but you can be forgiven for not recognizing him. With the bleached-blonde mop, baggy chic ensembles, and agitated energy he assumed as Fraser Wilson, Grazer says he barely recognized himself while shooting the series last year.
In a phone conversation from his home in Los Angeles a few days before the We Are Who We Are finale aired, Grazer talked about the effects of that transformation, as well as the significance of the kiss between Fraser and Caitlin (Jordan Kristine Seamón) in the last episode, how he defines his character’s sexuality, and whether there might be a second season of the coming-of-age drama.
Since most of us have not been able to go to concerts and packed clubs for a long time, there was something extra-exciting about watching that sequence in the finale at the Blood Orange concert. Tell me what that was like to shoot.
You know something, I definitely took that for granted, that visceral experience of being in a room full of people. People were coughing and sneezing and smoking cigarettes, and it was so breathy and hot and humid, and then going out into snowy Bologna was so nice. I took it for granted, but it was such a great experience. I really do miss that kind of thing.
At the end of the episode, Fraser and Cate kiss, which was something they always swore they were not going to do. Did you, Jordan, and Luca have conversations about how to play that scene?
It’s supposed to seem like this innocent discovery of each other. You notice how it’s not a picturesque kiss. It’s very kind of scattered. It’s all over the place, and it’s like they’re learning about each other as they’re doing this, but it’s also this final answer. It’s such a satisfying moment for them, and also especially for the audience.
I mean, there’s pent-up tension, I think, throughout the entire series, but then it’s answered in episode three. It’s like they’re never going to get together. But then it’s kind of cool when we see this. But also, I think that it can upset people, and also maybe satisfy some people as well.
Why do you think some people would be upset?
Just because maybe they like that Fraser kissed [the boy he met] after the concert. Maybe they liked that Caitlin got with Tura [the bartender]. It feels like almost, right off the bat, we know these characters are gay. First of all, don’t assume that. I mean, it’s this obvious answer we feel, but they’re destined for each other by the end of it.
Fraser’s sexuality never is specifically defined. That’s true of other characters in the show, too. There’s more fluidity. Do you think that’s fair to say?
There’s a lot of fluidity. Yeah.
Would you define Fraser as gay or would you not even really define him?
He’s definitely not gay, but also he’s not bisexual—
[Publicist interrupts]: Can we skip that question? Sorry.
No, actually I like this question. Can we ask this question?
[Publicist: Okay, fine.]
It’s not about me, it’s about Fraser and I think it’s good. And also I know the answer. Luca has said that Fraser is not gay. Fraser is not gay. Fraser is not straight. He’s not bisexual. Because he’s not giving himself these labels. He’s not giving himself these titles. He is truly attracted to what he’s attracted to, as most humans are. If we were just these primal, living organisms, we would live as if we were attracted to what we were attracted to without this stereotypical wall of like, “No, I’m a man. I’ve got to be attracted to a girl,” or vice versa.
It’s the feeling of craving something in a day and maybe you don’t crave it the next day, but it’s just like you’re in this constant state of being human and the constant state of also understanding yourself and following through with these understandings. I think that’s what Fraser’s really in touch with, that primal instinct.
You were saying before that Luca’s very collaborative with his actors, but how did that manifest itself as you were building this character?
Luca is super-collaborative and he always listens to the actors. He’s got the most brilliant philosophy. I think it’s so helpful that he views the actors as the ultimate comprehension of the character. The writer, yes, they wrote the character, they wrote the descriptions, but the actors are living as these characters every day, wearing their shoes and their clothes and their hair. The writers have paved the road and they created this canvas, but the actors are the ones spitting the art out onto the canvas.
Are there aspects of Fraser that were initially envisioned one way and then changed while you were filming?
Every time before I play a character, I visualize myself in the clothes of the character. When I first read the script, I was like, “Oh my God, I’m visualizing this character, but he doesn’t look like me. He doesn’t look like Jack. I wonder why that is? Maybe because he’s far from me.” When I visualized playing Eddie Kaspbrak in It, I was like, “Oh, I see myself wearing these short shorts and sayings like that.” But when I would read this script, I was like, “Oh my God, what is Fraser? What does he look like? He doesn’t look like me.” But then as I started playing this character, living as him every day, I would go home and look at myself in the mirror with this blond hair that Jack would never have. I would never dye my hair blond, but Fraser did. So that was another step in the immersion process that really helped me delve deeper into the understanding of him. I started to see Fraser in the mirror more than Jack.
I would imagine the clothes had something to do with that, too. He has a very distinctive sense of style. Did that make a difference in how you physically inhabited the character?
Yeah, totally. Because also another thing is that I would never … I mean, now I would, because I gained a lot of enlightenment and insight playing that character. But before that, I would have never even come close to wearing anything as brave as what Fraser wore. I also wasn’t really too well-versed on the world of fashion. But after playing the character, I definitely learned a lot about that world and that realm of self-expression.
Do you dress differently now after doing this series?
Yeah, I’d say fairly. I have my days where I’m just like, you know what, I’m just going to wear something comfortable. But I do enjoy that aspect because I appreciate all art. I appreciate all self-expression.
I talked to Mike the Ruler at one point before I started shooting. Luca set me up with him. I talked to him on the phone and I asked him, “Why fashion? What is it about fashion that provokes this feeling? Why are you so passionate about it?” And he goes, “Dude, because it’s art. It’s my form of self-expression. It’s subjective art. I’m not wearing a big label to show that I have enough money to spend on high fashion, but I’m wearing it because it is art and these designers are artists.”
I love that. Now I have that view rather than just like, oh, I have enough money to spend and I’m going to wear these Golden Goose shoes or whatever.
I’m curious about the relationship between Fraser and his mom, which is so fraught. Did you and Chloë Sevigny have time to hang out with each other or rehearse some of this stuff before you did it? Because you sense as soon as you see them that there’s a long history between these two people.
I think the biggest transformation in the relationship takes place when we started the series and when they moved to Italy. She’s dragging him away from his home and his comfortability back in New York. He resents her, naturally, because he resents and blames her for the absence of a father figure and a male role model in his life. The tension between them, I think, really roots from that, and also just because he blames her for the confusion in himself.
There’s a real codependency between the two of them.
It’s almost like a weird, twisted, disturbing marriage they have. It’s kind of a crazy thing to watch. I hate painting this picture, but have you ever seen Bertolucci’s La Luna?
I have not.
Well, it’s a disturbing movie. It’s an incestuous relationship between a mother and a son, and it’s so disturbing and weird. Luca brought that up. There’s a scene where I suck on Chloë’s finger when she cuts it while she’s opening a box, and I think there’s something so twisted about this, but there’s also something so beautiful, because it’s so not normal. And who craves normal to see? I think people subconsciously find more relatability to things that they don’t really recognize. Because in life, nothing is normal, nothing is recognizable. It’s very rare that something is familiar to you. And the people you meet, it’s all very new and you’re learning from these people.
Like Fraser — you might’ve seen someone like that in your life, and maybe you went home and you’re like, “God, what a weird dude. But that’s not me.” And it’s like, “Well, maybe there are some aspects of myself that are similar to that kind of person.” And that’s such a cool concept to tackle. And the same goes for the dynamic between Sarah and Fraser. It’s just weird, and beautiful because it is weird.
You shot We Are Who We Are last summer, right?
Have you worked on anything since then, before the pandemic started?
Yes, but I cannot say.
The reason I’m asking is that I’m wondering if there are things that you’ve taken from working with Luca that are informing your work now.
Yeah, I feel like just from having that experience as a whole, I gained so much insight and so much enlightenment from all of that. From the people, from the diversity of emotions, and the range of expressions and questions, and all these things. When I stepped away from the character, I finally had time to reconcile with myself as Jack and be like, “How do I feel after that? And do I feel changed?” Then I questioned myself, and it’s the same process again, but as Jack this time, with different reactions. Some people might say “Oh, wow, man, playing Fraser really messed me up.” But I don’t know if it messed me up. It really enlightened me and taught me so much.
Luca is doing a follow-up to Call Me by Your Name. Do you think there’s any chance that he might do a second season of this?
I would love that. I’d love to do a second season.
Has that even come up as a possibility?
I can’t tell you. I can’t say.
If it hasn’t, you could just say, “No, it hasn’t.”
Oh, you are sly. You’re good at this. I can’t say a thing.