Right from the get go of our phone conversation, Blake Cooper Griffin was bursting with energy. Born in South Carolina, Blake graduated from the School of Drama at the North Carolina School of the Arts. Shortly after graduating, he went to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of acting. Since then, he has played roles on shows such as Greek, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Castle, 90210, and NCIS: Los Angeles. His next role is playing Scott on Disney Channel’s popular sitcom Jessie as a part of their ‘WHAT THE WHAT?!’ special. Along with discussing the episode and what it was like working with the fun cast (as well as their special guest star Francesca Capaldi of Dog With a Blog) we also talked about his next film Love Is All You Need starring Young and Hungry’s Emily Osment.
Teenplicity: What was it like working with the Jessie cast and Francesca Capaldi?
Blake Cooper Griffin: Well, I gotta say, I had a blast working with the cast of Jessie and I was 100% unprepared for what I was gonna have that week. So for me, the first person I met actually was Francesca. So when I arrived on the first day, we were introduced and we were sorta the people that, we weren’t a part of the main cast, so we kinda stuck together. I had a blast getting to know her a little bit that day and after the read through I was just blow away by how talented she is and how she’s someone who is so wise beyond her years. That’s actually for all of the cast of the show. I was just taken by how they were so warm and friendly to me and, to be honest, how they were giving me the heads up on everything that was coming throughout the week and I just really had a blast working with them.
T: Can you tell us a little bit about your character?
BCG: So, I play Scott and Scott and Madelyn, who Francesca plays, meet Jessie at a MENSA meeting in Central Park and we end up getting to know the group and it turns out that maybe we’re just a little too good to be true.
T: Well, without giving too much away, do you have a scene from tonight’s episode that you’re most excited for people to see?
BCG: I do! There’s a part in the elevator where Scott gets a surprise where I think uh, *laughs*, I think it’s gonna be really funny for people to see.
T: So, if you could star in any other Disney Channel show, which one would it be?
T: Nice! Now you’re also starring in the film Love Is All You Need which has a pretty interesting concept, I think. I mean, it’s essentially an alternate universe of society’s current view of sexuality. How do you think this reversal will determine the way the conversation is handled?
BCG: That’s a great question. I think that the alternate universe of Love Is All You Need, where basically gay is straight and straight is gay, what that’s doing is basically turning everything on it’s head so that we can look at it and everyone can identify with it. This is really a movie about all types of bullying no matter what the reason is. The movie is saying bullying is wrong and that’s why I’m so excited to be a part of it. I think that what it’s gonna do is allow people to step back and go like, “Whoa, let’s look at how we’re treating each other and let’s look at the effects of bullying on people.” And the movie covers both people in elementary school and also people in college, so we get to see sorta the whole impact of bullying in both places. I think this is a great movie that it’s gonna rock people’s world. It’s also got a great cast, it’s got Tyler Blackburn from Pretty Little Liars. Emily Osment, from Hannah Montana and Young and Hungry, who is now a really good friend of mines. Also, Briana Evigan from the Step Up series, and I’m really excited to get to tell this story with these people because they’re so talented and my hope is that it’s going to reach a ton of people and it’s gonna help to eliminate bullying across the country.
T: In your Fashion Style interview, I read that you were very dedicated and determined to play the role of Bill Bradley. What made you want to play one of the antagonists in the story?
BCG: Another good question, um, I read the script and was blown away by the script. I thought it was such a powerful story and something that I had never seen before, honestly Brie, I had never seen this before. So you know, I feel like, I feel like playing Bill Bradly, without giving too much away about the movie, playing Bill Bradley is an important part to play because to step inside the antagonist, I think what that does is allow people to see how big of an impact bullying can have on someone. Bill’s actions have real consequences for the characters and I think that should be truthfully portrayed. I don’t think that we should just veer away from that, I think that people need to see the effect of their actions on one another. You know, also, truthfully, it’s just really fun to play a bad guy *laughs* it’s just a really fun thing to do and certainly that’s not the way I am in my normal life, but I have played the bad guy a couple times and it can be a lot of fun. Those darker characters can be a good time.
T: So, for this next question, no cheating, you can’t say yourself. Do you have a favorite character in the film?
BCG: Yes, I would say that, well I’m a little split, can I give you two? Okay, Briana Evigan’s character Jude is so freaking cool! She’s so cool! She plays football in the movie, she’s so amazing, and, I just, I love her performance. And also, Emily Osment does such a great job in her character playing Kelly! She does such a good job playing her character and I think people are gonna love it. So those are my two favorites.
T: And after finishing the film, did you walk away with anything?
BCG: Um, I did. I walked away with a new purpose to continue this conversation about bullying and to do whatever I can to help out when it comes to addressing this. Because, guys, it’s 2015 there shouldn’t be bullying in schools. I mean, we’re all educated enough to know that kindness and compassion are far better than making fun of somebody. And also, bullying, by the way, is so unattractive it makes somebody look so, for a lack of a better word, I just think it makes somebody really unattractive. I have no idea why people would want to have a reputation for acting that way. With that said, what I also walked away with was a group of awesome friends. I gotta say, I’m still friends with a ton of people from this movie and the director, you guys gotta know about her, Kim Rocco Shields, is fighting this fight against bullying and has really pushed to have this movie made. So those are the things that I walked away with.
T: As an actor, you tend to gain a lot of power to influence, I think. What do you hope to use your power to promote?
BCG: Well right now, I hope to use my role in this movie and the other stuff that I’ve done to push forward this platform of treating people kindly, treating people with respect. Equal rights for all people, no matter your age, your sexual orientation, your gender, your religion, your ethnicity, whatever it is. And I sorta wanna say, what I like about acting, is that because I can play all of these different characters, I think what that proves is that we all have a lot in common. So for me, acting is sorta an allegory for the fact that we all, at our core, are the same. So I think that I will continue to promote that no matter what the role is, whether I’m the bad guy, the love interest, on Jessie, Love Is All You Need, or you know this other movie that I did with Cuba Gooding Jr. that came out this year Life of a King, or the Helen Hunt movie Ride. No matter how big the part, that’s something I hope that I’ll continue to stand for.
T: That being said, do you have any advice for those out there that want to act?
BCG: I do! I think that if you really wanna do it, don’t let anybody else influence you because, and I actually think this works for whatever dream you have, if you have a legitiamate passion to do something, I think you owe it to yourself to pursue it. You owe it to yourself to be honest to yourself and recognize what it is that you need to do to pursue that goal. So, you can’t just blindly say, “I wanna be an actor,” and not put in the hard work to do it. You have to be determined. I think whether you want to be a doctor or a lawyer or an actor or the President of the United States, I think that if you want to do something, figure out why you want to do it and a purpose and get behind that. And that’s one thing I felt like I’ve done. When I grew up in South Carolina, no one I knew, Brie, was in the arts, no one I knew. I didn’t know an actor, but I would watch people on television or go to a play and think to myself, “This is really cool, I would love to do this.” And you know, I had a lot of people that laughed at me like, “Yeah, okay Blake you’re gonna be an actor,” and you know you gotta be able to take that. So that kinda came up the ranks and I’ve always wanted to do this. Naturally, a cool thing to be able to say is that you started off doing something very young and now you’re still doing it.
T: I love that you included the fact that it takes hard work, but also that you have to be able to take the criticism of other people. I think that’s just awesome.
BCG: It’s true and thank you. One other piece I would say is surround yourself with good people. I believe that whoever you surround yourself with, I have this saying Brie, I say, “Whoever you surround yourself with will chemically change yourself as a human being.” So if you surround yourself with people who are supportive of you and will tell you the truth, then you’re well on your way to do great things no matter what the goal is.
T: I love it. So finally, we like to end our interviews off with a little game. So I’m gonna name a few of your co-stars and you have to pick one of your favorite things about them. Our first one is Debby Ryan.
BCG: Debby Ryan, I would say, my favorite thing about Debby Ryan was how she took care of me. She took care of me from the moment I walked on the set and she kept me in the loop about everything. So I would say, yeah, she took care of me.
T: Emily Osment.
BCG: I love that girl! Uh, I love her sense of humor and she has become one of my good friends. So I would say, she makes me laugh like nobody else.
T: Cuba Gooding Jr.
BCG: His passion, I mean when that guy won the Academy Award, he was jumping up and down and he was the same way when, well he wasn’t jumping up and down, but he had that same passion on the set of Life As a King. I actually got to talk to him about that and how much he inspires me and when I was a kid watching him win the Oscar. So yeah, his passion.
T: Helen Hunt.
BCG: She is one of the most talented individuals I have ever come across. I followed her work for a long time. She’s one of my role models, she’s done everything. She is incredibly strong and at the same time is able to tell these stories whether she’s playing on these human emotions. So, I couldn’t say enough about her, but her talent really inspires me.
T: Tyler Blackburn.
BCG: You know, there are so many things for each of these people, I’m having to select them. Um, I would say Tyler’s calm. He’s such a pro and he’s able to sorta be calm. And whenever/wherever you are in a scene, he’s able to just pick it up. He’s also a very funny guy too, so I really enjoyed working with him.
T: And lastly, you kinda touched on this one, but Francesca Capaldi.
BCG: If I could give it in one word, lemme see…I would say, I’ve already said her talent, but that’s honestly one of my favorite things about her. I would also say her maturity and her genuineness. She was so great and just had such a strong point of view and I really respect her and everything she’s done and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
T: Plus, it kinda helps that she looks a little bit like Merida from Brave.
BCG: Oh yeah! *laughs* And she’s just great, she’s a fantastic actress.
Blake and Francesca’s Jessie episode “What a Steal” premieres TONIGHT at 8/7c kicking off Disney Channel’s ‘WHAT THE WHAT?!’ Weekend!
(Photo Cred: Brooke Mason)