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Matt
Lanter

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Your Go to Good Guy

By Christina Ying

Photography: Gabriel Goldberg

The power of Matt Lanter’s appeal is that you don’t know him, yet it’s like you’ve known him all your life. He’s made a career as the ridiculously good looking all American guy, like someone you wish you knew in high school, although knowing deep down inside you’d blush in his presence and hide in a corner. His appeal with young female viewers is that he’s a hunk who seems like the best boyfriend with tons of emotional support to spare. If you were a fan of his while he was on the network’s reprise of Beverly H ills, 90210 he was probably plastered on your high school locker. It’s because he’s the quintessential CW hunk, clean cut, no fuss, and fit. There’s not even a hair out of place to indicate that there’s any danger or edge to his character. With Lanter, there are no dark demons to hide because he has none to show.

He doesn’t offer much of his personal life. In interviews, the story of his life is recounted in the same way over and over. He was plucked from the South when he was discovered on a reality show. He made it in Hollywood being a guy without much controversy in life or his work. The vagueness works for him as his onscreen image is a fantasy that projects a safe hero and a man of true American integrity. Anything about him that could be polarizing would damage his appeal, so it’s smart of him not to reveal qualities that would deviate from this image.

The funny thing about Lanter is that he never intended to be front and center. Born in Ohio, and growing up in Georgia he played sports and followed in his brother’s footsteps as a batboy for the Atlanta Braves. Not wanting to lose his association with the franchise, his plan was to stay and become an executive. His acting career started as a background actor for Bobby Jo nes: Stroke of Genius starring Jim Caviezel, but he clearly wasn’t meant to be just an extra. “They gave me a feature role where I didn’t have any lines,” he says. “I played the caddy for Bobby Jones and I had my own little shot and close up.” That short but significant close up changed the course of his life. “Being a kid growing up in Atlanta, I thought I would spend the rest of my life watching films. I never thought that I could be a part of them.”

While taking acting classes in Atlanta, Lanter saw a casting announcement for Bravo’s reality show Manhunt: The Search for America’s Mo st Gorgeous Male Model. With not even a proper headshot to offer, he jokes that at the time to break into the industry; he just found some guy with a camera to take pictures of him. “I’d never done any modeling,” he says. “Never had a modeling job or anything like that and they ended up picking me.” Lanter didn’t win the competition. For years he says he didn’t even want to talk about the show, and for a guy who has YouTube videos dedicated to his shirtless body, it’s shocking that Lanter would be kicked off a modeling competition for being “too fat.”

He instead took the rejection in perspective. “In my exit interview, I told them. I don’t really want to be a model I’d much rather be an actor.” Despite no one remembering who won that reality show, that exit interview would be a game changer for his future. “My manager who’s still with me now saw me on that show and contacted me when I was back at the University of Georgia. He told me, ‘Hey if you ever wanna be an actor. I’m a manager, and I’ll sign you if you ever come out here.’ I finished my semester, saved up a few thousand dollars, and drove my car out to Los Angeles. As soon as I got there, I called him and said hey I’m here.”

That manager has helped Lanter with the steady work since then. When he’s not working, he lives up to the fantasy of being the perfect boyfriend. Married to YouTube star

Angela Lanter, he collaborates on some of her videos with over 152,000 subscribers. He even helps with her blog and takes her photos. They have an adorable video where he’s challenged to do her makeup and fails hysterically. He genuinely enjoys hanging out with his wife. “We just have relaxing nights those are more fun to me than going out to any Hollywood event.”

On camera, he’s always ready for adventure. He’s currently filming in Vancouver for his upcoming NBC show Timeless, a sci­fi thriller on NBC about a criminal who steals a time machine. In a race to save history, Lanter’s character Wyatt Logan is part of a team that travels through time to chase a madman. The time travel adventure isn’t his first time in the science fiction realm . He starred in the CW Alien drama Starcrossed and was the voice of Anakin for the animated film Star Wars: The Clone Wars. If you feel like you’ve seen him everywhere, it’s because you’ve known him for years. He started his network television career on Commander in Chief as the son of a fictional first female president played by Geena Davis. “Rod Lurie the show’s creator gave me a chance without knowing much about me and made me a series regular that premiered to 20 million viewers. It’s’ not happened to a lot of people.” He then booked a recurring role in 8 Simple Rules, but the scope of his big break hadn’t hit him just yet, he was too busy taking in some small joys. “I could finally afford to order a Starbucks cup of coffee. I thought I was on top of the world because I could buy a small vanilla latte.”

Being part of a monumental political drama catapulted him into the success that he’s in today, but the scope of his politics stay in the realm of fiction. “First and foremost my job is basically to focus on my work. I often find that I’m turned off by actors and musicians commenting on the political space.” For an actor who always plays the guy, that always has to be appealing, it would be difficult to imagine Matt Lanter giving his opinion on the state of our U.S. election. The draw of his characters is that they are not controversial personalities, but he offers his perspective this way, “ I can’t control the situation other than my vote son educating myself and using my platform on social media for positive change. Other than that I tend to stay out of it.”

The positive change may lie in his new historical project U ss Indianapolis: Men of Courage, starring Nicolas Cage. Based on a true story of a torpedoed Navy ship during World War II, Lanter was eager to tell the story about the sunken USS Indianapolis. It was a massive military catastrophe that left 800 men in the Pacific Ocean for five days, a historic blunder that Lanter himself is personally tied to. “My grandfather was on that ship. He was in the water for five days, and survived the whole thing.” Lanter has relived the narrative of this incident numerous times, as his grandfather would come into his classroom to talk about the incident. The movie itself has taken awhile to get funding, but Lanter’s connection to the film is a personal legacy fulfilled. “I feel proud to be in this movie and represent these men. I’m proud to represent my grandfather.”

If Matt Lanter ever had a moment of young Hollywood thrills, you’d never know it. He and his wife are both Christian and grounded in a life that is seemingly un­Hollywood. “My wife and I we watch a lot of old movies together. Our home in Los Angeles is our sanctuary.” And with that, Lanter lives in marital bliss and doesn’t need the tabloid fodder or outlandish tactics to get himself any attention. He’s remained in Hollywood as the guy that keeps it simple and keeps it good. Playing golf, hiking, and staying at home with his wife is all he will offer as to what goes on in his life. His habits make him undeniably an “old classic.” He laughs at the term for a moment and then says, “I don’t know if I’ve always been an old classic, or if I’m just becoming one.”

 

photography by Gabriel Goldberg

stylist Joseph Cassell

groomer Sonia Lee