Home celeb profile Billy Magnussen

Billy Magnussen

by devnym

With an extensive resume—Emmy-winning The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story, Epix’s Get Shorty, Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies opposite Tom Hanks, a spot on Netflix’s acclaimed Black Mirror, the sleeper hit Game Night, and numerous Broadway productions—Billy Magnussen actively challenges the somewhat retro atmosphere of today’s social norms that hold men hostage to hyper-masculine stereotypes that should have been buried ages ago.

Photography by David Roemer

Don’t forget to check out Billy’s video on our YouTube Channel at this link HERE.

By Moonah Ellison & Peter Kougias

He was so memorable in last year’s TV version of Elmore Leonard’s Get Shorty, playing Nathan Hill, a fresh new actor in Hollywood who pays his way as a prostitute. “Nathan is the most optimistic guy! He doesn’t see how dirty and disgusting Hollywood can be. He goes in there with bright eyes.” While the television executives don’t see the talent in the character, Magnussen’s own talent and awareness far outshines Hill’s.

Shifting direction towards the other side of the camera, Magnussen is currently working on his directorial debut. “It’s different when you’re an actor. You’re just a color in somebody else’s palette. I could be blue and be the best blue they have, but still only a blue. But now you really get to be the painter. You get to use all the colors.”

His film, The Ridge, is centered around the theme of toxic masculinity. While the plot is under wraps and due to start filming in February, he did hint that “men need to listen to each other. And we’re better off on the same team and having the problem outside of us instead of against each other. Trying to figure out the problem that’s in front of us, not the wall that’s between us.”

The admiration he has towards the feminist movements throughout history inspires his social awareness. “Women have been having the conversation with each other on what it is to be a woman and how we can be stronger and how we can better ourselves as a group. I feel men don’t do that as much sometimes.”

In today’s era of #MeToo, he acknowledges a wrath of toxic masculinity controlling men across the world. “If we don’t open our ideologies to other people and we don’t listen to other people it can be destructive.”

While he doesn’t have a favorite medium for bringing his work to life, his blood pumps for theater. “You spend three hours bringing a character to life without a break and it’s definitely one of the best highs in the world. It is a gift to complete your role, and bow, and thank the audience for going on this make-believe journey with you. “ He made his Broadway debut in 2007’s The Ritz alongside Rosie Perez and was nominated for a Tony for Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike starring Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce. Following in the footsteps of the elite professionals he has had the pleasure of working with, he commented “Tom Hanks, [Steven] Spielberg… They are prepared, ready, and willing to go all the way and just be present. And they’re nice people. They’re the greats because they’re good people.”

While other performers bake in the LA smog and are bombarded with paparazzi and fans, New York City has been a haven and relief for him. “We live in chaos and you just ride with it as it goes along.

“For me LA is the film business. It is the industry. When I leave work there, I feel like I never leave work. When I am in New York, I feel like some dude on the train. If the world could be like the subway that would be fantastic.”

He also prefers life across the pond! “I lived in London for a while. I loved living there. Give me drizzle, a nice raincoat, and an umbrella. I felt so posh walking down the street like that.”

Magnussen is thankful for his wonderful opportunities in the entertainment industry and ability to create and perform. He still sees himself as a “little boy playing with action figures.” He compares his acting adventures to childhood explorations in the woods and “dreaming.”

While taking a trip down memory lane, he reflected on his school yard days. “I wish we could put all our investments into education.” (He believes the education system failed him and didn’t realize it until later in life.) Also, teaching about the environment is important to him. “There’s no Planet B, so we need to take care of [ours].”

Magnussen grew up in the transitional period between Gen X and Millenials, so he appreciates how social media feeds are becoming the modern soap boxes. “I’m 33 and the social media age hit me as I was leaving college so I was a part of both the before and then the transition into this social media phase; I saw both worlds and it’s just wild how it has changed.”

While social media can bring society together, there’s a lingering grim undertone with every swipe. For every loving post on social media there is a backlash of hatred which upsets him. “I think the trick with social media is to balance the light and the darkness with it and I hope people share love and light through it rather than selfishness and loneliness.”

He has of course already approached the dark side of social media on the big screen in last summer’s indie hit Ingrid Goes West. Starring alongside Elizabeth Olsen and New York Moves cover star Aubrey Plaza, he played a pivotal role in a story representing the potential chaotic and depressive outcomes of social media addiction. Playing Olsen’s egocentric and obnoxious brother, he protects her from Ingrid (Plaza) who has been stalking her via Instagram.

With instant gratification at our fingertips and accessible fifteen minutes of fame in exchange for the bare minimum, he reminds us that “craft is a thing of time. People forget that time actually makes [us] sharper” in regards to some who lack “depth to what they are doing.”

In the coming year, Magnussen’s credentials continue to strengthen. He is starring in the Netflix sci-fi/drama Maniac (alongside Emma Stone and Jonah Hill) and a thrilling series, Tell Me a Story, from the fright mastermind Kevin Williamson (Scream), which is a modern retelling of classic fairy tales. He also has the pleasure of performing in Disney’s upcoming remake of Aladdin as a new character called Prince Anders.

Billy Magnussen is on his way to becoming a household name.

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