There’s a new heartthrob set to take over our Netflix screens. Rising star, Rudy Pankow plays JJ in the latest teen adventure-drama, Outer Banks. The new teen show, which dropped on April 15, has quickly risen to the top of their most-watched series lists. 
The series follows a group of teens - the Pogues - who in the midst of searching for their friend’s father, find themselves discovering a legendary treasure. JJ is played by rising actor, Rudy Pankow, who is one of the beloved members of the Pogues and noted as reckless, wild yet extremely loyal.
However behind closed doors, Pankow’s character deals with a lot more sinister troubles. We spoke to Rudy Pankow for the lowdown on his latest breakout role.

Rudy Pankow photographed by Matthew Kennet

From a young age have you always known you wanted to be an actor? If not what other career path did you dream of?
No. I didn’t always think I was going to be an actor.  I think I was confused on what I wanted to do and what people were wanting me to do. I was very close to going to a culinary school in Rhode Island. But it just didn’t feel right so I found the opportunity to go LA, told my parents that I wanted to take a gap year and see how I felt about LA. And when I took my first acting class in LA, that’s when I fell in love with the craft.

Playing JJ in Outer Banks is a big breakout role. How is it playing JJ?
It’s a riot! You get to express a very wide range of emotion. Theres' a certain freedom in playing JJ, you get to really explore what works and what doesn’t because he has such an opinionated point of view on life.

The Pogues are a close group of friends. Are you actually friends outside of filming too? 
We most certainly are friends in real life. Talk to them at least once a day.

I'm sure there have been plenty, but what has been your favourite moment during the show on or off-camera?
I think a very special moment was bringing my parents onto set who are from Ketchikan Alaska. They were blown away to see for the first time since I had moved to LA what I was working towards.  Showing them the sets and introducing them to everyone was definitely one of my favourite moments.

The abusive relationship between JJ and his father is one of the most devastating and sinister aspects of the show. How did you dive into this storyline? Was it difficult to prepare for?
Yes, it was quite difficult for several reason. One big reason why it was difficult was that I felt responsible to portray something that is very real in the world today, as real as I can and show the pain and abuse as raw as possible. However I am very lucky to have a father who I definitely did not have that experience with so I couldn’t use personal experiences to portray those scenes. So the second reason why it was so difficult to act out those scenes was because I wanted to talk to people where abused by their fathers growing up and how that affected them today which was very hard to accept those stakes and emotions and bring them out and experience the rage and pain those people went through.

Do you find any similarities between yourself and your character JJ?
I think there might be a few things. JJ and I are very social people, who love to engage in interesting conversation. I also feel we both are self sufficient individuals.

Since the launch of Outer Banks on Netflix, it has become a must-watch series to binge. When receiving the script for this show did you anticipate it being a huge hit?
No, I knew it had the potential but I didn’t want to put the expectation in my head that it would be.

Playing JJ has been a big starring role, has anything changed for you since the tv show has been released?
There have been changes and I am very excited for the future. Due to covid, the industry is pretty much at stand still until further notice. So we’ll have to wait and see until productions and start.

After starring in The Deviant and Netflix’s Outer Banks and The Politician, we would love to know, do you watch the shows/films you star in? 
Yes. But from a audience perspective because you will always look at yourself and think… “well I would’ve changed that” which isn’t entirely bad, but when I watch films, and tv shows I’m in, I try my best to engage in overwhelm story and message, and see if it moves me, which is, in my opinion, what art is truly about.

We are all eager to hear if the show will continue with a second series. Is there anything you can share with us?
At the moment, it’s all up in the air. But my fingers are crossed as well. 

With most of your career ahead of you, what would you like to accomplish?
This question is very hard because I have an idea of what I want to accomplish, but to tell you the truth, that is constantly changing. Once a goal is met, there will be another after that, and then another, and then another. But I will say a goal or mile stone I’m working on, is working to find that role that will break my image of JJ, and challenge me to show my range as an actor. That and of course working with some of my favourite directors like, Christopher Nolan, or Taika Waititi, Tarantino, Edgar Wright, Spielberg… and the new upcoming generation of directors as well. I mean the list goes on. But one step at a time.

What other plans do you have coming up, or any other projects we can expect to see you in soon?
I would love to tell you and there are some things in the works but at the moment, I cannot speak on what at the time. Partially because of who know when the industry will pick up again.
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