It is one thing to score a breakout role in a hit film or series, but it’s another thing to get a breakout role so bold and sexually daring that you become a spectacle in your own right. Well, that’s Jack Falahee for you. But in this case, it’s a mix of earning a spot as the top-rated, most-watched television drama, and Jack’s character, law student Connor Walsh, who has become notorious for his steamy sex scenes with a seemingly endless pool of good-looking dudes, his devilish, slick attitude and his quick wit.
“What can I say about Mr. Walsh?” Jack tells August Man Malaysia. “Connor is what they call a gunner in law school. He’s an overachiever. He is very stubborn and is rarely told no. I think that Connor’s biggest concern is looking out for himself and doing what he has to do in order to achieve his goals at Middleton.”
Born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Jack tells us he had never imagined himself becoming a professional actor. His hometown, in which the University of Michigan makes its home, has been known for its flourishing performing arts culture. Jack says he used to frequent theatre and concerts and the University, as well as sing for his church choir and high school’s choral programme. “In my junior year of high school I auditioned for the Fall musical, Singin’ in the Rain. Although I was cast in a small role, I found my love for acting in that show,” he stories us.
That led to Jack auditioning for more high school productions, where he ended up working with theatre students from the University of Michigan, which held the premiere programme for performing arts in America. Jack was then encouraged by a student to audition for a collegiate musical theatre programme, and eventually landed a spot at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Jack began starring in a number of television series, including an eight-episode stint on 2014’s Twisted, and eventually landed the role of Connor on television’s latest eye-opening drama, How to Get Away with Murder. Filled with nothing short of clever plot twists, snarky moments and scandalous scenes, HTGAWM follows the course of a twisted murder plot in which badass law professor Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) and five of her students get entangled. Connor, who is among these students, uses his oozing sexuality to get what he wants – namely to advance in his career and to have his way with men.
A character hailed as revolutionary for television, Connor has become almost an overnight sensation, and so has Jack. “Connor Walsh is quite the dream, to be honest,” Jack tells us of his ultimate dream role. “Anything with substance, really. The flaws and complications of characters really get me going. Anything that I can sink my teeth into.”
In our interview with Jack, we find out more about his work on HTGAWM and his transition into television’s hottest, game-changing star:
How did you approach getting into character when you scored the role of Connor Walsh on How to Get Away with Murder?
There is a method to my madness, I promise. I studied a variety of Stanivslaski-based acting methods while at NYU and I applied a combination of those when approaching a new character. For starters, I read a lot of material on law school. Aside from reading things like 1L and The Paper Chase, I also picked the brain of my sister, who is a lawyer and graduated from a top tier law school, similar to our fictitious Middleton University. After doing some research I began journaling as Connor and creating an inspiration board for the character which I kept at home and in my trailer throughout the season. I also utilize music in a big way. When emotionally preparing for certain scenes you can find me on set with my headphones in my ears.
How did you develop his character throughout the season?
The joy of working in television is that the characters are continually evolving over the course of a season or series. They change through good writing. This season I learned to trust our brilliant writers with Connor. At the end of the day I'm paid to bring the words on the page to life in the most simple and honest way possible. Each day that I receive a new script I learn something about Connor, which in turn helps me develop the character into a more fully realized human.
How much in common do you have with Connor Walsh?
Connor and I are both very driven. We go after what we want, albeit Connor with a little more bravado. We're both unapologetic (to a fault) about who we are. However, I can't pretend that I'm half as confident as Connor. He's got me beat there.
Is it weird that everyone now remembers you particularly for your sex scenes on the show? Did you see that coming?
People love sex so I probably should have seen it coming, but I didn't really. Maybe I was naive but when reading the pilot the sex scene didn't really pop off the page at me. I see Connor's promiscuity and sexual escapades as another facet of who he is. A lot of people enjoy sex and Connor is one of them.
Any particularly memorable behind-the-scenes moments so far?
My favorite memory from set occurred while we were filming episode two. In the second episode there is a scene in which the Keating Five are following Annalise and her team out of the courtroom and into an elevator down the hall. The scene picks up after a controversial ruling and the hallway is swarming with disgruntled civilians and reporters. In order to effectively shoot the scene we needed to hustle down the hall into the elevator as the mob closed in on us. The scene was going to be a single take, so we had to collectively nail it. Now, our background artists are so committed to their craft that they all gave 110 percent when our director yelled action - which resulted in a bit of chaos. We ran down the hall towards the elevator and when we turned to see the elevator doors closing we realized we were missing someone - Asher (played brilliantly by Matt McGorry). We looked out into the angry mob and saw Matt flailing his arms and screaming for help, as he tried to pry himself from the crowd. We all died with laughter as the doors finally shut in his face. The take was obviously ruined. For me, that moment on set sort of set the tone for the rest of the season. There we were shooting this incredibly stressful scene but as a cast we were able to have fun with it, at one of our own’s expense. I knew from then on that filming HTGAWM was going to be a blast.
How much has life changed, following the success of How to Get Away with Murder?
It's hard to qualify how life has changed since HTGAWM has aired. In a way nothing has changed. I'm still as hungry as ever to dig into the work each and every day, now I just have the opportunity to do so AND get paid for it. However, in some ways, everything has changed. Just the other day I was in New York when a paparazzi snapped photos of me walking out of a hotel. At first I thought he was aiming for someone behind me and then it dawned on me that maybe he was indeed photographing me. Weird.
Tell us about the other projects you’re currently working on.
I recently just wrote my first short with my writing partner, Johnathan Brugal, which I'm pretty excited about. I've always wanted to get behind the camera and this venture is allowing me the opportunity to do so.
What keeps you inspired and motivated in your acting career?
I'm continually inspired by my friends and family. Someone wise once told me that you have to surround yourself with your tribe in order to be successful in this industry. I count myself very lucky to have found a core group of friends in both Los Angeles and New York that are constantly creating. It drives me to be an artist. To give myself fully to the work each day. As another friend put it, "If you're not creating you're waiting.”
What’s the best advice you’ve received thus far?
"Don't get too high on the highs or too low on the lows." My Dad repeats this to me often. I think it's a great piece of advice for anyone.
How do you spend your time when you’re off set?
When I'm not on set I enjoy spending time outdoors. As I'm writing this I'm flying back to LA from a ski trip in Tahoe with my family. Ten inches of fresh powder provided for some amazing conditions. I also try and hike around LA whenever I have a day or two off. I've recently been exploring the Santa Monica Mountains along the Pacific and the Angeles Mountains to the east. I also like to blow off steam boxing. Before I booked Murder my friend and fellow actor, Jared Abrahamson, and I would spar for hours to get through the grueling nature of pilot season. He use to fight professionally so he'd teach me boxing and muay thai technique in between auditions.
Do you have any hidden talents that fans may be surprised to hear of?
I can sort of tap dance.
Photography assistants: Nolwen Cifuentes & Danny Ramirez
Fashion Assistant: Scotty Daeng
Special thanks: Bloomingdale's South Coast Plaza, Los Angeles