Sam Palladio

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Photography by Evan Duning
Grooming by Grace Phillips using KEVIN MURPHY
Words by Ee Vonne Leong

Growing up in a household where art is just a part of everyday life, Sam Palladio certainly has all the support and encouragement he needs from his family to do what he is good at as well as what makes him happy. 

“I’ve always wanted to be a marine biologist,” says Palladio, unveiling his deep love for the beaches, surf and wild coastline of his hometown, Cornwall. However, Palladio also reveals that it did not materialize as he quickly realized that his chemistry and math skills were not up to scratch when he started studying biology at high school. “Through my teenage years, I'd been heavily involved in performing arts, music, drama, dance... And I was conscious that I was much better at that. So, I decided to quit the science dream and do a degree in Actor Musicianship at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance.”

After graduation, Palladio’s first job out of drama school was with a Barry Manilow jukebox musical called Can’t Smile Without You in 2008. Then, in 2012, this British lad finally received his big break when he was cast as Gunnar Scott on ABC’s recently cancelled hit musical drama TV series Nashville. Created by Academy Award winner Callie Nouri, Palladio, who has never set foot in America, was suddenly immersed into the foreign world of folk and country music. Thankfully, this talent is quick on his feet and presently, Palladio is few of the successful ones who was given the perfect platform and excelled in showcasing his acting passion and musical skills. To top it all off, Palladio has also performed and worked with some of the finest musicians and songwriters in the industry.

We heard that you have recently performed a solo show at the L.A. Troubadour and Stagecoach! 2016 seems to be going alright for you. How do you feel?
I feel like I'm on a total music high. The Troubadour has such history to it and to be able to say I sold out my first headline show in L.A. there is so amazing! It was a magical night and I have to say it was a highlight of my music career so far. Stagecoach was also such a blast and I couldn't believe the amount of people that showed up for my set. I reckon about 8000.

You’ve even worked with Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck in the past. And you were the opening act for Ron Sexsmith’s U.K. tour last summer. Who is next on your list?
It would be very cool to work with Justin again in a musical way that's for sure. One of my favorite bands growing up was Incubus, so it would be a bucket list to collaborate with Brandon Boyde or open for the band somewhere down the line.

Are you excited about the “Nashville in Concert” tour staging its first-ever international run in the United Kingdom?
So excited because I get to show off how talented my cast mates are to my home country! It's gonna be surreal playing a sold out tour in the U.K. when only a few years ago I was "paying to play" gigs in London. Now we're doing three nights at the Hammersmith Apollo!

Music is a grounding thing for me and a great creative outlet that allows me to push aside some of the Hollywood bullshit and connect to people on a genuine level for a moment.

Since you are based in Nashville, how often do you go back to Cornwall? Does your family visit you often when you are working?
My folks came out to Nashville two years ago, but it was during a break in filming. They came out and saw me perform on the Grand Ole Opry, which was pretty great. I get home roughly twice a year. I miss the sea and the beautiful coastline of Cornwall, but I'll be there this summer! Bring on the beach.

Once you are back in the U.K., what is the first thing you would do?
Usually, I head straight to the train station from the airport and get on the six-hour train to my home town of Penzance. The first thing I do when I get home is eating a Cornish pasty!

Do you remember your first casting? Tell us about it.
Yes, it was to play Romeo in Romeo and Juliet at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in London. I was so nervous! I hadn't yet graduated and I think I messed up my monologue in front of the director. I didn't get the part… Someday I'd love to play the character, though.

Because you graduated at the age of 21, you are sort of like a late bloomer compared to the other American talents. Have you ever wished that you have started everything sooner?
Not at all. I think I had such a great training at Rose Bruford College and I wouldn't change anything. If I'd have started acting professionally any earlier, I’d have sucked (laughs)! The British training system is very different to the American system. Most young actors in the U.K. do their degrees at a drama school, then graduate around 21, well trained and ready to work. In Hollywood, I think young talents are thrown into blockbusters before they're ready sometimes.

You got your big break playing Gunnar Scott in Nashville, who is also an aspiring singer. Do you fear that your fans are unable to tell both you and Scott apart in the future?
No, I don't think so. We certainly talk very differently! When I play shows, my aim is to have audience members who came as a fan of Gunnar, leave as a fan of Sam. I never chased being a country star and my music is different enough that there won't be any confusion I hope.

Over these past four years in America, what have you learnt in general about the industry? Was the American Dream what you have always envisioned it to be?
I've learnt that it's fast paced with sometimes too many people telling you what to do. Music is a grounding thing for me and a great creative outlet that allows me to push aside some of the Hollywood bullshit and connect to people on a genuine level for a moment. To be honest, the American Dream of fame and fortune comes with a price on your privacy. I'm pretty happy where I am at the minute. I have people stop me everywhere I go but I’m still able to lead a relatively normal life. I can't image what being a megastar is like and having your life in the tabloids all the time. Maybe it's the Englishman in me that likes to keep life controlled and private. We'll see if that works out (laughs)!

When I play shows, my aim is to have audience members who came as a fan of Gunnar, leave as a fan of Sam

What do you look forward to every day in life?
Getting home and taking care of my seahorses in my aquarium. It's so relaxing and removed from the “business".

Any hints on when is your EP unveiling?
Hopefully by the end of the year. First, I've got to find a label who's interested in nurturing the split actor and musician career I'd like to have, and help me win over industry types who will see me as just another actor wanting to be a rockstar. I write all my own music and I can't wait to share it with you all.  Here's hoping to taking over the airwaves and tv screens!

Shot on location at The DFLA Studio