After emerging as one of the breakout stars of 13 Reasons Why Brandon Larracuente has thrown himself into a series of diverse projects. Much like his character Jeff Atkins from 13 Reasons Why, Larracuente is seemingly unafraid of being different and pursuing the unexpected. Currently starring in Freeform’s Party of Five, based on the beloved 1994 Fox series of the same name, the talented actor once again showcases his talent in an understated yet compelling way. EUPHORIA. sat down with Brandon to discuss Party of Five, cutting his teeth in the world of theatre, his stint on 13 Reasons Why and much more.
First off, you portrayed Jeff Atkins in 13 Reasons Why and featured really prominently throughout the show’s first season. When you were filming the first season, did you ever have any idea how huge that show would become?
I had no idea. I woke up the morning after it premiered and checked my phone and I had missed calls, texts, and a new following and I panicked. I didn’t know who to call first and I remember my fiancé and I staring at each other like “what is happening right now and what do we do?”
In terms of developing that character, he wasn’t a character within the book that served as the show’s source material. So, how was the process of developing that character? So, the car accident was in the book, but the student went unnamed. Brian Yorkey expanded on that character and created Jeff. I am unsure what his process was exactly of building the character, but I did feel free to create with him and make him this really loved down to earth jock. I took Brian’s dialogue and then did my best to bring Jeff to life.
In terms of more recent roles, you recently portrayed Emilio Acosta in the reboot of the iconic TV show Party of Five. Were you familiar with the original when you were first considering the role? I wasn’t familiar with the original. A lot of my family and friends were and they informed me.
The first episode just premiered at the start of January, what’s the reaction been like so far? It has been really positive as far as I can see. People seem to relate to the characters, love that we are tackling a timely issue and are going through a slew of emotions.
Party of Five chronicles the story of five children whose parents have been deported to Mexico. As it’s an issue that affects so many, how did you come to terms with the responsibility that comes with that role? My castmates, the creators and I do our best to stay heavily informed. We didn’t just show up on set and play these characters. We shared articles and discussed them. We spoke to the writers. I also was given access to watch a show about immigrants in the U.S. before it was released which really helped me empathize and understand this situation more. There was a lot of preparation.
Party of Five has the potential to change some people’s minds about immigration in an extremely positive way. Additionally, despite its controversy, 13 Reasons Why did bring up important conversations about mental health and other important subject matters for a vast number of young adults. What’s your perspective on art’s potential to influence society? It is our responsibility as creators and storytellers to tell these important stories properly. Especially when talking about real, prevalent and heart-breaking issues.
You started acting at the age of 8, where you starred in an off-Broadway show called Desire and went on to do more shows in Florida. How did the skills you learned in theatre shape you as the actor you are today? Wow. I was so young then. Now all of my bones ache (laughs). When I look back, being THAT young, I learned that I needed to learn my lines, I needed to practice, and I needed to be present– to show up and be in the moment. Those three things are still very real today.
I obviously understand that a lot more and different now. If you know your lines that will be the last thing, you’re worried about in a scene allowing you to be more present. If you don’t practice (work the muscle either on set or in class) you can lose the authenticity in your abilities.
In addition to 13 Reasons Why, you also played roles in both Bright & Bloodline for Netflix. Can you describe that feeling of having a show or movie that you’ve been a part of being released all around the world instantaneously? I know this might sound crazy but for me pretty normal. There is, of course, a sense of accomplishment that waves over me and I might say something like “wow, cool.” However, those moments are fleeting. Real-life outside of career awaits and I try not to live in the clouds too much.
Out of all the roles you’ve played, which one has been the most challenging? Playing an Orc in Bright and Emilio for different reasons. Playing an Orc came with 16-hour days in a full body and face costume which made me feel buried alive at times. The contacts were also grueling, I can’t imagine how Joel Edgerton felt. It was also completely made up so acting like an Orc comes with a lot of imagination.
Emilio was challenging because of the responsibility that comes with playing him as well as the continuous days. Meaning on top of all of the research and making sure I get him right after 12- 16-hour days I had to find the time to learn the next day’s lines and balance my life outside of work during a very fast-paced shooting schedule.
When you’re reading a script, what is it that attracts you to want to play a particular character or be part of that project? If I can see myself playing the character, if the writing is great, the story is meaningful and it’s something I haven’t tackled yet. I have been very lucky to be a part of diverse projects.
Finally, what advice would you give to younger self or anyone with a creative ambition or any ambition that feels out of reach? Put in the time and stay grounded. If you put in the work and the time, you’re bound to reach your dreams. If you’re hoping it falls in your lap, it probably won’t work out that way unless you’re extremely lucky. You have to work harder than those around you. Also, staying grounded. Taking care of your mental and physical health is so important. Temptation and bad influences are everywhere. You don’t want to fall victim to someone else’s unhealthy way of living. If you’re level-headed you’ll know what to leave behind and what to take with you on your journey.