Actor, singer, songwriter, model. Luke Eisner does it all and he does it all brilliantly in Tall Girl 2. If you were wondering, the actor is just as sweet and humble in real life as his character is … in the sequel to the Netflix movie. We talked to Eisner about reprising his role as Stig in Tall Girl 2, how the pandemic affected the filming, and more about his band Voilá. Check out the full interview ahead and stream Tall Girl 2 on Netflix now.
Tell me how the energy of getting into this movie differed from the first one.
Oh man, well we didn’t even know it was going to happen because of COVID. We had received word that they wanted to do a second one but then the pandemic hit so it kept getting pushed back. It was really just this excitement to get back out and work because most of us hadn’t worked due to the pandemic. It was great to get back and do what we love. All of us have remained close friends over that time so it was really nice to go back into work and do characters with people you love and are your friends. So that was really nice. Last time with callbacks, auditions and then we shot the movie a month later but this time we had a couple of months to prepare, which was nice in terms of acting coach, accent coach, and getting back to the gym.
How was filming this movie different from the first one, considering it was during a pandemic?
The first time we went to New Orleans we could basically do whatever we wanted once we wrapped. Go out to dinner, explore the city, and all the jazz musicians were out playing which was really nice. We got a flavor of New Orleans, but this time we couldn’t go out to eat, we couldn’t go anywhere. With COVID restrictions, we couldn’t leave the hotel rooms, so that was sad for us. It was a lot of masks in between takes, face shields and stuff, which my skin didn’t love. Even though we’re not in high school anymore, we’re playing high school characters and we authentically all had acne, which is hilarious. So bad with masks! The poor makeup artists — they’d cover up something and then you do a take and had to put the mask back on and you could just see them rolling their eyes at having to do it all over again.
Did you have to get tested as well every day?
Oh yeah every day. Sometimes even twice a day. There were different protocols for singing. You could only sing in an enclosed space for a minute and a half and then we had to give 20 minutes of full aeration of the building before you could sing again, and, of course, there’s a lot of singing in this movie. So that was a total nightmare. We could only get two to three takes a day. It was a fun challenge and looking back on it, it’s really Champagne problems to complain about it.
I read that this time around you had an accent coach to make the Swedish accent more authentic, but also this time around Stig’s sister comes to visit him. Was it easier having another “Swedish” person to act with?
That brought a whole new challenge. First of all, my family is Scandinavian. My dad’s side is Swedish and my mom’s side is Norwegian, so that’s what I used for the audition. Then Netflix put me with an accent coach for the first movie. After getting some of the reviews from Scandinavian people, we decided this time to go with an accent coach from actual Scandinavian decent. This time we had three or four months to work, which was really nice. As far as Johanna [Liauw] who played Stella, she hadn’t done accents before, so we would do our classes together and then she would do a little bit extra to try catch up since she didn’t have the first movie to learn. It was good. We learned a lot and it was nice to practice with somebody else and to try and make it sound like we came from the same household.
This time around is a bit of a redemption arc for Stig, where he’s the one trying hard to make friends. Which version of the character is more like you?
I would love to say that I’m more of a second movie I think. I have the goofiness and the dorkiness that Stig has in my real life. I’m talking to you while I’m wearing Harry Potter pajamas. I’m like the Golden Retriever Stig where he’s excited to see everybody and to gain anyone’s affection and attention. I think that’s a good way to be.
I loved the scene in the shop where Stig was trying to impress everyone, that was great.
Yeah that was fun. That was actually our last day of shooting for Anjelika [Washington] who plays Fareeda. We had a great director, Emily [Ting] who kind of let us improv most of that so there’s a bunch of different variations of that scene that didn’t make the film. It was fun to make Stig kiss everyone’s butt for a bit.
Very different from the first movie!
Yeah, in the first movie everyone wants to be friends with him and in the second movie he wants to be friends with everyone. It’s a really fun gift that the writers gave to Stig.
A lot of Tall Girl 2 was about anxiety rather than bullying, do you get that inner voice as well?
It’s funny I’ve always kind of got an opposite thing happen. Growing up, I was very confident in myself and what I wanted to be. I grew up in a town that really valued football and buzz cuts and I was this long-haired kid who wanted to be in rock bands and do movies. I found that the bullies back then kept reminding me of what made me special. The things they’d pick on about me made me more excited to be different. I really didn’t get anxiety like that until the first movie came out! A lot of actors, or maybe just me, who were just starting out, they go and they read reviews and comments. If there are 20 good ones, you tend to find the bad one. I felt like I had a lot to prove or uphold now that I was seen by people and recognized places. I definitely related to the movie this time around, it was something I was currently figuring out. I think that’s part of being in the entertainment industry, it’s learning that you shouldn’t take criticism from someone you wouldn’t take advice from.
The end of Tall Girl 2 left things pretty open for a third movie. Can you give us any details on that possibility?
It’s funny, I was just on the phone last night with Griffin [Gluck, who plays Jack Dunkleman], and he said “Dude, you think we’re gonna do a third one?” and I said “I don’t know, I feel like it’s gonna be like the second one where all the sudden we’re gonna get a phone call where they say ‘hey, we need you in a month.’ I don’t know. I really hope so.” It’s been kind of overwhelming the response that these movies have gotten. I haven’t been to the grocery store without a nice family approaching me saying they loved the movie. That just kind of blows me away how powerful these movies have been for the younger audience. That audience is usually not on social media so it’s nice to just see these moms and their kids excited about this positive message. That’s a long way to answer your question to say, “yeah I do hope they do a third film.” A lot of the lines in the movie were improv so when Dunkers invites me to stay for the summer, we threw in a lot of lines like, “this will be the best summer ever” *wink wink* Netflix, do a summer movie.
Which is easier for you: preparing for tour or preparing for a new role?
Oh man. That’s a great question and I probably don’t have the most poetic answer other than I feel like it’s kind of the same thing. The more and more I do acting and music the more I find they’re very similar parts of the brain and the emotion. They’re just two different vessels of storytelling. Growing up, I always wanted to be an author and that’s a little how I got into songwriting and into acting. It allowed me to tell stories in a different way than just pen and paper. In terms of preparation. I think it’s more challenging to do acting because you have to find that part in yourself that’s in the character, you have to be very empathetic. Whereas with music, you’re kind of just singing songs about your life. For me, I’ve had years of experience of being myself. So it’s a little easier to tap into that part.
Your band Voilá wrote a few songs for the two movies — can we expect more of that combo with your next roles?
I hope so! Part of preparing for the role for anything, I try to listen to as much music as possible and living in the character space for a while so you start to write songs like the character. That’s always how I’ve digested books. I always try to find the little song lyrics in it. In the first movie, the last line was “Stand tall,” and at the time my band had a song called “Stand Tall” out, which was ironic, so I immediately went and started re-writing it, took it to Ava [Michelle, who plays Jodi Kreyman] and we did that together. Then for this movie, there’s a song “Figure You Out” that we had written and it kind of neared the storyline of Dunkleman and Jodi. How Dunkleman just really loved Jodi for who she was and knew her better than anyone and so I rewrote it to fit the script for this movie. I’ll probably keep doing it the same and be that guy that’s always annoying the director, “Hey, I got a song for this scene.”
I saw that you’re quite a fan of books. What are you reading right now?
I’m looking at all my books right now, thinking of one I want to talk about. I really like this author Jennifer Niven and I just finished her book Breathless for the second time. I really like her style. I’ve also been into A Court of Thorn and Roses. There’s this character, his name is Tamlin, and I get a hundred tagged photos daily between Pinterest, TikTok, and Instagram of me as this character. I read the books a long time ago and this character is kind of a jerk but I do physically resemble him. So I really dove into that fandom and I really love these books. Now that everyone is doing fan art of me in this character, I’m even more invested in it. I’ve actually found a lot of good books that way, people fan-casting me as characters. That’s how I get my reading lists these days.
Where can we expect to see you next?
A couple things! I did another project with the producers of Tall Girl, Mary Viola, and McG. I did Uglies with Joey King so that will be coming out sooner than later. I just finished a show with JoJo Siwa, a reality show called Siwa’s Dance Pop Revolution, you can find that on Peacock. We scoured the country for the best young talent to put together a supergroup in an elimination style show. That was fun! I have a new campaign coming out with Ralph Lauren, which I’m very excited about. I’ve worked with him for a while so it’s nice to have that relationship. Other than that, my girlfriend, Kirby, and I do a weekly vlog on YouTube where I give updates on what’s going on in my world. It’s mostly just videos of our cat.