A wise soul once famously said, “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” In this sense, actor Spencer Boldman is a very rich man indeed. Fresh from a remarkable trip to Japan, Spencer opens up in his BELLO cover feature about the transformative benefits of traveling, the incredible fun he had filming his new movie Cruise, and why Paul Newman will always be the ultimate movie star by which all others are measured.
“Every single time I go to a new country, or revisit a country I’ve already experienced, I always return with such a renewed appreciation for travel because it makes me a better actor,” Spencer tells us. “Being exposed to different people, places, and cultures is personally expansive, so whenever I’m not working I try to travel as much as I can.”
And travel he most certainly does — his recent trip to Japan was particularly exhilarating. “I just returned from Japan a few weeks ago. I was in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto and it was incredible. The temples, shrines, and natural wonders are so breathtaking, but what impresses me the most are the people. They’re so kind and beautiful.”
Having begun his career ten years ago in his native Dallas when he was sixteen, Spencer has come to value travel as a vital source of enrichment for his craft. “When I travel I always try to go with an open heart and an open mind and try to absorb as much of it as I possibly can,” he says. “It’s similar to acting. When you play a new role it is very much like you’re visiting a new country for the first time. It feels like an out-of-body experience and you’re not completely comfortable, but I’ve always found those are the circumstances where I’ve grown the most. Travel, like playing a character, gives you the courage to dig deeper and exit your comfort zone.”
For Spencer, the richest growth is always found in unfamiliar territory. “I try to live life in a way that puts me in as many different and varied situations as possible — both physically and mentally. One of our biggest purposes as human beings is to become more passionate and more understanding.” He adds, “I find actors who’ve had more life experience have more to pull from. For me, acting is all about giving a performance that’s rooted in honesty, and in order to do that you need to have lived a great deal in order to pull from it. Any time you can expand your horizons or your limits, it makes for a more interesting person and a more interesting performance. People are able to connect with it more.”
“The actors that I look up to,” explains Spencer,” are actors that completely transform into a character, to the point where you completely forget they are Meryl Streep of Joaquin Phoenix or Daniel Day Lewis.” But the secret sauce goes beyond just discipline alone. “It’s not just about working incredibly hard — it’s also about having a vast collection of life experience. When Daniel Day Lewis plays a shoe cobbler, for instance, he spent two years working as a shoe cobbler in real life. When you get out of the bubble you were raised in it leads to a kind of growth that you can’t find anywhere else.”
In his newest movie, Cruise, alongside co-star Emily Ratajkowski, Spencer found that growth by playing the role of Gio Fortunato, a local bad boy from Queens, New York in the way-back-when year of 1987. “I’m a street racer in the movie who works in an auto shop during the day, but he’s the town bad ass,” says Spencer. “He lives in this small but electric pocket in Queens and he’s the man.” Life is pretty chill for Gio until he meets Jessica Weinberg (Ratajkowski) who sweeps him off his feet with her Manhattan sophistication and worldly savoir faire “and she takes him on this journey of experience,” he tells us.
“The movie is written and directed by Rob Siegel, who wrote The Founder and The Wrestler, and he’s absolutely incredible with story.” Spencer explains, “It’s more a story about gaining perspective, and it’s also a love letter to New York. It’s about this young bad ass who’s proud of where he’s from, but he’s also getting restless. It’s that time when he’s dreaming of something more.”
The atmosphere of Cruise comes courtesy of director Siegel’s passion for a bygone era of American filmmaking. “What I love so much about Rob is he has such a unique palette as a director. It reminds me of a classic American style where the characters are simple but the story is so supercharged. Rob’s most inspired by films like American Graffiti or Saturday Night Fever where you explore areas of America from which stories have never been told.”
“This movie is so different than the standard fare — it just pops,” he raves about Cruise. “When you watch it it makes you feel electric. The characters jump right out at you. I’ve seen it a few times now, and every time I see it it takes my breath away. It’s fun and sexy in a way that films were fun and sexy in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Cruise is an ode to this classic era, and I told Rob this is the closest I’ll ever get to being in Cool Hand Luke. I’ve been in this business since I was sixteen, and in this entire decade I’ve never read a script that’s as cool as this one written by Rob.”
And if Cruise is the coolest script Spencer’s enjoyed, then Paul Newman is certainly his favorite movie star. “I admire Paul Newman because he was simply so classic throughout his entire career. He is the purest embodiment of the very best that an actor can be. I feel it’s important for actors to maintain a certain degree of mystery about themselves, which is why I love Daniel Day Lewis and Heath Ledger (before he passed) so much — they say enough but not too much. It leaves people wondering what else is there, and it makes them more watchable.”
“Yes, it’s important for an actor in the public eye to be passionate about causes,” Spencer says, “but we live in an age where everything is so overshared. The actors from decades ago had such a mythic aura about them because they were able to maintain such privacy. If James Dean had tweeted every waking minute of his life he wouldn’t be the same man we think of today. The less you know, the more interesting it is.”
Cruise is playing in select theaters now.
Photography: Arthur Galvao @artgphoto
Creative Direction: Alek and Steph @alekandsteph
Photo Assistant: Alex Budin @alexbudinphotography
Styling: Sebastien Hohl @acidwasht
Grooming: Danni Katz @danniedoesit
Production: Maison Privée x BELLO Media Group