Worth Every Minute: Calum Worthy’s Dedication in “The Act” and Beyond
As a Disney Channel graduate, Calum Worthy has experienced an incredibly successful acting career, starring in the Netflix hit American Vandal and the Eminem produced film Bodied. In his next project, Worthy flaunts his refined acting chops in perhaps his darkest role yet as Nick Godejohn. The Hulu original series The Act, showcases Worthy’s theatrical aptitude alongside Patricia Arquette, Joey King, AnnaSophia Robb, and Chloe Sevigny in the chilling, stranger-than-fiction story of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard.
For Worthy, this part was an incredible opportunity, further establishing his reputation as a serious actor. This is in part due to Worthy’s extensive dedication to his role. Worthy prepared for months in advance in order to perfect his craft, making sure to pay respect to everyone influenced by this particular murder case. “It was very exciting, it was very exciting. I find that when I prepare a comedic role or a dramatic role, I prepare in the same way. I try to find depth and try to find which ways the character is complex and find the nuances in the character. What was interesting with this, though, specifically, was that he’s a real person and he’s still alive today, and the people that the story impacted may see this project. So I felt that there was this huge responsibility to get it right and to be respectful of all the people involved.”
In the months Worthy spent preparing, he did everything he possibly could to bring Nick’s complex, unsettling story to the silver screen. “It was a very intense process trying to play Nick. I spent two months leading up to the filming of the first episode that I was in getting a handle on who this complex individual was. I wrote a 5 page long–I guess you would call it an essay–about Nick based off my research. I spent time at a center that works with adults who have autism. I read 5 books on autism. I knew that I wouldn’t be doing the autistic community justice unless I exhausted very resource for research, so I really committed 100% to that research process. And once I arrived in Savannah to actually start shooting, I just really embraced Nick. My hair was dyed, so I started to feel more like the character. I would eat the foods that he would eat, I would walk around like him. I just really wanted to make sure I embraced who Nick was.”
Worthy’s preparation and inherent acting abilities allowed him to fit seamlessly into a star-studded cast. “I felt like I was in the presence of greatness. Patricia and Joey just disappeared into their characters and watching them work was like witnessing acting at the highest level. It was really an incredible experience working opposite of them. I feel like in some ways, someone asked me once, ‘What was it like acting opposite Patricia and Joey?’ and I actually feel like I never did act opposite Patricia and Joey. I only ever worked opposite of Dee Dee and Gypsy, because they were that convincing and that authentic with their characters.”
Although Worthy and his costars faded into their respective characters, he and his castmates made sure to alleviate some of the pressures that came with conveying such a tragic story. “We definitely stayed committed to the characters and to the storyline when we were filming, but as soon as we had a lunch break or we finished filming, we would be laughing and having fun and really trying to give ourselves a break from the material. I think if we didn’t do that, we may have gone insane. So I think in order for us to maintain some kind of sanity, I feel like we had to laugh and relax with each other at the end of the day.”
In addition to The Act, Worthy gave an equally impressive performance alongside comedy legends Ed Helms, Demi Moore, and Karan Soni (just to name a few) in Corporate Animals, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January. “I loved working on Corporate Animals. The cast was fantastic; it was Demi Moore, Ed Helms, Karan Soni. I was working with so many actors that I’d seen so many times in films and TV shows that I felt like I was starstruck every time I walked on set. And they’re all comedic geniuses too! So whenever there was a point where they said, ‘Alright, why don’t you guys improvise,’ I was like, ‘Oh my God, I get to improvise with some of the greatest comedic actors around right now!’ So it was very intimidating, but I had a blast! Most of the film takes place inside of a cave, so that’s a great way to start bonding with your cast, is by being stuck in one location for about a month.”
Upon being asked what he would tell his younger self, Worthy said, “Don’t stress out so much and don’t get so down on yourself when things don’t work out, because those are the building blocks to your future. I feel like there’s so many disappointments, especially in this career when you get rejected nonstop. I started acting when I was 9. I faced so much rejection at such a young age where you’re auditioning constantly and you’re trying to get a break. But I’m so grateful that I’ve had all of those experiences because it helped me become, I think, a stronger actor and definitely a stronger person.”
The effects of these formative experiences have certainly played out not only on screen but in Worthy’s personal life. In addition to acting, Worthy’s dedication to excellence in all facets of life persists. He is a devoted climate change activist, whose advocacy has been unwavering since his freshman year of high school. “I was first inspired to become an activist by my teacher in 9th grade. His name is Mark Newfeld, and he showed us An Inconvenient Truth. And I remember watching that movie, and him posing the question afterwards saying: ‘This is the greatest challenge that your generation is going to face (which is climate change). The question is what are you going to do about it?’ And that question has stuck with me to this day. In high school, I was very active in the environmental movement. As soon as I was able to have the luxury of having a fan base and having people that actually listen to me on social media, and make sure it was my priority to encourage them to educate themselves on some of these causes and to be activists themselves.”
Be sure to catch Worthy’s riveting performance in The Act on Hulu.
Written by Sam Spotswoo