HFPA in Conversation: Alden Ehrenreich Explores a Brave New World

by Kirpi Uimonen Ballesteros August 12, 2020
Actor Alden Ehrenreich

alberto e. rodriguez/getty images

Monogamy, privacy, money, family, and history itself are prohibited on Peacock’s series Brave New World,  based on the 1932 novel of the same name by Aldous Huxley. Alden Ehrenreich plays John the Savage in a society where drugs and free love are normal.  “I actually never read the book until I got the job. I'd read a few snippets of other work by Huxley, some essays, and some of the "Doors of Perception", but I'd never read" Brave New World", even though I have it on my bookshelf. But it is unbelievable what his sense of insight into what the future might be”, Ehrenreich told HFPA journalist Scott Orlin.

Showrunner David Wiener told an interesting story to Ehrenreich. “George Orwell was Huxley's student, and George Orwell wrote "1984". After he wrote it, Huxley said, "This book is really great, but what I'm really concerned about is not a totalitarian tyrant who comes in and takes people's freedom by force of strength. I'm really worried about our lives being made so comfortable that we give up our own freedom, and that things become so convenient that we essentially become complacent and stupid." And that is such an interesting and more nuanced vision, and that reflects, to me, a lot more of my experience, what I've seen.

The show has philosophical questions, but it’s really about love and feelings. “What you're really living in the show is this gray area of how the people within these structures feel in their day to day lives. New London is a society where they have made bad feelings illegal, or feelings that they're calling bad. So the show shows, what are you, if you're cut off from your anxiety, or your fear, or your anger, or your resentment? What are you, if you actually rid yourself of those things?” I think the show is daring in a sense because it's embracing all these darker, messier, weirder and more difficult sides of the emotional landscape.”

But what is Alden Ehrenreich’s happy place? This is going to be so nerdy and pretentious sounding, but really, my favorite place to go is bookstores. I also like the outdoors a lot. I like spending time in forests and in nature, but I really end up almost compulsively going to bookstores during regular life, and just wandering around, looking at things, and I'd buy way too many books and then read way not enough of them.

Listen to the podcast and hear how he feels when people recognize him; how was it filming sex scenes with a big group of naked people; does he worry about his weigh?; how his parents shaped who he became; how his parent came up with his name; how Crossroads School nurtured his creativity; why Steven Spielberg recommended him to DreamWorks; how was his experience on the TV show Supernatural; what kind of advice Francis Ford Coppola gave him; why he feels embarrassed about his audition for Spider-Man; how he got the leading role in Beautiful Creatures; which line was difficult for him to say in Blue Jasmine; has his journalism studies helped him with acting; how was it working with the Coen brothers; how long are Warren Beatty’s dinner parties; why he chose to play Han Solo and how was that experience; why he wants to direct and what’s his short film going to be about; and how he learned to bake banana bread.