For Drew Starkey, one of the best parts about being an actor is collaborating with a creative team who is fully committed to bringing a story, its world, and its characters to life, whether that’s on the stage or screen. It’s one of the reasons why Outer Banks has become the show of 2020 and why Drew is a scene-stealer as the villainous Rafe. Pop Culturalist caught up with Drew to chat about his start in the industry, Outer Banks, and where he’d like to see his character go in Season 2.
PC: How did you discover your passion for the arts?
Drew: I started doing theater when I was a kid, probably around nine or ten. My family is a very musical family. Grandpa was an opera singer. He was on Broadway in the late fifties. My uncle started an opera house in Asheville, North Carolina. We grew up going to the theater and ergo I ended up doing that as a kid with school theater and some community theater and stuff. I think when I got into my high school theater class with my theater teacher, Molly Rice, is when I really started developing a passion. That’s where I think it started.
PC: Who or what has had the biggest influence for your career?
Drew: Wow! I’d say acting-wise, it changes all the time. Constantly. But recently Philip Seymour Hoffman is one of those actors that I always really admire because he came from the theater as well, but his ability to play a variety of people on stage and in movies is something that I really look up to.
PC: You also had a lot of success already in your young career. When you look back, is there a particular moment that stands out to you?
Drew: I don’t know if there’s any particular moment. I think in terms of—it’s not even a professional career moment. I think it was when I was in college. I went to Western Carolina University and studied theater and English there. I had a couple of friends, Jesse Allard and Cory Phelps, who funded their own short film, produced it, wrote it, directed it, and I got to be a part of that. I think that was the first time I got to really make a movie or a piece of art with friends that we were all really committed to. It’s still one of the most fun I’ve ever had working on something. It was a glimpse into what I think are the good parts this career can offer. That moment in senior year was definitely a notch in the rung for sure.
PC: You’re part of the cast of Outer Banks, which has become this breakout hit in 2020. What do you think is resonating the most with audiences?
Drew: That’s a good question. It’s strange. I was talking about this with someone the other day, and I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I think the show hit at a really strange time for a lot of people in the world. It’s true escapism. It really is. I think people are craving that feeling of being with people that they love and being outdoors and experiencing life. A lot of people are living vicariously through it. It’s a bit nostalgia, and it’s a bit of escapism.
PC: How was your character initially described to you? How early on did you know where his storyline is heading?
Drew: So originally, I had auditioned for John B. I put it on tape and sent it in. Casting saw it and they were like, “He’s terrible for this part. He’s not it at all.” [laughs] “But we have this other role that we think he might be right for.” They brought me to Charleston, South Carolina, and I had a director session with Jonas [Pate], Shannon [Burke], and a lot of people in the room. Lilah Pate is his daughter. She was consulting him throughout the entire casting process.
I had that audition. So I was aware of him from that and the sides I got. But other than that, really not too much. I had gotten a few episodes sent over, but I think there were only three episodes written in the show. I booked the part. Within the next couple of days, the writers—Shannon Burke, one of the writers—pulled me aside and was like, “Hey, so here’s the direction we’re going to be taking your character.” I was like, “Great. That sounds like a lot of fun.” I think there were only four episodes written, but they had mapped out the trajectory of where Rafe was going and his part in the story.
PC: A lot of what motivates Rafe in the first season is getting the approval from his father, which makes him do a lot of terrible things. How did you prepare to tackle that journey? Does he have any redeeming qualities?
Drew: Yeah, I think he does. My job as an actor is to defend the characters that I play. But I think you hit it there. A lot of his motivations are driven by this really unhealthy need to satisfy his father. So once that relationship maybe starts to develop in the second season, we may see some better qualities of Rafe come out—besides that he’s this narcissistic sociopath borderline addict. There are some problems that he has to deal with, for sure. But yeah, I’m looking forward to Season 2 and where the character can go. It’s left so open ended, so I’m excited.
PC: You were touching on this a little bit earlier, but if this series gets picked up for a second season, where do you want to see your character’s story line head?
Drew: Oh man, I don’t know. I’ve talked to Shannon and Josh a bit about Season 2. I’d like Rafe to step into a bit of power and step into a powerful position. He’s set up for that. But I don’t know. I’d like to see him maybe get closer with his dad, Ward, and see where that takes us. But I don’t know—seeing Rafe in different social situations than just beating the sh-t out of Pope. Although it’s super fun to film because JD [Jonathan Daviss] and I are great friends. It’s so open ended and the writers could take it in a thousand directions. They’re so good at that. I’m open and welcome to any direction they want to take for him.
PC: Speaking of relationships, which of Rafe’s was your favorite to explore in the first season, and is there one that you want to explore further in Season 2?
Drew: The relationship between Rafe and Sarah is interesting. I have siblings, and so I tried to take the worst moments from our experiences growing up and arguments and the bickering and tried to apply it to that. That was super fun to work with. Early on though, it was Rafe and Topper, that relationship. Austin North, who plays Topper, and I got to get to know each other really quickly. It was cool to get to work, banter, and play back and forth on set with someone that I got to know really fast. That was a lot of fun.
In terms of a relationship that I’d like to see expanded, there’s no interactions with Rafe and John B, which I feel is inevitable. I want to see those two characters sit down in a room and talk. I wonder what they would talk about. I think that would be really interesting.
PC: Besides Outer Banks, you have a couple of other projects that are coming out soon. Are there any that you can chat about at this time?
Drew: I have a small part in The Devil All the Time. It’s a Netflix movie. I’m not too sure on the date on that. Another film called Embattled that may be hitting the festival circuit soon. But also I did an indie film shot in Georgia a few years ago called Mine 9. It was released on Netflix around the same time as Outer Banks.
Pop Culturalist Speed Round
PC: Guilty pleasure TV show?
Drew: Jersey Shore.
PC: Guilty pleasure movie?
Drew: This is tough. I love Pixar movies. It’s not a guilty pleasure but I think they’re incredible. It’s hard not to watch them and not cry.
PC: Do you have a favorite?
Drew: Oh no, man. That’s a crazy question. Maybe The Incredibles. I love The Incredibles. I love Coco too. I watched Coco not too long ago and bawled my eyes out. Then Toy Story. You can’t go wrong with all the Toy Story movies.
PC: Favorite book?
Drew: I love East of Eden by John Steinbeck.
PC: Favorite play or musical?
Drew: Buried Child by Sam Shepard.
PC: A band or artist that fans would be surprised to learn is on your playlist?
Drew: John Mayer and Biggie Smalls.
PC: Who would play you in the story of your life?
Drew: I think my brother, Logan Starkey, would play me in a story about my life. I think we look similar enough to where he could pull it off. He could do it. He’s got the chops too, I think.
Photo Credit: Amy Sussman/Getty Images
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Now, let's dive into the concepts mentioned in the article:
Drew Starkey's Start in the Industry:
Drew Starkey discovered his passion for the arts at a young age. He started doing theater when he was around nine or ten years old. Coming from a musical family, with his grandfather being an opera singer and his uncle starting an opera house in Asheville, North Carolina, Drew grew up going to the theater. It was in his high school theater class, under the guidance of his theater teacher Molly Rice, that he developed a passion for acting [].
Influences on Drew Starkey's Career:
Drew Starkey mentioned that his influences in acting change constantly, but he has always admired Philip Seymour Hoffman. He appreciates Hoffman's ability to play a variety of characters on stage and in movies. Drew also mentioned that Hoffman's background in theater, like his own, is something he looks up to [].
Memorable Moments in Drew Starkey's Career:
Drew Starkey mentioned that one of the most memorable moments in his career was during his senior year in college. He had the opportunity to work on a short film with friends who funded, produced, wrote, and directed it. This experience allowed him to make a movie or a piece of art with friends who were all fully committed to the project. It was a glimpse into the rewarding aspects of his career and remains one of the most fun experiences he has had working on something [].
Outer Banks and Audience Resonance:
Drew Starkey is part of the cast of the show "Outer Banks," which became a breakout hit in 2020. When asked about what resonates the most with audiences, Drew mentioned that the show hit at a time when people were craving escapism. He believes that the show provides a sense of nostalgia and escapism, allowing people to live vicariously through the characters and their experiences [].
Drew Starkey's Character in Outer Banks:
Drew Starkey plays the character Rafe in "Outer Banks." Initially, he auditioned for the role of John B but was later considered for the role of Rafe. The writers had mapped out the trajectory of Rafe's character, and Drew was informed about the direction they were planning to take with the character after he booked the part. Rafe's motivations in the first season are driven by an unhealthy need to satisfy his father's approval. Drew mentioned that in the second season, as Rafe's relationship with his father develops, we may see some better qualities of Rafe come out [].
Future of Rafe's Character in Outer Banks:
When asked about where he would like to see his character's storyline head in the second season of "Outer Banks," Drew Starkey expressed his openness to different directions. He mentioned that he would like to see Rafe step into a position of power and develop a closer relationship with his father, Ward. He also expressed curiosity about the potential interactions between Rafe and John B, as he believes it would be interesting to see those two characters sit down and talk [].
Apart from "Outer Banks," Drew Starkey has been involved in other projects. He mentioned a small part in the Netflix movie "The Devil All the Time" and another film called "Embattled" that may be hitting the festival circuit soon. He also mentioned an indie film called "Mine 9," which was released on Netflix around the same time as "Outer Banks" [].
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