I chatted with Screen Actors Guild nominee Leonardo Nam, star of HBO’s Emmy-winning sci-fi series Westworld, which just had its second season premiere last night. We talked at length about the importance of visibility, opportunity and representation in films and television and his early role models and acting idols, Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina to Korean parents and then raised in Australia, Nam knows a little something about cultural diversity. The LA-based actor constantly defies stereotype with his versatility and is actively making sure other Asian-Pacific and Asian-American actors and filmmakers get noticed, including his ambassadorship with the Asian Pacific American Visionaries Short Film competition sponsored by HBO and his support of multi-cultural designers in what he wears on the red carpet.
Nam broke big with the 2004 Paramount Pictures film The Perfect Score, playing a lead role opposite Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson but is beloved for his role of Brian McBrian in 2005’s The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and the film’s sequel (for which he was almost replaced). He talks fondly of his mentor on that film, Debra Martin Chase, who really went to bat for him for a role that was written as a blond-haired, blue-eyed guy. We might fan out over the movies juuust a little bit. Nam also reveals a touching story of a young female fan of the book who was not happy when she found out he was cast but had a change of heart once she saw him in the film.
Talking Westworld, Nam teases a bit of what’s in store for Felix’s hero status after helping Maeve escape last season and what Westworld, and television like it, has to say about the state of the world today.
Westworld season 2 airs Sundays on HBO. Listen to the full interview below.