Jacques Colimon is a man of many talents. When he’s not playing the multifaceted Will in Netflix’s The Society, Colimon is somewhere between the studio and stage, pouring his heart into yet another project. His tireless effort seems to be paying off; besides The Society, he has landed two Blumhouse productions, Hulu’s Into the Dark and the upcoming Amazon thriller Nocturne, which co-stars Madison Iseman and Sydney Sweeney, and is set to premiere sometime next year.
With so much on his plate, you might think Colimon would come off as a man under pressure. In reality, he is easy-going, grateful and passionate, able to talk at length about everything from the cello to anarcha-feminism. As we look forward to Nocturne and The Society’s sophomore season, Schön! got on the phone with Colimon to hear what he has in store for us next first hand.
Let’s talk The Society. What can you tell us about the second series?
I’m really excited about season two. Season one was a blast, and I think we’re really connecting with the youth, myself and my generation included, in a way that kind of tricks people into caring about politics. That’s the most exciting part of it for me. Kathryn [Newton] keeps talking about how it’s a really smart show, and I agree, because it starts as a teen drama, and it feels very much like a teen drama — it is one, fundamentally — but it progressively transforms into something more like Lost for high schoolers. People keep citing Lord of the Flies, and Lord of the Flies is definitely accessible, but there’s a lot of weird toxic masculinity in that book that didn’t really age well, in my opinion.
I think that’s something [The Society] does differently. That’s sort of a reflection of a predominantly female group of writers, directors, and influences. The male directors are fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but there are a lot of influential women working on the project, and I think that cultivates a different kind of gaze on the stuff that we’re doing. I really appreciate that, and I’m proud of that. If this is my passion, if this is what I want to do for the rest of my entire fucking life, I better be doing something I’m proud of, and the things that make me proud are things that, from the production to the cast, look like us — things that look like America and feel like America.
That’s interesting, because I remember when The Society first came out some reviews were asking, “Is this show too sexual? Is it too risqué?” But comparing this to something like Lord of the Flies, these kids are actually building a — at least semi-functioning society, even with its problems. When you think about the show, do you think about it in a political way?
I do. It’s introducing terms like “demagogue” and “authoritarianism” to young audiences in a way that’s really vital to our current political climate. I think we see some of the archetypes of political figures in our national politics in the show, but also I think our cast of characters all come with the caveat that they’re not in their sixties in toupees, so to speak [laughs]. They’re much younger, and they’re not tainted by adulthood.
I think what’s also been apparent to me is that I’ve gotten responses from mixed teenagers like, ‘oh, been there bro.’ Will is the one oddball out in a lot of circumstances, and I’m very excited — I can’t say much, obviously, because of spoilers and things — but I’m really excited to show Will’s arc in the next season. It feels like [creator Chris Keyser] has been listening to the feedback in a way that’s going to really make fans happy.
And there might be some pretty radical stuff in the next season that people don’t expect! Or maybe they do. It depends on how many times they’ve watched the show. Some people are like, “This is my fifth run-through of the season, and what the fuck is happening with that dog?” People are really going hard digging into minutiae and the conspiracy side of the show, which to me is just so exciting. I love fanning those flames. I’ve got my own theories too, but I could be completely wrong.
Speaking of that, you’ve hinted that you don’t know the whole scope of the world of The Society. So if you had the opportunity tomorrow to have it all explained to you, is that something you’d even want?
Nope. I think that’s mainly coming from an acting standpoint. I love to create nuance and mystery, and I think there’s always a really fragile balance within our discipline to know enough but not know too much. At least for my personal sensibilities as an actor, it’s really helpful to me when I’m in the dark about certain things, because then I literally get to process things on the screen. I trust my gut instincts. I trust my intuition. I think that’s mainly informed by all of my experiences in theatre. I did a whole lot of devised theatre where we didn’t know where we’d end up, but the journey was far more important than the end result, and with that in mind we would really produce things that would move people because we were all on the same journey together, discovering as we went.
I work really well in spontaneity. I love improvisation of all kinds, and that carries into music, too. As I’ve been making more music and putting effort into finding my voice in that regard, when I step into a studio, I don’t know what I’m going to push out. It depends on the day, the people in the room, what I’m feeling. Art can really be a place of catharsis and a place to reckon with the parts of ourselves that may have been neglected or the parts of each other that have been neglected. It’s a way to talk about those things, to feel and move people. Spontaneity is the best conduit for that, in my opinion.
You’ve said that you choose theme songs for the roles that you take. What was Will’s theme song, if you’re down to share?
For Will, it was a bit of a toss-up, because Chris left us a lot of wiggle room to discover our characters as we were going, but I actually had this track called “Way Down” by The Dangerous Summer, and that’s just a little homage to my emo part [laughs]. It was a real part of Will as well because I think he played second fiddle in a lot of the first season. He was this right-hand man, almost like an FBI agent for Allie, and it broke his heart to see her in the dumps or to see her grappling with her sister’s death.
Will’s been forced to become a chameleon given his circumstances. I was informing that part with research into foster kids and foster homes. I linked up with a local foster care group here in Los Angeles, and we talked about foster kids and some of their circumstances, the PTSD they go through. I wanted to display someone who has really made himself do the work of really acknowledging his circumstances but also finding the graceful moments in between and savouring those moments.
Nocturne is still very much under wraps, but hopefully, we can cover some ground there. This is your second Blumhouse project, right?
Yeah! Man, I love Blumhouse. I’m a real one for Blumhouse. I would watch scary movies with my mom on the weekends she had me, and so many of those movies were Blumhouse movies. The second that I got put on the Into the Dark project with Hulu and Blumhouse, I was so over the moon, because I finally had an opportunity to enter a whole world that I had kind of just been admiring from the sidelines. And we just hit it off, and they had me audition for Nocturne. I remember I was taking my little brother to Disneyland when I got the call. They said, “hey, we want you to come and audition for this next Blumhouse project with Amazon. They want to see you for the cellist role.” It’s funny because I played a cellist in the very first indie film project I ever did — my first experience in film ever.
And you learned to play cello for that first film?
I learned how to play cello, saxophone, marching and conducting for that character — seventeen years old, within the span of a month. It was a blast! I just spent all of my time with my high school jazz band, incog-negro. I was like, “no no no, I’ve still got one more year of high school” [laughs]. So when this project came around years and years later, I was like, “oh yeah, I know how to play cello.” It’s interesting too, because there were many skills they were asking about for this specific project that they weren’t sure if I would know or if we’d have to cheat them. And I could be like, “yeah, I got that. I got that. Drum rolling? I got that” [laughs].
Speaking of music, you’re also a musician, as we briefly talked about. What have you been listening to lately?
Oooh. All kinds of stuff. I’ve been listening to a lot of Joey Bada$$. Really 1999, that album, some of his boom-bap stuff, kind of going back to more golden-era type inspiration. I’ve also been listening to these two cats — one of them is my best, best friend Aaron Childs, who has a new single coming out that I’m really excited for people to listen to. We’ve been working together as well.
I’ve also been listening to Caleon Fox. I actually had a chance to reach out to him now that I have a social media platform — people actually respond now that I’m noticeable [laughs], so we actually kicked it out here in L.A. about two months ago. It blew my mind, bro. I’ve never had this influence before, and now people want to send me free shoes and jewellery and meet up. But I got to hang out with Caleon Fox and actually show him some music that I’m working on. He’s got this track called “No Ls.” I’ve been bumping that. That was my number one listened-to song on Spotify of 2019.
Amazing. Last question: do you have anything else that you’d like to share with our readers?
One thing I’ll share is that I went to Birmingham recently to work on a project called Collection. I met Marianna Palka, who’s from GLOW and has done all kinds of beautiful work, months and months ago, and I was cast in a different project of hers that didn’t work out due to TV conflicts and things. But she and I both wanted to work together, and she put me on game to anarcha-feminism. I then got a call from her a week before they started shooting this other project, and she was like, “I’ve got this project. It’s an army of badass women making an action drama. It’s all about [the] female gaze. You’re perfect for this role of a kid who is basically a victim of the American economic system. You want to come out and do this thing?” I just got back two weeks ago, and it’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had on a film set.
Besides that, stay tuned! We’re going to have another season of this show, I’m going to have music coming out at some point probably next year, and I’ve got my first international magazine plug, which I’m really excited about. My Haitian grandmother would be really excited about it if she were here. But just stay with it. I’m not present on social media in a way that a lot of people in my particular section of my industry are. I live a lot of my life a.f.k. [away from keyboard], but that’s so I can focus on producing art to the best of my abilities. I think that requires patience on behalf of the audience, so I’m just grateful for everybody who decides to stick with it with me.
Well, we’ll stick with you for sure. Thank you so much for talking with us!
Thank you so much! I’m serious about the international nature of this magazine. The show has fans in Spain, in France, all around Europe — there are so many enthusiastic viewers out there. I’m really grateful for that, and hopefully I can make more work abroad as a thank you to all the visibility that those communities out there have provided.
We promise you have support over here. We really can’t wait for series two.
Oh man, we’ve got some stuff cooking.
Series one of The Society is currently streaming on Netflix.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
This Schön! online exclusive has been produced by