interview | matthew daddario

jumper. Mr. Porter
trousers. Acne Studios
top. Mr. Porter

“I’m going to run for mayor in New York,” Matthew Daddario jokes before pitching the three tenets of his hypothetical campaign — one of which involves ice cream. “Once a week,” he starts, “the city would buy ice cream for everyone who signs up for a program, and then we would eat ice cream while discussing the important topics or work from the past week as a community.” After all, as Daddario stresses, “Ice cream is one of the single greatest things in life. There’s nobody who doesn’t like ice cream.”

If that doesn’t secure your vote for Daddario, you are missing out on more than just free frozen desserts. Daddario is a versatile talent, serving up a delectable performance as the stubborn Alec on Freeform’s popular drama series, Shadowhunters. More recently, Daddario has been captivating viewers as the charming and fashionable Scooter on the Paramount+ dark comedy, Why Women Kill. Schön! caught up with Daddario about what he misses about his time as Alec, his different roles, his hypothetical mayoral campaign and what he is working on next. 

So excited to talk to you – I actually interviewed your sister Alexandra a few weeks ago! Any funny stories you want to share from when you were growing up? 

As kids, I think my parents told us that sometimes people thought we were twins. We kind of looked alike, and there are three of us who are close in age… It’s great to have a sibling who’s close to you in age, because it’s like you have a friend around all the time. I noticed it especially now that I have a child. You learn how to deal with all interpersonal relationships and people having different desires and interests, and you have to adjust yours to match theirs. You have to care, be empathetic to what they’re currently feeling, and you have to be able to read that in order for that relationship to prosper. And I guess if you have a young sibling or a sibling with you, it really provides that on a constant basis, if you don’t have access to friends, neighbors, community in general. 

If you were not an actor right now, what would you be doing instead and why? 

I think a lot of people noticed this over the course of the pandemic, which is really screwing up our system. The problem is, people have a misunderstanding right now that lack of work is somehow better than work, and that’s not true. The truth is that you want to do a job that you don’t hate doing. Now, that seems like a difficult concept, because generally what we do is we strive for a job that pays more or that has a certain level of cachet attached to it. What we don’t recognise is that what we should be doing are the things that we enjoy, even if we’re making less money.

But there are all kinds of jobs which I would enjoy doing, at least to some degree. I would love to be a doctor. That would be great. I’d love to be a writer. Great. I never mind sitting down and writing. I love gardening — I love going out and I love digging a ditch. I love building, I love putting stones down in a fashion that makes the area I live in or somebody else’s a little bit nicer. So, anything that fits one of those qualities, fits the need for enjoyment — anything that I enjoy doing, I would do if I wasn’t even paid for it.

suit. Acne Studios
jumper. Mr. Porter
coat. Sid Mashburn
jumper. Mr. Porter
trousers. Acne Studios

Let’s throw it back to Shadowhunters. What is the thing you miss most about that show?

There were a huge number of people involved — hundreds of people who have a variety of skills — and to be part of that? There’s something really special about it. And when you’re at the core of it, in a certain way, which often the actors are, you are kind of the face of the final product, and you feel a great sense of accomplishment or achievement and responsibility. So, I liked having that responsibility to some degree, and luckily it was shared with several other great and really wonderful people on the show. It was a lovely experience working with those people and having responsibility for that, and also it was my first very big project, so it was a fascinating learning experience. 

Tell us how you are similar or different to Alec in real life. 

There were four books written based on the book series, so Alec is obviously already pre-written. There was a limitation of where I could go with the character. And at the time, when we first started, it was like I operated off the books. As the scripts came out, however, and as I saw how the other characters were acting, I started fitting into that world, and I started to adapt. And then, I noticed certain qualities from myself in Alec because it was like, how would I deal with this issue? Alec has certain similarities with me… one of which was his desire to lead. I have that quality. I don’t want to lead against other people’s liberty, but I like the idea that I can solve a problem with a group of people, and that’s something that Alec deals with. So, whenever there was a problem, and Alec had to deal with it, I tried to apply certain aspects of myself. 

At the same time, Alec had more demons in his closet, and he was definitely struggling with those. And those were affecting his ability to make urgent decisions because he was constantly trying to hide from himself. And I’m less like that, luckily. Maybe it’s because I’m older in age, I think? Regardless, Alec was always very principled. If you’re principled, one of the principles you must have is that you’re willing to adapt. You shouldn’t give up on key principles that are important for your identity, but you have to be ready to adapt the principle slightly to the needs of others. 

What is your favourite Alec moment? 

Not moment, but overall, I love how he develops. I do kind of miss when he was a son-of-a-bitch from the beginning. I liked when he was sassy because that was fun to play. His strength and that snarky side come from his desire to hide something, and he was very good at that. He used those qualities as a cover and, as he grows, he actually loses that sense of confidence and that need to be in control which is what actually enables him to move forward past where he was previously hiding behind his snarky frustration and agitation.

Let’s move on to Why Women Kill. To those that have not had a chance to watch, tell us about Why Women Kill in your own words. 

The show is an anthology series. So, luckily, fans who don’t have a lot of time can tune into the second season without having watched the first season, or they can watch whichever — you do you. The second season is a very heightened version of reality taking place in 1949. The kind of heightened realities concerning our fears and concerns about our place in the world, how people see us, etc. And we let the characters turn all that into, in some cases, violence, madness and maybe a bit of survival. It’s really about that, and it’s a dark comedy. And if you watch the first episode, you’re going to watch the second, and you’re going to enjoy it, and it’s for everyone. That’s the strange thing about this show. I tell everyone, I really believe this show is kind of for everyone. 

top. Mr. Porter
trousers. Matthew’s own

Tell us about your time as Scooter in Why Women Kill, and what you learned from that experience. 

Scooter is funny, because he uses the tools he has in order to reach and work toward his goals. His goals really are: one, he wants to be a famous actor, which is a professional goal, and two, he wants to have money to provide for himself, kind of his survival. And so, he is not that bright, but he is good looking, and he’s got some charm to him. So, he does what he can to avoid trouble, but unfortunately, trouble keeps finding its way to him, and that’s not his fault.

Scooter is not a bad guy, okay? I know maybe some of you will say Scooter is a bad guy. He’s not a bad guy. He’s just trying to live. He’s just trying to do his thing, and frankly, he’s learned he can’t trust people. He has realised that’s the way the world is, and he’s a neutral entity, okay? Don’t judge Scooter for just existing.

I don’t think he’s quite malicious enough to be an opportunist. I think he lacks the ability to sort of foresee the outcome of things. Scooter wouldn’t be good at chess, but he would be great if there were two options to choose from — he would choose one option with great confidence. He’s quick to make those single plays. We see that through the show.

You are also Owen in the drama, Trust. Why this movie and why right now? And, what attracted you to the role of Owen? 

Owen is an interesting character because he’s real. He’s a slightly broken down, approximately 30-year-old guy. He lives in New York, and he lacks the energy to work toward the goals that he has. He drinks too much, and that’s sort of discussed in the film briefly. And he’s just kind of not in control of his own life, and that’s what happens to people, right? In real life, sometimes, there isn’t some outcome that occurs randomly or some random event. Sometimes, you just end up in some spot where you’re just stuck. And that’s something that is happening to Owen, and that’s his relationship with his wife in this film. I know people like this in real life, where it takes a major mistake or event to happen in order for them to put some change in their lives for the better. So, Owen is interesting in that way. 

You have played the mysterious, heroic Alec, the charming Scooter – what type of role would you like to pursue next?  

There are lots of types of roles – and you can sort of apply many kinds of personalities or many kinds of characters from literature to film and media. And there’s all kinds of types I would like to play, that I’m good at playing, and there are those types I would not like to play. However, it’s always interesting to see somebody write a character and for you to see how that character was written and you think, this is an interesting interpretation of that type. I want to see an interesting story, regardless so it comes down to that.

And I would also like to play a space cowboy. We want more people going to foreign planets where things are slightly strange and unusual. There’s a whole business surrounding short science fiction stories, that essentially are just regular stories taking place in science fiction environments. Why is that not the norm? We want it, there’s obviously a market for it. More of that. It just changes the world that we live in, and that’s what people want to see — the imagination. It might be the same story, but with different environments, circumstances, and stakes.

At the end of the day, I’m an actor. I don’t know any actors who get into acting and say I’m just going to only play the villain. You want to play all the parts.

jumper. Mr Porter
trousers. Acne Studios

Tell us something your fans may not know about you.

I’m a pretty simple, straightforward person. Something my fans may not know is that I started making my own ice cream. Made some amazing kiwi ice cream — it’s kind of mind blowing how good ice cream you make at home and how easy it is if you have the right tools… It requires zero effort, and it’s also freaking good. And, you can do whatever you want — you want gelato instead of ice cream? Sure, you can make that too. I love making ice cream.

Also, I like motorcycles and scooters… basically anything where you can move around efficiently and freely, and you can see around you, and you can feel like you are part of a movement. The stagnation of life is quickly solved when I hop on the back of a scooter or a motorcycle. 

In fact, eventually, I’m going to run for mayor in New York. There’s going to be three rules. Rule one: we have more cats, because they eat rats — I’d rather have cats than rats. Easy. Number two: encouraging scooters in New York City… Nowadays, they can be electric, dead silent, you can limit the speed, and they reduce some of the noise of things as people get around. You’ll get people off the subways, and we want people out of their damn cars because driving through the city is a nightmare. And the other campaign promises are a little more serious. 

I did have another idea… once a week, the city would buy ice cream for everyone who signs up for a program, and then we would eat ice cream while discussing the important topics or work from the past week as a community. That sounds like it’d be super expensive and a giant waste of money, but we waste money on tons of things. Ice cream is one of the single greatest things in life. There’s nobody who doesn’t like ice cream. If you don’t like ice cream, okay, fine, whatever. That’s strange. You’re missing out… The government has a PR problem. The government needs to learn to connect better with their communities — it’s about connecting to the individual, the families. We are here to tell you what we did. Here’s some ice cream

What are you working on next? 

I’m looking for projects, and we’re coming out of a pandemic so there’s a lot of stuff. I do have a movie that I made that we’re going to distribute soon. That was a small project — it was done on sort of a shoestring budget, but we did a good job of making it something that seemed like it cost much more, and it was a lot of fun with a lot of good people… Basically the idea is, we know what we have, and we’re going to give people a product that we hope they like to watch — it’s amusing, it has an adventure element, there’s some humour to it and it’s quick-paced, so it’s enjoyable. So, that’s something that we have coming out eventually — shortly — soonish!  Also, trying to get something else made with a slightly higher budget at the same time, with a great story.

top. Mr. Porter

Why Women Kill is currently streaming on Paramount+.

photography. Matthew Priestley
fashion. Carolina Orrico
talent. Matthew Daddario
grooming. Melissa Dezarate @ Kalpana using Skincare by Dr Barbara Sturm + British M Haircare
production. Anthony Pedraza
fashion assistant. Valentina Buhl
photography assistant. Charlie Polis
words. Sandy Aziz

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