Stanley Simons

8 January 2024

Photography Deanie Chen
Interview Sam Cohen
Fashion Peiwen Wang
Grooming Monica Alvarez
Production Trevor Person
Fashion Assistant Xinyi Wang
Photography Assistant Sarah Schneider

What does it mean to be vulnerable? For Stanley Simons, it starts with permission. Vulnerability isn’t merely the act of opening yourself up to someone - it’s about being allowed to share your emotions, and to be able to do so in an environment where you know you’re safe. It’s this sentiment that Stanley echoes throughout our conversation, not just because of his own personal experiences, but because he’s cinematically lived through the tumultuous experiences as Mike Von Erich as well.

In The Iron Claw, Stanley embodies the professional wrestler who died by suicide in 1987 at the age of 23. For those unfamiliar with the Von Erich family’s legacy - and the inherent tragedy that comes along with it - Sean Durkin’s A24 film seeks to tell their story in a new way. As Stanley tells me, it was important to Sean, and the entire cast, to focus on the love the family shared, and to have that be the underlying heartbeat of the film. They don’t shy away from the tragedy - it would be impossible to exclude it from the narrative - but the hope is that they’re able to collectively convey how much this family loved one another, even if they weren’t always able to say it.

The suppression of vulnerability is a strong one, and as Stanley highlights during our conversation, it’s something that is thankfully becoming less prevalent as time passes. Younger generations are allowed to be vulnerable in ways that older generations were not, and it’s this allowance that makes all the difference in Stanley’s eyes. We both wonder out loud, at different intervals, what may have been different for the Von Erichs if they had been afforded that grace. It’s a complicated topic to puzzle out, and we only scratched the surface, but it’s clearly something at the forefront of Stanley’s mind as he continues to promote the biggest film he’s starred in to date. Stanley also candidly speaks to me about his own family’s expression of love, and how the film encouraged him to share his feelings with his brothers more openly.

His verbal adoration for the people he cares about extends to his co-stars in the film - Zac Efron, Harris Dickinson, and Jeremy Allen White - as he joyfully tells me something uniquely specific he admires about each of them. He also credits writer/director Sean Durkin with providing all of them the space, safety, and comfort needed to carry such a dark, difficult story back into the light. We talk as he’s getting ready for the film to release in cinemas, so much of our chat is centred around art that’s shared, and art that’s kept secret (including a song he wrote called “The Iron Claw” that he says will never see the light of day). And while he chooses to keep his future dreams to himself rather than sharing them with me, we’re intrigued to see what comes next for this rising star.

The Iron Claw in cinemas now.

What sparked your initial interest in acting? Was there a movie you watched when you were younger, or maybe a specific actor or performance that made you go, “That's it, that's what I want to do”?
I think it was just at a very young age doing a school play. I don't remember what the play was called, but I had to be five or six, and it was an elementary school play. I don't remember this, but my parents and brothers told me that I was not only doing all my own lines, but I was mouthing other people's lines in the play. [both laugh] I wasn't used to acting back then! But yeah, it was school plays that really gave me the acting bug. Later on, I realised it could become a profession and then started to pursue it as an actual job.

It's nice that you were able to find success in that. Oftentimes it's so hard when you're passionate about something and you start to realise that you can turn that passion into a career, for it to then actually become a career.
Totally. That's also the only thing I really wanted to do and the only thing I'm actually really good at. There was never another option. So, I'm happy it's finally paying off a little bit.

And I think you're better off that way, not having a plan B. I think people who are successful in the thing they really want to do are often successful because they don’t have anything else to fall back on, so they have to make it work.
Definitely. I didn't go to university straight out of high school. I was like, “Get me out of here!”

I did the same thing. I didn’t go to university, but I knew I wanted to be a writer, so I knew I had to spend that time teaching myself how to do all of these things and hoping for the best. So, sometimes it works!
We're not in debt! I mean, maybe you are, but not from university at least. [both laugh]

Yeah, exactly! You've had such an interesting array of acting credits already, but I was wondering - are you drawn to them for separate reasons? Or do you feel like there's been a through line so far in your work?
I wouldn't necessarily say there’s a through line. Hopefully, one day, I’ll be at the point where I can just get offers for roles, which I don't necessarily know if I'll ever really want to do that fully, because although I do hate auditioning, I also do love it and I missed it a lot during the strike. It is a working actor's job to audition and hopefully get something that you really love. I was very fortunate and privileged to get this role in The Iron Claw, which was really well-written and had an amazing cast and a great director. If there is any through line, it would be working with good people. There was definitely an intent since I was young, to be like, “Okay, I'm an actor. I'm an artist. I don't want to just do stuff for money. I'd rather be broke and love what I'm doing and collaborate with really good people and be a part of some good art.” I think that if there's any through line, it would be that.

That's special, and it’s important to lead from that place of being like, “I don't care if I'm not going to be the richest person in the world. I want to be creatively fulfilled by what I'm doing.” I think you're ultimately better off having that mindset.
Even when I was a kid, it was never an option. That's not why I'm doing acting, that's not why I got into this industry, which is a little bit cutthroat. I definitely had friends who had the mindset of, if you're in the space, if someone's allowing you to act, you do it to the best of your ability and you do it no matter the project. And I totally respect that 100%, and I do that to an extent, but at the same time, if I have the ability to choose my projects or be a part of something great, then I'm going to 100% take that opportunity over something that would just be for money.

Absolutely. It seems like it paid off for you to think like that and to land such an incredible project like The Iron Claw. Like you were saying, there's so many different parts to this movie that really make it something unique and really powerful. I feel like music and movies are often intimately intertwined, especially for performers. Is there a specific song that comes to mind when you think of your time on the set of The Iron Claw, either because you listened to it to get into character or because it reminds you of a memory from your time filming the movie?
For me, it totally depends on the project itself. I have [prepared with music] in the past a lot of the time, especially for tougher, more emotional scenes. But for this, I was kind of weirdly staying away from listening to music. I definitely did to an extent, though. There were certain songs in the film that I was listening to because Sean [Durkin] had told us that they were going to be using them, but it was a lot of just playing the acoustic guitar, and making my own music. I made my own song called “The Iron Claw” that would never see the light of day, but it was me trying to make songs myself or play the acoustic guitar as much as possible. And I think that definitely helped with the character.

And you play guitar anyway, right?

So, that must've been an interesting, sort of cathartic, release to let out the emotions of your character through music?
For sure. I delved a little bit into country and folky sounds, too. I did listen to a lot of Johnny Cash. I don't know why, but I did. I guess maybe because these boys grew up in Dallas. Not that Johnny Cash was from Dallas, but I feel like that was something that connected me to the character. And obviously it was the ‘80s, so ‘80s rock, which I'm already a big fan of.

‘80s music is probably my favourite genre of music because it's so distinct. You can't mistake it for anything else.
You're totally right. And I was in the band in the film. We did have practices. I went to River, he's the lead singer, and I went to his house. We had a jam session and played the song that we play in the film a couple of different times and we tried to make it sound as ‘80s as possible. We got the synth in there and we tried to mess around and make it really have that distinct ‘80s American rock sound.

It’s very, very different from even the ‘80s music that was coming out of the UK and other areas. One of the main things I find interesting about The Iron Claw is that it tackles a lot of really difficult themes. There's familial pressure, societal pressure, what it's like to be a man trying to process all of these complicated emotions, but not actually being able to do that, as well as depression and grief and loss. How did you guys maintain a sense of levity on set when you were filming these really dark themes?
I'd say all the other cast members were just genuinely good human beings and very nice and sweet, and had great senses of humour. So, that was definitely a help. And then there's a lot of time between takes and on the set itself where it's just waiting around and having fun. There were a couple of times where we were just throwing a football around because there's a football scene in the script. So, we were doing that and working out between takes with each other, which was actually pretty fun. And I think that it's a testament to Sean when we had the ensemble scenes, there was a lot of banter on the set and it was a fun time. And then when it came to the more emotionally heavy scenes with fewer characters, Sean would specifically make the set smaller, more intimate, and really gave us the space and allowed us to be vulnerable. And that's a testament to his capability as a director, but also when you feel safe in an environment with someone like that, it's very easy to do whatever, I think.

That's amazing. I feel like that's really rare across the board, not just professionally, but personally, to feel like you're in a safe space and able to be vulnerable. And it's also incredible that you guys were able to achieve that within the framework of this movie being about how these men were not really allowed to be vulnerable in a lot of ways.
Definitely. That was a big deal for Sean, and he's a very sweet human being. I think Kevin Von Erich actually told him before we started shooting that, “People focus heavily on the tragedy, but I loved my brothers and they loved me and I loved my dad and he loved us, so that should be the main focus.” And I do think that is a big focus. I think Sean really carried that throughout the script. It is pretty tragic. I myself was choked up at times watching the film, but there is a lot of levity to it as well. I was laughing as well, and I think the camaraderie shows.

Absolutely. And if you guys felt safe and comfortable and bonded outside of filming, that's going to help inform that on screen and make it feel more authentic, because it was authentic for you in the moment.

Is there a specific memory or a specific day from your time on set that stands out to you as being really rewarding in this whole process?
That's a good question. There were a lot of those moments. It was my first time on a large scale production, so there was a lot of reward. Working with the other cast members and just watching them was rewarding every day. And I would come to set and sit with Sean and watch the monitor with him while the other scenes were taking place. I would say the one thing that came to mind when you just said that was a scene - it was kind of cut short - but there's a scene where I opened the new Rush album, when it came out in 1981, and I listened to “Tom Sawyer.” I put it on the record player and I remember I listened to the whole song all the way through, and they just filmed me sitting on the ground listening to it, and it was nonverbal acting. I remember being so in the moment, and that brings it back to the music again. I was just listening to this song as if it was my first time listening, and I think I did a pretty good job. Both Sean and Mátyás, the DP, came over to me and were really, really sweet and were saying, like, “That's acting. That was beautiful.” And that meant so much to me. It didn't end up being in the final cut, but that's fine. The fact that they took the time to say something, and it was literally only one take of that, and they were just like, “That was perfect” was really rewarding. That felt good.

That must be a nice affirmation that you're doing the right thing, that you're following the right path. To have them compliment you like that is huge.
Yeah, definitely.

You touched on this a little bit when you were answering that, and it was something I was curious about in terms of being on set with Zac and Jeremy and Harris. Were there specific lessons you learned from watching them interact with everyone else on set or how they approached their roles?
I can give you examples from each. Harris - he was absolutely one of the most natural actors I've ever witnessed and been in a scene with. Everything he did was so real. He was so effortlessly the character, and it didn't feel like he was acting in any aspect. Jeremy, I think, brings this natural charisma because of who he is, and it's so infectious, and you want to be around it. Being in a scene with him, you feel the energy, and you just want to watch him. And that comes through in The Bear a lot. With Zac, it was really interesting seeing how well he did as a leader. And not only that, he was so open to discussing his own stuff, and my stuff, and everyone else's stuff. He was really, really, open and really comfortable with himself, and allowed this discussion between all of us that made him better, and made us better, and made the scenes better, and the story flow better - that was really interesting. I could keep going on. I'll keep it there though.

I love that you were able to pinpoint something specific for each of them. That was really lovely. In terms of your performance and how you prepared for the role, did you feel like because you were playing a real person that the preparation process had to then be different than it would be if you were playing a fictional character?
I think it was more on myself than from Sean telling us to exactly replicate these real life people, because I don't think he necessarily wanted that. The Iron Claw is its own contained story. Of course it's based on real events, but I think when it came to preparation, he wasn't really necessarily pushing us to do anything that hard. He trusted us as actors to do what we thought was best, and that was really interesting because I hadn't played a real life person before. I also hadn't worked with a director who was very open for us to have our own processes to taking on a real life person, which was really, really cool, to be honest. I worked out for an hour and a half every day, ate five meals - just chicken and rice.

But because I felt the responsibility and I wanted to do it justice, I felt very connected to Mike because I had watched pretty much every interview and performance he had on YouTube. Obviously, to an extent, that's him as a character in a performative setting, but I think that was very helpful. Just the amount of YouTube videos there are on that family, they were pretty much superstars. And then playing the guitar a lot [helped]. I didn't want to get stuck in anything. I didn't really want to have something take over, but I definitely needed the working out and the eating and playing the music to be there so that I could just have it, not necessarily focus on it too much, but have it so that it was there and let it somewhat inform whatever we were shooting on the day.

It's funny that you mentioned watching videos of him because that was one of the things I wrote down to ask you. I know some people like to do that so they can almost mimic the person's mannerisms, but then some people like to approach it from a clean slate. So, you looked at it as having that stuff in reserve if you needed to pull from it, but then you were doing your own interpretation of Mike for the most part?
Totally. I couldn't help but look at that stuff. I needed to, maybe not even as an actor or anything. I was genuinely interested and I don't know necessarily how much of all that informed my performance. There was one scene, it's when Mike had come out of a coma, there is video footage of him at a press conference, and I tried to emulate it too much to an extent, and that was really an interesting practice for me. When I watched that scene for the first time, I personally was like, “Ooh, it doesn't feel like the same character to me.” After asking other people about their opinions on it, they didn't think about that at all. Obviously I was in my head about it, but it was interesting for me to think about it from that perspective because I do remember watching him intently in that press conference. I scoured the internet in a bunch of different places for videos of him. I don't know if trying to get his mannerisms perfect helped or hindered my performance in that scene.

I would imagine it's probably a case by case basis, right? You kind of have to step away from it, like you're saying, and get other people's perspective and see what they think of it. It must be hard at some point to separate yourself from him and your performance of him and to understand that inherently people are not always the same, so then your acting performance wouldn't necessarily always be the same either.
Exactly. No, you hit it on the button. Human beings are multifaceted and weird and they don't usually react the way they're supposed to. So, you're right. You're totally right.

You were touching on it a little bit, but the physicality of the role is obviously up there with the emotional and mental aspects that you had to tap into. What did you find most challenging about the physical aspects of wrestling and working out for the film?
I want to say the eating, but I love to eat. [laughs] I never worked out to the extent of what I did for the movie, and it felt good, but obviously not enough to where I continued to do it because I stopped completely after filming. It was like 100% to 0, but there were some days where I was aching and whimpering to myself lifting weights. It hurt. It's not that fun. I understand why people could get addicted to it, but it is somewhat like you're torturing yourself. You're tearing your muscle tissue to make it stronger, so it hurts and it makes you feel good, but it’s also weird. I don't know if I necessarily liked it all that much, but that was probably the most difficult. There were days where I was like, “What am I doing?” But it was my job. There's worse things to get through. I was in the best shape of my life, and it was fun, but I don't know if I can live like that in my normal life.

I totally get that. I'm very intrigued by the fitness industry and exactly like you're saying, the pain inherently associated with that. But I would imagine that would be challenging to have to morph into that specific mindset, and then make sure you're carrying that into those scenes where you have to wrestle and be physical and do things you're not used to doing.
I will say that, mentally, it did prepare me every day. I felt a little more clear headed after working out, and I think there is an aspect of working out where it does make you feel better. It's somewhat of a drug. It releases dopamine and other things into your body.

It seems like it requires a different level of commitment, but it’s good that it helped you click into character and fall into Mike's mindset. And I'm sure the hair and outfits and all of those things helped to make you feel more like him, too, right?
Yeah, absolutely. Everyone in every department was so excited about doing a period piece. The clothing, the hair, the props, everything. They were all really unique to the time. And even the set design, I remember they redid the whole interior of the house that we shot in, down to the wallpaper and everything. You were transported back in time and it was really fun. Everyone took it really seriously. Even for how ridiculous we looked, we took it very seriously.

It’s incredible that everyone was really dedicated to that. That must've been so strange your first time on set to be like, “I'm literally travelling back in time just by stepping in here.”
Totally. There were magazines. I remember just so many magazines that were from the ‘60s, ‘70s, and '80s, and I was reading them between takes.

They were so cool back then! We talked a little bit about how the movie deals with the suppression of emotional vulnerability in men - through the process of embodying Mike and taking on this role, did you learn how to be more openly vulnerable in your own life?
I became more aware of how I probably hold things in too much, to an extent. And it's good to be self-aware of that, but it's another thing to do something about it. With acting, you can get into the characters. It allows you to not be yourself, and to be someone else. To an extent that's why I'm doing it, but also, it takes self-reflection sometimes. Acting is escapism. It's like, “Why do I find it so fun not being myself?” And I think many people deal with depression to a certain degree, and it's obviously a spectrum, but I have been way more aware of not necessarily the aspect of being open, being vulnerable, but being allowed to be vulnerable or open.

That's a big deal with the movie. These guys weren't necessarily even allowed to be open. They didn't have the option. And I think in today's age, there is more of an option, but there is a certain generational thing with that. My dad experienced it, and especially the baby boomers, they definitely had a certain upbringing where it was like, you don't talk about it, you just suppress it. And I think about that a lot, the baby boomers especially tried to do the opposite with their own children and fight against that. Maybe I’m generalising a little too heavily, but at least that was an aspect with my parental figures. My mum is a very stoic person and can't really necessarily show her emotions. And I think that was definitely passed down to me to a certain extent.

She obviously could show her love in different ways, but she literally couldn't verbally express it. She couldn't say “I love you” for a very long time. She obviously loves me, and she showed it in many different ways, but she couldn't say it. And I think that's just based on her own parents. A lot of people go through that. And it did make me introspective and think about my own familial bonds. After I watched the film for the first time, I called up my brothers and I was like, “I love you guys. I love you guys so much.” It really made me…I mean, I appreciate my brothers a lot, but it made me appreciate them even more and try to express to them that appreciation more.

Which is so important. I love the way you framed that and said it's about being allowed to do those things and knowing you have the space and the ability to do that. Because you look at the Von Erich brothers, and their father, and really just the family as a whole, and it's clear that the love is there. Exactly like you were saying about your mum, maybe they're not verbally saying it, but it is there. But you do look at that as well and wonder what would have been different if they had been allowed to be vulnerable and process their emotions. And as a society back then, it just wasn’t possible. And I definitely think it's important to express your feelings however you can.
Totally. I agree. I also think that, just to add one more point, it has made me realise my chosen family, my friends who I have around me, I have been more open and vulnerable and appreciative of them. Even last week, actually, my friend was like, “Hey, I need to talk to you.” I was really worried and anxious about what he wanted to talk about, and then he was like, “Come over.” So, I went over to his house and he just sat me down and was like, “How are you doing? Are you okay? How is this press tour?” And I got so emotional. Part of me was relieved, but part of me was like, “Oh, thank you so much for just checking in.” And I think we’ve got to do that more often. It feels really good and I think it's really important.

That’s a sign of a true, good friend, to have someone be like, “I just want to do a temperature check. I just want to make sure you're doing okay.” You're going through this huge life experience and it’s important to have people who are making sure you're okay. I think having that door cracked open makes such a huge difference. If you build that up enough, people will eventually meet you in the middle.
100%. Yeah, you're completely correct.

Speaking of your friends and people you're close to and chosen family, if the closest person to you were to describe you, what would they say?
Oh, no! [both laugh] I can't help but be like, my ego is involved here and it's coming from me and not them. I don't want to rephrase your question, but it's from me. So, I think personally, they would probably say that I'm loyal. I'm a loyal friend. I feel like that's a very big moral trait that I have. And also that I really take seriously my ability to be open to collaboration. And…that I’m creative. Those three things.

Those are great! Those are all great things separately. And then when you combine them altogether, even better.
I mean, I hope that's what they would say. They might say, "He's a fucking asshole". So, I don't know. [laughs] Hopefully my close friends would shit on me…I think.

[both laugh] There has to be some degree of just shitting on each other while also being like, “But actually he's a great guy!"
I want them to bring me down there.

Totally. To pivot a little, I read your website prior to writing my questions and noticed that you like writing screenplays. Are you working on anything at the moment?
Yeah, I'm working on a couple different things. I'm always writing. I'm not as good of a writer as I am an actor, but that's what’s so intriguing about it. I love screenwriting, especially in the past year. It's definitely helped me mentally. And one of the PAs on The Iron Claw actually introduced me to this writing class that she was a part of. Her name's Sadie, and we bring five pages every week to this Zoom class, and we read each other's scripts. It's really helped me a lot. It’s helped me become a better writer, but also to have a group of creative, like-minded people who are willing to collaborate, and something that's tangible that I can do myself. And also that comes through with writing songs. It's very separate, but also very interlinked. I love writing songs. I haven’t done much with either of those two things. They're very private to me currently. I'm very much a perfectionist and don't want to release anything that I wouldn't 100% feel comfortable releasing. So, that is definitely part of me. I love to write and I'm getting better at it, slowly, over time. I have a notebook and I write little one sentence ideas down every couple hours, just coming up with stupid stuff and sometimes good stuff. It's really fun for me.

That's a smart approach to get it all out. I constantly listen to interviews with writers and try to learn from them as best I can, and that tends to be what they all say is that you can't really work from nothing. But if you have something on the page, you can look at it again and transform it. It's nice to have that outlet in addition to acting, though, and I'm sure on set you’re just, through osmosis, learning things about script writing and character building and all these different things through the process of acting.
100%. I mean, it all starts with a script, it really does. If you have a really good script, it's way easier not to fail.

That's a good point. When you were talking about songwriting and said that about being a perfectionist and it being a private practice, that really struck a chord with me. No music pun intended…
[laughs] That was good!

[laughs] Thank you! I do a lot of writing for work because it’s my job, but I write poetry in my free time, and that's really, I think, where I feel most authentically myself, but it is so private because it is that authentic expression. Maybe we should both be better about sharing it and being open about it.
You're totally right, but I also think, to a degree, it's really rewarding to not have anyone else see it but you. My friend did this practice where he wrote a little book and then he read it to himself all the way through and then just threw it out. I was like, “Why did you do that?” And he was like, “I couldn't let it be precious to me. I had to just do that to do it, because if you become too precious with the things you have, it becomes contrived.” And that's obviously the end of the spectrum of that kind of thing. But I like showing my stuff to people that I really know are good writers or will be helpful, but sometimes it's really shit. You show something to someone and then they give you a ton of ideas. I’ve got to do the whole thing first and then worry about showing someone else after because it's interrupting the flow, the creativity, or whatever. So yeah, I don't know, but you should definitely publish some of your poetry.

Thank you. I would honestly love to put together a collection and try to get it published and get it all out of my system and out into the world at once. But I get nervous about it because it’s something that exists just for me, and I often use it as a way of processing my emotions. Talking about vulnerability, I've never really been the type of person to verbalise things. I usually work through it in writing to figure out how I feel. So, it is odd to think about that existing in the world.
I think at least I can maybe relate to it. I haven't published anything, writing-wise, but with acting, it's like once it's out there, it's not yours anymore, and that's really hard to deal with. But at the same time, it's also really exciting and fun. I have this idea for a children's book that I've been mulling over a little bit, but I don't know if that's going to come to fruition, but we'll see.

I would love to read it! I love kids' books, I think they're so interesting.
They're awesome. I think they're great. It's also very hard. It's very, very hard to write to that audience, to that target audience, because it has to be simple. But that book “Everyone Poops”, that book is amazing! If you really break down that book, it's a great book.

It's genius, honestly, but it's exactly what you're saying. You have to take this really complicated idea and simplify it to the point where it's going to make sense to a kid and it's going to connect with them. But then also the parent reading it is like, “This is great. This is entertaining.”
“This is something I want to show my children.” You have to pass that barrier first as well.

You have the right mindset! So, now you just have to take your idea and craft it into a really successful kid’s book.
I don't want to give the idea away, but it's coming. [both laugh]

I thought of something when you were just saying that about this movie coming out into the world and being everyone else's. I know it's not fully out and people aren't seeing it for a couple more weeks, but how are you feeling about that and processing that in the middle of this experience of giving it away?
It's obviously very, very scary, but it is interesting because I've had the last year to mull over it, and I was really anxious until I saw it, and in the first viewing I was like, “Oh, no, I can't look.” But then after I watched it again and I viewed it objectively, it's a really beautiful film, and I loved being a part of it. It is interesting though, because it has been a year now, and I've been thinking about it a lot, and now it's being released, and people are catching on to it, and I somewhat feel like I've done it. I'm trying to get past it now. I'm trying to do the next thing, which is maybe not the best mindset to have, but now everyone's talking about it and asking questions about it, and I've tried to get it out of my brain a little. But it's definitely scary anytime you put yourself out there in any aspect, it's scary being vulnerable, but also, I wouldn't be an actor if I wasn't able to deal with it.

You have to separate yourself from other people's perspectives on it, and obviously you want to be welcoming of feedback and different things like that, but you have to just say, everyone's going to have their own perspective and interpretation of the film and what they take away from it, and allow that to exist outside of what it means to you.
You're totally right. I have a certain inner voice that knows I tried my hardest with certain aspects, and obviously that inner voice is also like, “Oh, you could have done so many things better.” But I definitely did put my heart and soul into certain aspects of that film, and hopefully people can see that or connect with it a little bit. And I think that's the end goal. It's trying to reach people. That's why I go to movies, to feel something, and it's a privilege to do that, and to give that feeling to other people as well.

That must be an amazing feeling. And I think something that is also important to remember with your work is that you're giving that emotion to other people and allowing them to see an expression of something they feel and maybe haven’t been able to put into words.
Totally. I love that feeling when you're reading a book and you have this idea in your head, and then they articulate it perfectly, and it's the best feeling ever.

As we're approaching the new year and as you're maybe looking toward the future, what do you want to speak into existence for yourself, either personally or professionally? [Stanley laughs] Just a casual question to end with!
That's difficult. I just want to continue working with great directors, great writers, and collaborating with good artists. I could list off so many fucking things. [both laugh] I could say so many different things, but I don't necessarily know if I want to. I think you can manifest it and say it out loud to a big audience of people, but then I think it also takes the intrigue away from it a tiny bit when you do that. So, I don't think I will answer that question, if that's okay. I want to keep that to myself, to be honest.

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above left: Stanley wears Sweater by Mr. Saturday
above right: Stanley wears Coat by Saaf Garments, Dress by Burberry, & Ring by 9th Avenue Official

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above left: Stanley wears Blazer by Mr. Saturday, T-Shirt by Tanner Fletcher, and Glasses by Percy Lau Official. Trousers, Boots, & Belt from Stanley's wardrobe
above right: Stanley wears Sweater by Mr. Saturday, Brooch by Acne Studios, & Trousers by Tanner Fletcher

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above left: Outfit as before
above right: Stanley wears Sweater, Trousers, & Boots by Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello, & Jewelry by Concept Fused

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above left: Stanley wears Saaf Garments, Dress by Burberry, & Shoes by Converse
above right: Stanley wears Knit Vest, Shirt, & Trousers by Tanner Fletcher

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