Just a Birmingham born boy grinding in the Hollywood hub of Los Angeles. Elliot Knight is a British actor living his American Dream in a new surrounding of palm trees and summer grass, with a lead role in drama series 'American Gothic'. He founded his one way ticket to television screens through his natural determination and hunger to work hard, embracing his sensitivity and realness along the way.
Through sepia LA sunsets and dotted white houses lies a body of aspiring creatives that resonate in the laid back landscape to do the complete opposite, work hard. Actors, musicians and creatives often follow their dreams to the land of Los Angeles, a city where ambition is celebrated and inspiration never falls far from the tree. Elliot finds the place a comfort to be an actor in, as it pushes you to grind like the freshly grounded Starbucks latte that to starts your day off. The actor has an impressive catalogue of roles in his back pocket, appearing in a number of murder shows where he'll undergo severe preparation and research to get into the headspace of a character completely opposite to his delicate, true one. Smiling and crying his way through auditions his warm voice projects naturally, followed by a comforting laugh. Captured in the heart of the Los Angeles landscape by Nicola Collins
, the camera warps at his energy and lights up the lense. With a mixture of smart casual styling by Teena Collins
, who contrasts streetwear brands Supra with suited brand Marna Ro, showcasing Elliot's ease to look good and feel good.
A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. Experimenting with nature and appreciating the earths natural medicines, Elliot has immersed himself in the LA philosophy and dietry habits. Surrounded by gigantic fields of health and relaxation, it’s easy to see why an avocado smoothie will appeal to you. Walking a beach daily, filled with a pod of culture and people splattering their arithmetic hippy haven, Los Angeles provides him with a unique comforting energy, but he will never loose his English realness and Brummy grit.
Above: Jacket by MARNA RO
You’re now living in LA, because of your role in 'American Gothic', tell us a bit about it.
It’s a murder mystery set in Boston, about a family that find theirselves in the centre of an investigation to a series of serial killings that happened 14 years before the present day we’re in now. The killings were never solved and the killer never found, and then 14 years later some evidence finally comes to the surface. I play the detective that investigates the new piece of evidence, which was a belt found that is attached to this family. A twist is there, because my character is in fact married to the youngest daughter of this family, so I am having to not only try and solve the crime, but also put my in laws in the frame for it, so it’s a really cool role to play. It’s not just a standard cop show, it goes really deep into human psyche and relationships, and how something really crazy and chaotic can blow up the lives of normal people and families.
Did you have to research serial killers for the character?
I did yeah, I researched stories that are similar to the one in the show, and it was really fascinating to learn how often the people that commit these crimes are normal people in the community. It’s pretty crazy and scary if you think about it, no one seems like the kinda person you’d imagine to do it. I also looked a lot into what it’s like to be an officer and the kind of things that you see just to help me get into the mindset of one. I can imagine I looked pretty weird being sat in Starbucks looking up serial killers and the kind of weapons used, but you know it helps you get a tone of the real world and what they go through.
Detectives see things like this all the time. I met one whilst we were filming and I was pretty lucky to get to know him well, and I found it amazing that he still had the most positive energy to be around, even when he was talking about everything he sees daily. I guess you just have to learn to desensitise yourself from it, it’s a separate reality almost. I was lucky enough to get to ride with him a few times around downtown Toronto too, which was pretty cool, and one night we got a call to a really wealthy part, which was interesting to see that things happen in every sector of society. I think that theme is really carried out in the show to, so it’s an exciting thing to be apart of.
Where are you from originally?
Birmingham in the UK, which is very different to LA. I love Birmingham though, it has always been my home. I lived in the city centre and it’s a very mixed society there, ethnically speaking, which I have always loved. LA is very different, but I do love it here. I’m a keen traveller when I have the opportunity to, I just like to embrace every place I go to and enjoy their character and vibe. LA is lovely and always sunny, and it can be very sociable, but I also find it very lonely at times, because it’s so spread out and it can be hard to meet people here. Although I guess it does have a lot of people that have similar interests to me and I love that kind of energy, so I am having a great time here.
There is a lot of opportunity out here too, it’s all part of the American dream, it’s just built into the way of life and it’s celebrated. When I used to study drama in England I almost felt like people didn’t think you could get an actual career out of it, whereas over here I feel like people are more easily encouraged to follow their dreams - especially in the entertainment industry. It’s a nice energy to be around when you want to create all the time, because you’re surrounded by others than want that too.
Above: Jacket by STONE ISLAND
Have you had any Hollywood moments?
When I got my role on 'How To Get Away With Murder' a few years ago that was pretty crazy, because the first scene that I shot was with Viola Davis who I had idealised for a long time and it all happened so quickly. I’m not someone who gets star struck a lot, because I don’t really like to buy into the hype of people. I remember when I got my first ever role straight from drama school in 'Sinbad', which was amazing and shocked my mum so much, but I think that people innocently fed my mum all this stuff that I was gonna blow up and paparazzi would be at her door and it just didn’t really happen. She is not someone who craves attention or anything, but I think she prepared for it all and it just didn’t really happen, so since then she refuses to get too excited about things haha. I guess those two roles were my biggest “Hollywood moments”.
Can you tell us something about yourself that not many people know?
I’m vegan, which isn’t that unique in LA ,but when I go back home it definitely is. I’ve done that for about two years. I want to do more to do with it, as I’ve always found animals and the planet amazing. It’s a nice philosophy to be able to nourish yourself from the world. I tried it for health first, then the more I looked into it it just made sense.
Are you a sensitive guy or a tough guy?
Definite sensitive! I don’t really find being a tough guy that interesting, it’s just not who I am. I mean, I can be tough if I need to be, but I think the world needs a lot more sensitivity and to be celebrated a lot more. I love having a good cry now and then whenever I watch movies, I sometimes find them overwhelming. You know 'The Notebook'? I know that’s cliche, because everyone cries at it, but I remember the first time I watched it, and I cried so much it was like loud weeping - I had to walk out of the room! That’s why I love being in this industry, because films have the power to make people feel things and there’s not a lot else that can do that other than music. If I sing along to songs I’ll cry too, so I’m definitely sensitive.
Above: Shirt by BEN SHERMAN, Trousers by MARNA RO, Trainers and Beanie by SUPRA
Above Left: Jumper by MARNA RO
If you weren't an actor, what would you be?
I think I would have pursued being an athlete. I love the olympics so much. When I was in school I did loads of sports, my dad is a PE teacher and my mum was an athlete when she was younger. I had trials for the England team when I was younger and I just missed out, but I guess it has something to do with energy in the world that pushed me into pursuing acting instead. I find that I live a much happier life by listening to the way the world works and not feeling disappointed if something doesn’t work out. If it’s meant to happen it will happen. I live by maximum hope and zero expectation.
Did you have a childhood idol?
The Rock! When I was growing up I went to a very ethnically mixed school and began acting, everyone around me had their role models, but there wasn’t ever anyone that really fit my description that was celebrated within acting. I used to watch WWE every weekend and The Rock was such a hero, and to watch this mixed raced guy come out every week and make such an electrifying effect on everyone was really inspiring. I loved that so much.
What do you like?
I really like people that respect life and other humans. I like being in a place where you are encouraged to dream and achieve. I like creative environments. I love food, it’s my thing. I’m quite a positive person, I don’t like to buy into negativity. You create your own path, so if you think negative it will feel negative.
Describe yourself in three words?
I’m very silly, especially around my little sister. I’m playful and I’m hungry, all the time. That’s me in three words and then maybe I’d add sensitive as well.
Above: Top by BEN SHERMAN
Above: Top by SUPRA
Elliot's series 'American Gothic' had its season finale on CBS on September 7th.
Interview by Nicola Collins & Teena Collins.
Words by Ede Dugdale.