But, could Karl Marx rock a Kimono?
Living in your own world; a bubble that is kept intact and doesn’t let life’s confines burst it. A cave of colour; of light noise and bright ideas that set your dreams into motion. A boy’s paradise. And then you have the boy; swinging on life’s vines, in his own little kingdom, humming the delights of freedom and creative spirit. Lounging in a paisley kimono with one hand on the spinning tracks of Chic and the other on the globe of the future. He is a visionary of today; one who opens up the jaws of sharks after a day’s surf and the eyes of his generation, clicking his fingers frantically in front of their faces. He wants us to wake up; this could all be ours too.
Matt Mills is this generation’s answer to the boy at school that juggled the world on his shoulders and still made the teachers swoon at the end of it. He is above everything else an actor, who finds the most freedom taking on different roles and escaping from his honeypot of dreams into the universe of impossibility. He likes it there; with no ticking clock or any resemblance to a life of the 9 to 5.
Photographer Michelle Marshall captures Matt at home, starry-eyed, telling the BBG team all about his latest philosophies. Propped up at the thought of future quests, whilst resting on past travels, Matt is firmly with us in the present; and boy does he have a lot to say.
Amongst everything, who is Matt Mills?
I believe I’m a very open, creative, ongoing person that’s always looking for something new to try. I’m a people person, I love meeting new people and finding out about them. There are infinite events and activities out there that I really want to explore, so finding who I am as a person and being around different people is something that I love doing. Really just being myself, never really changing for anyone, I’ve never changed for anyone. Maybe sometimes in my life I’ve tweeked things for certain people to make them a bit more satisfied, because I do really enjoy the satisfaction of others, but at the end of the day…
Yeah, just tweeks. but I really believe that I’m someone who is creative. My dream is to be an actor, entertainer, and just to be real. I’m a really spiritual person, I have a big belief in what has been happening for the last couple of years, and I wouldn’t say I’m someone who follows society’s way of living. I like to choose my own way, I’m a big nature freak; studying Buddhism and Dharma and stuff like that keeps me going and keeps me strong as a person.
Cool. So saying all this, what makes you get out of bed in the morning?
Knowing that something new is going to happen every day. I constantly have things on my mind, so getting to sleep early is something I do have difficulties with, so obviously each day is different. If I don’t have work, it could be waking up later than others. But waking up early in the morning, being active, productive, going to the gym first thing, and then starting off my day really makes me feel better about myself. Obviously, sometimes I do wake up late, but I'll spend the rest of the day feeling lazy or that I haven’t achieved as much as I could in the 24 hours that happened.
It’s always like that. You yearn for a chill day and then when it comes you feel like you’ve got nothing done.
Exactly, I don’t believe in there being a time to go to sleep or a time to be awake, because as I’m not the type of person to do a 9-5 job. I’d rather control what I do on a daily basis, what activities I do. It really depends, because most creative people struggle to sleep at night as they have a constant mind set of what they have to do and have so much stuff going through their head, thinking about everything they want to achieve.
Describe a normal Sunday for you.
First of all, I don’t think any of my days are normal, they can be quite crazy and very eventful. I work on Sunday sometimes, because I feel like if you really do want to push yourself to get somewhere, the weekend is something you don’t have to base in your life to have a time off. For me, Sunday isn’t a day that I think I have to chill, because I work most weekends anyway. So maybe for me it’s a Monday, a Tuesday.
I guess it all ties into this idea that society deems when you go to sleep, wake up and stuff. Sunday to you, isn’t a ‘Sunday’, it could be any time.
Definitely not, because sometimes I'll be working or spending time in my room designing, or writing, practicing my acting, looking in the mirror and playing some characters or something - just making the most of the time I have every day. Sunday isn’t a specific day when I chill, it will be though if I’m not working. If I compare it to a day when I’m not working, it will be going for lunch with some friends, go to the park, meditate, and get ready for the week ahead, because you never know what’s going to happen. I could wake up in the morning and be chosen to be booked for a campaign or a video. It’s very unexpected, so I wake up every day with no idea what’s going to happen.
We saw you in the BBG a few weeks ago, what have you been up to recently?
Recently, I've been doing loads of shoots; I can’t say what those are because they haven’t come out yet and I’ve also been working on a short feature film, where I play the lead role, which will be coming out sometime in the year. I’m also working on my logo designs. Being an actor is very unpredictable, you don’t have a job every day - maybe not even every month, you never know when it’s going to happen. So having something stable on the side really gives you a stronger belief in yourself, to push you to somewhere you want to be.
I know you touched upon it briefly, but tell me a bit more about your acting.
Since I was a kid, I have always loved acting and always pushed myself. I went to this summer acting class, and I waited for about half an hour. 10 girls came in, 20 girls came in, 30 girls… and then I realized I was the only guy there. I was kinda worried, because I wasn’t around any guys and I wouldn’t make any friends, but I liked the fact that at 12 I realized I was there for myself in the first place. I went through the 1-month rehearsal, did the performance at the end of the month in front of all the parents. It was nice having that feeling that I can actually push myself to do what I want to do. And at the age of 16 I left school and moved to England, by myself…
Because you lived in Spain…
I lived in Spain for 12 years. I grew up there with my sister and my parents, and then I finally asked myself if acting was something that I wanted to do. I had been doing modelling since I was 12, so I was used to being in front of the camera and theatre work. I thought if I really wanted to be an actor now was the time, because turning 18 without any experience is not good - if you don’t have that piece of paper saying you’re qualified, a lot of people judge you based on what you’ve done. So, I did what I thought was right, and that was practice. I got into a performing arts college when I was 17, which I was very lucky with, because without having any high school qualifications they accepted me by my audition. I remember getting the email; they loved me for my enthusiasm and passion for entertainment. I had a year of singing, dancing or acting - and I passed everything, got the qualified and then started travelling.
Now I’m adapting myself to get as much experience as I can, and a breakthrough in acting is one of those things that might not happen until you’re 40, maybe 50. That makes you driven as a person, it makes you stronger. It’s a hard industry and it’s cruel, but I enjoy it. I Being behind the camera and giving people the satisfaction of making them laugh; it brings out a lot of emotions and gives you that delusion of not thinking about what has happened on a daily basis. A lot of people really need something that will guide their minds away from their 9-5 jobs, and us thespian actors are here to show there’s more out there. We do inspire people to do new things and that’s what I’m really here for. I want to show people that you can do whatever you want and whenever you want. You’re the only person that’s going to get yourself that.
If you could do anything whenever you wanted, who would your dream role be to play?
I’ve always said that if I have a role in a movie that I would love to reenact it would be Jim Carrey as Ace Ventura. He’s just so free, he’s dancing around in a tu-tu in a mental home, trying to fit into a box. All of these crazy things showing that he’s open to anything. That’s how I look at it, you need to go into this industry and be prepared to do anything. I mean, I went to a shoot once where I was told by the photographer to hug this guys legs whilst he was standing there in underwear; that’s not something I wanted to do, but I didn’t mind, I did it! You’ve got to show that you’re up for anything.
That’s what I like about this industry as well; it can be rough and it can break a lot of people, but the ones that get through it, it can make you stronger. It doesn’t matter how famous or how rich you are, if you are at the top there is always that possibility that you are going to hit rock bottom - it really is about how you are on the downs, not on the ups. Anyone can be happy on the up and it's actually about being strong on the downs. I would say that Jonny Depp, Jim Carrey and James Dean are some of my favourite actors ever; they’re really strong people that have gone through a lot of things as actors, I can I understand where they’re coming from.
Same kind of thing then, who would your dream be to collaborate with?
I’ve got many brands that I would love to collaborate with, eventually with my designs I would love to collaborate with some skateboard brands. Ones that I’ve been using since I was a child, like Girl and Chocolate - maybe Thrasher too. With my acting, there are many directors that I would love to work with. I think I would really enjoy making a movie with Johnny Depp…I feel like he’s someone…
You would get on well with….
Yeah, he’s someone that’s been through a lot but we all have and at the end of the day he’s stayed the same. He’s always been that cool guy, he’s real and you either like him or you don’t. And that’s kinda how I look at my lifestyle, he’s just COOL.
Everyone goes through things and I know that you’ve had lots of different tracks to where you are now; what drives you creatively?
Drives me creatively… my dad is a big deal in my life. He's a strong man - he’s been through a lot and he pushed himself to really gain what he has in life. I mean, he grew up in a very small village in the West Midlands; there isn’t much going on and most people are very small minded. It’s a completely different mind set and lifestyle yet he still managed to realise that isn’t what he wants from life. He wants and expects more, and that’s where I get it from. He’s a sculpture artist and that came from sitting in his room and actually himself to send this one sculpture that he made to the sister of Ayrton Senna who passed away and was a massive inspiration for him. His dream was to be a formula one driver, but now his job is in the category and companies related to formula one driving. Sometimes you can't achieve your dreams, but if you are on the right path and are driven, you will eventually come to the place you’re supposed to be.
My mum was saying that actually yesterday for some reason.
It is really hard he hasn’t become a formula one driver, but he has achieved other dreams from it. He used to live in and out of Monaco, you know working with Michael Shoemacker from um Aten Senner and now he works for Mass Car, so he’s in the environment of what he wants to be around which makes him happy. That’s like me, if I never became an actor, but I became a filmographer or a writer, I’d be able to accept that I’ve brought myself into that circle. So he’s a really big deal in my life, and he’s made me a strong person.
That’s great and amazing to be able to say about your dad. I know you are quote spiritual, is there a quote you live by?
The present is a gift, enjoy the unfolding.
Cause I feel like people drag on too much from what happens in the past and what’s going to happen in the future. Anything that has happened in the past, good or bad, you have to accept, because in Buddhism they teach that you must learn to love yourself. Loving who you are and accepting the good and bad that’s happened in the past, is the only way you will find yourself happy with who you are in the present. You have to enjoy every moment and accept everything that’s happened, because you don’t know what’s gonna happen tomorrow, so literally make every second of every day…
Yeah, make the most of it, I know I get that bit of mindfulness. What do you think of todays generation of male youth, what are the benefits and challenges of growing up today?
A lot more people want to be a creative nowadays, but it seems like people are starting to follow a certain pack and crowd just so that they can be accepted. So let’s say for example; I know meditating, yoga, going to temples, all these things right now are quite a common thing. Before we had hipsters, now we have people that are lets say - I’m a Buddhist, I’m a vegetarian, I do yoga, but they’re doing it, because they want to be accepted by people that they think are cool. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s a bad thing wishing you were like them, but I would say learn more from them and the real side of things by yourself. Read books, go to the park by yourself and try to meditate. Don’t let it be something that you’re doing just to tell other people.
Yep, if you’re just sitting around and listening to it all…
Exactly. I really like Boys by Girls ‘cause it shows how people are actually living their lifestyles. It’s very natural, and I feel like the business side of fashion, acting and singing should be more involved in showing the real side of things. Not to show faces with make up or clothes they would never wear, because it’s basically just using a mannequin and painting on top. I really feel like you should be the person painting your own picture.
What do you think about the male generation of today?
Male youth is changing a lot. I would say the homosexuality side of things is shifting, I have a lot of friends that are drag queens - they’re very open. Before it was a little bit closed, I think that London is a good place to come if you want to try something new. For the boys of this generation, it’s very much about what you look like or what you have in your closet. You have people that are scouted in the street and become models; it changes their life perspective, which I don’t always think is a good thing. It’s a good opportunity and good money, but I have a lot of friends that have done very well for themselves and still study. Like my friend Harris, he’s a model, but studies computer science on the side. For me, I appreciate that a lot - because he’s smart enough to know he won’t be the next David Gandy. It’s one in a billion that you are going to become a male model until you are 40 or 50.
I don’t have any family in London, so I’ve been from homeless to sofa surfing to sleeping on my friend’s sofa for months. That happening pushes you to realise that it’s only you on your two feet - if you really want something, you just have to be a mature person and not wait for anyone to bring it to you.
I think a lot of people nowadays wait for things to happen, because they’re scared. Society will push you to go to university and then get a job and then have a relationship, which I don’t really believe is right. There shouldn't be an age for anything, I know people that are in their late thirties and they’re still living their life, they don’t have a relationship or kids; some people grow old and they don’t have a family, but they probably lived the best life they could. Control what happens yourself, don’t listen to society and what other people have to say. Just make a decision and observe it. Until you make the choice to go out there and look for it, I don’t think you will ever find your true self. Live your life doing something you love, not wasting it on something you don’t - that’s the way I live.
Obviously you live your life in a quite succinct way now, but you are 21 - what other life lessons do you still think you’ve got to learn?
I’m one of those people that want to be travelling and I want to constantly meet people and learn new techniques. A new way of living, new ways of eating, so I’ll be constantly learning. A wise person is the one who goes out there and discovers new things; I don’t think there is a stop in anyone’s life where you can know everything you can. I just want to enjoy the journey and make the most of it, don’t just focus on the end destination, because there will be things that drive you down and make you stronger when you come back up. Being born on a farm, growing up on the beach and then moving to the city at such a young age has allowed to me see so many different backgrounds.
Some people don’t mind staying in the same house they’ve lived in forever or the same village run by the same people - if they feel homely and they’re enjoying the journey, then do so. But for me, I really believe that you should try everything and travel to different cultures, because it’s the only way you’re going to find out who you are. I do have a slight belief in the afterlife as well, and I think from the day you were born you never knew who you were supposed to be until you achieve it.
Talking about happiness, what are three things that make you happy?
Three things that make me happy… I would say music is a big deal for me. Second one would have to be love from others - there are a lot of different categories in love, but we all need it. Then the third one would be my freedom. For me, freedom is that I want to be an actor and make something of myself. My final dream would be to have my own movie directed written and produced by me, and I'd have a lead role in the movie. After all of this, the thing that would make me most happy would be myself, my family and my wife living somewhere free and open near the beach. I’d build my own house, have my own garden and farm and just live the rest of my life enjoying nature. It’s been here for millions and millions of years before us, and if I’m quite honest I’m not developed to live in the city.
Yeah, you can’t compare it can you, there is not an actual singular moment of silence in the city like there is in nature.
Exactly, so it’s just I need some freedom so nature.
What’s the next step for Matt Mills?
Well, it’s a hard question really… I mean first of all I don’t know where, like I say I’d like to live in the present, but what’s next for me is moving forward and my dream is to live in LA. My next target is to go back to America, be in LA and start designing, acting and really move on with what I’ve wanted my whole life since childhood.
Photography by Michelle Marshall
Words and Interview by Charli Poster