10 Minutes With Katherine Langford and Dylan Minnette of 13 Reasons Why
"This is a really life-changing story."
It’s mid-afternoon on a snowy February day in New York, and Katherine Langford and Dylan Minnette have been doing interviews all morning for 13 Reasons Why, the upcoming series in which they both star. You wouldn’t be able to tell, though; they’re giddy, excited and full of energy. Langford is wearing a cold-shoulder Proenza Schouler top, leather pants and Gianvito Rossi Plexi pumps, and Minnette has on a Talking Heads T-Shirt, a long-sleeved button-down, H&M jeans and a pair of blue suede Ted Baker desert boots, which he tells me he wears to nice events.
The actors star as Hannah Baker and Clay Jensen, respectively, in the highly anticipated show (out March 31 on Netflix), which is based on the 2007 YA novel by Jay Asher. The show is centred around Hannah, a teenager who dies by suicide. In the weeks following her death, she has a set of tapes distributed to her classmates, recalling all of the reasons why she took her life.
While many have taken interest in the series due to Selena Gomez’s involvement (she serves as one of its many executive producers), the acting and script are what make this show incredible. We had 10 minutes with Langford and Minnette to chat social media and the biggest challenges during filming.
FASHION: You both look incredibly cool and chic!
Katherine Langford: Oh, thank you!
Dylan Minnette: I was trying to encourage her to take her heels off because her feet are in pain.
KL: I feel like such a fake.
DM: As long as it looks good. Pain is… I’m just kidding, I don’t know.
FASHION: What made you want to take on these roles?
DM: What happens is what happens with any project: You get an appointment for this and [that]. I wasn’t fully aware of the novel before I got approached with this, which I obviously am now.
FASHION: You didn’t read the book?
DM: I hadn’t read it before.
KL: I hadn’t read it before, but what was really cool was that we were told when we got the role that the show was going to expand quite significantly on the book. So I think that was good because if I’d had a preconceived idea I might have approached things differently. After reading the book, and as we started to get into rehearsals, I was like, “This is a really life-changing story,” which just made me fall in love with the project even more.
DM: Exactly, same here.
FASHION: You’re both quite young. How long have you been acting for?
DM: For me it’s been about 13 years.
FASHION: And Katherine, you’re pretty new on the scene?
FASHION: What was the most challenging scene to film?
KL: They were all…
DM: While you file through all of your very emotional scenes, for me there’s a point where Clay listens to his tape; there has to be. And Clay breaks down. He cared about Hannah, so when he hears her speak to him directly on these tapes I think that was really hard, just like it is in the book. And I don’t think that was the most challenging scene, but it was the most intimidating to me. Once I get to my tape, and once I did it, I was fine, but [I was just like], “It’s going to be weird; how am I going to do this?” That, for me, was probably the most challenging.
KL: I mean, can I go into detail? We’re dealing with stuff that’s really real, and I think whenever you’re dealing with things you have to personally invest in, whether emotionally or physically or mentally, it is kind of a challenge in itself. I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say, but I think, for me, the most challenging scene was the last scene. I’m gonna start crying. And I think it’s because after six months of shooting, you grow so close to these characters and you get to know them so intimately and go through all their highs and all their lows and understand their story. And by the end of it, I felt like Hannah was this little girl that lived inside of me, and to let it go was actually really challenging. Not so much the acting itself, but just the idea of having to let her go was really hard. Ugh.
FASHION: I’m sorry I made you cry.
KL: No, no, this is what I do. I feel this show is something people will invest in. I don’t want to say it’s heavy; I feel like it’s also so well-balanced. But it’s because it’s got the awesome bits of high school mixed with the parts that are not so awesome. But I feel like it’s something you invest in because you fall in love with the people, and you fall in love with Clay. Watching him is just beautiful.
FASHION: For sure. Going into the show I thought it was going to be aimed solely at a teen audience, but it really wasn’t. I’m way past those years and I was totally able to relate to it.
DM: That’s good.
KL: Yessss! [*slow claps*]
DM: Even with little things, like the soundtrack—throwing in older songs and making sure that that can appeal to many people—the cassette tapes and Tony’s Mustang, there’s something about it. You know you’re in a modern-day high school, but it could feel like you’re in the ’80s, too. It just feels really timeless, and I think that’s what people can connect to. And also the fact that it is pretty adult. If this weren’t something I think was so important for teens to see, I’d be like “Nobody under 16 should watch this; it’s inappropriate.” But it is important for young people to see as well. I think it is an adult show and a show for teens, and I’m glad that you think so, because I think it has a potential for a wide audience, and I really hope that people who are beyond their teen years will take it seriously. Especially later in the show—it gets pretty heavy and really dark, and there are some things that are going to be really tough for people to watch. I had to turn off some scenes, I really did, and I’m a 20-year-old. I don’t think a lot of people are fully prepared for what it is in the best way and also in the most tragic way.
FASHION: As young actors in Hollywood do you feel the pressure to present on social media? Instagram? Twitter?
KL: Well, I’m still private. Although I have to say Selena Gomez is intent on me going public. And to be honest with you, I kind of want to. If this was any other show, I feel like I’d want to keep my privacy. But because I’m so proud of this show and I think the message is so important [I would]. And already there have been people who’ve come up to me who identify with Hannah, and people who say the book has changed their lives, so I want to be open and available to them, which is probably why I’d personally want to go public.
DM: I do want to connect with people through social media, but I’m also kind of…. I used to have a lot of pictures; I deleted like 150 of them. I don’t care about social media much, but after this, I know there are going to be opportunities to actually connect with people, so it might mean something totally different to me. But at this point, it’s just been like “Oh, my God. Get it away from me.” But I’m interested to see the opportunities that this leads to.