Garrett Clayton Opens Up About What His Roles Mean To Him

Andie Manahan

December 5, 2018

Photo by Gabe Torres


Garrett Clayton has been tearing up the screen and the stage with his powerful performances and magnetic presence. Successfully going from teen star to serious actor, there’s no denying this 27-year-old former Disney dreamboat definitely has the acting chops to go with his dreamy looks. But, more than that, his strength and character has landed him on the cover on POPSTAR! Digital Magazine.

In his interview for the POPSTAR! Digital Mag’s cover story, Garrett opens up about his projects, his personal life and more. And we’re giving you a sneak peek into what he’s dishing in his interview.

He first made a splash as Tanner on the Disney movie Teen Beach and Teen Beach 2. Looking back, he can’t quite believe how much his Teen Beach character Tanner has left an impact on a generation of young people.

“It feels crazy to have influenced a generation that way because I was influenced by Disney when I was growing up watching their shows,” he opens up to POPSTAR! “To somehow be a part of that for another generation…I don’t know if I ever really fully grasped the concept of it or the magnitude of what that means. But I feel really lucky. It’s nice that [Tanner] resonated in such a positive way.”

He next captured audience’s hearts as Link Larkin on Hairspray Live!, which he says was a lot like theater. “Moving through all the sets was a crazy rush. But to me it felt like theater and I do a lot of theater, so on those sets it still felt like I was doing something on stage.”

He reveals that his passion for acting actually extends to the stage.

“I love theater and I love the energy that you get from the audience or when you get a moment right or when the joke lands and you can hear it and you can feel it, like waves of love coming over the audience. It really does feel like that. It just feels like I’m where I should be.”

He’s shared the stage with the greats like Al Pacino and Judith Light in God Looked Away, under the direction Robert Allen Ackerman. And he just wrapped the stage musical Unauthorized Musical Parody of Stranger Things (a.k.a. Stranger Things: The Musical) in November, where he starred alongside Tony winner Marissa Jaret Winokur (Hairspray), Eric Petersen and Emma Hunton.

But, more than just taking on popular roles, he wants to play characters he finds fulfilling.

“I choose projects based off the character: If it feels fulfilling, like it’s not something I’ve already done, like it’s something new or that I could put my own twist on. Other than that, I feel like, ‘What’s the point?’”

And he found just the character in his latest film, Reach. Garrett plays Steven, a socially awkward band geek suffering from depression who ends up befriending the new kid in school, which leads to new developments in the relationships in his life.

“I connected to the story so well because I personally don’t think I ever fully explored my sexuality in high school,” he says. “When I read Reach, I saw this character internally bottling things, hating himself and never feeling good enough and always feeling like an outsider. Like he didn’t know how to relate to the world because it didn’t feel like his world is ever going him a chance.”

“This is something I felt was really important to have my name on, to have that dialogue be a thing,” he continues.

“I’ve never really spoken much about these things; but I thought, ‘If I can do this project, I can lend my voice to showing people that I’ve gone through bullying, I’ve lost someone to suicide, I’ve lost a friend to a school shooting. The journey through that towards the other end, that’s the part that we want to fight for.”

He’s definitely come a long way from the teenaged boy who quit drama club in school to join the swim team before realizing how much he never wanted to play sports again.

“It’s funny. When you say drama club, they think, ‘such a nerd’ right? But then when we get older, we get to be actors and do the fun stuff, so who’s the nerd now?!”

Learn more about how POPSTAR! cover boy Garret Clayton has successfully transcended boundaries – in his career, and in life.

Read his cover story in the November/December issue of POPSTAR! Digital Magazine.