Matt McGorry is the perfect example of why you should follow your dreams and aspirations vs. procrastinating about them. McGorry, a former personal trainer and competitive body builder is a humble, inspiring guy who is also bit of a lovable smart ass.
His short career has had a meteoric rise, starting with his debut in 2011 on ABC’s One Life to Live followed by a handful of small roles in Person of Interest, Gossip Girl, and Royal Pains. Then just two years ago in 2013, McGorry began a recurring role on the Netflix dramedy series Orange Is the New Black as Corrections Officer John Bennett followed a year later by a killer role as a series regular role on Shonda Rhimes’ drama series How to Get Away with Murder, add to that the indie drama How He Fell in Love.
His short career has had a meteoric rise, starting with his debut in 2011 on ABC’s One Life to Live followed by a handful of small roles in Person of Interest, Gossip Girl and Royal Pains. And just two years ago in 2013, McGorry began a recurring role on the Netflix dramedy series, Orange Is the New Black, as charming Corrections Officer John Bennett, followed a year later by a killer role as a series regular role on Shonda Rhimes’ drama series How to Get Away with Murder and now the indie drama, How He Fell in Love.
Ferrvor spent the day shooting and interviewing the 29 year old, New York native at the West Hollywood hot spot and Karaoke club, The Blind Dragon, which provided a dark, yet colorful and rather sexy backdrop.
Photographed at The h.wood Group’s Blind Dragon in West Hollywood, CA
McGorry showed up to the shoot in true form wearing a tank top and shorts and quickly settled into his role for the days shoot as the next Ferrvor Man.
McGorry has become a very familiar face, appearing on two of the hottest shows out right now, but there’s more to the actor then just his work as an actor. McGorry uses his platform as an actor to speak out on issues like feminism. He takes to social media to voice his opinions on the issues. Matt represents the face of a true Ferrvor Man. He is definitely a front-runner in many aspects and was quite a pleasure to work with.
The Ferrvor Team got a chance to sit down and chat with the New York-native.
Matt, thanks for coming down and letting us harass you with a few questions.
Going back to your teenage years, can you describe one of your more memorable performances you had as an aspiring actor when you were a teenager?
I shot my first feature independent film as the second lead during my sophomore year of college. It was called “The Olympians” and it was written and directed by a filmmaker named Jon Pivko. It was this small town mystery and had elements of an almost mythical type of organized crime. My character was very much the loud-mouthed, sarcastic and funny best friend to the main character. We shot this during my summer break from college and much of it was shooting that took place during the night. I’d sleep during the day, take bus to New Jersey and film most of the night. It really felt like my first immersive experience as an actor. To be in such a big role in a feature film, it’s one of those experiences that truly swallows you up. And I loved that. It’s perhaps the first time I had that feeling that I can still identify and love, when work comes along that really requires your full attention and creative focus. I remember looking at the footage the first time or peeking behind the camera and thinking, “Whoa. This is, like, a real movie.” We shot it on 35mm film that is pretty rarely used these days because most projects are on digital, but it felt like I was creating something substantial and approximating the level of professionalism that I had seen in “the big leagues.” Unfortunately, it never ended up getting finished as a feature. It ended up becoming a short, but still, the entire experience was really very formative.
Great story, there is something about looking into the camera of a 35mm film that’s still special. How would you define Matt McGorry in his private life before fame?
I’m not entirely sure that I’ve changed all that much at my most basic level. The strange thing about fame is that it doesn’t inherently change you, but the world around you and how people interact with you. It’s that, that actually changes you. But maybe that’s just me. People start to treat you differently and that affects your view of yourself as well, no matter how much you try not to let it. I think that since Orange Is The New Black (my first TV show) came out, I’ve certainly become more confident in myself. But the dangerous aspect to that is that you don’t want all that confidence to be based on external factors like how well a show does, how people respond to your character, how many Instagram followers you have, and everything like that. But because all of those factors undoubtedly affect how people treat you, it does change your relationship with the world. And I don’t believe that there’s something inherently nefarious about most people’s different treatment of you, I think it’s a natural response. If Robert DeNiro was sitting across from me in a coffee shop, I’d be thinking about Robert DeNiro. Should I say something to him? Nah, he gets it all the time, I should just let it be. I have a friend who worked with him on a movie, maybe he’ll care if I mention it but people probably say that all the time so he won’t give a shit. Whether or not you choose to say something, it’s a different situation than if the person sitting across from you wasn’t DeNiro.
A Ferrvor Man is someone who exudes confidence, humor, class, humility and is well-dressed. Since you are our Ferrvor Man this month, how do you see the Ferrvor Man?
Well, I think it’s worth noting that society generally has a different definition of what it means to be a “real man” versus a “good man.” And I don’t think that should be the case. In the case of the former, I find that our society sometimes rewards what might be hyper-masculine characteristics like a stoic toughness and an ability to kick someone’s ass. But a “good man” is one who sticks up for what is right, isn’t afraid to put themselves on the line for people that need their help, and is more concerned with getting to the truth than with preserving their ego. In my mind, the traits of a good man and a good woman don’t need to be much, if at all different.
It’s interesting to hear that from an insider point of view. You’re known for your awesome activism, especially for your feminist supporting values. What enticed or inspired you on your ideals on feminism?
The foundation of it all really comes from my deeply empathetic and emotionally intelligent parents. They’re some of the nicest and most caring people you’d ever meet. So for as far as I can remember, I’ve always cared about other people and communicating about how we should treat one another and even how we should actually communicate. It wasn’t until reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean In,” for a Cosmopolitan article, that I learned what the definition of feminism was. It’s quite simply, the belief that there should be gender equality. When I realized how blind I was for my whole life about such a simple definition, it began an internal look at what else I might be blind to. As a straight, white, male in America, there is a lot of privilege that people like me have, whether or not they realize they have it. And one of my most important values is self exploration and growth, not to mention trying to apply compassion in my everyday life. Feminism and other social justice pursuits are the perfect mix of all of those things that I truly cherish. You get to contribute to making the world a better place and being an ally in this way is one of the best damn feelings that I’ve ever had. Even having that rosy of an outlook on it comes from a position of privilege because ultimately I’m fighting for people other than myself, but I’ll never have to be the one who is worried about having first dates in public places so that I don’t get sexually assaulted or being stopped and frisked because of the color of my skin. Because I don’t have to worry about those things, I view it as a more imperative that I do something about it for everyone else.
That is a refreshing point of view you laid out and one that hopefully will resonate with others. You used to be a competitive body builder and you’ve kept your figure up to par throughout the years. What’s some of your secrets to maintaining a well-fit body?
Priorities, first and foremost. You have to align your priorities with your goals. At the time I was bodybuilding and powerlifting, being in competitive condition was something that I thought about nearly all day, ever day. I’m glad I had the experience of getting in the shape that I was in, but I’m also glad that I now have the perspective to know that that’s no longer something I’m interested in maintaining. For me, it’s much more about achieving a healthy balance in life. As opposed to in my competitive days where I would skip parties to get my weighed-out meals in or miss out on some life events because I had to work out twice a day, I’ve struck a much better balance of training and life. I work out as much for my mental health now as I do for the aesthetic rewards. And I think part of this has to do with just being more secure in myself as a person and even as an artist. I feel confident enough in myself as a person that I feel I have much more to offer than six pack abs and a 587lb deadlift (true story). But I do think that accomplishing those things were a helpful building block to where I’ve gotten in my levels of self comfort now. I know what it takes to do those things, and I know that I’m not interested in making the necessary sacrifices to achieve them. Of course, if I got cast as Batman, I’d probably reconsider those things for at least a period of a few months.
It’s certainly not easy, but hey, if you want the goods, you have to put be disciplined like crazy. But that’s true for much in life. Wow congrats on the 587lb deadlift! That’s monstrous weight my friend. On another note, but related to the body, if you ever had the desire to get a tattoo, what would you get?
My only tattoos are my parents initials on my back. I owe my parents everything for being as incredible as they are and raising me with such kindness, compassion, and trust. Most of the qualities about myself that make me feel like I’m a decent human being are things that can be directly traced back to my parents and how they raised me. They never made me feel judged, they always supported me, and I just know that I wouldn’t be half the asshole that I am now if it wasn’t for them. I’ve recently considered getting something social justice related, but as with the tattoos that I have now, I’d first create a design and then wait a few months before going ahead with it. I’m much more of a rational than impulsive person.
I hear you. Ok, diving into a Crystal ball then – Matt McGorry 15 years from now, what would you hope to see?
I’d love to be madly in love, have some wee ones, still be working on my craft in challenging roles, and making the world a better place through activism. And most importantly, I’d like to think that my internal mindset would be healthy enough that I could feel happy despite how many of those things I have or have not achieved.
Brilliantly put. It would be nice to see some of what you say put into an inspirational book one day. Changing gears, what was your most memorable experience so far working on “How To Get Away with Murder”?
I really enjoy making people laugh on set and even laughing myself. The cast really is like a family and it’s rare that a week goes by that we aren’t in tears from laughter at some point. Sometimes, especially in these long classroom or courtroom scenes where you can have 2 lines in a 12 hour day, the cast all get to this point where we are just delirious. The smallest mispronunciation or any other thing will absolutely set us off for a good 20 minutes. They’ll have to stop the cameras from filming us and wait until we can get ourselves together. And the second you think you’re good, you’ll feel someone next to you literally shaking because they’re trying to stifle their laughter. And at that point, you just lose it again.
To that point and as we mentioned earlier, you’re somewhat of a jokester. Care to share your funniest joke?
Do you share any traits from your character on “How To Get Away with Murder”?
I do a lot of hip thrusting in my dancing.
Nice. How was your day on set with Ferrvor – Any Favorite parts you care to share?
I loved the venue that we shot in. I’ve been to the Blind Dragon just for fun, but shooting there was a really great experience. You can tell how much thought has gone into the interior design of that place and it really evokes some cool vibes. It feels like I’m in a bond film or some other corny state of mind.
What is up on the horizon for Matt McGorry?
Currently, I’m working on season 2 of How To Get Away With Murder. I’m also working on producing my first feature that I’ll star in and a multitude of small projects here and there. And more social commentary. That’s for sure.
Thanks for taking the time and thought into sharing your thoughts. Can you leave us with an inspirational quote for your viewers?
This was a Rodney Dangerfield quote that I wanted to use in my high school yearbook but they wouldn’t let me; “If it wasn’t for pick pockets, I’d have no sex life at all.” I do a good impression with it too.
Good one. We’ll keep an eye out for your best Rodney Dangerfield.
Matt McGorry Behind the Trance