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Summer horror flicks tend to get a bad rep as crowd-pleasers – warm-weather space-holders meant to tap into and exploit our deepest fears in search of a quick thrill. Bright young talent, Alexander DiPersia stars in this summer’s “Lights Out,” which is anything but a space-holder. With its all-star cast of Vs. veteran, Teresa Palmer, and Hollywood mainstay, Maria Bello, the movie tells the story of a family – younger brother, older sister, and mother – who are haunted by a supernatural apparition that only appears in the darkness. DiPersia delivers Hollywood-level swoons as the loyal boyfriend, Bret, of Palmer’s Rebecca. Equal parts sordid family drama and heart-tremor-inducing horror, “Lights Out” will waste no time delivering its shocks so brace yourselves for some good ol’ fashioned horrific fun. We got to photograph Mr. DiPersia and chat with him about his role in the film and whether or not he’s afraid of the dark.

How did you find yourself going down the rabbit hole of becoming an actor? Was it always something that you were passionate about pursuing?
I was definitely always passionate about it from the first time I stepped on stage. I have very pragmatic parents who basically told me no from a young age. Go to college, get a job, etc…I know they just wanted me to live a happy and secure lifestyle. I did all that stuff then circled back to acting. It’s 100% a rabbit hole…danger and adventure ahead…all worth it to pursue something you’re passionate about and dedicated to…but beware.

You’ve talked about your experience as an life insurance salesman, and an art curator – how do you reconcile those past and present professions with the world of acting?
I think there’s a harmony between all businesses and life experiences. It’d be silly for me to not see the business aspect of being an actor. Yes, it’s an art, but I also have to be realistic about the life I want to lead and my needs and wants… food, roof, cell phone, etc…. Regarding selling life insurance, a large part of selling anything is relating to who you’re talking to. To be an actor you have to be an empath. Choosing art for a space requires you to understand the space and its audience. These things all go together. You see?

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What was your experience auditioning for “Lights Out’?
It’s a funny one. I had first auditioned for it months before the film shot. I taped for it in New York and never got a response. On to the next… Then I was Cali for a wedding and I got sent the script by my mangers. I read it and said ‘this seems vaguely familiar.’ My manager basically said ‘shut up and go back in they’ve hired new casting directors.’ So I went in and was greeted with such warmth by Rich. He was like I love you for this, you’ll probably be testing in the next few days with Teresa. I thought nothing of it because we’re in a business that blows a lot of smoke. Next thing I know I was testing with her and delaying my trip up to Napa for this wedding. My day kept getting delayed and I missed my flight and drove 8 hours to Napa. I found out I got the job as soon as I arrived. I was ecstatic except for the fact that they asked me to be at Warner Bros for a fitting the next morning. I bought myself another 24 hours, missed the wedding, and was shooting in my undies at 5:30am, 24 hours after that. That’s Hollywood, I guess.

Tell us about your character, Bret’s, role in the film.
Bret helps to ground this story. In a film with fantastical scares and a paranormal creature that arrives when the lights go out, Bret is there to keep things real. He’s like ‘so what if there’s a ghost I love this girl.’ He’s consistent and solid. Earnest and sometimes silly. He (I think) makes the story almost entirely believable. He also adds a bit of humor which not only softens the horror but makes it more intense when it comes. 

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Tell us the craziest story from the filming of this movie.
We shot in Highland Park, which is a slowly gentrifying part of LA. Needless to say it’s not quite fully made its way there. One night there were helicopters circling set. I think some of the producers thought they were for us. They weren’t – they were there for a shooting down the street and while we all poured out onto the street to rubberneck (geniuses) and all the police were converging a block away, a huge fight broke out ten feet in front of set in our little cul-de-sac. Everyone was calling the cops but they were all busy down the street. Our on-set security heroes held the guys at bay until the cops came. Just another night in la-la land.

Track jacket Burberry — Trousers Alexander’s own 

Track jacket Burberry

How was it like working with actresses, Teresa Palmer and Maria Bello?
It was a f***ing dream come true. I’ve been watching Maria since I was young. Admiring from afar. She’s so open with her emotions and is not afraid to get ugly. It’s a rare and great characteristic of someone so physically beautiful. Teresa is another actress with those similar qualities. We have some very close mutual friends so I always knew what she was up to…always a person or two away. To get to not just work with her but collaborate was a delight. I am beyond grateful for the experience with both ladies. I think you’ll see in this film how working with such superior talent makes what could be a campy premise very real and very grounded. You care about this family because of them. 

Is there a specific actor whose work has influenced you in your work?
It’s a never ending list. From Colin Farrell to Brad Pitt. From Brando to Tilda Swinton. Lots of love out there.

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Night or day?

Horror or comedy?

Favorite film?
The last of the Mohicans – odd choice I know.

Favorite artist (or current obsession)?
Adrian Ghenie and Jennifer Guidi (two very different animals).

Are you afraid of the dark?
Of course. Everyone is, right? Right?

Lastly, what is your advice to audiences going to see this film?
Go. Now. ASAP. Also, eat the top layer of popcorn during the previews so it doesn’t spill everywhere when you get the sh*t scared out of you.

Knitted track jacket Missoni

Words Gabrielle Rice —  Photography Lasse Bak Mejlvang — Styling Vibe Dabelsteen — Art Direction Jakob F.S. — Grooming Emily Cheng — Fashion Coordinator Nicholas MacKinnon — Location The Club Room at Soho Grand Hotel — Thanks to Laurina Spencer Slate PR