At the end of an abused, stony trail peppered with condom wrappers, avocados and evidence of late-night drug use, actor Luke Grimes stands on the precipice of a giant rock, scanning the hillside community of Elysian Park in Los Angeles. Partnered with his strong jaw and active, hungry eyes, the denim overalls that cover his slim build give the impression of a young Robert Redford, without the bandit mustache. (See full gallery.) When he speaks, his words are slow and controlled. “A lot of people can’t separate talent from fame,” says the Ohio native, who moved to Hollywood four years ago. “And often you’ll hear celebrities wax poetic about all that shit, which gets annoying. But I really think actors can get to the point where their work is inspiring, and so that’s where I’d like to end up.”
But despite his homespun humility, and his disdain for red carpet mainstays and paparazzi mongers (“When I’m a little intoxicated, I think it’s really fun to moon starlets … when I did it to Lindsay Lohan, I was thrown out of the club”), the 25-year-old pastor’s son has garnered his share of industry attention. Electric roles in small films like All the Boys Love Mandy Lane and this month’s Assassination of a High School President — both of which became Sundance hits — have sparked a career that led to a recurring role on the award-winning television drama Brothers & Sisters and the upcoming film Shit Year, in which he plays Ellen Barkin’s Ben Braddock. After graduating from New York’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts at the age of 18, Grimes spent a year on the West Coast trying unsuccessfully to land his first part. Still, he kept at it, splitting his time between acting and his gig as a drummer for country-rock band Mitchells Folly. “You know you’re on when you’re playing in front a live audience, and you know you’re on when you’re in front of the camera,” says Grimes. “And even though you can’t really remember what happens in those moments, you know you need to feel that way again. It’s almost like a drug.”
Photography by Kurt Iswarienko, Styling by Elizabeth Sulcer. Grooming by Rosie Johnson @ Exclusive Artists. Stylist’s assistant: Maya Krispin. Location: Arroyo Seco Park, Los Angeles. Transportation: Linda’s Motorhome.