Recently we got the chance to interview Justin Swain!
Justin Swain is a talented actor who can be seen playing the role of Bailey in Marvel’s “Luke Cage” on Netflix. Justin grew up in a small town on Lake Winnipesaukee where he had only 32 people in his graduating class. Following high school, he studied at Emerson College in Boston, spent six months living in a castle in The Netherlands studying art history and acting, and lived in New York City. From acting, to writing, to producing, Justin has had many experiences in several different aspects of the entertainment world!
On what inspires him to act and why he loves it: “I’ve been acting since I was a kid. I was 6 years old when I did my first play. I think the reason why I love it is a sense of freedom. You get to play and be a part and experience different life times within your lifetime and you get to experience all kinds of aspects of the human condition. I think that is what inspires me to continue to go back. When I was a kid, theatre was a way to escape, meet new people, and to experience new things even though my town was small. I found it as a place where I could let my imagination go wild and be free.”
On his transition from a small town to a big city: “It has been amazing. When you are growing up in such a tiny town there’s a certain group of people you’ve known your whole life, your world is a particular size. I feel like it was a blessing to grow up with that because there is a support system and the way you can connect with people is fantastic. I always viewed Boston and New York through the veil of television. It was always something you saw as another world. Going from a tiny town like that, to a city like Boston was a major step for me growing up.”
When Justin got the audition for “Luke Cage” he did not know what the audition was for. “They are so secret about how they give out material and the material wasn’t labeled it was under a code name.” He said, “The next day I was heading out of the city and my agent said you got it. That was amazing and I was excited but I didn’t know what I booked. I got an email that welcomes you to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it says you are now part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I would say the whole process was a really awesome surprise.”
On the Marvel movies and comics: “I loved the movies and was a huge fan of the movies already. I had already watched Daredevil. It was cool to see that come about on Netflix and I was excited for it.
I was a big fan of the world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the funny thing is that my father in law is a huge comic book person. When I booked this part and found out what it was for, we were talking about it and he actually told me the entire back story of Luke Cage and where he came from. He had first generation Luke Cage comic books. He was really excited about it and the back story because he knew it all and had been collecting comic books his whole life so that was cool to get the story from him.”
On what he would want his super hero power to be: “Ive been thinking about this in terms of Bailey. I have him wearing glasses and I think what could be really funny is if he got a super hero force that was somehow related to his eye sight like a sharp shooter. He does these things with his glasses where he needs to view things up close. I think that could be funny because he is this inner office guy and seems a little soft-spoken but it would be neat if he came back and was a closet badass. My marvel super power would be something to do with extreme sight like being able to see through everything and have perfect aim or something like that.”
When not working on Luke Cage: Justin is working on many different and exciting opportunities including writing, producing, and even the possibility of doing a virtual reality episodic series. “You put a lot of material out there and get a lot of nos but it only takes one yes to start the ball rolling and you go from there, so you are constantly looking for that one yes.”
On seeing your words and ideas on paper to becoming a production or seeing it on-screen: “That part is a total trip because in the same way I grew up in this small town and now I am in New York City meeting these people I only saw on television and stuff growing up. It is a weird experience going from hey I have this idea and working it out with some other really awesome talented people and then putting in all this effort to have it materialize. You see it and think this all started because of a conversation at a bar or a conversation on my old patio with somebody or someone telling me a wonderful story about their childhood or something that moved them recently and you go, that story would be a fantastic pilot or fantastic film and you see it go from not in existence to something that hopefully hundreds and thousands of people see and experience.
One thing that is really crazy is I wrote a lot of theater when first I got my start in writing. I wrote this play and it is about the journey of your mind and where you wander to in your mind between subway stops in New York City and how all these people are kind of connected in their loneliness and how they find each other through reaching out and breaking through fear to connect with people. When I would watch that play be performed, every single time the actors went through the emotion of the performance I felt like I was going through it with them. It was like bowling, you line up your shot, let the ball go, and hope you hit a strike. And there is an exhilaration to it when and if you do. That is kind of the experience of taking something like a simple idea, to materializing it with hundreds of collaborators and wonderful people.
What Justin wants others to know: “I want everybody to succeed and everyone to achieve their dreams and no matter what they set their mind to they should continue to go down that path until you get where you want to go. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or born or what your background is. If you have a goal and set your mind to it, I think people’s passion can help them accomplish anything.”