A year into her photography degree at Columbia College in Chicago, Gideon Adlon came to realize that her true love was not in photography but in acting, so she decided to move back to LA to start auditioning. Despite being the daughter of actor-director Pamela Adlon, she has forged her own path in the industry. Taking on non-stereotypical roles, Gideon Adlon stars in the movies Blockers and The Mustang, as well as in a new Netflix series called The Society. Adlon discusses the importance of representation in the media, how she has forged a path of her own in Hollywood, and her roles in Blockers, The Mustang, and The Society in our Spring 2019 issue.
You’ve said that you studied photography at Columbia College in Chicago. Has your experience behind the camera helped you now that you’re in front of it?
I have always been a perfectionist. Photography is so different, but I guess my experience behind the camera is similar in the way I was with my models. I want to be treated with the same respect I treated my models by the directors I worked with. For me, it’s all kind of the same at the end of the day. I feel like I always wanted to be on the other side and that’s why I dropped out of school.
So you were in the movie Blockers about three girls (Julie, Kayla, and Sam) and their pact to lose their virginities. To me Blockers sends the message that female friendships are very important for a girl when she’s growing up and I really appreciated the fact that the teenagers in the film were not one-dimensional; instead the stars were three really young and interesting women. Do you think the reason that was done so effectively is because the story is told from a female perspective?
Thinking about it, movies like this are usually made about young boys and I think that it’s refreshing to see these three young, strong women making choices for themselves, choices that usually you see guys making. It’s revolutionary for these girls to be like, “Yeah I want to have sex tonight and do this sex pact” because for once it is the girls telling the guys what they want. I love how respectful the guys are. For instance, when Kayla decides that she doesn’t want to have sex anymore the boy is very understanding. Also, having a female director and a female leading cast made it possible for each of us to have our input in certain situations, and overall, it is just a great movie. I’m really glad it was received so well, especially by the LGBTQ community, to the point where we were nominated for a GLAAD award for my storyline as Sam. I think her character is really important because she’s the first young teenage girl to come out in a sex comedy by Universal Pictures, and I think that’s why so many people felt comfortable enough to come out to me on Instagram, guys and girls, which tells me I must have done a good job.
Another film you worked on was The Mustang, in which you play the daughter of Coleman, a convict who is given the chance to participate in a rehabilitation therapy centered around the training of mustangs. Since The Mustang is a drama and Blockers is a comedy, I assume that filming The Mustang was much more intense. Was it difficult for you to adapt to a different genre? What was it like playing two polar opposite roles?
I would say that, if anything, I had to adapt to comedy because I’ve never been in a comedy before. I‘ve always done theatre so I am familiar drama. Blockers is definitely different from The Mustang because The Mustang had such an intense storyline, intense actors, and such a passionate crew. I love transforming, taking risks, going out of the box, being different people, and learning their struggles. That’s the cool thing about my job, the fact that I get to delve into these characters and make them myself.
Now that you’ve done comedy and drama, which genre are you most interested in exploring next?
I’m open to everything, as I said before, I like being challenged. I really want to do a period piece, so I think that is my next thing. When an opportunity is out there for me, I’ll definitely hop on that bandwagon.
So this new series, The Society, is a modern take on Lord of the Flies. It centers around a group of young people that wake up one day to discover that they are home but in a different version of it, with no parents and an overwhelming amount of freedom. Is there a particular reason why you chose to be a part of this series? What about it sparked your interest?
I actually had to learn sign language for the role, which was really challenging. I spent hours and hours and hours every day, even weekends, studying. I felt that if I was going to be representing another community, I wanted to do it well. Since I didn’t know anything about sign language prior to filming, I really had to put in the work. I’m happy to say that in the next few years, I could possibly have another language under my belt. The fact that this role has been so difficult is what sparked my interest in the first place.
Circling back to when you were younger, do you remember what you wanted to be when you were little?
I remember wanting to be a doctor when I was younger or even a therapist. I felt like I would do really well in psychology, but there was always something in the back of my mind that told me [acting] is what I would end up doing.
What led you into acting? Was there a specific film that made you want to start acting?
I think it was all of the classic movies I watched when I was younger. I was inspired by people like Julie Andrews and Al Pacino.
Finally, because we need to know, I wanted to ask you that if you were on a deserted island and you could only bring three films, which ones would you bring?
I’m gonna go to my movie list! I always write down my favorite movies. It is so hard for me to choose, but I think I’ll go with Bugsy Malone, Spirited Away, Casino, and Some Like It Hot.
STORY SOPHIA MONTALBAN
PHOTOS ASHLEY KIM
HAIR RENA CALHOUN
MAKEUP MELISSA HERNANDEZ
STYLIST NATALIE HOSELTON
CREATIVE DIRECTION ANNA ZHANG