From the interview archives.
Charlie DePew began dazzling his family and friends with his storytelling when he was very young and tried his hands out at acting for the first time performing in a sixth grade school play. These days he works hard juggling acting, music, and he’s even a entrepreneur having started multiple business ventures. Have we mentioned he’s only 21? VULKAN caught up with Charlie to talk about his current series Famous in Love (where he stars alongside Bella Thorne) and what it was like to work with J.K Simmons on The Whole New Everything.
Famous In Love is officially underway and gaining a lot of positive attention; how much fun was it to film the series?
It was an absolute blast. I’ve never had so much fun in my life. Because of the changing nature of the Entertainment Industry, it is now considered a lottery ticket to shoot something in Los Angeles. Moreover, you don’t choose your cast. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the kindest and hardest working actors I’ve ever met in my life. To be honest, I’m still stunned I get to call this work.
Can you share with us something silly or funny that happened during filming?
For those familiar with the show, there’s an important scene for my character Jake in the middle of the season. He has a make or break meeting with a studio head regarding one of his scripts. That was the day my brother Jack DePew, also an actor, decided to drop by for a set visit. He was hanging out for a while in video village where the big wigs sit behind the monitors. I finished a take and got a text from him reading, “Dude, I don’t know what happened. They kicked me out.” Next thing I know our Production Assistant Marcus starts repeatedly apologizing to me. I was so upset. They had told me he was taking pictures of the monitors and they had to kick him of the Warner Brothers lot. I ran outside to find Niki keeled over laughing. It was all an elaborate prank… Jack was in the bushes.
You’ve been spotted out with your costar Bella Thorne a bunch, were you already friends ahead of filming or did you just become close on set?
I was in the pilot of Shake It Up. I tested to play Bella’s best friend on the show, Deuce. We became friends from that experience but lost touch for a long time. When I chemistry read with her for Famous in Love it was the first time I had seen her in three years. Since the production of the show Bella and I have just vibed on so many different levels with music being one of the most prevalent. We like the same kind of music, which if you’re familiar with my taste, is kind of rare. Bella is the homie.
In it, we see Bella’s character receive her big Hollywood break. Out of the roles you’ve had, which do you consider your biggest break so far?
Famous in Love by a long shot. I’ve played some awesome roles in some great projects but none of them have offered me the challenges or exposure that this show has.
Working with J.K Simmons on The Whole New Everything must have been a blast, too. Can you tell us about that experience and who you play in the film?
It was incredible. J.K. Simmons, while quiet on set, was one of the most pensive professionals I’ve ever that pleasure of working with. I play Mason, the bully to his son in the movie. There’s a kickass scene, literally, in the middle of the movie where my character gets in a cafeteria brawl with the son. It turned out so well. I can’t wait for people to see it.
Going back a bit, you were in The Amazing Spiderman and its sequel. Were you a big fan of Spiderman growing up?
I wouldn’t say I was a big fan but I loved superheroes. I was caught in a theater seat of every Marvel release as a kid. There weren’t as many as there are now but it was enough to leave an impression. When I got the role for the Spiderman I really jumped into it—especially the comics. Now I own several comics of X-Men, Superman and Spiderman. Inside my room in a shadow box I have two of the comics that the movie’s storyline is heavily adapted from, issues 121 and 122 of The Amazing Spider-man. They’re in great condition.
If you had your choice, what superhero would you most like to be cast as?
Superman. It would be so special to me to play America’s original superhero. At least that’s how I view him; I don’t know if he’s the first or not. Part of this is also me trying to forecast the future. They’ve made all my favorite heroes into movie adaptations already. Seeing how Marvel and DC layout their movie schedules I think it would be safe to assume that there will be a reboot of the series in the next 7-10 years. I’ll be the perfect age. 😉 Hit me up DC.
What’s one role you’ve landed so far that you really didn’t think you were going to get, or are you always confident about your auditions?
Probably Famous in Love. I was a recast hired a day before the show went into 10 episodes of production. I tested the first time for the role and didn’t get it. When I heard they were recasting I couldn’t believe it. I tried to audition but the network said they had already seen me and that they wanted to see a new basket of actors. When that list was exhausted I was invited for a test against 20 other guys (way more than I was expecting). I was shocked when I found out I got it.
I read that one role you’d like to try your hand at one day is one of an American president, if the role you were offered was of President Trump, would you take it?
I would. Movies are meant to tell stories and I think his story is pretty crazy no matter what spin you put on it. A lot of people said there was a 0% chance of Trump winning and look at him now. No matter your political views, I think we can all agree that there are some very enthralling conversations going on in the White House right now. Conversations that would make a captivating movie.
What’s the strangest thing a director has ever asked you to do?
“Pretend you like it.” I was on set of episode 5 of Famous in Love and Niki and I were shooting a sex scene. Approximately 40 members of the crew were working behind the cameras. It was massively awkward. The director was amazing but gosh was that weird to film.
I understand you’ve started to produce music, what genre do you work in? When can we expect a release from you?
I’m still figuring out what genres I’d like to work with. It’s looking like my first releases are going to be melodic rap songs similar in style to Frank Ocean and The Weeknd… However, I can only hope to be as legendary. I dabble in a form of electronic music that has the same tempo as Hip Hop. It is a really odd sound but I love it. One of my favorite artists who makes this kind of music is Space Jesus. Check him out. I’m looking to release a few songs around August but that date is so tentative, so follow my Instagram @charliedepew to stay updated. I also started a music collective in high school with a few of my buddies: Cole, Sante, and Scott. They’re some of the most talented musicians I’ve ever met. They’ll be releasing their own music as well as music we’ve made together in August.
Besides music and acting, you also have your own marketing company on the side, Respark. At only 21 years old, it must be a little overwhelming at times, how do you juggle everything?
Truth is, all of these things were just hobbies of mine. They just turned financially viable. I was an entrepreneur before I was an actor. I ran a pet care company, sold solar panels door to door, a network marketer, you name it. I just really enjoy the game of life when I am the one totally responsible for when I succeed and when I fail. I find it easier to manage my expectations when I’m in control of the outcome. At times though, I falter. Ask my business partner Rob. Managing my time when I’m working 12 hour days on set while simultaneously building products and business relationships is no easy task. There are times where the obstacles consume me, but I grow every day.
How do you and your team at Respark choose who you’d like on your roster? Does your work in film give you a leg up on finding talent?
Currently, we have dropped a lot of focus from our viral marketing leg of business. We have chosen to double down on an app called Toybox. It has been in production and development for about 2 1/2 years, and we’re looking at launching sometime in September. Every app developer will tell you that theirs is the best thing since sliced bread… Ours is the best thing since sliced bread. In all seriousness, Toybox is relatively simple. While I can’t give too many details at this point, it is changing the mobile gaming landscape to something that is more rewarding to gamers and more brand safe to ad clients.