Harris Dickinson on His Breakout Role in 'Beach Rats'

Harris Dickinson on His Breakout Role in 'Beach Rats'

The coming-of-age film challenged the actor, taking him to "deep and dark" places.

The coming-of-age film challenged the actor, taking him to "deep and dark" places.

Photography: Sharif Hamza

Styling: Ellie Grace Cumming

Text: Sara Zion

Before being chosen to play the heroic leading man in The Darkest Minds, Hollywood’s adaptation of Alexandra Bracken’s dystopian YA trilogy of the same name, Harris Dickinson wowed audiences at Sundance with his debut role portraying Frankie, the stoic, rebellious lead in Beach Rats. Written and directed by Eliza Hittman, the film follows Frankie over the course of one Brooklyn summer as he navigates the familiar terrain of adolescent angst and self-discovery. Much of the film’s power comes from scenes devoid of conversation, from Frankie dancing with his would-be girlfriend at a beachside rave to engaging in online flirtations with older men in the solitude of his family’s basement.

Dickinson is candid about the demands his first feature placed on him. “It was my first role where I was needed every day, in every single scene, and it became quite deep and dark at times.” His on-screen band of brothers were real-life Brooklyn residents and around his same age, but his new mates only provided partial relief. “You’ve got to remember to keep it distant,” he says. “That can be really difficult, because you just want to have a laugh with your friends, but then you have to say, ‘Okay it’s work time.’”

Having grown up outside of London in an area that Dickinson describes as “a little rough,” the characters weren’t completely foreign to him, and he drew on his childhood in portraying Frankie. That said, Dickinson maintains that the film is centered on many universally relatable themes of adolescence, underscoring, “There are a lot of things you feel insecure about—questions of self-identity, self-acceptance and living up to the standards around you.” However, despite the sympathy one may feel watching Frankie navigate the turmoils of his teenage years, Dickinson is the first to admit that his character isn’t always a likable protagonist. “There are times where Frankie is doing stupid, unforgivable things,” Dickinson admits. The 20-year-old actor is quick to distinguish the differences between teenage Frankie and himself, telling me, “He’s someone who’s toxic and uncomfortable with himself. I am very much at peace with who I am.”

Credits: MAKEUP SUSIE SOBOL FOR NARS COSMETICS (JULIAN WATSON AGENCY) HAIR MARKI SHKRELI FOR MARKI HAIRCARE (STREETERS) PRODUCER ASHLEY HERSON PRODUCTION COORDINATOR KATE HOLLAND DIGITAL TECHNICIAN MARY FIX PHOTO ASSISTANTS MATTHEW HAWKES, EVGENY POPOV, AND WILLIAM TAKAHASHI STYLIST ASSISTANTS NADIA BEEMAN AND JORDAN DUDDY MAKEUP ASSISTANT ANYA ZEITLIN HAIR ASSISTANT KELLY OLIPHANT PRODUCTION ASSISTANT TOM O’MEARA LOCATION LOG HAVEN RESIDENCE AT CLUB LESPRI

UP NEXT

Someone Kidnapped Television Shows and Is Holding Them for Ransom