The first thing you notice during a conversation with Wyatt Oleff is that he cares about acting. A lot. It’s not forced, either. It’s genuine. He talks about the luck of landing an early background part with the same enthusiasm as when he’s describing his latest leading role-playing the nerdy, insecure Charlie in the highly anticipated Apple TV+ series “City on Fire”.

Wyatt wears all clothing CELINE HOMME by Hedi Slimane (Spring Summer 23 Menswear)

Oleff doesn’t dabble. He commits. It’s this full-force approach that’s earned the Chicago native an enviable array of film and television credits, all before turning 20. His diverse filmography includes the 2017 horror blockbuster “It”, the irreverent superhero flick “Guardians of the Galaxy”, and Netflix’s cult-favorite dark comedy series “I Am Not Okay With This”. He notes a trend of working with directors who have strong, singular visions—and Oleff has proved his adeptness at shape-shifting to fit those visions. “It rubs off on you when you work with those people. You become passionate like that, too,” Oleff reflects. “That’s something I look for in a project, is people who really care about it.”

Wyatt wears all clothing CELINE HOMME by Hedi Slimane (Spring Summer 23 Menswear)

“City on Fire”, an adaptation of Garth Risk Hallberg’s electrifying 2015 debut novel of the same name, boasts such a team. At the helm of the intriguing crime drama are Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, the creative duo behind ‘00s classics like “Gossip Girl” and “The O.C.” Oleff’s character, Charlie, must untangle the mysteries surrounding the shooting of his friend, Samantha Cicciaro (Chase Sui Wonders), uncovering the secrets of NYC’s elite and the truth behind the city’s recent fires in the process. As the show is set in 2003, Charlie also struggles to process his father’s passing in the 9/11 terror attacks. The complexity of the character presented a new challenge for the young actor, but he was eager to take on the part.

Wyatt wears all clothing and shoes PRADA (Pre-Fall 23 Menswear)

“I’ve never done a character with such a clear, big arc as Charlie has. He goes from being this nervous kid to one who’s confident,” Oleff shares. “Charlie’s still scared, but his ability to push through it is what makes this arc, I think, so interesting. Not only is there a physical transformation, but there’s a look in his eyes that has to change.” While the 19-year-old can’t relate to the dramatic events of Charlie’s life, the role still resonates with him on a personal level. Like Charlie, Oleff is reckoning with the transition from teenager to young adult.

Wyatt wears all clothing CELINE HOMME by Hedi Slimane (Spring Summer 23 Menswear)

“It’s interesting, going into this stage of my life and being able to play a character who inhabits that sense of nervousness and fear of growing up and moving on,” he says. Oleff copes with this uncertainty by continuing to push himself out of his comfort zone. Besides “City on Fire”, he recently participated in two buzzy independent films and even tried his hand at directing a short film. With each job, he’s given it his all—and his advice for aspiring creatives is to do the same.

Wyatt wears coat PRADA (Pre-Fall 23 Menswear)

“If you’re passionate and if you’re creative, and if you have an idea, people will see that,” he says. “People will see that you just cannot stop doing what you love.”

“City on Fire” premieres May 12, 2023, via Apple TV+.

This feature appears in the pages of V142: now available for purchase!

Photography Dennis Leupold

Fashion Christopher Campbell

Makeup Yasuko Shapiro (A-Frame)

Hair Patricia Morales (The Visionaries)

Executive producer Johnny Pascucci (Photobomb)

Production coordinator Merry Nestor (Photobomb)

Photo assistant Charles Brown

Stylist assistant Alexis Kossel

Makeup assistant Gabriela Vega

Hair assistants Jessica Arriaga, Luna Vela

Location Dust Studios

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