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Separating the Actor from the Character

*This article may contain spoilers from Thirteen Reasons Why*

What is the first word that comes to mind when you hear the name Bryce Walker? If your answer was rapist then consider yourself correct. Bryce is a character from the novel, and now Netflix series, Thirteen Reasons Why. Besides a handful of blinded “fans”, everyone who likes the book and/or the series would feel much better if Bryce had died rather than Hannah Baker. This is not the case though, and in the fictional world, he is alive and well; not being held accountable for any of his actions. Although his character is unnervingly realistic, he is a fictional character.

The actor who portrays Bryce Walker is named Justin Prentice. Recently he has been receiving a large amount of hate directed towards him and his role. What people fail to realize, I think, is that Justin is not Bryce.

In an interview with The Celebrity Cafe, Justin was asked what he liked best about being a part of the series to which he replied, “I think the message, one. Also, the character, obviously.” He went on to describe his role and his feelings toward playing him, “I don’t play the nicest person, but it’s kind of enjoyable for me to play a character like that, as an actor, because you get to really sink your teeth into somebody who’s different than you are, which gives different perspectives and all of that, which is applicable then to my real life, but at the same time I get to play someone who’s not myself, which is always kind of fun.”

In another recent interview with The Huffington Post, he dives into the many struggles he had with playing Bryce Walker.

“I was kind of terrified because I knew what my character’s arc was and what I was going to have to do at some point. So I did a lot of research to help, but it obviously affects you emotionally. How can it not?”

He explains how in the beginning it was easier to do because essentially everyone was simply being introduced. At the start of the series Bryce seems to be the typical, privileged jock who gets the girls. But, as the story progresses, secrets are revealed and with that, so are his monstrous actions. Justin goes on to say, “One of the things I wanted to make sure I portrayed was that [Bryce] is not the Machiavellian villain. I didn’t want Bryce to be that. He’s a teen in high school, which makes it even more terrifying.”

He has a complete grasp of the weight of his character and what he has done. Justin did not feel the need to shy away from any of this and instead, felt the responsibility to play this role as realistic as possible. So now, instead of leaving negative comments on his Instagram photos, leave congratulations. Congratulate him on playing a part that would be difficult for anyone as sweet and genuine as him to play.

Justin, you do not deserve any of the hate that you have received, and I hope that this article shows how much respect I have for you being able to play such a difficult role. Somebody had to do it, and I’m glad that somebody was you.

Written by Martina Rexrode

You will never not find me in front of a screen. I am always on the lookout for new music, movies, and books. I spend most of my time reading and staying up way later than I should. You may realize that I am a sucker for LGBT literature and beautiful cinematography.

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