Austin Amelio Interview

Austin Amelio Interview Intro PhotoTwo hours of make-up later, Austin is ready for his close-up. / Photo: Munson

WHEN I FIRST met Austin Amelio, he was one of the younger skate kids who hung out at No Comply skateshop in Austin, TX. I remember asking him what he did for a living and his response was, “I’m an actor.” Oh, so you’re unemployed, I thought. Within a few years he was not only cast in a Richard Linklater film, but he also booked a starring role in The Walking Dead—a show I watched religiously at the time. I remember thinking at that point, Oh, so you’re a for-real actor. Despite Austin’s success, he hasn’t turned into a Hollywood butthole—he’s still just as chill as when I first met him. I hit him up to talk about sitting in the makeup chair, becoming an on-screen villain and what keeps him in the streets. —Michael Sieben

As seen in the January 2022 mag

How did you end up on The Walking Dead?
I did a film in Texas with Richard Linklater called Everybody Wants Some. That catapulted me out to LA and I felt like I should ride that wave because I didn’t know if an opportunity like that was going to happen again. So I just went out there and auditioned a whole bunch and somehow booked the show.

When you booked it, did you really not know how popular the show was? I heard you didn’t know anything about it.
That is true. I’d never watched it. I’d kinda heard of it but I didn’t know anything about it. When I booked it I had to borrow Internet from my upstairs neighbor so I could watch the show and see what it was about. And she was a big fan. She was like, “Oh my God! Wow! Yeah, here’s my Internet password. Go check it out!”

Austin Amelio Interview boardslide Back board through the bend, Amelio goes for a slide in South Austin / Photo:Makar

That’s wild. So you’re in the Linklater film and your next gig is being on one of the most popular TV shows of our time. How has your life changed since then?
I get to eat better breakfast tacos now.

Do you have any formal training? Did you study to be an actor?
Yeah, I signed up for a class when I was out of college. It was a three-year program; it’s called the Meisner technique. There’s a lot of other actors who are trained in that, like James Gandolfini was a trained Meisner actor. I’ve now found out through working a bunch that there’s not really one technique—you sort of gather things along the way and watch the way other people work and what they do. It was a good tool bag at first, but now there’s a bunch of different things that I incorporate, so I don’t know if there’s a certain technique that’s specific to what I do now.

Because of the exposure from the show, what’s the craziest opportunity that’s arisen?
We were doing these conventions that were kinda cool at one point. All the cast members would go to them and you’d literally just sign autographs for three days straight, but we got to go to some pretty cool places. We got to go to Japan, Costa Rica and Europe. So that was cool; that was pretty fun.

This was all pre-COVID, yeah?
Yeah, pre-pandemic.

Austin Amelio sequence backtail Back tail revert from the Roger vid R11VM

Do you anticipate doing that again in the future?
I don’t think so. I think that whole circuit is done. I think it sort of burnt out a little bit. But I got to be in it while it was really popular, so I really enjoyed that—meeting the fans, the real hardcore fans of the show. That was definitely interesting. I had some really cool conversations with interesting people.

Your character Dwight has a lot of—are they called prosthetics? All the makeup on your face?
Yeah.

How long does that take to apply? What time do you have to get up and get on set to have that makeup applied?
It’s a two-hour ordeal in the morning, and I’m the first one on set when I’m working. Sometimes I have to get up at 3 or 4 AM to get in there. And then I’m normally the last one to leave because it takes an hour to get off. I had no idea that was going to be a thing. I’ve being doing that for seven years now.

Austin Amelio Interview Pull Quote 1
What’s the craziest story you have from working on a zombie show, any funny or weird interactions?
There haven’t necessarily been weird interactions on set, but I remember at some point I shot the main character of the show on The Walking Dead—Daryl, played by Norman Reedus. When I read in the script that I was going to be shooting him, I was like, Oh, man, I’m gonna be fucking hated after this episode. And so I’d go do these conventions and people would just walk by and give me the middle finger and yell, “Fuck you!”

Because you essentially became a villain in the show.
Yeah, so that was kinda funny. And then they’d come up and talk to me and we’d get along great. But yeah, I guess some people take it pretty seriously.

With everything you have going on, it seems like you skate more than some of the kids here in Austin. What keeps you in the streets filming and
shooting photos?
Maybe it’s because I only have a certain amount of time to go and do things like that. It’s not like I’m 20 years old and have all day just to be skating. So normally when I go out, I’m with my buddy Max Taylor and we find a spot and we try to get something within a certain time frame. And if I don’t my lady will get mad. So that’s sort of the pressure.

Austin Amelio Interview Ollie Hydrant hops will never die / Photo: Munson

She’ll get mad that you didn’t land your trick?
Yeah, she’ll be like, You were out for that long and didn’t get anything? You need to start stacking. You can’t just go out and not get anything. So that’s been helpful, I guess.

What are you filming for?
I’m putting together a video part—I’ve heard things about maybe a pro board, maybe something with my name on it. But I won’t really believe it until it happens.

Which is a funny conversation to have with me since I’d be the one drawing the graphic.
Yeah, and I just don’t believe it. But I’m just putting together a part and Max, who is the TM for Roger, we bought a camera together and it’s been pretty fun just dad-camming with that. But Max is actually a really good filmer, so that’s been helpful.

Do you think your background in skating prepared you in any way for your acting career?
I think so. I think both are pretty visual. When you read a script it’s pretty visual so you can go into your head and think about the way you want to do it, which is similar to trying a trick or visualizing how you’re going to land something. I guess it helps, too, growing up and being on camera with your friends. Just having fun in that regard helps,
so I’m not totally camera shy.

Austin Amelio Interview art2 Art by Austin
Austin Amelio Interview Art1Art by Austin

Do you have a favorite skateboarder actor?
There’s not many, right? Jason Lee is one. Isn’t he like the only other dude?

Well, let me rephrase the question: Do you like Jason Lee?
I do. I like Jason Lee a lot.

Now that you’re a well-known actor, who’s the most famous person you’ve hung out with?
Max Taylor.

Austin Amelio Interview Pull Quote 2
I know you’re also very interested in visual art. Are you self-taught or where did your interest in that come from?
I guess I drew a bunch when I was younger and really liked art and it’s something that just sort of crept up. In the past four or five years I’ve been focusing on it. It’s sort of the antithesis to working on the show. The show is pretty structured and I just feel like I have more freedom with visual art, so I’ve just been finding that really fun.

You just did a board series for Deathwish. How’d that come about?
It’s funny—I’d reached out to Jim Greco because I really like the films he’s been making in skateboarding. They’re just their own thing and I really like them stylistically. So I reached out and was like, “Hey, if you ever want to collaborate or,”—this is super cheesy, but I just wanted to be involved in the films somehow, whether that was just bringing him coffee or whatever. But he was like, “You know, I’m doing my own thing here, but I saw your art. Do you want to do a board for Deathwish?” And I was like, “Oh my God, dude, yes.” So it started with me just drawing up something for Jon Dickson. I sent it in and they asked me to do a series. It’s pretty surreal. I’m beyond stoked and humbled to be a part of it.

So is there anything you’re not good at?
Yeah, doing these interviews.

Austin Amelio Interview skateboards Deathwish board graphic series by Austin

Austin Amelio sequence boardslideHeavy Gonz vibes on a DIY boardslide


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