Jaeden Martell is not slowing down
Anaïs & Dax/Apostrophe
Heather Rest/Walter Schupfer Management
17-year-old Jaeden Martell hit the spotlight running with 2017’s summer hit, IT; a modern remake of the 1980s classic clown-horror-story, originally penned by Stephen King. This isn’t to say he hasn’t been at it for a while. Martell’s the type of actor you’ve seen multiple times before, on the both the big screen and the small, but like most young actors, their ever-changing physicality keeps you from spotting them and relating them to previous roles. Four and a half months into quarantine, Martell sat down for a phone conversation with me—while halfway across the globe. He in L.A., I in Philadelphia, where I’ve been quarantining since March 2020. The soft-spoken Angeleno opened up about what he’s like in real life, and being on the edge of 17.
“People all over the world are losing people they love which is very hard. It’s very easy to get bummed out during quarantine, and be all “woe is me”. And with the recent protests and the uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement. I love how social media is being used for good and awareness. I think I speak for most when I say that, because of quarantine, we’ve been on our phones a lot, and now that has helped sort or propel this movement; which is really amazing.”
Hello. Is this Jaeden?
This is Jaeden… you have a Philly phone number?
Yes! I do have a Philly number. I actually live in New York, but I am here in Philly right now. You’ve lived here before, yes? What do you remember from your time in Philadelphia?
I grew up in South Philly and I left when I was eight. I went to Independent Charter school. I played baseball while in Philly… My family is still out there, so my mom and I will go back pretty often. Philly’s still my home, ya know?
Yeah. Philly is a vibe, for sure. So, I don’t want to get too much into series, since I know you’ve been talking a lot about it. However, now that we’re a month ahead of the finale. And the project is behind you, how have you reflected on your time working on Defending Jacob?
Yeah, it was amazing. I hadn’t really played a character like Jacob, so for one, It allowed me to grow as an actor. I also had to do a lot outside of what everyone saw on screen. Like, really think about the character, and figure out who he was before that first day on set. Chris (Evans) and Michelle (Dockery) are really great people. It was also the most difficult shoot I’ve been on. There was just so much material, it was basically like shooting an 8-hour-movie.
Okay. So, speaking of movies. You have a few scary projects under your belt. Do you have any favorite Scary Movie Franchises?
I’m actually not the biggest fan of horror (Laughs). I actually just started getting into them. I guess you could actually say I was too much of a “scaredy cat” to watch any before.
Haha, that’s Ok. What’s your kind of movie, then?
That’s a good question. I think my type of movies are, Gangster movies? You know, like Martin Scorsese, Godfather kind of stuff. That’s like, my all time favorite genre.
I wouldn’t have expected that. Very cool.
Alright, so, switching gears a bit. There’s so much going on right now, on the scope of history and everything. A lot of the good stuff happening is being led by young people. So, I thought I’d ask you, a young person. What’s this year’s been like for you? On a national scale? On a personal scale? It’s been interesting watching young people express their rage with what’s going on and how they’re expressing it.
I think I speak for most people when I say that this has been a difficult time, with all the movement for justice and everything that’s happened throughout this pandemic. I’ve been lucky enough that myself, and the people that I love, have been healthy throughout all of this. People all over the world are losing people they love which is very hard. It’s very easy to get bummed out during quarantine, and be all “woe is me”. And with the recent protests and the uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement. I love how social media is being used for good and awareness. I think I speak for most when I say that, because of quarantine, we’ve been on our phones a lot, and now that has helped sort or propel this movement; which is really amazing.
Absolutely, the relation to that and how having so much time on our hands has allowed us to really pay attention.
Yes. Since we’re all at home. Everyone is able to invest the time to educate themselves and learn about the Black Lives Matter movement and all it stands for. I think that’s the silver lining of all the tragedies that have been happening.
Totally. I feel like we’re at the point where quarantine isn’t as mandatory as it was a few months back. But, how have you been spending all this time?
Well, I still have to do school online, so I have to deal with that. But, mostly watching a lot of movies. I’ve been able to protest, and I’ve tried to get outside and not spend so much time online.
Do you have online school because of the pandemic or have you always done home- schooling?
I’ve been doing online schooling since I started acting.
How do you like that? I honestly thought about asking you this, but I just wasn’t sure if that was a lame question or not.
(Laughs). Ummmm. It’s okay. It’s hard because there’s no social aspect to it. You’re sort of just, learning at home all day. So, it’s not like I’m meeting people… But it’s flexible for what I do, and for traveling—so it’s good in that way. I’m able to make friends, through acting or whatever, so it balances out.
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So, you’re at home Skyping with teachers sometimes?
Not exactly. You call them, or e-mail them. But, you don’t really see their faces..ever, really.
So, totally random. I watched Masters of Sex during its original airing, and I never realized you played young Johnny Masters. Given what the show is about, were you even allowed to watch the episodes? Could you grasp at the time that the show was based on real people?
(Laughs) That’s really funny. I was so young, I think my mom would watch the episodes and then show me the scenes that I was in. Not that I really wanted to watch my own scenes, since I’ve never really liked to watch myself. But, no, I wasn’t allowed to watch the whole episode.
What’s one thing you were looking forward to doing this year that turns out you had to wait on?
Hmmm… That’s another good question. I’m really just looking forward to working. That’s really what I want to do the most—is be on set. To be creative, and see my friends, too. I also missed out on a concert that I was really excited to go to.
Oh, no way. Who?
This guy— King Krule. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him, but I was pretty bummed.
Okay. So, in closing. You’re 17 now, quintessential teen age. What’s one thing you’d say to your future self.
I’ve never thought about that.
Was that too deep?
Oh, no no! I think I would tell myself that it’s okay to take it slow and enjoy the moment. I’ve been told that a lot throughout my life. It’s easy to forget that. But I think it’s really important to enjoy the people around you. I don’t know… When you work, your priorities can blur sometimes. This is a very existential question.
Perhaps too existential.