Written By: Hayley Bradbrook
Photo: Alejandro Morales
Christian Navarro is definitely someone you should keep an eye on. He has an impressive resume acting in critically acclaimed shows such as The Affair, HBO’s Vinyl, Blue Bloods, and Rosewood.
The American actor now stars in the new Netflix teen drama based on the enormously popular book by Jay Asher 13 Reasons Why. The series tells the story of Hannah Bakers death, and the thirteen reasons why she committed suicide. Rather than leaving a note, she left behind 13 tapes to her classmates to people she deemed partly responsible for her death.
JossBecause got a chance to sit down with Navarro where he opened up about his new Netflix show, dealing with bullying in the digital age, and what he learned from working for his boss, Selena Gomez.
For people who aren’t familiar with the book or the new TV series, can you tell me a little bit about your character?
My character Tony is someone who is entrusted with the tapes that are left behind and he’s one of Hannah’s friends. At the beginning of the series we’re not really sure how he fits into the whole story except that he made this promise to Hannah to make sure that her last wish is followed through, which is that these tapes are listened to and the story is followed to a T. Over the course of the series he and the character Clay Jensen (Dyan Minnette) are sort of the center piece of the story where they both try to figure out not only what happened to Hannah and what these tapes mean, but how they move forward after hearing the information that is on these tapes.
The show centers around the main character committing suicide, why do you feel it is important for this story to be told now?
All around the world and particularly in my country the United States, there’s a lot of people who feel like they are on the outskirts, and who aren’t heard especially teenagers and young people. Not too long ago there was a young woman who committed suicide because she was bullied relentlessly very similar to the character Hannah Baker.
I think what this show will provide is an opportunity for all these young people to identify with characters and see that this person is going through a struggle similar to theirs and that they made it out okay. Hopefully we give them all a platform to speak about these things because so many of them are shunned into silence. Now we’re opening up this subject matter to a conversation amongst parents, children, students and teachers, peers.
All the people involved were trying to make something important that people appreciate and maybe this show can help even save someone’s life out there, and give a little bit of hope.
Photo: Getty Images
Has there been a time in your life where you have dealt with mental health issues and bullying?
I think it’s fair to say that everyone at some point growing up in the 21st century had to deal with bullying. You use to be able to escape bullying by going home, shutting the door and lock yourself in your room. You could get lost in a book and not worry about the social pressures of being a teenager, bullying, or high school. Nowadays you can’t do that, it’s inescapable with the internet and phones. It’s so much more of a greater pressure in 2017 than it was when I was in high school.
What was the audition process like for the show?
One of my best friends Brandon Flynn who plays Justin on the show (whom I actually also went to university with) and I asked him if he was auditioning for 13 Reasons Why and I didn’t know anything about the show or the book. My girlfriend at the time was also auditioning for the show, and I was interested in the show and what the two told me about it. It seemed like an interesting project.
I asked to audition for it and was told no three or four times because I was too old (I’m turning 26 soon). So I kind of put in on the back burner, but through the grace of the acting gods they couldn’t find the actor for the role on the west coast so they opened up auditions in New York where I live. I went in and I met one of the Directors Tom McCarthy, I auditioned with a really difficult piece from the 7th or 8th episode, and I got lucky after I met the team I knew immediately that this was all something very special. It also happened very fast, on a Thursday they called me saying I got the job, on Friday I was California and on Monday morning we were filming.
What was your favourite moment on set?
My favourite time on set was anytime I got to spend time with Dylan Minnette who plays Clay in the series. The chemistry you get to see on-screen is real, and him and I are really, really close. He is younger than I am but he set the tone for what it is to be on a show like this. It was the best time of my life. It’s a good friendship and working relationship. Whenever we are in the same room together it’s nothing but good times. He’s become one of my best friends.
People involved in this show from top to bottom they are just phenomenal. We all genuinely like hanging out with each other and we all genuinely hang out with each other outside of work which is rare in this business.
Photo: Christian Navarro Instagram
Selena Gomez is one of the Executive Producer’s on the series, what was it like meeting her and knowing that she was going to be apart of the project?
She is incredibly busy and she was doing a tour when we were filming the majority of the first season. But she showed up towards the end of shooting for the last two episodes.
A lot of people talk the talk and don’t walk the walk but Selena does both. She is the sweetest, most supportive boss you could have. She’s a fierce woman who knows what she wants and it was a pleasure every time I got to spend a couple of minutes with her. Selena’s very wise but also very fun and knows how to have a great time as well.
She’s incredibly engaged with her fans, she shared their stories so she knows there are young people who follow her and are going through similar situations like the teenagers in 13 Reasons Why.
Has Selena given you any advice in terms of continue working in the industry?
The best advice I think she can give me is her actions and just being around her. Just seeing how she treats her fans and the people she works with – it’s taught me a lot about engaging with people I meet in the business. She’s got that song ‘Kill ‘Em With Kindness’ and it’s so true she treats everyone with kindness and love.
Photo: Alejandro Morales
Favourite movie of 2016?
My manager Carolyn.
Favourite Selena Gomez song?
I really like’ Hands to Myself.’ I listen to it when I’m in the gym, it’s a good song (laughs).
You can catch Christian on 13 Reasons Why when it premieres on March 31st on Netflix.
Christian Navarro Instagram
Christian Navarro Twitter
This interview has been edited and condensed.