Interview with Nelson Leis
(Photos by Kristine Cofsky)
1. I know you, but some people may not.
So could you please introduce yourself to the world?
"Hello people of this planet, and other planets! Nelson Leis here. I play Beelzebub, a Demon King, in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina."
2. What was your first job in the entertainment industry?
Also, what did you do before that?
"My first job was at 4 year-old in a short film with my mom. I was tasked with playing with a Tonka dump truck and pushing it down a hill. I think I nailed it on the first take. Before that I was mostly eating pablum. My side jobs as an adult before acting really got going were numerous. I was a valet, cater-waiter, picked up and delivered cheques for a law firm, ran my own house painting business."
3. Did you study acting before getting into the industry?
"I did. I moved to New York City at 20 and went to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. After that I would do workshops and scene classes. The one teacher who changed it all for me was Larry Moss. To steal one of his words... he gets you <carbonated> with his passion and demand for excellence."
4. If you could work with anyone you'd want,
who would that person be and why?
"Director-writer wise, Paul Thomas Anderson. When I saw Magnolia I was floored. I bawled like a baby. I was captivated by the soundtrack, which is when I was made aware of Aimee Mann. Every frame of the film was glorious to me."
5. What does a normal day in your life look like?
"Every morning starts with a meditation and then coffee with my gal! In addition to acting, we run a self-tape business (where actors record auditions that aren't live in front of casting directors) so most days we have a client or few. I train in Brazillian JiuJitsu about 3 days a week. I'll hit the gym on the other days. Currently I'm doing improv classes as well. So the plate is generally pretty full!"
6. Where is your favorite place to be and why?
"With Vanessa Walsh (my gal). Whether it's drinking coffee on the sofa, walking in the woods, or producing a project, we have a lot of fun."
7. If you could, what would be the one advice
you would want to give to your younger self?
"Commit fully to what you want to do. Jump in with both feet and don't worry about what other people are saying. If you do that, it's all going to work out. Also, start investing now!"
8. What is the best advice that you've gotten?
Who was the person that gave it to you?
"This pops to mind: during a difficult time in my life I was listening to Napoleon Hill on YouTube on repeat. He said, ”Every adversity, every failure, every heartbreak, carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” I believe that to be 100% true. If you look back on any difficult time in your life, you can track forward from that a positive occurrence or set of circumstances that came about as a result."
9. What is your biggest accomplishment so far?
"I think of them more as processes, because there's not a finite ending...other than death. The process of being an actor, the process of training JiuJitsu, the process of my relationship with Vanessa, my own process of growth."
10. If you could book any role in the next years to come,
what would that dream role be?
"I'd love to do a comedy with Judd Apatow and his stable of funny people."
11. Is there anything you can disclose about any new project?
"I've got a role in director Karen Lam's next feature, The Curse of Willow Song. That comes out this year."
12. What is the best part about life on set?
"It's pretty much all amazing. The collaborative spirit. The magic between action and cut. The family that's formed with cast and crew. The moment I drive into the parking lot at the studio I get the tinglies... I love being there."
13. What can you tell us about Beelzebub?
"Beelzebub is the Lord of Flies, and a Demon King from Pandemonium, First City of Hell. Quite the business card huh?!"
14. What’s the process to become Beelzebub? Also, how much does it take?
"Originally I got a facial cast done at Amazing Ape Productions. After they had my bust, they built Beelzebub on it. The process on set is - I go to the make-up effects trailer, and Mike Fields and often another artist apply the prosthetics for a couple hours. You can see a time-lapse of it on my Insta. Mike is a seasoned pro, so we get through the process very efficiently. He blasts his rock and roll, I go kinda zen and close my eyes...or I get jacked on coffee and chat."
15. What was your favorite scene to shoot as Beelzebub and why?
"There are too many fun scenes! The bulk of my work in that first episode of season 2 was with Kiernan and she was such a pleasure to work with. It was one of those work experiences where you're just so happy to be in the sandbox with that person. They bring so much to the table and that gives you this feeling of confidence that you're with someone who's got your back. This season, shooting episode 3 in the Banquet Hall was a lot of fun. The set dec was so rich and detailed. It was our first scene out of the throne room. The demons were raucous and cheeky... it felt Shakespearean."
16. If you could be any character from the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, except Beelzebub of course, who would that be and why?
"Someone that's the exact opposite of Beelzebub....Melvin! Or some gender bending version of Madam Satan."
17. How was the audition process for the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina?
"The Beelzebub in the audition room was very different than what you see on the screen. The role was described as one of the Infernal Demon Kings, so I wasn't initially aware that it was for the iconic Beelzebub. The show hadn't launched so I didn't have anything to reference for the tone. The casting notes said something like 'simple and controlled'. So I went in, was very still. I got a few rounds of adjustments, which means directions from the casting director. Then within a couple days I got the call from my agent that I booked the role!"
18. In the end, is there anything you'd like to say to the people who support you?
"Thank you. That support means everything. To the fans: I send you immense gratitude! Thank you for watching. Thank you for your messages on Instagram. It's a lot of fun to engage with you. Thank you for hating-loving Beelzebub!"
Nelson Heino Leis is a Canadian actor, best known for his work on projects like: the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Genesis Code, Supernatural, Valley of the Boom. The Whistler, American Junkie, Kayak to Klemtu, Letters, Story of a Girl, Rouge, When Calls the Heart, Bates Motel etc.
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