Everything has been snowballing for Matt McGorry. Before the New York native had his career really take off, he was busy getting swole- his attention split between acting and the world of personal training and powerlifting. Once he began to focus all his efforts in one area, he started to see the return, specifically after landing the role of Officer Bennett on Netflix's critically acclaimed Orange is the New Black. "The audition for OITNB came about pretty randomly," he says. "It was a three-line audition, and I think I got lucky."
Even after putting his personal training life on pause, Matt used experiences from that in order to excel in the acting world. In order to accomplish any long-term goals, he needed to set realistic ones. "It was imperative for me that I'd be willing to put in the work and go the long haul to make it happen," he says. "The mentality of 'I'm going to give it a year and if it doesn't work, it's not meant to be' is a dangerous way of viewing it. Sometimes, it's luck."
After portraying a man obeying the law for 3 seasons of OITNB, Matt is now a law student tangled in some unlawful problems of his own on ABC's hit new series, How to Get Away with Murder. Alongside Viola Davis, Jack Falahee, and Aja Naomi King, his character is one of 5 who become involved in a murder mystery that cuts back and forth between flashbacks and the present day.
Clearly, Matt's luck is paying off.
With some time off, Matt told Maxim about how to wear a blazer, his love for Emma Watson, and letting whatever happens happen.
If I wasn’t acting, I think my newfound interest in feminism and gender equality might make me want to pursue something in that world – in a world of advocacy. It’s truly amazing that, being an actor, you get to have a voice in these matters, and I get to do the job that I really love to do, which is act, and everything wonderful that comes along with that, but I also get to try and figure out a way to help the cause of gender equality.
Every guy should own a pocket square. Obviously, you need a blazer or a suit jacket to put that in, but I think there’s something really cool about a pocket square – that it doesn’t take a lot of effort. Literally, you’re putting a piece of fabric in your pocket, but I think it brings the outfit to the next level. And it’s attention to detail; it’s right around eye level with people, and I think if you match and you pick the one that pops the right way, people really take notice, and it can go easily from a business look to definitely something that’s more fashion-forward.
I think ‘fuck’ has a lot of versatility to it, and I think maybe the New Yorker in me is sort of responsible for it being high up in my word priority list. I think it can be used both negatively and positively. It can be sexual, it’s so versatile. It provides emphasis, which is something I often struggle to come up without a diverse enough lexicon for. In some ways, it takes the place of a limited amount of words in my vocabulary.
Whiskey and diet soda was my going out drink, but I’ve since given up diet soda in the last few months. I do like a nice scotch when sitting at home or a nice tequila, but my going out tends to be vodka and tequila with soda and lime. It’s very functional and basic, but it allows me to feel a little less guilty about getting drunk and hopefully not getting too fat at the same time.
When I was younger, I always loved tank tops. It’s kind of interesting, because going through the training stuff, I’ve had very big arms at points in my life. And I imagine that if you’re a guy who’s wearing tank tops, you’re wearing them because you have big arms, and you want to show them off. Before I was ever remotely athletic or athletic-looking, my mom always dressed me in tank tops – like really big tank tops, some of which I still have. think it’s more of a comfort thing. I just had the recent exploration into the world of adding a suit jacket to my sneakers and T-shirt or boots and T-shirt look. Given that this acting career has taken off, I’ve had to go to many events and now have many suits, and it seems like adding a jacket is the perfect compliment for my natural style.
Photo by Fred Duval/FilmMagic
I recently fell in love with Emma Watson for her gender equality work. I think I’ve had a lot of friends who have been obsessed with her for a long time, and I wasn’t, and then I saw her speech at the UN. For me, an aesthetic is involved, but there’s a significant portion of me that is just really attracted to a smart, strong, intelligent and outspoken woman. That’s my type through-and-through.
I am really open to what happens next. I think this goes back to the expectations thing, where as an actor, you’re in this business, but you don’t have full control over what you do. Unless you’re really writing and producing and directing your own work, it’s hard to predict what turn your career with take, so in some ways I’ve worked at letting myself allow whatever is going to happen, happen. And I think that in my mind, I get a lot of fulfillment out of doing How to Get Away with Murder and in some ways, that should be responsible for a great portion of my satisfaction as an actor. But, I’d love to keep doing independent film. I really like doing independent film – that kind of creative freedom you have and the stories that are told there. I’d love to do some bigger films as well, but the thing that always interests me as an actor is the thing I haven’t done, whether it’s a character or a type of project, so I’m open in seeing what the world gives me and taking it as it comes.
Photos by Dove Shore/Getty Images