JD Dillard’s high-flying film Devotion debuted to a four-minute standing ovation at the Toronto International Film Festival last November.
In the film, Tennessee native Spencer Neville plays wise-cracking young naval aviator Bo Lavery, joining a bright, on-the-rise cast led by Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell. It follows the real-life story of Majors’ Jesse Brown, the first Black naval aviator, in the days leading up to and during the Korean War.
It also help serve Neville the most surreal yet satisfying moment of his career: getting to watch a film in which he stars in the movie theatre he went to as a kid.
Having worked in TV for the last eight years, Neville’s resume has grown swiftly from his early work on Days of Our Lives to include guest starring roles on NBC’s Parenthood and FX’s American Horror Stories to recurring roles on Netflix’s Ozark and HBO Max’s The Sex Lives of College Girls.
But despite his success on both small and silver screens, he still dreams of treading the boards on Broadway…
What upcoming project(s) are you most excited about?
I’m developing a project with Joe Jonas and Black Label Media – pals from Devotion. It’s an idea that Joe and I have been going back and forth on for a while now, and it’s been really fulfilling to look at things through a different lens as a creator/producer of something, versus just receiving a script/audition appointment solely as an actor. More to come on that soon…
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
I was part of a film called The Obituary of Tunde Johnson, an independent film that we shot in 2018. The script, written by Stanley Kalu, was sensational, and it just had this feeling of alignment for me as we were filming. It’s an incredibly important film, and it ended up premiering at TIFF in 2019, which was my first time at that festival. I am so proud of that film. Steven Silver is a force to be reckoned with.
What’s been the most surreal moment of your career?
I had the most surreal experience when I went home to Nashville for Thanksgiving. I went to see Devotion the day it came out with my family and some of my closest friends, at the theatre I grew up going to. I had sat in those seats and dreamed of being an actor and making movies that would be on the big screen. There were multiple times sitting there watching Devotion that I closed my eyes and was just present with the feeling of pride and gratitude. It was very dreamlike. It made me really happy to experience that surrounded by people I love.
What do you hope to achieve that you haven’t yet?
I want to do a play in New York. I want that experience of living in the city and walking to the theatre, performing night after night, finding that newness of the story, of the character. I didn’t go to drama school or do plays growing up since I came into acting a little later in my life, so I’ve felt like I had a disadvantage in that realm. My plan has been to build a career in TV/film first (since I’ve been based in LA), and then forge my way into the theatre scene. Still working on that!
Outside of your family, who is your biggest inspiration?
At the moment, Jonathan Majors. I feel so damn lucky to have been able to work with him and learn from him. I love to listen to him speak about life and his process in acting. He’s an artist through and through, the most soulful and present person I’ve ever met. He elevates the people around him. He’s been a huge inspiration for me over the past couple of years.
Tell us something nobody knows about you…
When I was 12 or 13, I competed in the Tae Kwon Do Junior Olympics here in the US and I got the bronze medal in sparring.
What’s your favourite item of clothing – and what does it mean to you?
A brown, wool cardigan that was my grandfather’s. My mother gave it to me a couple years ago and it’s something I’ll wear to anything. Dress it up, dress it down. At the house drinking coffee. It’s stylish, comfortable, warm. My favourite piece by far.
My favourite accessory has always been a watch. I’ve only ever had just a classic Timex or something, nothing expensive. But I can’t wait to have my own Rolex and wear it for decades, and eventually pass it down.
What’s in your holiday bag?
I don’t travel without bringing my aero press coffee maker with me. I’m a big coffee nerd, and it’s my worst nightmare to be somewhere without the ability to make a great cup of coffee to get my day started. So I always have that, my grinder, and a bag of beans with me.
What’s next on your shopping list?
I’m very much into vintage clothes right now. You can’t really plan for those purchases. My favourites have always just found me at the right place and the right time.
What would you buy if money was no object?
A home somewhere in the south of France.
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