‘Hollywood’: How David Corenswet’s Grandfather Influenced His Role as Jack Castello

Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan have given fans Hollywoodthe story of young hopefuls hoping to make it in La La Land. The series is set post-World War II, so David Corenswet had to research to prepare for his role. As it turns out, he didn’t have to look far for inspiration. 

Find out how Corenswet’s grandfather helped him become Hollywood‘s Jack Castello.

Netflix 'Hollywood' Jack Castello
David Corenswet | SAEED ADYANI/NETFLIX 2020

Jack Castello — war vet turned Hollywood starlet

Jack Castello is a 23-year-old World War II veteran with a wife and twins on the way. He dreams of becoming a star and has an instinct that tells him he was made for the entertainment world. 

Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter he wanted Corenswet to play the role because “he’s [a] unicorn in this business. He looks like an old-time movie star, and he can act, too.” Corenswet was initially confused by Murphy’s desire to cast him. “Somehow, he knew that this time period and this story about a young, optimistic kid who really cares about doing something that matters was right up my alley,” he explained to Elle

Old-world Hollywood films helped shape Jack Castello 

Corenswet tapped into old-world Hollywood to prepare for the role. “I re-watched Singing in the Rain and the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers,” he recalled in an interview with VarietyGuys and Dolls was another film that helped Corenswet prepare for his role in Hollywood. 

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Corenswet says he had it easy, though: “The cool thing about the character — the easy thing, the thing that sort of lets you off the hook — is he doesn’t know anything.” Jack’s inexperience helped Corenswet immensely. Corenswet credits watching a lot of Jimmy Stewart and Gene Kelly for helping him achieve Jack’s sense of innocence.

Hoping a bad boy side would eventually reveal itself, Corenswet studied the work of Hollywood stars like Marlon Brando and James Dean. “I re-watched Rebel Without a Cause because I was kind of hoping that Jack would be a bad boy in the end,” Corenswet explained. “It was fun to watch to get to watch those classics and have sort of mixed feelings.” 

David Corenswet’s grandfather served in the war

Corenswet has been acting since a young age. His late father was an actor, as well as his sister. “I had a very full-on introduction to the craft, doing two scenes in Act One of one of the greatest American plays ever written,” he told Entertainment Weekly, recalling his part in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons. 

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Hollywood takes place in a post-World War II Tinseltown, and fortunately, Corenswet had someone in his direct lineage to turn to in preparation for his role. He relied heavily on his grandfather’s experiences in the war and how they changed him as a person. “In my time as a student, [I had] done a good amount of research about World War II,” Corenswet told Variety. “I [also] talked to my grandfather, who fought in World War II. So I had a good backdrop of the European theater, which was Jack’s only history.”

The amount of preparation Corenswet put into the role of Jack Castello is evident throughout season 1 of Hollywood. Stream the series on Netflix.