Rudy Pankow

Everybody knows Rudy Pankow.  At least, everyone in Ketchikan, Alaska. But one gets the impression that this is about to change. The twenty-two-year-old Alaskan native stars in the Netflix teen drama Outer Banks, whose second season premiered Friday, July 30th. 

The action-packed series became one of the most talked-about shows of summer 2020, and its popularity has garnered Pankow and his costars newfound recognition.  And for a small-town boy unaccustomed to the thrills of stardom, sudden celebrity could easily lead to a big ego.  But Pankow remains grounded and humble despite his teen heartthrob status. One gets the sense that Pankow cares more about developing his craft than he does superstar luxuries. He’s a dreamer, grateful for his break. 

Tings Magazine Creative Director Justin Campbell caught up with Pankow, who is currently filming a project in Spain. The young actor candidly answered questions about everything from his fashion style to the importance of being a role model for the next generation of dreamers.

JC:  What have you been doing since you wrapped season 2 of Outer Banks

RP:  I shot a movie called The Crusades.  That was a whirlwind, and that was fun. Then a vacation for me and my lady friend.  Then, from there, we came back, and something else plopped in my lap. And that is why I am in Spain.

JC: What’s it like working on a film or TV set? 

RP: I’m just gaining perspective. When you are in the learning era of your career, you are taking in as much as you can.  I just came from a set [Outer Banks] where I learned so much behind the camera,  where you set the lights. Knowing exactly why is super valuable.

JC: Have fans shown up on set?

RP: There were a bunch of times where it took me by surprise, where there were a lot of people clapping, taking pictures.  And it’s like, “You watch the show!”  It feels like pressure. To be honest, I take it as pressure. I feel like I will have to entertain these people one day, if not right now.  But I am also thankful. I am thankful that the show resonated with these people.

JC: Have you had the experience of being able to interact with fans? Or no, because people are wearing masks. 

RP:  It’s a mixture of both. The masks do help.  I think LA is one of those places where if people do recognize you, it’s “huh,” and that’s it’s it.  Charleston is a different story. Since that’s where we film, so many people are thankful that we are there and shooting.  That’s where people will ask for a photo.  Again, thankful. I’m still getting used to it.  But covid has definitely taken a toll on being recognized and also being outside often.

JC: Have you had any really crazy fan experiences yet? 

RP: There haven’t been any crazy, crazy.  It’s just kind of like, “How did they get my parents’ address?” They weren’t from the state or town. And my dad asked, “Rudy can I open this letter?” And I was like, “Yeah, Dad, you can open it.” It was just a nice fan.

JC: Have you been back to Alaska? Are you the most famous person to come from your hometown? 

RP: I wouldn’t say that. When I go to my hometown, some people ask when season 2 will come out. But other than that, they just know me. My hometown knew me way before any of this. Everyone knows everyone. When I come back, they say, “Great job on the show, Rudy!” And I’m like, “Aw, thank you.” It’s a very cordial type of thing. Then we start talking about my mom and dad. It’s not much of a fame type of thing. It’s recognition. It’s fun to go home, and people not be too crazy about it. They say, “Great job!”  And it feels good.

JC: It’s amazing! It’s an incredible accomplishment.  People dream of breaking out from the small towns they come from. 

RP: I hope I’m an example of if you have a dream and are willing to test yourself to the limits of why you are doing it, go chase that dream.  That’s what I want to be an example of.

JC: You are really getting to experience the fashion side of the business. Have you always been interested in the clothes you wear? What has that side of things been like for you? 

RP: Yeah, I’m still learning fashion.  I’m still trying to figure out what brands are so expensive and why they are so expensive. It’s definitely something I’m currently figuring out.  It was never something where I thought I’m going to be this fashionista. It is an industry that I’m learning and figuring out why.

JC: For me, fashion is so interesting in film and television because the clothes someone wears becomes a part of their character choices. Do you feel that when you are doing red carpets and awards shows that you are playing a character of yourself? Or do you feel like that is you?

RP: I have a bunch of caring people who said, “Hey, Rudy, what are you comfortable in?” They are introducing me to brands and what it stands for, and how it defines you. I’m figuring it out. I’m not someone who’d want to wear something very colorful. What I’d wear to an event is more on the classy, classic side, rather than more modern.

JC: I want to hear more about the upcoming season of the show? What have you told us that you haven’t told anyone else? 

RP:  This is going to sound cliche.  Accidents happen.  The biggest thing is that the plan never works out.  There isn’t a single plan that goes exactly right.

JC: Do you have a favorite scene that you guys shot for the season? 

RP: I really enjoyed the jail cell scene with John B.  It was probably one of my favorite scenes to shoot.

JC: Since the show has blown up, have you made any big purchases? What have you treated yourself to? 

RP: Vacations.  Traveling.  I’ve traveled twice for just leisure.  COVID safe, I’ve been very particular about that.  I took a trip across the country. I went to Hawaii.  They are pricey, but they are so rewarding.

JC: Has there been a favorite place that you’ve visited? 

RP: I really, really, really loved Monument Valley.  There’s so many stories in Monument Valley.

JC: What has been your craziest celeb moment? Have you had one of those moments where you thought, “I can’t believe I’m here!?”

RP: The MTV awards.  It was like, “Holy cow, we are here with so many other people who create art.”  It was a moment where we all came together to celebrate a certain amount of achievement.

JC: What are your plans for the rest of the summer? What are you doing next?

RP: Finish this job that I’m currently on. Celebrate that season two is out there.  Then it’s back to training. Then it’s back to the grind. And writing. I’d love to start writing and put something out there.