Although not a villain in real life, Justin Prentice sure does play one on Netflix's most popular show, 13 Reasons Why. Taking on the character of Bryce Walker was no easy feat. Justin had to go through scenes that were brutal and downright disturbing. Yet, the message he conveyed on screen was powerful and his work has since been praised.
Justin chatted with People magazine about the role and how 13 Reasons Why wouldn't be what it is today without Selena Gomez and her mom Mandy Teefey – as if we didn't know that already!
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Selena, of course, was an executive producer on the project and had been working on this for years. Justin believes that even though she's very young, she's got a major influence on pop culture, on teens and important issues in our world today.
He said, "She’s so young, but you forget that when you meet her, because she’s a power player in the industry. She’s this huge superstar. She was fantastic. She and her mother, Mandy Teefey, were there since the get go and talking to us, phone calls, we would go out to dinner, talk about the characters, flesh things out. She’s a really cool person. Very intelligent and super passionate about this project, which is really cool, because we wouldn’t have it without she and her mother."
What a compliment!
As for his character, he stands up for the way the writers and the directors made Bryce look on screen. He said, "Like most people, I think it’s very normal when you hear about a case of rape or sexual assault to immediately be angry at the person doing the rape, which of course I still am. And it’s an important thing. But I think it gave me deeper insight into what’s wrong and why these things are happening — having to force myself to get into the mind of these people and how they’re capable of doing what they do."
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Justin mentioned that he had consulted with a psychiatrist and a sexual assault expert while preparing for the role.
He continued, "It’s a lack of education. These people, one, they may have a sense of arrogance in that they can get away with whatever they want to due to the sports or money or power or what have you. But then on top of that, they’re not properly educated on what consent is and what sex should look like and what a healthy relationship should look like."
When it comes down to it, Justin knows every choice that was made was the right one.
He said, "One of the main points of everyone — and the months and months even before we as actors jumped on board locking down script and plot ideas and how certain things would be covered — one of their major key points was: how do we not glamorize this? So I stand by what they all did. I think they made the right choices."
As for season 2, there's no telling what Bryce has coming for him.
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If you or someone you know have been victims of assault please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).