Jacob Lofland: Hollywood’s Rising ‘Son’

We talk with actor Jacob Lofland about his short but impressive acting career, including working with Matthew McConaughey, starring in the Maze Runner film franchise and shooting the AMC series The Son down in Texas.

Texas has a long history of film and television production. Every year, the Texas Motion Picture Alliance (TXMPA) honors Texas productions, businesses and individuals that have a positive and unique impact on their communities through television, film, commercial and video gaming production with the TXMPA Impact Awards, which were held this past weekend. Among the honorees this year was the AMC series The Son, which stars Pierce Brosnan as an early twentieth-century cattle baron. Accepting on behalf of The Son was actor Jacob Lofland.

Mindy Raymond spokesperson for TXMPA and Director of Marketing and Development for New Republic Studios says, “Texas has been the home to so many movies and TV Shows, like Dallas and now The Son. Saturday night at Southfork, we celebrated the achievements of the film industry here. We’re proud that Jacob Lofland was part of that event.”

Jacob Lofland was born in Briggsville, Arkansas. Despite having some experience onstage, acting wasn’t an avenue Lofland was interested in perusing. “I went to a really small school, and we were all forced to participate in the school plays,” he says. “I had a lot of people come up to me and say “Hey, you’re pretty good at this,” but I didn’t really think much of it. I was just hanging out with my friends.”

Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland and Matthew McConaughey in “Mud.” (Photo: Lionsgate)

That changed when Lofland was cast in his first film, which was a bit of a fluke. Lofland was homeschooled as a result of multiple schools in his area closing, including his own. As part of an assignment to gain experience writing a resume, Lofland responded to an open casting call for the film Mud. “I filled it out and sent in my picture,” says Lofland. “It took about fifteen minutes, and I went back to riding four-wheelers with my friends. Then I got a call about a week later saying they wanted me to come into casting calls. And after about two weeks, I ended up getting the job. I don’t know how.”

Having never been on a film set before, there was a bit of a learning curve. “It was insane,” says Lofland. “I’ll never forget the first day I was on set and I saw a real movie camera. The first day we filmed, I had the first line. Once he said action, the director talked me through it, like “Don’t look at the camera, just act natural. After we did it one or two times, it was second nature.”

The biggest lessons he learned were from his co-star, Matthew McConaughey. “He taught me how to respect the job,” says Lofland. “I learned how to work. One thing that he taught me that has always stuck with me was ‘Be the first one here and the last one to leave. And if a scene partner needs you, you stay on set.’ He said, ‘If you’re not on camera, you’re still working.’ That’s some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten.”

Despite getting cast in a major motion picture with A-list actors like McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon, Lofland still didn’t have his eyes set on an acting career. “I was thinking ‘It was a fluke deal, I can’t believe I made it here, I’m just going to ride this as long as I can,’” he says. However, after the release of Mud, he was offered a role in the film Little Accidents. “I had been done with Mud for two years at that point, and I thought ‘If I never do this again, I’ve had a great experience.’ But then somehow I got Little Accidents, and after that, it just started taking off.”

Little Accidents is a very emotionally driven film, which wasn’t something Lofland was prepared for, having very little acting experience. “It made me very nervous, but I thought If they have the faith that I can do it, then I’ll give them my damnedest,” he says. “I learned a lot on that film, more so than any other acting experiences.”

Next up was a run on the fifth season of the television series Justified. “I hadn’t done any TV at that point, and my manager had told me that TV and movies were a little bit different,” says Lofland. “Once I got into it, though I really liked it. It works like a well-oiled machine. It’s not quite as hectic as a movie set. That’s where I made my transition to TV, which I really like.”

Jacob Lofland in “Little Accidents.” (Photo: Amplify)

Schooling and work hour restrictions limited the amount of time Lofland could work on set, but he was able to enjoy himself more once he turned eighteen, which was the case for the television mini-series, Texas Rising. “It made a big difference when I could work full hours,” he says. “It actually made it a lot more fun. People used to tell me ‘Just you wait. They’re gunna work you when you get older.’ But I really love working longer hours and putting the work in for everybody.”

Returning to film, Lofland joined the Maze Runner franchise in its second film, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. He was a bit apprehensive about portraying a character that readers were already familiar with from the book series. “There were definitely some people that were not happy [with the casting],” says Lofland. “Some didn’t, some did. It was kind of fun to watch on social media. I was a bit nervous because I had never been attached to something that big. It had a huge following. The first one was still in theaters when I got cast, so I when I got back from Mexico from shooting Texas Rising, me and a friend went and saw it. As soon as I saw Dylan (O’Brien) and everyone else in it, I said to my friend, ‘I don’t know if it’s going to be fun or not, but I know it’s going to be amazing to work with that group.’ They had a great dynamic on screen, and I was not let down. It was one of the most fun shoots I’ve ever been on. When you’ve got a number one like Dylan that carries the film, it makes the job so much easier.”

Lofland’s next role was in the Civil War drama Free State of Jones, which re-teamed him with Matthew McConaughey. “That was another one I was nervous about because it was all emotion,” he says. “There wasn’t very much reaction to it, just emotion. Matthew helped me again on that one. He gave me some advice about my death scene. I’m not going to say what it was, but the scene would not have been as good as it was without his help. “

McConaughey has had nothing but praise for Lofland. In an interview promoting Free State of Jones, McConaughey stated “He’s growing up well… takes the craft very seriously, was very professional. He’s all about the work. It was great to see him again because he was much more raw when we worked together on Mud, but he’s becoming a fine actor. He did it one take every time. He came ready and nailed it.”

A starring role in the dystopian film Go North was followed up by the last film in the Maze Runner franchise, Maze Runner: The Death Cure. Lofland was next cast in The Son, which has him playing the younger version of Pierce Brosnan’s cattle baron Eli McCullough. Sam Neill was originally cast in the role of the older Eli, but left the project due to personal reasons. “It was interesting the way that went down,” says Lofland. “We were all in Texas, and I think I had been there for a week on pre-production, and we woke up to an email saying Sam Neill was no longer attached. We got really lucky that Pierce was available and wanted to do it. Sam and I had gotten together prior to that and we were about to go over the character when all of that happened. Both actors are pretty great though.”

Pierce Brosnan and Jacob Lofland as Eli McCullough in AMC’s “The Son” (Photo: James Minchin III/AMC)

Despite playing the same character, Lofland and Brosnan aren’t necessarily informed by each other’s performances. “Pierce and I would get together every now and then at dinner and talk about the Eilis, but for the most part it was just getting the feeling for the character,” he says. “It’s such a different character that we each have a lot of freedom. There’s a lot that happens in Eli’s life that converts him. It’s a slow change. It’s a whole lifetime that got him to where he is now.”

As for season two of The Son is concerned, Lofland doesn’t have information as far as when we’ll see it, but he is confident people are going to like it. “I have some great ambitions for it. I think it’s better than the first season.”

Though his career has sent him all over the country, much of Jacob Lofland’s time as of late has been spent in Texas filming The Son. “I absolutely love Texas,” he says. “If I had to live anywhere except where I do, it would be Austin. I love the vibe. I love the people. The crew we had [on The Son] was the best crew, hands down. They were all Texas natives, and they work harder than anybody and they never complain.”

 

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