…While I don’t believe classes are necessary for everyone, as life can be a fantastic teacher, a little formal instruction can go a long way. Watching talented actors, you’re led to believe acting is a breeze, that anyone can do it. And while there are indeed people meant to play certain parts, having a sustained career in acting requires more than just landing one role. It’s beneficial to study up, watch films, observe your favorite actors, and gain a comprehensive understanding of the craft…
I had the pleasure to talk to Will Peltz. Will is an American actor known for his diverse roles across film and television. Will is one of the nine children of businessman Nelson Peltz. His sister Nicola Peltz is also a renowned actress and his brother Brad Peltz is a professional ice hockey player.
In his early years, Peltz also pursued hockey, playing at the Tier III Junior level with the New Jersey Hitmen. However, he eventually gravitated towards acting, inspired by reading scripts with his sister Nicola. His career officially kicked off in 2009 when he moved to Los Angeles and began securing roles in film productions.
Peltz garnered recognition for his role in Jason Reitman’s drama “Men, Women & Children” in 2014. He further cemented his place in the industry with a role in the horror film “Unfriended” as Adam Sewell that same year.
Peltz’s filmography also includes films such as “Abduction”, “In Time”, “Sierra Burgess Is a Loser”, “Time Freak”, and “13 Minutes”. More recently, he appeared in the miniseries “Welcome to Chippendales” and the film “InstaFame”. He is also known for his roles in the hit TV shows “Euphoria” and “Manifest”.
Currently, Peltz is making waves as a major character in the FX series “Mayans M.C.”, a show focusing on the struggles of a prospect in the Mayans M.C. charter based on the U.S.-Mexico border. The series is a spin-off, set two and a half years after the events of “Sons of Anarchy”.
In his personal life, Peltz has been in a relationship with fashion model Kenya Kinski-Jones since 2011. He and his sister Nicola have matching Hebrew tattoos that read “family”.
Yitzi: It’s a pleasure to meet you. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn about your origin story. Can you share your childhood and how you grew up?
Will: Yeah, I grew up in New York and a bit in Florida. I come from a massive family. My dad has 10 kids, and my mom and dad are still together. We had a household full of siblings, so there’s always a lot of action and commotion. Almost all of us played hockey. I was a passionate ice hockey player while growing up, and it seems like every one of my siblings at some point played hockey or skated. We practically lived on the ice. I have an older brother who just turned 40 this year and a younger brother who recently turned 20. So, yeah, it’s a pretty wild family, but in the best way possible. My sister, when she was younger, got into acting. I was actually living at home at the time, playing junior hockey to get noticed and recruited. During that period, I would sit with her and read scripts, breaking them down together. That’s where my interest in acting sparked, and I fell in love with it. I thought, “Hey, this is something I really want to try.”
Yitzi: So it’s been amazing. You’ve been involved in so many fascinating projects. Can you share one or two of the most interesting or memorable stories from your acting career? Or maybe a story from the set of Mayans? Something that gives us an inside look at what it was like on set.
Will: Yeah, sure. It was really cool because, well, it’s funny because Sarah Bolger, who’s also on the show, plays Emily. She’s a long-time friend of mine, from one of the first movies I ever did. Paul and I, as cool as it is, we actually worked together, so we’ve known each other for a long time. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to cross paths on set, but that was just a funny little coincidence. It was really cool to be a part of the show, and JD Parto was directing for the first time. I had the pleasure of working with him, and I have to say it was a fantastic experience. It was nice to work with someone who not only knows how to act but can also communicate with actors. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some really talented directors over the course of my career, and it was great to work with him as well. It was amazing.
Yitzi: It’s been said that mistakes can sometimes be the greatest teachers. Do you have a story about a mistake you made when you were first starting out and the lesson you learned from it?
Will: Well, when it comes to acting, mistakes can actually work in your favor or become your best moments on screen. Sometimes you’ll be watching a show and notice a fall or a trip that looks so natural, and it’s because the actor probably actually fell. Personally, I can’t think of a specific example right now, but I believe that when it comes to acting, mistakes can often be the best gifts.
Yitzi: Has anyone had a profound impact on your life? Could you share a story about that person?
Will: Yeah, there were two people. I had a nanny during my childhood who was like a part of our family. She treated us as her own. My sister and I were really close to her, but unfortunately, she passed away. She embodied pure unconditional love and taught me a lot. She had a huge impact on my life.
Then I had a hockey coach named Jason Pagnie whom I had the privilege of playing with from when I was around 12 years old until I was 20. He passed away recently. He was truly the funniest person I ever knew. He had a great love for the hockey community, especially in the Northeast and Prep School. He left a significant impression on many players, even in the HL now. One of my good friends, Jonathan Quick, who just won the Stanley Cup with the Golden Knights, used to drive us to all our hockey tournaments when we were kids. Coach Pagnie was truly one of the best individuals I’ve ever known. He was one of a kind, and it’s hard to capture his personality in words. He was incredibly special and impactful in my life.
Yitzi: That’s an amazing story. Now, let’s focus on the main topic of our interview. Imagine you were the King of Hollywood and ran the biggest studio. What positive changes have you witnessed in the industry in recent years? What changes would you implement as the King of Hollywood going forward?
Will: I’m glad to see more inclusion in the industry. It feels like everyone is now getting the representation they deserve, and I think that’s crucial. There are countless stories to be told that don’t require the typical white leading man. So, I believe that has been a great development for Hollywood.
On the other hand, I do think things have become somewhat formulaic and unoriginal. There’s been an overreliance on remakes and a lack of fresh ideas. With the dominance of television and the decline of movies, except for the massive blockbuster franchises or low-budget horror films that occasionally succeed, it’s disheartening to witness the disappearance of middle-range movies with budgets ranging from $20 million to $40 million, whether they are dramas or thrillers. I just wish people could return to creating original content. Personally, I feel that we’ve lost a bit of that cinematic magic that characterized the golden years and the films I grew up watching. So, it’s a mixed sentiment, and I’m unsure about the future direction.
Yitzi: Okay, so let’s talk about Mayans. Tell us why our readers should be excited about it and why we should all tune in.
Will: Well, obviously it’s the final season of the show. And I think they’ve done a great job with the series so far. And obviously, I can’t give anything away or whatever. But I do think it will make for a very exciting conclusion. I think getting to work with Andrea has been a pleasure. And I don’t know. I think it’s definitely, hopefully, the fans will be really happy with where the series gets wrapped up and with where everyone’s storylines end up.
Yitzi: Amazing. So as you know, the Mayans and the whole Sons of Anarchy universe is among the most popular series. In your opinion, what is it that captured people’s hearts and minds about the show?
Will: You know, I don’t know. I can’t really speak for everyone. But it’s nice to see some grit and some badass dudes, you know, even though they’re not always on the right side of the law. Usually, their hearts are in the right places and they’re rough around the edges, but it’s cool to peek into their lives and see that whole world. I think they’ve done such a great job of creating that universe. It’s a fun world to play and live in.
Yitzi: So what lessons do you think our society can take from the themes and motifs of Mayans?
Will: I mean, I think there’s a lot of fight in these characters and it’s nice to not just collapse when things aren’t going your way. Sometimes it takes some fight to battle back. But at the end of the day, if you do, I believe whatever your field or world is, whatever your battle is, really take the bull by the horns and really fight the good fight, and not just give up. In today’s world, a lot of people just want to give up at the first sign of things not going their way. I think it’s a good message that everybody, myself included, should keep fighting for their dreams or whatever their battle is.
Yitzi: That’s a great answer. How would you compare and contrast your personal character to the character Tony you play in the series? How are you similar and how are you different?
Will: Well, it’s funny because honestly, you know, I usually play these really edgy characters who are kind of, for lack of a better word, dickheads or not the nicest people. So if someone had told me I’d be playing a character like Tony, I’d probably think I’d be somewhere in that biker gang or something. But it was really nice for me to play a character who was vulnerable and, you know, had a double past but found God, found faith, and turned his life around. It was just really nice to step into someone else’s shoes instead of always playing the bad guy. So it was nice to play someone who had a great heart. And even though he might be a little religious, his heart’s in the right place. It was really cool to, like I said, play someone who is really vulnerable. And yeah, I would hope to say that’s more similar to me. I feel like I’ve had this whole reassembling of my life and overcome some bad habits, which was funny because it was kind of around the same time I booked the series and shot it. It’s funny how life and art work like that together. But yeah, I would say there’s definitely a part of Tony, especially recently, in me right now.
Yitzi: That’s great. Okay, this is our signature question. We’re almost done. Looking back, what are five things you wish someone had told you when you first started acting, and why?
Firstly, I wish someone had told me about the challenges of the industry. Coming from a hockey background, my knowledge about acting was quite limited, and in a way, ignorance was bliss. I was somewhat green when I started, and if I could go back, I might have prepared a little more before plunging headfirst into auditions.
Secondly, while I don’t believe classes are necessary for everyone, as life can be a fantastic teacher, a little formal instruction can go a long way. Watching talented actors, you’re led to believe acting is a breeze, that anyone can do it. And while there are indeed people meant to play certain parts, having a sustained career in acting requires more than just landing one role. It’s beneficial to study up, watch films, observe your favorite actors, and gain a comprehensive understanding of the craft.
Thirdly, the industry has changed considerably. If I were starting out now, I don’t think I’d feel the need to move to LA as it was deemed necessary in the past.
Fourthly, it’s crucial to find and stick with people who inspire you in the business. It’s amazing how much you can learn from them.
Finally, remember that forming genuine connections on set is important. It can be a bit sad since you become a tight-knit family for a short period before everyone moves on to their separate lives and projects. However, as I’ve matured, I’ve been fortunate to foster some of those relationships, which have developed into some of my most cherished friendships and mentorships.
Yitzi: That’s great. And beautiful. Okay, this is our final question. So, because of the platform you built and your enormous influence, if you could spread an idea or inspire a movement that would bring the most good to the most people, what would that be?
Will: You know, I think it’s really pretty simple. I would just try to spread as much love as possible. I mean, it’s just as simple as treating someone else the way you want to be treated. And, you know, I’ve done a good job of learning this as I’ve gotten older. A lot of the time, if someone yells at you or overreacts in a situation where you might get angry quickly, I used to maybe come back at them or whatever. But now I feel like it’s nice to just stop and realize, “Hey, you don’t know what’s going on in their life today.” Maybe something tragic just happened. You don’t know what happened five minutes ago or the day before, or what they’re dealing with. So, yeah, I think keeping that in mind is important when dealing with people on a day-to-day basis. Because life gets hard, it really does. It’s not always a walk in the park. And while I’m not saying you should feel bad for everyone who’s acting out, and people shouldn’t act out, you just don’t necessarily know what’s going on in everyone’s lives.
Yitzi: How can readers continue to follow your work online? How can they support your work? How can they watch Mayans?
Will: Yeah, well, I’ll be on at least another episode coming up. And yeah, go support the show. It’s a great show and is on FX and Hulu. As for me, I’m mostly on Instagram, and I just recently started a TikTok. So if you want to keep up with me, that’s the spot to do it.
Yitzi: Amazing. Well, thank you so much for this fantastic interview. It’s so nice to meet you. I wish you continued success in your great work.
Will: Thank you. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Actor Will Peltz On The 5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career in TV and Film was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.