Q&A: N.L.'s Percy Hynes White talks about playing Xavier Thorpe in Netflix series Wednesday

Percy Hynes White of St. John's plays Xavier Thorpe in Wednesday.  (Vlad Cioplea/Netflix - image credit)
Percy Hynes White of St. John's plays Xavier Thorpe in Wednesday. (Vlad Cioplea/Netflix - image credit)
Vlad Cioplea/Netflix
Vlad Cioplea/Netflix

Percy Hynes White has taken the next big step in his young acting career by landing a main role in Netflix's Wednesday — an adaptation of The Addams Family.

Hynes White, 21, isn't a stranger to screens big or small.

The St. John's-born actor — the son of actor and musician Joel Thomas Hynes and actress and filmmaker Sherry White — has a lengthy resumé, with roles in television series Rookie Blue, Murdoch Mysteries, The Twilight Zone and Marvel's The Gifted.

This time around he's playing Xavier Thorpe opposite Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in the series, which has had four episodes directed by Hollywood film legend Tim Burton.

The CBC's Melissa Tobin spoke with the actor from his apartment in Toronto.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

Q: How did this show land on your radar?

A: The same as any other audition, I just got an email and I think there was some kind of code name for it. It was called "Willow" or "Willa" or something. I sent in a video of me doing one of the scenes and stuff just went from there.

Have you been a Tim Burton fan since you were a kid?

Since I was a kid, I had this book of poetry that my dad used to read me that Tim wrote and we used to have figurines that he made. I remember I went to the Museum of Modern Art exhibit in New York of all his artwork when I eight years old and I had a meltdown when I had to leave. I wanted to stay there the whole day. I've been a huge fan of his my whole life.

When did you find out you got the part and it was a Tim Burton production?

I knew it was Tim Burton when I was auditioning but I found out that I got the role on April Fool's Day. I got the phone call and my mom was like "You got the part" and I was just like "Get out of here" and I went back to sleep. I thought she was pranking me.

Courtesy of Netflix
Courtesy of Netflix

For those who haven't seen the show, tell us about Xavier Thorpe.

He's sort of this dramatic, very broody guy. He's this painter and he's some sort of psychic ability and he becomes a suspect in an investigation. He's this suspicious character but also this kind of weird love interest.

What was it like to be a part of a production like this?

It was pretty crazy. They had built all of those sets from the ground up. There's no green screen, there's nothing. You're there and you feel like you're in a move. They have all these crazy effects and they kind of just fully immerse you in that world so it just feels like you're already there.

You filmed this in Romania. What was that like? 

A challenge. The only challenge to this whole ordeal has been being away in Romania for eight months. That's the longest I've ever been away on my own before for anything like that. I missed home a lot and it was obviously not like some sort of tropical vacation there but I'm very happy I got to meet all the people that I did. And it is very beautiful. I grew to appreciate it. The architecture and the people there, it's got this very rich culture. It's a good life experience.

What was it like building friendships with your cast members and meeting Tim Burton?

It was cool. The first month of it was training to learn all the stuff we had to do like the stunts, the rowing, archery, fencing, dancing and painting. That felt like summer camp when it was warm, that's what bonded us together. Throughout shooting it got colder and stuff was shutting down because of COVID. We had to hang out with each other. It's good we had each other. We hung out in each other's apartments and had little parties and stuff. That's what, I think, got us through it.

Tim Burton directed you and he's your hero. What was that like?

It was very normal. He's such a great, collaborative guy. He's very easy to get along with, he loves joking around. I mean, he knows his stuff. He's been doing this for a long time. Every choice he makes ends up making complete sense when you see it on the screen afterwards and he always knew exactly what note to give to make the scene feel better. He was so great to work with.

And he gave you a gift? 

He gave me a drawing. It was so cool. I definitely pestered him for it. I wasn't leaving there without it. Some of his characters he did for an old poetry book that he did around the time that he had the Museum of Modern Art exhibit — or it might have been from 2005 — they're just these morbid cartoon characters that I love.

Percy Hynes White/Instagram
Percy Hynes White/Instagram

No spoilers, but will you be in Season 2?

No idea. Literally no idea. I would love to be. I would love to have a job next year. I think they're talking about it but who knows.

This is the No.1 show on Netflix. What does that mean to you now as an actor? 

I'm very proud of it. I'm very excited. But I have to keep doing the grind like everybody else. I've got to keep going to auditions, it's the same old, same old. It's going to be a very exciting week or so and then it'll get back to regularly scheduled programming very soon.

Do you have an auditions coming up?

I have to go to one after this interview and I'm working on a movie out in Utah right now so that's fun. But we'll see.

What's been the most fun experience in all of this?

I will never forget my time over there in Romania. With all the challenges, it definitely shaped me and changed me as a person. It made me who I am today and I got to really bond with everyone over there and make genuine friends. A year later it comes to the premiere and it all comes to fruition. That was an incredible night and I think I'm going to have some of those friends forever. More than anything, that's what I'll take away from it.

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