A Candid Conversation on Life and Film with Josh Lucas at His Ojai, CA Home
Josh Lucas is experiencing something of a renaissance in his Hollywood career. This veteran of the stage and screen has been part of some very big films over the years, spanning from slashers like American Psycho and superhero fare such as the 2003 Hulk film. He’s even been in a number of Oscar-winning films, including A Beautiful Mind and Ford v Ferrari. However, there was just one problem: for as great as these films are, Lucas rarely got to take center stage, and these movies often wasted his talents.
Interestingly, his career took off like never before when he began starring in the Paramount series Yellowstone. While Lucas had acted in television before, Yellowstone was his first prestige television role. His appearance in flashbacks was sporadic in the first two seasons, and he disappeared from the narrative entirely for seasons three and four. Just when it looked like we might not see Lucas again, though, he came back for season five in a big way.
Now, Lucas has more fans than ever before, so we decided to dig a bit deeper into his life and his career. He was kind enough to invite us to his unbelievably beautiful home. Rather than live in the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, Lucas lives in Ojai, California (pronounced like you are greeting an old friend, “Oh, hi!”). But driving there still put us in the Hollywood mindset—we had to drive 30 minutes straight up a mountain.
Lucas, his son Noah, and their adorable Australian Shepherd waited for us at the top. We couldn’t deny that the view was downright magical: being on top of this mountain was like being in a hot air balloon.
One of the reasons we were able to enjoy this spectacular view for so long is that Josh Lucas was kind enough to give us an interview on his deck that overlooked the majesty of the Ojai Valley. Lucas was still putting his home together and getting all the details just right, but as the sun began to set, we couldn’t help but feel like this place was perfect just the way it is.
Normally, cowboys make a dramatic departure into the setting sun, but this Yellowstone star was in no hurry, graciously answering our many questions about his life, his career, and his hopes for the future.
This place of yours is amazing. Why did you end up settling here rather than somewhere in Hollywood?
When I was 19 years old, I started to have these very weird dreams about a certain place and about, I mean, literally exactly where we are right now. And I didn’t know what they were. I didn’t understand the dreams. They came to me sometimes every six months, every couple of years. They were random, but I had these actual images and these actual, almost like, mental drawings. I’ve never had that with anything before. And so, when we decided to leave New York City, I was working with this great doctor, John Bernthal, on Ford versus Ferrari at the time, and he said, “why don’t you come visit up in Ojai?”
Did you end up finding this property very quickly?
I decided to come look at houses, and the woman I was working with said there’s a piece of property that’s going on sale tomorrow. It’s not available yet, but if you want, we can drive up and take a look at it. And as I drove up this road right here, this huge owl swooped down in front of me, and I had this crazy instinct happen to me that I knew something important was happening. I didn’t know what it was. And so, when I pulled that corner up there, which you guys just saw in these photographs, I actually felt an overwhelming emotion that this is what I’ve been dreaming about for all these years. And I basically, on the spot, put an offer in to buy this place.
What was your childhood like?
I was born in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and moved all over the South. My parents were both doctors and sort of hippies that were very intellectual and very active in politics, and the ideas that they wanted to make an impact, and that they moved me. They were young when they had me.
And you moved around a lot when you were growing up?
I was conceived at Harvard, born in Arkansas, and then we moved around all over the South for many years. When my dad became a doctor, my mother was a midwife, so I saw a lot of babies born, and…that’s so unusual as a kid to be around birth. And we moved so often that part of the thing that started to happen for me, or with me, is that I was a bit of, I don’t want to say a chameleon or a shapeshifter, but I would go to a new school every time, and I would try and be like somebody cool from the school I used to go to because I could get away with it now. I was, I think, creating an identity as an actor without realizing that’s what I was doing.
What was it that made you move to Hollywood and focus on acting full-time?
I told my dad when I was probably 15 years old that I was going to be an actor. And he didn’t just laugh, he kind of scoffed, and he was like, “You’ve never done anything seriously, and that’s like a really difficult, serious job, and it’s very, very hard to make a living at.” His take was that I just hadn’t really committed myself to anything. And I was, like, really angry, and I felt really challenged and threatened. I felt kind of like this, watch me, old man. I’m going to prove you wrong. The day I graduated high school, I left and moved to Portland, Oregon. I was in an acting program in Portland. Oddly enough, Brendan Fraser and Alicia Silverstone were there. They all moved down to Los Angeles together shortly after I met them. I sort of said hello and goodbye to them, and then I pretty quickly followed along afterward. – READ THE FULL ARTICLE IN PRINT
Photography: John Russo
Styling: Evan Simonitsch
Interview: Doug McLaughlin
Grooming: Coco Ulrich
*Shoot and interview conducted before SAG actors strike