It’s easy to sound like you’re penning a Shakespearan sonnet while listing all the reasons to love Grizz (Jake Mulhern), the breakout boy of Netflix’s The Society. From the very beginning of the YA drama, Grizz is the first person to literally read the writing on the wall. He’s a Nature Boy with the hair of a 1990s heartthrob. That hair is often in a baby ponytail or little buns. Grizz is kind, lovable, and reasonable in the face of increasingly unhinged megalomaniacs. Then there’s the small detail that Grizz has the best love story in all of The Society as the closeted football player who falls for Sam Eliot (Sean Berdy), a queer boy who is deaf. It's a perfect romance — save for a few complications.
The only problem with the magic of Grizz was that his portrayer, up-and-comer Jack Mulhern, was absolutely radio silent on social media. Where were Grizz’s new legion of fans to direct their love (and memes) without a Mulhern Twitter account? Or Instagram account? Or, who knows, old school fan mail P.O. box?
Finally, the growing Grizz standom’s dreams were made in mid-May when Mulhern got an Instagram account. Now, he’s a bona fide social media star, with 186,000 followers and counting after a mere week on the platform. But the people were clamouring for more! Who told Mulhern to get an Instagram? Does he know how much everyone loves Grizz? Does he also contain Henry David Thoreau-level magnitudes of appreciation of and one-ness with nature? We needed answers, so we went straight to the source. Here's everything you need to know about The Society's beautiful, caring, kind, smart jock, who, upon being told he's the internet's new favourite boy, said, “I never thought it would be phrased that way, but it’s super cool. I’m stoked." We're stoked, too, Jack!
Refinery29: You’re extremely hard to Google, so where are you from?
Jack Mulhern: [Laughter] “I’m from Rye, New York, right outside of the city.”
And you graduated college recently, right?
“Yeah, like a year, a year and a half ago … One of the coolest draws for me to do The Society was working with 15 to 20 other young actors and kind of being a fly on the wall. Seeing how other people work.”
“Yeah, I haven’t been the most active [online] for the past six or seven years. So I think ultimately, depending on how you look at it, it either serves me or stands in my way. But, you know, here we are.”
Yeah, so how did it feel to get pushed onto Instagram?
“Ha, it was a positive thing. It was a good thing — it was for the right reasons. How much I engage with it is another thing. But I thought I owed a service to at least provide a platform for people to voice that gratitude and love. Because I’m so overwhelmed by it. My staying off of [social media] was never a holier than thou thing. It was purely because it makes me anxious.”
I’m a kid out here who just wants to have a Revenant moment.
Since you’re not really on social media in the first place… How did you find out about all the fan love? Was it Netflix PR? Did your costars tell you?
“Actually, it was kind of like a mercy thing I did for [my costars]. Because we have this group chat on WhatsApp and they were spamming me with screenshots and direct messages saying, ‘Hi. Does Jack Mulhern have an Instagram? Really love the show by the way.’ I just felt so bad for all of them. It’s really an apologetic thing.”
This is a ridiculous question, but the people deserve to know: Why do you love the pumpkin emoji so much? They’re all over your feed.
“Oh, yeah! I don’t know? That’s not an easy question. Halloween is my favourite holiday, and I like the iconography from it, I guess? I don’t know if it means anything specifically? It’s almost like an aesthetic. I just like the colours and the shapes. That’s a weird way of saying it, but it’s true.”
The video you posted earlier this week is so pure. What is going on there?
“Thank you. When we were on set, we were screwing around in late fall. It was a day off. I was like, ‘Okay, let me just film the day, see what happens.’ José Julián [who plays Gordie] and I are really, really big fans, like super-nerds, of [writer-director] Terrance Mallick.
“By the end of college I wasn’t really going to be an actor. I just wanted to make films and start a theater company. I started making these like film-plays, where I would write screenplays and film every third scene and then cut it together. Just like ambient B-roll, multi-layered visual-audio collages. It had been a while since I had done one, so I took the footage from that day and thought, ‘Let me just chop it up and see if I still got it.’”
You definitely still have it.
“The only reason it went up yesterday is because I’m so starved for like, ‘What the hell do I do with this thing?’ [Editor’s note: Instagram is the ‘thing’] I don’t have any pictures of myself. I was like, ‘Uh, I gotta do something.’ So I just put it online.”
Wait, are you a Nature Boy like Grizz?
“I think maybe Grizz is a little more naturally skilled. But walking around and looking around on a pleasant or not so pleasant day is a way for me to get out of my own head … I think without getting too heady or philosophical, Grizz feels the same way.”
To get heady, how was it to film Grizz and Sam’s love story? It’s one of the warmest parts of a pretty sad show.
“Working with Sean was a tremendously fulfilling experiences because he’s so professional and he has such a depth of feeling. I sponged up a lot from watching how he works on set. Like, knowing that it’s okay to ask for what you need to do the work you want to do … I really stand by saying any good work that came, Sean was directly responsible for it. He was very present and spontaneous so everything that played out on me was just stuff I was getting from him.
“The chemistry was not work, it was really quick. We’re good buds.”
So if you get a season 2, where do you want to see their relationship go?
“Gideon [Adlon, who plays new mom Becca Gelb] is another actor on set who I really love, and she’s a great bud. If the writing can be steered towards ‘Kids raising a baby,’ there can sometimes occasionally be humour. If we don’t know what the hell we’re doing, that would be an interesting dynamic.
“Also, I’d like to see more survival aspects … I’m a kid out here who just wants to have a Revenant moment.”
On the subject of this little family trio, do you personally have any theories on who the father of Becca’s baby is?
“I know. But, I don’t know if it’s going to stay this way. What’s really great about the show, and I think it’s the only reason the characters had a chance to really arc, is that the writers are receptive to the actors and what dynamics are forming on set.”
And do you have any theories on the other huge Society mystery: where the kids are.
“On set, I didn’t this about it at all. It didn’t cross my mind, which is weird. It’s such an obvious [question]. It didn’t even occur to me. Now, I don’t know. The parallel dimension thing is cool. Everybody’s dead or the dream thing is all very soapy. But the coolest thing I saw and really like is that the parents did something terrible that caused this to happen. That the parents are cultish.”
Is there anything else you want your fans to know about you?
“I’m stoked, tremendously grateful, and surprised that people are interested in the character. I care very much about the show and, to be honest, my whole priority was whether people would like it. So when my character sort of popped, it really was not at the forefront of my mind.”
The people love Grizz. Should we just give him the Society?
“Grizz does not want to rule or run anything, and it is exactly those circumstances that might make him the best to do it.”
What are you working on right now?
“I just wrapped a gig in Nevada and Utah — shot for about a month — like about 24 hours ago. So I’m back home on the East Coast right now and just hitting the bricks with auditioning. But, trying my best to scrap together a summer before I have to ship off and do another project.”
This interview has been edited and condensed.