All credit to Calvin Klein who has the innate ability to pick the kind of all-star cast for his campaigns that would have cinemas packed. For his latest outing, Fall 2022, American actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen joins the CK family, which includes the likes of Kate Moss, Lil Nas X, the legendary Brooke Shields and even Australia’s own Jacob Elordi.
Since he got his break in Baz Luhrmann’s musical drama series The Get Down, Abdul-Mateen has curated an acting credit that would once have defined him as an indie film star. Today, with audiences more inclined to break out way from major studio works, he’s simply a bona fide Actor. Capital A.
ICON had a chance to speak to Abdul-Mateen about his roles, how he prepares and what it felt to be tapped to join the latest Calvin Klein campaign.
ICON: How did the brand approach you to join the new campaign?
Yahya Abdul-Mateen: They reached out with a cool opportunity to be a part of the campaign, and it sounded like something cool that I wanted to be a part of.
ICON: Calvin Klein’s style has such a range of references – streetwear, American prep, minimalism. How are you more inclined to wear it?
YAM: I like to keep things simple and classy. I can wear their staple pieces and know that I’m in a classic look.
ICON: The campaign talks about capturing those with “true confidence”. What makes you feel confident?
YAM: Real confidence comes from the inside. But on the outside, a strong dependable look is a good way to step out of the door.
ICON: Candyman, Morpheus, Doctor Manhattan and that incredibly complex gamer BFF relationship in Black Mirror – there appears to be a pattern of playing roles that explore pluralities of social structure. Is this something you deliberately seek out in the work you take on or just coincidence thus far?
YAM: I like jumping into work that has something to say. Something that has messaging that I can get behind and also bring a part of my personal life story to. I feel like the more I relate to the message, the more of myself I can pour into the role, and it’s nice to be invested on a deep level.
ICON: How do you prepare for the kinds of roles you choose?
YAM: It all starts with the character and the story. That tells me what kind of opportunity it’s going to be. I also like jobs that scare me and excite me at the same time. I dig the rush of taking something from the page and bringing it into life. Each job comes with a different kind of preparation, but for me I connect back to what drew me to the role in the first place, and I try to see what opportunities I can find to highlight that element across the course of the story.
ICON: What has been your favourite character to play thus far?
YAM: It’d be impossible to choose a favourite character. But I will say that my first job on The Get Down holds a close place in my heart.