Katherine Langford and Dylan Minnette of the popular Netflix show 13 Reasons Why reveal secrets from the set.
Dylan Minnette as Clay Jensen and Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker in 13 Reasons Why.
The sleeper hit of this spring, Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why has found passionate fans in both teenagers and adults alike. The 13-episode drama covers some heavy territory, most notably teen bullying and suicide. But regardless of subject matter, 13 Reasons Why has achieved a major accolade: it is the most tweeted-about show of 2017 thus far. We sat down with the two leads—Katherine Langford and Dylan Minnette, who play Hannah Baker and Clay Jensen, respectively—to discuss the show’s impact on millennials, how they separate real life from acting, and what it's like to work with producer Selena Gomez.
Social media wields great power.
“There is a feeling that you are accessible at all times by anyone when you have a Facebook or Instagram account,” says Langford. “Whereas my parents, who grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s, you may have gone to school and have been bullied at school, but you know when you get home, you don’t have to deal with that. I think [now] it’s a whole other level where we’re seeing an increase in [bullying] numbers because it’s just so easy to hurt someone.”
It can be hard to separate the character from the actor.
“Naturally, when you’re playing characters to this extent and for this long, it stays with you,” says Minnette. And you go home after a 12-hour day, you have to learn all this stuff for the next day and then be sad and then go home and do the same thing over and over again for five days straight. So, that makes it hard to escape it, on a technical level. There are definitely ways to separate it, [but] I just feel like I started to see so much of myself in Clay. So sometimes it’s hard to differentiate because I’ll say, ‘This is something Clay would do.’”
This was Langford’s first role… and she had to learn an American accent.
“We had a dialogue coach on set, which was fantastic for me,” she says. “I’m all right with accents, but a lot of it was just about understanding the way people speak. I noticed that in America people will say, ‘I appreciate that,’ or ‘I apologize,’ as opposed to in Australia people say, ‘Cheers, thanks,’ or, ‘Sorry, mate.’ How people speak is really interesting and differs from country to country. So that was cool to find out whilst living in the States.”
Producer Selena Gomez looks out for her cast.
“There weren’t many conversations that we got to have with her beforehand, but we got to meet her at the end,” says Minnette of Gomez. “And now, when we’re doing all this [press], we’re having amazing conversations with her. She’s so passionate and so amazing about this and really makes us feel comfortable with what we’re doing.” Adds Langford, “From someone who’s grown up so far removed from the industry, meeting someone who is that famous and then realizing that they are so human and so nice, is both a shock but it’s also the most pleasant and incredible surprise. She is what she is. You see her and she cares.” Gomez even hired psychologists to be on call for the actors, in case the subject material proved to be emotionally straining.