Luka Sabbat on 'The Dead Don't Die,' Why He Only Spends 18 Minutes a Day on Instagram
The 'Grown-ish' actor chats with The Hollywood Reporter about his debut film role in Jim Jarmusch's zombie pic, his style inspirations and seeing himself on the big screen.
"Just passin thru…" read Luka Sabbat’s vintage t-shirt, the one he paired with a chic Celine suit during a pit stop on the rooftop of Bodvár House of Rosés and La Journée Cannes pop-up at 3.14 Hotel when he sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss his debut film role in Jim Jarmusch’s opening night zombie allegory The Dead Don’t Die. It was true, too, as the 21-year-old spent less than two days on the French Riviera before jetting off to Japan.
Jarmusch’s movie, in which Sabbat shares the screen with Selena Gomez, Austin Butler and Caleb Landry Jones, may help further establish TV’s Grown-ish star as an actor, given he’s still best known as an influencer (with 1.8 million followers on Instagram) and fashion "it-boy." That’s in the future, though, and Sabbat was doing his best to stay present in France, where he lived for 15 years. "It feels like home in a way, so it feels good speaking my language again — my first language, yeah," he says as he adjusts his watch, a shimmering Patek Philippe 5711 from New York’s Pristine Jewelers. The actor was admittedly a little stressed out that his premiere ensemble was stuck in Paris. "I don’t know what I’m going to do," he said, but the problem eventually was solved and the night made. The day after the premiere, Sabbat posted on Instagram: "From the bottom of the carpet to the top of the steps, felt like the longest short period of time in my life. This still feels unreal."
It’s cool seeing you here. Congratulations, too, you’ve done one movie and you’re now here in Cannes. A lot of actors wait their whole career to get walk those steps…
Yeah, this is crazy. I don’t even know how to feel right now.
Talk about working with Jim Jarmusch. Again, a lot of actors would kill to work with someone like him. Tell us the backstory of how you got involved.
His team reached out. I think it was his daughter that, like, said something about me or something, but working with him is tight. He’s like super chill. He trusts the actors. After every take, he just asks everybody how they felt about it. Like, if you didn’t feel like it was it, then he’ll keep going. He has a very calm tone, way of speaking, he’s very persuasive, very effective.
Tell us more about who you play…
It’s me, Austin and Selena, we’re a group of out of town kids strolling by this little town. I’m not going to say what happens, you know, but we’re just, like, a little crew stopping by this little town. … That’s all I could say.
What was it like to work with Gomez and Butler. Any favorite moments on the set?
Just chillin’ after we work. Like, we’re staying at these hotels with, like, these bonfires and stuff and like, I mean, Austin is just like the sweetest guy. We were staying in this hotel, so one night we just like made s'mores and then Selena and I, we were just chilling in her hotel room playing UNO with her friends. There’s not much to do in Woodstock [New York] but hang out with each other. They’re really good people.
You have the TV show Grown-ish, this movie and a diverse résumé with fashion and your personal company Hot Mess. Is there a five- or 10-year plan?
I definitely wanna do more movies. I don’t know yet, my goal is to expand on everything I’m doing now, hopefully bigger and bettering myself. I don’t like to set goals for myself, I just like to do the best I can at whatever I feel like doing, until everything works out.
A lot of people look to you as an inspiration for style and culture. Who inspires you?
I have so many friends, I don’t know where to start. I just look at my homies. Everybody around me is so inspiring. Movies, people, experiences, staying at Hotel du Cap, just like staring out to the ocean just like drawing in stuff. I go to Japan tomorrow. I get a lot of inspo from the style there and the way people act. I get inspiration from real life and seeing things, experiencing things. I get inspiration from feelings.
Instagram sort of goes along with you and who you are and what you're doing because you have such a massive platform. You know, when you use Instagram, do you have a strategy or…
No, I just post whenever I feel like it or whenever I get paid. Funny enough, I don't use it that much. I have a private Instagram I use. But my real Instagram I barely use. I have this thing that tells me…let me see how much time I spend on the 'gram. My average a day is, yeah, 18 minutes.
That’s not much at all.
That’s all you need. It's funny, 'cause as serious and as big as Instagram is, it's not my life. Like, I’m in Cannes right now, why the hell would I be on Instagram? It's just so much other shit to do and things to look at.
How do you feel about seeing yourself onscreen?
Uh, weird. I really try not to watch anything I’m in. Yeah, I don't like the sound of my voice, it's kind of cringe-worthy. … When I hear my voice I'm like, "Godly." Fuck this guy.
This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's May 18 daily issue at the Cannes Film Festival.