Colton Haynes:  From Superhero to Superstar
text by Jessica DeFino

 

“They always try to put me in jeans and a white tee shirt,” says Colton Haynes as he arrives on set for our Los Angeles photoshoot.   

Understandable, since the 26-year-old Arrow star does the jeans-and-a-tee look well—really well.  Haynes’ chiseled features and brooding blue eyes bring to mind a young James Dean, his muscular build almost begging to be clad in denim and leather.  

While Haynes does cite a leather jacket as one of his signature pieces, he prefers to be more adventurous with his fashion choices.  His first stop on set was the wardrobe room, where he picked out his favorites: a glittering leopard-print blazer from YSL, a couture aviator jumpsuit fresh off the Moncler runway, and a metallic silver and neon coat complete with luxe fur collar. 

His look is pretty unexpected for a classically handsome young Hollywood actor.  “I get a lot of my style from Chinese fashion,” Haynes admits of his out-there fashion statements, “‘’Cause they don’t care...they do whatever they want.  It’s so awesome!”   

Colton, style-wise at least, is a far cry from Roy Harper, his character on Arrow, who is infamous for wearing an old red hoodie everyday.  “I’m always in a leather jacket.  I’m always overdressed.  If you see me at Starbucks, you might see me in a suit,” Haynes enthuses, listing off “crazy shoes” and high-top sneakers as his current obsessions.  

That strong sense of style is about to propel him to the forefront of the fashion industry.  Case in point: his newest role as the face of Diesel, a label headed up by Haynes’ good friend Nicola Formichetti (the man behind the style explosion that is Lady Gaga).  

This project with Diesel brings Colton’s career full circle, back to where it started: modeling.  After being discovered by an agent from DNA models on the beach at 15 (“I actually had already sent my pictures into DNA!”), he spent his teenage summers in New York City working as a model—including a debut appearance as a tanned, shirtless, all-American heartthrob in a Bruce Weber-lensed campaign for Abercrombie & Fitch.

It ended up being good practice for the aspiring actor, who always knew he wanted to work on screen.  “I wanted to start acting, because I [loved] acting as a kid, and and modeling was a way to get me comfortable being in front of a camera,” Haynes explains. “[It] just transitioned its way there, which was cool.”  

Being exposed to “The Industry” at such a young age required sacrifices, though, the biggest of which was the unrelenting pressure to fit the standard Young Hollywood mold.  “I just turned 26...it’s weird.  Even when I was 16, the hardest part for me was the pressure.  Everyone’s always saying, ‘Be like this, do this, you have to be this weight, you have to look this way.’”

Thankfully, Colton is feeling the pressure a lot less these days.  “I’m so happy that now I’m in a place where I can be a little more my style, I can be the way I wanna be.  Which, if I would’ve hit on a TV show at 16 that wouldn’t have been the case.  I’m happy that I got to ride it out until I was older.  Now I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do.  I want to be myself.”

Millions of fans (1.5 million on Instagram alone) are also grateful that Colton has matured to the point where he’s comfortable in his own skin.  Haynes is something of a social media savant, garnering thousands of new followers with each selfie he posts—almost all of them silly or self-deprecating.  

His personality is essential to every tweet (he recently live-tweeted a couple’s first date...look it up), Instagram, and Youtube video he posts; standing in stark contrast to typical Hollywood social media accounts, many of which are ghostwritten by the stars’ assistants or managers.

“All that Hollywood bullshit doesn’t fly with me very well,” he deadpans in his only unsmiling moment of the day.  His passion is palpable as he talks about the level of connection he fosters with his fans: “I try to put 100% of myself out there, as real as I am.  People see me looking all square-jawed and pristine.  That’s not me—that’s how I look, but I’m such a goofball.  The more and more I started being myself and forming my own personality, that’s when things started blowing up.”  

It’s the sweetest victory for Colton, who was told by managers and agents that he wouldn’t make it as an actor if he didn’t adhere to Hollywood’s guidelines.  He never listened, though; he kept moving forward while trying to find his own voice, “and then I brought that to Twitter and Instagram.  People are like, ‘We’re like him, we’re like him!’  But it’s just because [other] people in Hollywood can let things get them stuck up.”  

Not to say that Haynes doesn’t have people he looks up to in Hollywood.  “Channing Tatum is, like, my role model.” He gets visibly excited talking about the man whose career he most admires, and has trouble finding words to describe his admiration. Colton stutters through a list of reasons why Tatum is his idol, but, unsurprisingly, the biggest reason Haynes idolizes the older actor’s career is because of Tatum’s authenticity.  “Channing is such a nice guy...and I don’t really deal well with people who aren’t nice.  That’s how I feel like he is. And every single movie he’s done has grossed over $100 million dollars! That’s definitely what I want to do, and maintain my values.”

Haynes is well on his way there.  While he’s mostly taken on roles in television (Teen Wolf, Arrow), his movie career is about to break next year with San Andreas, a movie he just wrapped with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.  

“I have a wall of positivity.  I wrote in 2009 on the wall, it’s one sentence: My goal in the next 10 years is to do a movie with Dwayne Johnson.  And I just did a movie with Dwayne Johnson!  I totally believe in that positivity.”

Who knows where Colton’s positive thinking will take him next?  The opportunities for him seem endless as an actor, model, or even singer.  There are a few YouTube videos of Haynes floating around, covering pop songs like “19 You & Me” and “You Raise Me Up.”  So is there a music career in this triple-threat’s future?

“There was a joke we threw out of me voicing a Disney character, kind of like a prince who sings, but now it’s a possibility!  I’d like to do it first on TV or film—it’s kind of hard to be taken seriously and do both [singing and acting].”

If he was forced to choose between his interests, though, there’s no contest: he is first and foremost an actor.   “I dabble in a lot of things.  I’m addicted to photography, and I always have my camera.  But acting is my favorite.”

It’s definitely not the easiest career path that he’s chosen, especially when it comes to dating.  When asked what he looks for in a girl, he sighs and shakes his head almost imperceptibly...it’s clearly a topic that’s been frustrating for him in the past.  

“It’s gotten in the way in my relationships, being in the public eye.  It’s hard when people are always coming up to you...they always get a little upset about it, but that’s the life I chose.”

Considering all of that combined with his crazy schedule, Colton isn’t quite ready to date.  “When I’m ready to start dating...I don’t know.  I just have to find someone who is quirky and crazy and relaxed.”

Arrow’s intense shoot schedule doesn’t leave much time for staying fit, either, not that’s it’s really been an issue for Haynes, who just dropped 20 pounds for the new season of Arrow.  When asked how he stays in shape, Colton struggles for an answer and insists he’s not in the gym that often.  “I’m naturally this way...I like yoga.  I’ve started getting back in the gym, but it’s hard to maintain a schedule.”

With that said, Colton is off running again.  He’s got one more day in Los Angeles before he’s back in Vancouver to film Arrow, and he’ll be spending his “day off” at the Teen Choice Awards.  As Haynes gathers up his backpack and camera and slips on a brand new pair of Buscemi sneakers, he chats about what he’ll wear to the Awards tomorrow.  He doesn’t know yet, but there’s one thing that can be counted on:  it won’t be black or white.

“There’s this amazing lyric in a song that says, ‘I don’t like the black and white, I’ll rock the neons til the day I die.’  That’s me.”