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Madelyn Cline | Those Burly Storm Clouds on the Horizon They're Just Pillows with which to Lay Our Weary Heads!

Via Issue 184, The Tempest Issue, out now!

Written by

Joshen Mantai

Photographed by

Andi Elloway

Styled by

Britton Litow

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MAJE jacket and shirt,EÉRA necklace,and BEA BONGIASCA rings.

As the great William Shakespeare once wrote: what’s past is prologue. For 24-year-old actor Madelyn Cline, living in the present means recognizing that life is a seasonal myriad, where history does set some context for the now, but moving like water and embracing the unknown is paramount to a centered spirit. Cline’s most potent reflection on her career in the course of our conversation? “The biggest thing for me is: why let myself get anxious or tense about it when I could just lean into it?” 

Cline is in her home in Los Angeles, dressed down casually in a hoodie, surrounded by what appears to be meticulously detailed artwork on the walls in the background. It’s hard to keep up with the bustling whereabouts of the film and TV star, whether she’s drifting around the dunes of Dubai, or getting ready for the world premiere of her film at the Toronto International Film Festival. Cline begins by recounting the start of her career, marked by a hasty departure from her university at the time, Coastal Carolina. After booking stints on the roaringly famous sci-fi thriller series, Stranger Things, and vampire fantasy series, The Originals, Cline called her mom one day to tell her she was dropping out of college, packing up her dorm that night, and moving to Los Angeles. While Cline admits she didn’t put too much thought into the decision, she knew her choice was righteous. “My whole thing was: why would I stay in school to pursue a professional career when I have one sitting in front of me?”

MAJE jacket and shoes, stylist’s own tights, EÉRA necklace, and BEA BONGIASCA rings.

Once Cline made the East to West Coast move, the stakes were immediately raised as she realized just how many people out there were trying to break into acting. “I realized there are thousands of me,” she says. “And that was really scary.” Nevertheless, Cline persisted, and the fruits of her labor paid off. She eventually booked her starring role in Netflix’s hit adventure-drama series Outer Banks and will star in Rian Johnson’s anticipated film Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. 

As for acting, Cline always knew putting herself in a character’s shoes was something she wanted to delve into headfirst. “I always remember my mom would take me to the libraries, and if they had a movie section,” she says, “she would let me pick out five or six movies every week. And a lot of times, they were older movies like The Philadelphia Story, and Splendor in the Grass, and I was really into James Dean. I just remember watching those movies, and then going and reading plays, and thinking how fun to be in the shoes of the actor, in that place of empathy. And I remember thinking if I’m sitting here in this theater, watching this, feeling these emotions, I can’t imagine how fun it would be to be in that place, where you could just step into the life of someone else and play.”

In Outer Banks, Cline plays Sarah Cameron, an adventurous, quick-witted teen who becomes embroiled in a romance with John B (Chase Stokes), while at odds with her manipulative father, Ward (Charles Esten), and troubled brother Rafe (Drew Starkey). The forthcoming season three will see its way onto Netflix in 2023, and until then, I am trying to get everything I can out of Cline about the much-talked-about season, the plot of which is largely under wraps. She likens the recent third season filming process to “feeling like school’s back in session,” with the most “warm, familial group ever.” 

In the juicy second season of OB, Cline’s character Sarah sets off trepidatiously, facing many obstacles after being nearly drowned and shot on two separate occasions by her brother, watching her father supposedly blow himself up in a yacht, and being drugged and kidnapped by her stepmother. Sarah often finds herself caught in an inner conflict between trusting her friends, known as the “Pogues”—a name ascribed on account of their working-class status—and her elite upper-class family. Season two ends with the crew of friends stranded on a deserted island sans their desired treasure, with their families assuming the Pogue clan is missing—or worse, dead.

“I think the resounding theme of season three is fighting for what’s right,” Cline emphasizes. “But I think it also has to do with family. Family is who you’re born into, but you also have the ability to choose—to choose who your family is. And sometimes that’s hard. That’s a difficult decision to make or a difficult place to come to in learning who you are in the process and learning who your family really is to you.”

Because Cline has lived as Sarah for three seasons, she finds pieces of familiarity in the cast dynamics. Deeply exploring the changes her character is going through, though, Cline finds herself personally disagreeing with some of Sarah’s choices. “When we started the show,” she considers, “I think I definitely put pieces and parts of me, and pieces and parts of my teenage self that I remembered, into her in terms of insecurities,” she says. “But I think, as I’ve grown, Sarah has grown as a character, so I don’t know if I always relate to her. I love her, obviously, but we are two separate entities. It becomes more fun because it becomes less familiar.”

DOLCE & GABBANA dress, bra, socks, and shoes and NICKHO REY bracelet.

Cline proclaims that the upcoming season was the most physically demanding and perhaps emotionally taxing of the three. An added layer of challenge arose from the unpredictable stormy weather patterns of filming in the humid beach town of Charleston, South Carolina. Cline personally grew up a mere thirty minutes from her Outer Banks filming location in Goose Creek. As she reminisces over her childhood in the Palmetto state, she shares how the familiarity with going home at times after filming largely grounded her in reality. “It’s so nice to be able to go home and see my parents and have a mom meal and just hang out and watch TV. My mom and I love to do puzzles, and my dad will be on his iPad, playing golf games,” she laughs. “But it is funny because I’ll get the address to base camp, and I won’t need the GPS because I’ll know exactly where it is. I don’t think it’s a coincidence, because I don’t believe in coincidences, but I think it is quite serendipitous.”

With the ease of filming near her hometown also came the metaphoric and actualized bubble Cline found herself living in when the show first released in quarantine. “It was funny, because I still felt the same, but then it just felt like everything outside of me had changed when everything opened up,” she shares. “And that was really strange. It was a little jarring. The only way I could see how well it was doing was from social media. And then, all of a sudden, going out in the grocery store became a different experience. That’s when I really felt the impact of the show, which is quite insane.”

MAJE jacket, shorts, and boots, INTIMISSIMI bra and NICKHO REY necklace.

Seeing people resonate with the show as a form of escapism, or relatability, made Cline emotional—she wasn’t able to initially predict just how successful the show would become, of course. “I remember sitting in my apartment the night before season one came out and just thinking, ‘No matter what happens, I’m really, really proud of what we did,’” she says. “And it was a great, great adventure, and I met some amazing people. But I had to let it go a little bit, because I didn’t know and I was terrified. It’s kind of like ripping your chest open and putting your heart on a platform that is watched by millions of people. And that’s terrifying. That’s really, really scary.”

With the territory of Netflix success came the treacherous nature of fame, and as many fans became enthralled by the themes and actors in the show, Cline’s Instagram following amassed over 12 million. “I’m a bit of an introvert, and I get very, very anxious,” she remarks. “And so sometimes, seeing that people are staring or taking pictures or anything, I get really tense and anxious. And then I have to remind myself, it’s because they really love the show. It is a funny thing. And I’m still not quite used to it. But I’m also incredibly grateful. And I have to constantly remind myself of that.”

FENDI sweater and dress.

As for her newest venture, Cline plays Whiskey in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, a sequel to the original 2019 Knives Out film, starring Daniel Craig as renowned private detective Benoit Blanc, who travels to Greece to uncover the layers of yet another murder mystery involving a new cast of striking suspects. Cline’s character is an influencer who is dating YouTube star, Duke Cody, played by Dave Bautista. The rest of the star-studded cast includes Kate Hudson, Ethan Hawke, Kathryn Hahn, Edward Norton, Leslie Odom Jr., and more, and will be released on Netflix in December. “It was the most amazing experience,” Cline gushes. “What was fun about this movie was in the prep of us reading it all the way through, the first time my brain was trying to piece everything together, and I was trying to solve the puzzle and I was trying to figure out who did it. And then when we read it a second time, everything could have had another meaning. There were always options, and ways to play with it.”

TOM FORD jacket, skirt, and shoes, CALZEDONIA tights,

In the midst of the white villas, rugged mountains, and ancient Western temples of Greece, Cline and the cast got to embark on water taxi expeditions to explore the picturesque neighboring islands, immersing themselves in Greek culture as much as they could. “I couldn’t speak a lick of Greek as much as I tried,” she says humorously. “It was funny, because I would have little Post-its on my desk of just basic Greek phrases. I would call the restaurant to order food, and I would have my little Post-it note…And I’m ordering food, what do you say? They couldn’t understand me, but they were always really sweet and tickled by the fact that I at least tried it, even though I botched it.”

SELF-PORTRAIT dress, INTIMISSIMI underwear,JIMMY CHOO boots, and BEA BONGIASCA rings.

Cline describes the filming experience as one that made her learn a lot about herself introspectively to form her burgeoning independence. “Rian is ten steps ahead with his scripts and the way he’s already planning out everything,” she admits. “So I just had to stay living in the fact that Rian knows what he’s doing, and his stories are already written, and I’m here for a reason. It was a lot of learning how to center myself, especially with quieting the anxiety in my head about the situation, because I was half a world away from my family and friends.”

Half a world away or not, Cline is always finding ways to appreciate relaxing moments to herself, or at home in the temporary reprieve from the commotion of her jet-setting career. “With my job, I get to go to so many places and I travel so much, which is amazing,” she exclaims. “And that’s what I’ve always wanted to be able to do. But vacation feels like being at home sometimes. It’s just so nice to be able to be home and to just do whatever I want to do. I love going on hikes, getting rocks and painting them, or trying to schedule a pottery class with my friends. Kind of just fucking around. I love that.”

Photographed by Andi Elloway

Styled by Britton Litow

Written by Joshen Mantai

Hair: Ted Gibson at TMG LA

Makeup: Alexa Hernandez at The Wall Group

Stylist Assistant: Berlyn Gonzalez

Production Assistant: Jess Ferguson

Location: Second Home Hollywood

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