Yinan Xia: Deaken, it’s so nice to see you again. You were the first actor I interviewed virtually when the pandemic hit in 2020, and my first in person interview since. I look forward to discussing things beyond acting this time. What brings you to New York and what have you been doing on this trip?
Deaken Bluman: I’m here working on a new project. It’s top secret and I can’t really talk about it like most projects in the works, but wouldn’t it be fun if we shared something and then blacked it out. I recently went to the Cloisters and really enjoyed it, especially how much nature was surrounding it, it reminded me a bit of the state park that I live nearby.
YX: The Cloisters is great, I like to go every summer. Are there any new projects you've been working on that you can share?
DB: There are new projects daily in my life. But not all of them will reach the eye of the public. One that I did since we last spoke was a music video for BANKS. 2020 and 2021 has been a lot about staying in a creative flow for me, since acting wasn’t an option for a period of time I spent a lot of time writing my own stuff, gardening, cooking, surfing. It’s been slow and grounding. But I’m very ready for more… external events now.
YX: I’ve been doing similar things, especially cooking at home. I know we talked quite a bit about this topic last time, but I didn’t get to ask what movie first inspired you to become an actor?
DB: I love the classics on VHS tapes. There’s Hocus Pocus, As Good As It Gets, and Titanic, that was probably the first one that I wanted to be in a movie. I mean, who doesn’t get inspired by Leonardo DiCaprio? He has one of the most impressive careers.
YX: Aside from acting, have you considered trying other parts of the industry?
DB: I’d like to try all of them, it’s all the same diamond, just different facets. Writing is the one I do the most right now besides acting.
YX: What did you learn most with your time on 13 Reasons Why?
DB: I learned that making movies is fun. You get to meet so many talented hard working creative people. The laughter in between takes on and off the set. Netflix and Paramount do a good job in keeping the cast and crew close like one big accepting family. I was lucky to be a part of the story. So, gratitude, I learned a lot about it.
YX: What was your most memorable scene to shoot from Season 4?
DB: I really liked shooting the party scene that was directed by Brenda Strong. There was a lot going on and a lot of people at this party. I also really enjoyed shooting scenes with Alisha Boe. She’s really good at reacting and knowing how to stay in control and I was always trying to psych her out.
YX: Since you’ve already had many interviews about 13 Reasons Why, what's a question you wish people would ask you about the show to answer?
DB: It’s a good question. I guess “Why did Winston love Monty?” I think Winston felt that Monty was ready to let go and be free with himself. And Winston wanted to help him become his true self and stop judging himself. He wanted to heal Monty from his conscience.
YX: Besides acting and auditioning, what are some other things you’ve been doing since the start of the pandemic?
DB: I’ve been living pretty secluded in a convertible house with a garden. I grew all kinds of vegetables like tomatoes, everyone starts with tomatoes. My wife and I also put in an asparagus bed, hot peppers, artichokes, bokchoy, kale, and all kinds of lettuce.
YX: That’s really nice! My dad gardens too so I know a bit about it, did you plant bok choy seeds or propagate them from bok choy hearts?
DB: We got the bok choy when they were fairly small and hooked up an irrigating line from gray water that is then filtered and waters the garden.
YX: Was this your first time gardening?
DB: Yea, it’s my first time and Youtube is my friend. That’s where I learn most of my stuff. I also learned to make my own laundry detergent.
YX (and the entire Visual Tales crew): You make your own laundry detergent?!
DB: It’s actually pretty simple, it’s a mixture of potash, vinegar, castile soap, essential oils and you mix it all together with a cement mixer. I’ve been reusing the same 2 gallon container for 3 years, so we haven’t thrown out any plastic containers from doing laundry. After one of our fires during the winter, I save the potash and I also put it around potatoes, trees, and blueberries when they need potassium. I prefer to use natural fertilizers instead of chemical ones when I can.
YX: We don’t have a fireplace but my dad likes to make his own potash by burning dead leaves in a giant wok outdoors.
DB: I just got a good wok in downtown LA, one that was hand hammered 36000 times, it’s beautiful and all one piece. I love that wok, you can cook so many good things in it.
YX: Did you do a lot of cooking during the pandemic?
DB: Yeah, we cooked with the vegetables we grew and were eating better than restaurants and feeling good and healthy. We did a lot of juicing, and I got back into vegetarianism. I’ve been vegetarian since I’ve known my wife.
YX: I’m jealous of the consistently nice weather in LA. My friend Megan Mitchel (who is on Food Network and Magnolia) has a beautiful garden in LA and she uses big containers that are used for horses to drink out of as planters for her vegetables.
DB: They’re called troughs. So that the squirrels and land animals can’t get up to it. And it’s also easier for your back.
YX: What about birds? Do you have any issues with them eating your plants?
DB: Our garden is fenced in, and there’s a gate and everything, it’s like Fort Knox. It’s even got a net underneath so that groundhogs can’t get through from below. I had to catch a few rattlesnakes, one was 4 feet long and I couldn’t get it and it would come at me. I finally took them out by putting them in a bucket and then out to the state park behind my house to let them go. So catching rattlesnakes definitely spiced up my life during the pandemic.
YX: You’re a rattlesnake wrangler! I totally pictured you as a cowboy with the hat and boots. Speaking of fashion, how would you describe your everyday style? What about what you like to wear for events and special occasions?
DB: All Black. Or my striped silk pajamas Elin got me for Christmas one year. They are so soft and cozy to cuddle with. I also wear Industry Of All Nations a lot. I’m not endorsed by them, I just like to promote their quality and the authentic way they make clothes. I found a YSL suit at a garage sale once. It has a 70s lapel and bell bottom style, not over the top, and striped blue. When I go out and want to feel my best, I’ll wear that.
YX: Did you have a favorite costume or prop on set?
DB: Winston’s boots. They were always so stylish. They were the transformation slip. I wouldn’t wear them personally, but they looked good on him.
YX: What is the most interesting thing in your closet and what's the story behind it?
DB: I have a 1960s red poncho. It looks like a beautiful Persian rug but with a hole in the middle to stick your head through. My hippie friend Z gave it to me. He’s a real hippie, hanging out in the Haight-Ashbury area in San Francisco in the 60s and 70s. He wore it down those streets. Hey, when you’re young and good looking you can wear anything. It’s got a lot of energy in it. And when I wear it… I feel pretty groovy.
YX: I also recently met you and your wife Elin at the LA Vegan Fashion Show. What brought you to attending the show?
DB: I was invited by some interesting people there. They must’ve known that I am into and support mindful fashion and earth friendly fashion. I’m heartbroken when I see how “fast fashion” uses up so many natural resources for nothing. It’s destroying the planet. Fashion emits 25 percent of the world's carbon emissions. Just imagine if you had 25 percent loss in your physical senses. You wouldn’t feel too good. I just heard that it takes 3,781 liters of water to make a pair of jeans. I can’t even fathom that. We should all ask ourselves if it’s worth it, just to hang another sweater we will never wear in the closet. I’m hopeful for a truly sustainable future for the fashion industry, but it starts with the consumer and they are all tempted by fast fashion, still.
YX: Thank you Deaken for sharing so many interesting facets of your life. Visual Tales enjoyed learning about your career as well as how resourceful you are and making conscious choices from the food you eat to the fashion you wear. Looking forward to seeing more of your new projects to come.