Contains spoilers

The dating landscape in contemporary media is often lacquered with the sheen of an after-school special. The familiarity of dating apps and awkward sexual dynamics portrayed on screen can feel embarrassing and more like a hackneyed caricature of its realities: there is a reliance on the technological aspect as a trope, and the myriad of ways to visually depict texting and apps that can feel dated only months later. Television series like Fleabag or Master of None were perhaps timely when they were released, but upon revisiting, they offer little emotional sustenance or grit when it comes to their portrayal of modern dating culture. As though there is a script everyone insists on adhering to, the list of “shocking” heterosexual dating revelations depicted on screen is often the same. Maybe there’s an unsolicited dick pic, a lesson in kink, or a scene of a woman scared of walking home at night. As a single woman, viewing this kind of media served an unpleasant reminder of how terrible dating can be, and worse—it seemed as if no one really knew how to write it. It is clear that genre is ripe to skewer, but in what direction?

While I was convalescing during a bout of Covid, I quickly ran low on entertainment. I’d seen the poster for Mimi Cave’s film Fresh with little to no knowledge of its premise, but a mild curiosity in seeing Sebastian Stan out of the makeup of Tommy Lee (Stan plays Lee in the limited series, Pam & Tommy). A friend who was also sick joined me as we sat in our respective apartments for a simultaneous screening, thinking we were about to watch a film about a bad boyfriend. The experience turned out to be a bit like sneaking into a movie at the theater for the fun of it, and then actually sitting through the film with no roadmap to guide you. As someone who tends to read summaries before watching any suspense or thriller, this trust in being blindly led was liberating and in a way, we were right. Fresh really is about a bad boyfriend.

At this point, it is in your best interest to go back and watch the film without any further understanding of its concept, which its marketing materials coyly obscure. Daisy Edgar-Jones stars as Noa, a woman in her twenties who is experiencing the relentless fatigue of modern dating. After a bad date depicted with the derivative markers of this genre (a conversation about splitting the bill, some light misogyny, rude male entitlement), she later finds herself in the grocery store where a handsome stranger named Steve (Stan) asks for her phone number. The grocery store meet-cute is somewhere along the lines of being as fantastical as finding the person sitting next to you on a plane attractive, but it does strike me as a real-life possibility. Meeting by chance, out in the world is now seen as a quaint relic, but there remains a glimmer of hope that it may happen. There’s an understanding that this way of meeting your partner is more real or authentic and adds charm to origin stories, where, as in romance movies of the past, that first meeting was “fated.” Like Noa, we are disarmed by Steve’s confidence and grounded by his “I’m not that good at this” aura. After a few intimate dates where we see two beautiful people charm one another in the first flush of romance, Steve suggests a surprise weekend getaway. Noa tells her best friend Mollie (Jojo T. Gibbs), “I’m just going to go for it. You said, ‘Fuck it,’ remember?” Before hanging up Mollie tells her, “I’m excited for you. It’s a straight girl’s fantasy come true, right?”

After driving deep into the woods, Noa and Steve arrive at his impeccably designed postmodern home, where cell service is spotty. Upon arrival, there’s a distinct feeling that Noa is under the impression that after all the bad dates and bad lovers, she’s finally been granted a reprieve. Finally, a man who is handsome, well-off, and has taste. She sips the Kool-Aid in the form of a drugged Manhattan cocktail and as she passes out on the living room floor, the title credits begin to roll thirty-three minutes into the movie. This well-executed shift signals that the film has truly begun, accelerating our worst fears when accepting an invite from a man you hardly know.
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Here are the scans for Sebastian’s spread inL’Officiel Hommes magazine.

 



 
 

FLAUNT: Ever had a bad dinner date? It’s not the law of attraction—rather the law of averages—that ensures anyone putting themselves out there on the love-seeking scene today will encounter their fair share of whackjobs, weirdos, and ghosts. But no dating disaster you’ve been through could be worse than what befalls the characters in gripping new Rom-Com/ Horror film, Fresh (Hulu). Starring young British actor Daisy Edgar-Jones (Normal People) and seasoned leading man Sebastian Stan (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I, Tonya, The Martian), Fresh begins by exploring the dynamics of the contemporary dating world… before crossing the boundaries of… taste…

Stan plays Steve, a handsome, single doctor who accidentally (but we realize later, of course, on purpose) strikes up a conversation with Daisy Edgar-Jones’ Noa in the produce aisle. It’s all so natural. They exchange numbers. He texts her. They go on a date. It’s a good date. Since they met IRL and not through an impersonal app interface, they skip a few steps and quickly get intimate. Noa’s best friend, Mollie, (played with verve by Jojo T. Gibbs) finds Steve’s lack of digital presence disturbing, but enjoying the love-buzz, Noa throws herself into her exciting new romance.

But Noa’s soon to find out—the very hard way—that behind this charming facade, ‘Steve’—a pseudonym—is really quite something else. Instead of the sophisticated getaway he promises her, she’s face to face with primal fears, and her sweet, sensitive lover is revealed to be a mix of Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and American Psycho, prone to Patrick Bateman-style musical interludes as he … well, that would be giving it all away. Suffice to say, in classic horror movie style, trapped in a mysterious house in the woods, Noa has to find a way to get out… And Fresh—directed by Mimi Cave, written by Lauryn Kahn, and produced by Adam McKay (Don’t Look Up, The Big Short, Vice)—is the clever, knowing, and full of suspense result.

Flaunt caught up with Daisy and Sebastian in London about Fresh, cuisine, and how they found a friendship in the midst of horror.

So how is London treating you?

SS: I think it’s been good, it’s only been 24 hours now since we’ve been here. But it’s been good—the rain is here, of course. A nice, cloudy, rainy day.
DEJ: I love it when it’s rainy in London— it’s my favorite! It’s so, you know, romantic and lovely when it rains.

Daisy, you are of course a born and bred London girl. It must be nice to be home. But you’ve lived in London before, haven’t you, Sebastian?

SS: Yeah! I was in London In 2003, when I did a year at the Globe Theatre; my college, Rutgers University, had a program at the Globe, so that was the first time I was here. In 2010, I basically lived here for a year do- ing Captain America: The First Avenger, and then I was in and out of London. And then in 2019, then the pandemic, and I lived here for another six months doing another project. So, I really do like it here.

Oh, so you’re basically a local with all of that experience.

SS: Almost.
DEJ: Practically a Londoner. He still hasn’t had a Sunday roast, though. That, to me, is shocking.

In all those years?

SS: I didn’t even know what that was—because usually Sundays, I keep to myself.

Right.

SS: And I was always in the hotel room crying.
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In conversation with his former costar Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan shines a light on how he gets into character both physically and mentally, from roles like rock legend Tommy Lee to a charming psychopath in Fresh.

L’Officiel: Sebastian Stan has lived many lives. From his breakout role as disgraced prep-school bad-boy Carter Baizen on Gossip Girl to Marvel’s Bucky Barnes, Stan has largely managed to fly under the radar. That is, until now. Starring as Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee in the hit Hulu series Pam and Tommy has planted Stan squarely in the spotlight. The miniseries, which also stars Lily James as Pamela Anderson, follows the untold story of the infamous sex tape seen ‘round the world, which was stolen and leaked during the wild early days of the Internet.

His latest role sees Stan explore the horrors of modern dating in Hulu release Fresh, where he stars alongside Daisy Edgar-Jones as Steve, a seemingly nice guy who is not at all what he seems. “The movie explores the idea of this hero complex, which fucks up all our relationships with each other; the idea that there’s a knight in shining armor that’s gonna come and save the day,” Stan says. “I’ve certainly fallen into the trap of wanting to be that strong guy who isn’t going to be vulnerable.”

Exclusively for L’OFFICIEL, Stan speaks with friend and former costar Margot Robbie about transforming himself for a role, on-set chemistry, and his favorite rom-coms.

MARGOT ROBBIE: I’m gonna start way back at the beginning, when you were conceived—no, I’m joking, not that far. We physically met during the chemistry read for I, Tonya, but I had seen your tape before. I don’t know if I’ve told you this, but I didn’t recognize you at all. I think you were wearing a turtleneck and you may have even grown the ‘stache. I remember being like, “Wow, this actor is so good, who is this guy? He’s going to be such a find.” And then I looked you up and I was like, “Holy shit, it’s the hot guy from Gossip Girl and those Marvel movies!” Since then, I feel like you just keep transforming. I wanted to ask you about the more physical transformation, particularly when it comes to Pam and Tommy and Fresh. Is that something you find helpful?

SEBASTIAN STAN: I feel like the physical stuff always helps us, right? Because I’m such a self-conscious person with regard to my “Sebastianisms.” Having to morph into something that’s not really you is scary, but it stops me from judging myself.

MR: Do you wanna know a Sebastianism that I’ve noticed? You cover half your face with your hand when you laugh. I love it.

SS: [Laughs.] Yeah, I do do that. That’s also my favorite emoji, by the way.

MR: But I totally get what you’re saying. I feel like the less I look like myself and the less I sound like myself, the more separate I am from the character. That being said, what drives you to make the choices that you make? Even if I hadn’t worked with you, and I didn’t know you, I know I would be a fan of yours because of the risky characters you play and the projects you sign onto with so many first or second-time directors.
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Forbes: Sebastian Stan has played a Marvel superhero, he has played real-life rocker Tommy Lee, and he even stirred things up on Gossip Girl early on in his career. Today however, the Romanian-born actor’s latest performance in the Searchlight Pictures film Fresh (now streaming exclusively on Hulu) has showcased the full spectrum of Stan’s outstanding acting abilities in a singular project.

Now, I am not going to spoil the subject matter nor genre(s) that Fresh would most definitely classify itself as, but Stan achieves a career-best performance with this enigmatic portrayal of Steve. After his character comes across the film’s main protagonist Noa (played brilliantly by Daisy Edgar-Jones) during a random encounter at a supermarket, a charming romance ensues between these two seemingly well-intentioned young people and moves questionably fast, without a safety net, something bewildered viewers of this film will soon wish was put in place all along.

So, what was it for Stan that intrigued him most to want to purposefully fall down the rabbit hole of this truly Fresh (pun intended) character?

“It was a script that had a lot of questions that it was raising and I sort of felt like there were things about the confusion of dating and this sort of not really knowing people right away and the projection that we throw on one another,” Stan tells me at Forbes. “Seemingly, why we’re drawn to certain people and particularly, that it took this ‘knight in shining armor’ complex that we’ve all heard growing up with, men and women, and flipped it on its head. When I read [the script], it kind of hit and I couldn’t stop thinking about it and usually that’s how I know to maybe engage further.”

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VARIETY:The cast and creatives behind “Fresh,” a rom-com-turned-thriller that debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, unpacked the need for horror (and a touch of humor) when tackling today’s realities of dating and the continued commodification of women.

“There’s a lot of tropes in this film that are there for a reason – and hopefully we’re challenging them. We’re twisting them in a different way,” director Mimi Cave told senior entertainment writer Angelique Jackson in Variety’s Virtual Sundance Studio presented by Audible.

“[There’s a] subconscious way women operate in the world that men don’t know about,” added the film’s writer, Lauryn Kahn.

In “Fresh,” a young woman named Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) meets Steve (Sebastian Stan), and the two start seeing each other romantically. However, Noa soon learns that her new partner has some concerning dietary tendencies — diving the film into the literal meaning of “meat market.”

“[‘Fresh’] was very complex and sort of surprising. [It] kind of pulls the rug from underneath your feet,” said Stan. “As actors, it’s a nice challenge.”

“[The film] is sort of exposing this level of fear of threats that we do live with without ever discussing or interrogating,” added Edgar-Jones. “What’s so wonderful is being able to explore that whilst also creating something that is really entertaining. There is a lot of dark humor throughout this script, and I love that.”

Jojo T. Gibbs, who portrays Noa’s best friend in the movie, also noted the importance of seeing platonic relationships in the film’s landscape — as well as the joys of working together as a cast on the project.

“When I did the chemistry read with Daisy, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, she’s amazing.’ We clicked from the jump, and the bond just was very fluid. And I think it spilled over onto the screen very well,” said Gibbs.

Hear more from the conversation with Kahn, Cave, Edgar-Jones, Stan, Gibbs and Dayo Okeniyi in the video above.