Recently, Talk Nerdy With Us had the pleasure of chatting with Canadian actor Lyle Lettau. We discussed Degrassi’s move to Netflix, Triles, horseback riding and space. Read our interview below.
What made you want to be an actor to begin with?
I remember the exact moment. I was like ten years old. I was sitting downstairs watching a music video and the idea just dropped into my head. I ran upstairs and said to my mom, “I want to be a singer.” Then I went to sleep, woke up the next morning and was like, “Never mind, I want to be an actor.” (laughs). Ever since then, I’ve been pursuing acting. I was ten years old and I remember the moment it just popped into my head randomly. Ever since then, that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.
Have you taken classes to pursue acting or did it just naturally happen for you?
No, I didn’t start taking classes. I do private coaching with my acting coach Louis but I didn’t start doing that until this year. When I booked Degrassi and everything that I’ve booked before then, that’s just been completely through auditioning and some luck, I guess.
What’s the biggest difference between voice acting and acting for you?
I’m less connected to voice acting. My first voice audition was for Arthur. My agent was like, “Do you want to go out and do a voice audition?” I was like, “Oh sure, I’ve never done one before. Why not?” I booked it! Then I did a little kids show called Super Why! I did some other little kid shows, and then I was like, “Okay voice acting’s fine, but I don’t really want to audition for voice acting anymore because I keep booking them and that’s great, but I want to do live action.”
What was your audition process for Degrassi?
I had actually auditioned for a different character months before. It’s funny. I told a lot of my friends about it when I was doing horse shows at horse camp. I told one of my friends something like I had an audition or something. It got around that I was going to be on Degrassi. So one of the girls asked me, “I heard you’re going to be on Degrassi?” I was like, “Yeah, I am.” I couldn’t say no at that point, that would be embarrassing. (laughs).
Then I didn’t get that part. I was really upset because I really wanted to be on the show. It was four months later that I had the audition for Tristan. I had a call back and then I heard two days after the call back that I’d booked it!
Who did you originally audition for?
I don’t remember. I think it might have been a character that they changed the name to because I never remember seeing the character come to life.
It wasn’t Mo? I thought I saw that online.
I’m thinking it could have been. All I remember about the audition scene was I was complaining about the cafeteria. That’s all I really remember. I don’t really remember the character description or what they had him named before.
I had heard that it was Mo too. That it was for that character, but I couldn’t tell just from the character description or from what I remember. I couldn’t tell you if Mo was the part I auditioned for.
Our characters we’re so different that I’m like “Really? Did I audition for him?” (laughs). Jacob’s just so funny.
Do you ride English or Western?
I ride Western but I actually want to start taking lessons again. We’re not supposed to ride horses, I don’t think, while we’re contracted for the show. I think it’s a safety thing, but we just finished filming this season so I really want to get back to it. I want to go to a stable and start riding English.
How long have you been riding?
I grew up with horses. My mom had a horse. Her name was Sorrow. Then I got a horse named Taffy and then I got a pony named Gypsy. We had a horse farm. I grew up on a farm. I’ve had horses my whole life. I don’t even remember a time where I couldn’t ride a horse or didn’t know how. It’s just kind of natural progression that I hopped on a horse and just have always known how to ride.
I’m super jealous of you.
They’re beautiful. I didn’t even realize how lucky I was to be able to ride horses and have so many. There was a point when we had like 12 horses on our farm. (laughs). I didn’t even realize how cool it was because I was just so used to it. Now that years have passed and I’ve moved to the city and I’m not around horses, now I really have learned to appreciate it. I really miss them and I want to start riding again.
What’s it like living in LA having grown up on a farm?
It was a dream come true. I had told people in my high school … It’s funny I tell all these people my future prophecies. That was one of them. I said I was moving to LA when I was 18. Then I booked Degrassi and I didn’t know if I would be able to go to LA. I remember going to a psychic and she was like, “Your going to go to LA before you think.” I was like, “No, I can’t, I’m contracted to a show.” (laughs).
The opportunity came up and I ended up going to LA for the hiatus. It was just a dream come true. I got to go to all of my favorite places. I ate at Chateau Marmont all the time. It was a magical experience for me, really.
Tell me a little bit about your Tumblr blog and why you picked the name Platinum Galaxy.
I like that question! I was platinum blonde when I made it. I’m interested in space and the stars and stuff. I made my theme a galaxy and I was platinum blonde so it made sense to call it Platinum Galaxy. I’m no longer platinum blonde but the name has just stuck. I like it and people seem to comment on it that they like it too so I think I might keep it.
Was dying your hair blonde your choice or did you have to do it because of Degrassi?
It was my choice but I kind of made it seem like it was their choice so I could keep it. I bleached it actually the first hiatus after I filmed Degrassi, the first season. I bleached it and then I went back and dyed it brown. Then I filmed with brown hair for season 12. Then as soon as season 12 was over I bleached it again and I kept it this time.
When I went back for season 13, they were like, “Oh, you’re going to have to dye it back.” I was like, “Okay, yeah, sure, I’ll like make an appointment with my stylist.” But I knew if I went in to the read through and they saw it on me, I was like, “They’ll probably get it and they’ll like it.” I was just hoping that was the case.
As soon as I left the read through, they had called my agent and were like, “Actually, he can keep the blonde, it’s fine.” I was like “Yeah, okay, I guess I’ll keep the blonde then, if that’s what you guys want.” (laughs).
It was my choice. I said I was either going to go platinum blonde or jet black. I went platinum blonde first, which I’m glad I did. I think it would be a lot more difficult to go from jet black to platinum blonde. Now I’m jet black and I’m really liking jet black.
For Next Class are you jet black or are you blonde?
“For Next Class Tristan will have jet black hair!”
I’m so excited for that. What’s been your favorite Tristan story line?
My favorite Tristan story line is in Next Class so I can’t really say it. The one that has happened, I really liked the teacher story line because that was my first A plot. Being on the show for a while I think I was one of the last characters to get an A plot. I was really looking forward to it. Every read through I would have my fingers crossed that this would be my A plot.
That will always have a special place with me. I can’t watch it now. I tried to watch it when it was on TV the other day. I feel like it was so long ago and I can’t watch myself act on it. That will have a special spot with me always though.
Do you not enjoy watching yourself at all, or was it just because it was from so long ago?
I used to be able to watch myself. I was really excited. I was on the show I said I always wanted to be on, so I could always watch myself! I’m at that point in my life where I think in between 18 to 20 you grow a lot, at least for me, that’s what has happened for me. Now if I go back and watch the episodes I filmed when I was 16, 17, 18, even 19, I’m like “Oh my God Lyle, what were you thinking?” (laughs). I don’t know, I just can’t watch. I judge my every move. I’m hard on myself about how I performed a certain way.
Before I used to be able to and it was fine and it was no big deal. Everyone found it kind of weird. They were like, “You can just watch yourself?” I’m like “Yeah. I don’t care, it’s cool.” Now I’m like, “No, I can’t watch my old episodes!” I’m just so different now in my acting style. I’ve grown a lot as an actor and as a person in general. It’s like when you look at old photos of yourself and you’re like, “Why did I have that haircut?”
Do you personally, as Lyle, ship Triles?
Yeah! I think it’s the relationship I’ve seen Tristan happiest in. It’s definitely taught him the most lessons. I think a lot of the other relationships he’s been in, well all of them from what I can remember, have been pretty in-genuine. The teacher, obviously wasn’t a genuine relationship. It wasn’t true love by any means, it was kind of manipulation. I think Triles is definitely the relationship that’s been the most real and has been the best for him for sure.
Who is your Degrassi OTP (one true pair)?
I guess I’ve got to be on my own side here and say Triles.
If you couldn’t pick Triles who would you pick?
I liked Manny and Craig.
Yeah. I first started watching the show when they were together. It was her abortion story line. I liked them together.
Did you always know that Tristan would be apart of Next Class?
Again, I had a prophecy about it and Stefan, the director and Mr. Simpson, he even said to me at the beginning, he was like, “You called it, you said it!” Last year, I made a comment, “The smartest thing for us to do would be to move to Netflix. I think that Netflix is what’s happening now for television.” I’m like, “So I think it would be really smart if we move to Netflix.”
Over the hiatus we weren’t really hearing about our next season or about the plans yet. Everyone was kind of on the edge of their seats. We didn’t know what was going on. I was saying to everyone, “I bet we’re like either going to be canceled and not come back because we’re not hearing anything, or it’s going to be a good thing that they’re taking time because we’re moving to a different network, like Netflix.”
Did I know for sure? Did someone tell me “We’re on Netflix. Quiet, don’t tell anyone.” (laughs). No, but I definitely had been thinking that for a long time that we would move to Netflix because it’s the future. Then we found out in the read through and I was just like, “Yeah, I know.”
I knew Tristan would be back. They contracted us for a while for the show, so I didn’t think that they would just randomly get rid of us or have a reason to. I think that they were pretty happy with what we were doing.
What’s the biggest difference filming for Teen Nick versus Netflix?
I think Netflix, there’s that general feeling that we’re able to do more of what we want. In my opinion Nickelodeon is a great network but I think Degrassi definitely wants to deal with teen issues and it doesn’t just want to be a family show that’s always happy. I don’t think it’s for children necessarily, I think it’s supposed to be for teens. I think that’s the whole point of Degrassi and what makes it so cool. It’s why I liked it. It’s dealing with real issues.
Yeah, sometimes the story lines might be a bit uncomfortable or people might think they’re inappropriate, but if we’re being realistic, that’s exactly what high school is like! These were things that were happening when I was in high school. I knew people getting pregnant. I knew people trying drugs, skipping class, having sex, etc. I knew all of these things were going on.
I think to try and shield that or try and hide it to make it a happy show for kids, I don’t think that’s realistic. I don’t agree with that. I like that we moved to Netflix and we’re able to express those issues more.
In five words how would you describe Next Class.
The evolution of Degrassi franchise, if that makes sense?
It does! From when season 14 ended, how long was it until you started filming Next Class? How long of a hiatus did you guys have?
I think we finished filming Season 14 in August. Then we didn’t come back to start filming until April. Usually we would finish in September or October if I’m not mistaken, and we’d be back in February or March. Finishing filming in late August and then not even hearing until late March that we were even coming back, everyone was like “Whoa, this is a long time, something’s going on.” We knew something was changing. Whether it was good or bad, we knew something was happening that wasn’t happening the years before, but it all worked out!
Can you tell us about Tristan’s story line for Next Class?
For Tristan there is a lot of growth that he has as a character. He’s definitely in a different point of his life now. I also think that fans will be very satisfied with what they see in Next Class with Tristan if you’re a Tristan fan. If you’re not a Tristan fan, you’ll probably be annoyed because he’s featured a lot. (laughs).
If you’re not a Tristan fan you might not like Next Class for Tristan. If you like Tristan, you’ve liked the story lines he was getting, I think you’ll be very happy with the story that he’s given this season.
I was more happy with them anyway, I was entertained with them more than I was other seasons, so that’s something.
What was it like filming Degrassi’s Don’t Look Back?
To be completely honest, at the time we were filming it, I remember it being considered a special, like a two-hour special. It wasn’t really set up any differently. It was just like, “Oh this is a two-hour special finale.” I think it was later that they decided it could be a movie. What was different about it is that I was narrating it. Tristan was narrating it. That was something cool and interesting.
Whether you do that always or you just do it one time, it’s fun to try something new. It was fun that I just got to go in there for a day and narrate it. I got to look right into the camera. It was kind of cool that I got to do something where I was looking into the camera and knowing there was an audience watching. I found that new and exciting to do.
Besides Degrassi is there anything else that your currently working on?
There is something I’m working on right now. I can’t really talk about it much, but it’s a new creative outlet that I’ve been able to express in my own time. Hopefully there will be something of it released in the next coming months over this next hiatus.
I’ve been writing a lot and playing around musically.
Since this is “Talk Nerdy With Us,” do you have anything that you’re into that makes you a little bit nerdy?
I do like video games. I’ve played video games since I was young. We had the Nintendo 64. I had an X-Box and a PlayStation. I’ve played on the computer and stuff so I do like video games. I guess that’s my nerdy quality.
What is the last video game you played?
The last video game I played, let me think about this, oh, it was Mario Party 2 on Nintendo 64 when I went home to visit my family. Me and my sister played it.
Supernatural character? I would have to say Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I was team Angel, but I didn’t watch the spinoff. It would break my heart too much. (laughs). I know there’s an episode she comes back on on Angel and I’m not even putting myself through it. I watched the whole Buffy show a million times, the whole series, I continue to, and that’s torturous enough. I’m not watching Angel.
Decade? I think there’s something about the 80’s that has really intrigued me. My sister was born in the late 80s and I wasn’t born until the 90s, but the 80s, there’s something nostalgic about it. I can’t even describe it, the feeling the 80s gives me, it’s kind of like rock and roll and romantic.
Music video? That’s a tough one. I would almost have to say What You Waiting For by Gwen Stefani. I think that was when she was first coming out, for her pop music, and that was her first video. I was a Gwen Stefani/No Doubt fan, so that was really exciting to see.
Reality TV show? Simple Life.
Degrassi character from Next Generation? It changes, but I think today I’ll have to say Manny.
Degrassi movie? I watched the show when it was on, but I don’t think I watched the movies. So I’ll have to say the one we just did. Degrassi: Don’t Look Back.
Emoji? The angel, the little boy angel. He has the little angel and the two wings. I always make him have black hair with the really pale skin. Then he looks like me. (laughs).
Photo shoot? Photo shoots I find are almost like children. They’re all so different and you love them all. There’s never been a bad photo shoot. I did one in LA with a photographer named Adina Doria. She’s a really cool photographer and me and Melinda shot with her through the hotel we were staying at in Beverly Hills. It was just such a fun shoot and really Hollywood. I also did a photo shoot with Swift Ones which is a Toronto blog as well. My friends run it. We did that at the Griffith Observatory in LA. That was really cool.
Spice Girl? Posh spice.
Constellation? Libra. It’s my birth one, but it’s also the only one that’s not an animal or a person. It’s the only non living constellation out of the zodiac signs.