Noah Centineo’s social media presence reads like a companion for his latest projects, a trio of teen rom-com dramas in which he plays the object of on-screen affection. Online, Centineo posts his own intimate thoughts, broody photos and charming humor rooted in light self-deprivation. His profiles have also led to off-screen interactions for a lucky few. During a recent photo shoot, Centineo reveals that the turquoise necklace around his neck was a gift from a fan who reached out through Instagram; he told her that if she ever found herself in Los Angeles to hit him up, and she could give it to him in person. “So we hung out, I took her to dinner, we talked, she explained everything to me, and then gave [the necklace] to me.”
She had been moved by some of his personal writing, which he’s begun sharing on Instagram. A recent post starts: “Have you ever experienced a cut so deep, so excruciatingly painful that it left scars so obscene you swore you were never going to recover? You ever felt so thin that someone could snap you with a whisper and then they screamed? You ever felt so attached to someone that you felt like a drawn bath and if they were to leave…you would drain?”
“I have a phone full of those that I haven’t posted,” he says. “Happy, sad, depressing, inspirational — whatever it is.” He has plans to turn his writing into an art project down the road — maybe pair it with a video, or art, or spoken word component — perhaps even neon signs, which he’s been wanting to learn how to make when he has some down time between acting jobs.
“It’s like glass blowing; you learn glass-blowing techniques. You load it, you pressurize it with a certain gas, and then you seal it, and when you add electricity…” Centineo starts to buzz. “It becomes neon. It’s chemistry.”
Chemistry has been the solidifying matter of Centineo’s career, particularly for his slate of projects out this fall. The 22-year-old Miami native worked his way up the Disney ecosystem, including most recently Freeform’s drama series “The Fosters,” but Netflix may just be where he’ll be able to soar. Centineo plays the romantic interest for two teen Netflix films — “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” out now, and “Sierra Burgess Is a Loser” out in September — as well as the lead in another upcoming teen comedy this fall, “The Stand-In.”
“I’m a romantic — sometimes hopeless, sometimes hopeful, depends on the day,” he says, describing his recent projects as “cathartic. I was going through a lot with relationships and love, and to be able to express that through [my characters] was very therapeutic.”
What were his takeaways from the projects?
“Looking back, I learned that loving myself and treating myself with value and respect will then help me be a better lover for someone else,” he says. “Much easier said than done. But through being alone and single, I found a much deeper sense of love for myself.”
But he wasn’t truly alone; not really. All of his recent projects have paired him with familiar faces, many, like him, from popular teen franchises such as “Riverdale” and “Stranger Things”: Camila Mendes, Shannon Purser, Maia Mitchell and Lana Condor. “[There’s] absolutely a camaraderie,” says Centineo of his peers. “I would say that all the people who are working, for the most part, really have their heads down and are really focused on their work.”
While Centineo has proven his ability to play the teen heartthrob — and make no mistake, he loves making romantic comedies — his career aspirations aren’t pegged to that specific trope. Next year, he’ll appear in Jackie Chan’s action film “The Diary,” as one of the few American actors in the cast. And his short list of dream directors — Christopher Nolan, the Coen brothers, Gaspar Noé — are more in line with Centineo’s past projects than one might think.
“Something visceral and something just really reflective on what humans go through, would be a dream-come-true for me,” he says of his aspirations for future roles.
He’s already right on track. What’s more visceral than teenage love?