Hulu’s "Little Fires Everywhere" miniseries has been one of the streaming service’s most talked about shows. Based on a novel by Celeste Ng, it tells the story of Elena Richardson (Reese Witherspoon), an affluent journalist who rents a duplex home to artist Mia Warren (Kerry Washington) and her daughter, Pearl (Lexi Underwood). Elena’s oldest son, Trip, is played by Central Texas’ own Jordan Elsass.
We caught up with Elsass recently while he was staying at his family home in Georgetown. He had celebrated the season finale of "Little Fires Everywhere" just two weeks before. Elsass hadn’t seen any episodes of the show until they debuted on Hulu. To celebrate the finale, he and his family ordered food from El Monumento, one of his favorite Mexican restaurants.
(This story contains some spoilers for "Little Fires Everywhere.")
Elsass, 19, was asked to send an audition tape for the role of Trip. He recorded his audition with a home camera setup, using a pop-up green screen. That led to a screen test.
"I saw that Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon had signed onto the project, but I don’t think anyone (else) had signed on at the time," Elsass says. "I was beyond excited, but at the same time, I had no clue that I was going to book it."
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After he landed the role, he went to Los Angeles to film. While Trip could be described as a playboy, Elsass insists he’s not all that similar to his character.
"I was just really hyper and annoying in high school," Elsass says. "But I grew up around those types of dudes, the players and the douchebags that kind of hold that vibe. I’m very used to being around those guys."
But there’s more to Trip than meets the eye, he adds. Elsass admits that he didn’t read the book version of "Little Fires Everywhere" until after the show wrapped production, but he enjoyed both the book and the finished show. Of the four Richardson kids, he says he mostly relates to black sheep Izzy (Megan Stott), with sweet, shy Moody (Gavin Lewis) being a close second.
In the show’s season finale, the Richardson kids — Trip, Lexie (Jade Pettyjohn) and Moody — set fire to Izzy’s room following an argument with Elena. While the fires later seen burning down the house were mostly created using CGI, the fire on the set of Izzy’s room was real.
"It was the first time I had ever worked with a flame bar," Elsass says. "It was very sudden. These flames just erupt out of this metal pole. They’re just mere feet away from you. I wouldn’t say that any of us were really scared, but we used any fear that we had to our advantage in that scene, because obviously the characters are scared."
Despite these raging fires, Elsass says that the toughest scene to film took place in episode five, when Trip and Pearl are sitting on a swing set. In the scene, Trip is trying to explain to Pearl that he has deep feelings for her.
"Trip is really experiencing something that he has never experienced," Elsass says. "He has these feelings of, ‘I actually like you as a person, not just because you’re attractive.’ That’s always challenging because you’ve got to really figure out what’s going on in Trip’s head. I’m basically taking a one-dimensional character and making him multidimensional."
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Before "Little Fires Everywhere" dropped on Hulu, there was supposed to be a big Hollywood premiere. It was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. To celebrate the show’s premiere, Elsass treated himself to a shopping spree at Beverly Center.
Since production ended, Elsass is enjoying his time in the Austin area. When he’s home between projects, he enjoys eating at Lupe Tortilla ("the best Tex-Mex you’ll ever have," he says). Elsass has celiac disease and does not eat gluten, but he admits to having "cheated" to try Home Slice Pizza.
Although Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World, Elsass admits that he has never actually been to a concert. Still, out of all of the cities he has been to, he says Austin feels the most like home to him.
"It's nice to be in a place where it just doesn't feel like I'm surrounded by tons of people and tons of eyes all the time," Elsass says. "If I want to be social, I can be social. It’s not like I live on a ranch in the middle of nowhere, but it’s very balanced."
Elsass was set to go to Vancouver to film "Superman and Lois," a new show on the CW about the titular DC Comics characters settling down and having twin boys. While production on the show is suspended due to the pandemic, Elsass has signed on to play Jonathan Kent, one of the couple’s twin boys.
Although "Little Fires Everywhere" is a miniseries and Hulu has not announced more episodes, Elsass says he would absolutely be on board to play Trip again.
"I haven’t heard any talk of it," Elsass says. "I have no clue if (a second season) is even a possibility. But if it was, and I was called to come back, I would 100% be down."
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly named the restaurant El Monumento.