John Henry Ward chatted about playing ‘Adrian’ on Hulu’s The Girl From Plainville as well as his wider career to date.
Hulu’s The Girl From Plainville premiered on March 29. It is based on the real-life suicide of Conrad Roy (18) as well as the eventual involuntary manslaughter conviction for his girlfriend Michelle Carter (Elle Fanning).
We spoke to John Henry Ward, who plays Michelle’s friend, Adrian, about his experiences on the show.
Read on for John Henry’s interview with Courageous Nerd – you can either read the condensed, edited article here or check out the video version on our YouTube channel, linked below.
Although you’ve been acting for a while, who or what first inspired you to pursue a career in the industry?
John Henry Ward: Growing up, I was always doing plays for my parents in the living room. I have a very distinct memory of seeing Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow, at the age of 10 or 11. I was like, “that’s it.” Acted throughout middle school and kept going from there.
You currently appear on Hulu’s The Girl From Plainville, inspired by the 2014 suicide of Conrad Roy and resulting court case. How different is acting based on real-life events compared to a fictional storyline?
John Henry Ward: There’s definitely a different approach, especially for what I wanted to bring to the character and story. You want to be careful, empathetic and gentle with the material. On more serious projects, that’s the case. I think there’s less clowning around or fun preparation compared to other projects.
How did this role come about for you? Was it standard auditioning or during the height of COVID?
John Henry Ward: It was a Zoom callback, summer last year. We still weren’t doing a lot of things in person and we’re still not. I got the audition and was like, “Oh cool, Elle Fanning, Liz Hannah. Very cool, very cool.” Then I got a callback and that’s when I really dove in on the documentary and Esquire article. There’s a lot more to this than I remembered from when the case was happening.
Before being cast as “Adrian”, how much did you know about the Conrad Roy case? Are you the type of actor who researches source material or focuses on the script?
John Henry Ward: I dove straight in. Before the callback, I wanted to know everything about it. It really informed what I wanted to bring to the Adrian character. A more nuanced, empathetic view of Michelle. Someone who’s there for her and who sees her as a person. Not this evil public figure, as she was painted by the media.
Adrian befriends Michelle (Elle Fanning) after her indictment. Could you discuss your experience working with Elle Fanning and how you approached the characters’ dynamic?
John Henry Ward: She’s great, she’s a phenomenal actress. I couldn’t ask for a better acting partner. She’s super friendly and watching her drop into that character was wild. We’d be chatting and then we’d get going. She’d just fully embody that character.
Acting with a good actor is easy. She was giving me everything and I was just reacting to it. It was just great.
The cast also includes Chloë Sevigny, Cara Buono and Colton Ryan, among others. Did having such an established leading cast help show the magnitude of the series?
John Henry Ward: It was definitely exciting. Most of the actors I knew were on the Conrad side of the story. I didn’t interact with them much. Except for the day we were on the baseball field, episode 2. That’s what I love about getting to watch it now. It’s almost like watching a whole other show.
I knew about all the Michelle stuff, because of who I was filming with. All of the Conrad side, I’m getting to watch for the first time.
The first 3 episodes premiered on Hulu on March 29. Before then, how were you feeling about the show coming out? What kind of emotions were running through your mind?
John Henry Ward: It was really great, I think it was well-received. I really enjoyed watching the show, it hooked me in. Adrian is now not returning for any later episodes. However, my friends who were just watching it for me are now hooked and still watching it.
As an actor, what has been your overall takeaway from working on The Girl From Plainville?
John Henry Ward: I’m really happy with it. I was really trying to bring that empathetic view. Trying to be an audience surrogate to anyone who thinks Michelle deserved to have a normal high school friend. I think I succeeded in that. I hope other people feel that way.
Are there any other upcoming projects you can talk about at this time?
John Henry Ward: Nothing I can talk about at the moment. Stay tuned.
In a wider sense, what would you like to accomplish with the rest of 2022?
John Henry Ward: I have some scripts I’m sitting on, a short film I’m trying to make. A feature I’m trying to finish writing. Those are my main focuses for the rest of the year.