If you grew up watching Nickelodeon's Victorious, then there's a solid chance you had a crush on Avan Jogia as charming bad boy Beck Oliver. Since his teenage TV debut, Avan has kept busy. His latest role as Leon S. Kennedy in Johannes Roberts' Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City takes Avan on a much darker journey. We recently chatted with Avan to reminisce about his days on Victorious, getting to play his dream video game character, and THAT badass rocket launcher scene.
Warning: There are mild spoilers for Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City.
THEN — What was the audition process like for Victorious?
So, I had just dropped out of high school to pursue acting and I moved out to Los Angeles, and I lived in a trailer behind someone’s house — which was ironic, because I ended up living in a trailer on the show. Victoria and I had done a [TV] show in Vancouver a year earlier. So I just went out there and I was going to give it a shot in LA as an actor for like six months at 17 years old. And then Victoria was like, 'I got this show, a new show that you should come audition for.' I had this sort of lengthier audition process, and it’s funny, because the people I remember in the lobby for that audition were all the same people that ended up getting the parts. I actually still have the sides.
NOW — What was the audition process like for Resident Evil?
The Resident Evil audition process was weird, because again, it's COVID. And so everyone's locked in their houses. You do a lot of [audition] tapes as an actor, so I basically peeled myself off of my couch and sort of organized a wall to make it look like I wasn’t completely living in filth. And then you just send [the tapes] away and, you know, you forget about it. And then a couple weeks later, I got the call from the director and we chatted about the part and sort of what his vision was for it. So yeah, that's mostly been my process. It's changed so much — even from the casting process for Victorious and the casting process for the films now — it's changed so much because of COVID.
THEN — Did you have a favorite scene or episode to film of Victorious?
It's funny, it's such a blur. Mostly, I don't remember shooting any specific scenes. I was so young, and — because of the content of [Victorious] — I was basically just having fun with my friends. I think the fun that we were having poured into the show itself. I think it came across to people how much fun we were having. But as far as what was occurring, it was like a fever dream. Oh, I did like dressing up in drag. That was fun.
NOW — Did you have a favorite scene to film of Resident Evil?
I think the rocket launcher scene in Resident Evil is my favorite. You very rarely get to do an ’80s-style action scene like this one where you say an action line and then shoot a rocket launcher — you know what I mean? Super campy and fun. To me, that's the sort of stuff where I'm like, "Oh yeah, this is what movies are about."
THEN — Who was your favorite scene partner in Victorious?
Most of my scenes were with Liz Gillies, but it's so different too because Victorious was such an ensemble cast, you're acting with everybody all the time. I think all of us really enjoyed watching Eric Lange (Sikowitz) work. That was always a good day when you could watch Eric Lange just do his thing.
NOW — Who was your favorite scene partner in Resident Evil?
I loved working with Kaya [Scodelario] (Claire Redfield) and I loved shooting zombies and having stuff running around. I loved working with Donal Logue (Police Chief Brian Irons), who's fucking awesome, and such a great, giving actor.
THEN — You have gotten to play some pretty cool dudes in your career. Was there a time when you felt particularly badass on Victorious?
Again, I'd say the drag.
NOW — What about in Resident Evil?
Definitely the rocket launcher, but there’s another badass moment [in the film] where where one of the zombies reanimates, and [my character] turns around and gives him the full clip out of his gun.
"To me, that's the sort of stuff where I'm like, 'Oh yeah, this is what movies are about.'"
THEN — What was the most difficult part about filming Victorious?
Well, I come from drama and I'd never done multi-camera. I’d never done comedy, really, so I was learning how to make sure the jokes landed. I think that was a big learning curve for me, trying to be like, ’Oh, this is a comedy,' you have to hit the beats, and the timing is very important, and the music, and you have to project. You can’t do this sort of internal acting — no one cares. All the rest of the kids were from Broadway, so they were used to [projecting] from the back of the stage in the theater and stuff like that. Learning how to do big, cheesy stuff in a way that doesn't completely dehumanize the person that you're performing as.
NOW — What was the most difficult part about filming Resident Evil?
We shot the entire movie at night, so it was like 45 days of pure night shooting, which was really hard. You’re working all the way through the night, and then you’re going to bed at like 6 or 7 in the morning every day. So then, you’re trying to black out all of your curtains and [aiming to] wake up at 4 or 5 in the afternoon.
THEN — Everyone in Victorious has such a huge personality. Did you have a favorite character?
If I was going to choose a character to play now as an adult, it would be Sikowitz.
NOW — And I know you said you grew up playing the Resident Evil video games. Who is your favorite character from that franchise?
Leon — I played Resident Evil 4, and that was the game that had Leon in it the most. Although, if I can't choose Leon — which is fair – I liked El Gigante. He's a big, giant chump zombie in Resident Evil 4.
THEN — Do you have a fond or favorite on-set memory from your time on Victorious?
The thing about Victorious and hanging out with everybody was that it was just a constant good time. We got in a significant amount of trouble almost daily, because we were just fucking around the whole time and joking around. I think we all realized after that, that not all sets can be like that, you have to be professional in other scenarios. But as working 18- and 19-year-olds, we were messing with everyone and messing with each other at any opportunity we’d get.
NOW — Any fond memories from your time on Resident Evil?
The thing about shooting Resident Evil was that it was shot during quarantine, so we weren't really allowed to hang out with each other. We still had fun — on set was great. I mean, just dicking around in cop gear and trying to sit — it's really hard to sit in cop gear because the belt doesn't really allow it.
THEN — Every episode of Victorious was wild. Do you remember having any "WTF" moments from reading the script?
Every single time a script came in, we were just like, 'Alright, I guess, Kesha's in this episode.'"
NOW — Any surprising or "WTF" moments from reading the script for Resident Evil?
Because I grew up with the games, it was just exciting for me to read the moments that they'd pulled from the game into the actual script.
THEN — What's something you had to learn about filming for TV that's different than what people might expect?
I mean, Victorious is something that I never saw myself doing, like, a multi-camera sitcom. So I think it was mostly transitioning from how I saw acting, to Victorious and what that required, and then transitioning back to something I was more comfortable with.
NOW — What was the transition like going from TV to movies?
As far as the transition itself, I was pretty lucky. I'm in a rarefied group of actors who come off of those shows and don't get stuck in a particular brand.