The Untold Truth Of Finn Wittrock

Not unlike Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters, Finn Wittrock is a fixture of Ryan Murphy’s impressive cadre of actors. Since impressing as an AIDS victim in The Normal Heart, the Massachusetts native has stolen the show as murderous clown Dandy Mott in American Horror Story: Freak Show, delivered a memorable turn in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story and taken center stage in Ratched. And he’s returned for a further four installments of the bloodthirsty anthology, too.

But Wittrock has also enjoyed success away from the ever-expanding Murphy universe, too. He’s graced awards favorites The Big Short, La La Land, The Last Black Man in San Francisco and If Beale Street Could Talk, and he has earned rave reviews for his stage performances in Othello and The Glass Menagerie.

His impressive list of credits is only part of the two-time Emmy nominee’s story. Here’s a look at the untold truth of Finn Wittrock.

The Wittrock family is full of actors

Acting appears to run in Finn Wittrock’s bloodline. Although his mother, Kate Crowley, works at the University of Southern California as an occupational therapy professor, the star’s father, Peter Wittrock, and brother, Dylan Wittrock, are both no strangers to the stage and screen. And all three have worked together on film, too.

The Wittrocks made Louie, a post-World War II short film about a man haunted by an incident from his past, something of a family affair. Five years earlier, Finn also cast his younger sibling in The Submarine Kid, a drama based on a serviceman’s struggle to return to normal life, which he also penned. And in 2020, the pair shared the screen in Long Weekend, with Finn taking center stage as romantic lead Bart and Dylan playing a bartender.

The latter has also followed in his older brother’s footsteps by entering the Ryan Murphy universe, making a brief appearance in Feud: Bette vs Joan. He’s since shown up in the films Locating Silver Lake (which also happened to star and be executive produced by Finn) and Break Even, as well as TV series Liked.

Juilliard accepted Finn Wittrock not once, but twice

Most aspiring actors would kill to get into New York’s prestigious The Juilliard School. But Finn Wittrock was so confident that he didn’t need any extra drama training that, as he shared with Interview in 2014, he turned down an offer to attend in favor of seeking work in Los Angeles.

It was a gamble that didn’t quite pay off. After a year of failed auditions, the star returned with his tail between his legs and applied to Juilliard again. Luckily, the school didn’t hold a grudge and once again accepted him. Wittrock made up for lost time by throwing himself into the Group 37 drama division, picking up the Juilliard Journal Award for his efforts on the institution’s newspaper and earning the Stephanie Palmer McClelland Scholarship.

So were things easier for Wittrock when he returned to Los Angeles after graduation? Well, not so much. As he explained to Interview, “I found L.A. much less responsive to the name Juilliard than New York was. In New York, that name actually means something. People will look up from their desks when you walk in. In L.A. it’s, ‘Oh yeah, that’s a music school. What do you play?'”

Finn Wittrock faced countless rejections

Finn Wittrock could never be considered an overnight success. The Juilliard School graduate’s early career consisted of one-off bit-parts in the likes of Cold Case, ER and CSI: Miami and too many failed auditions to mention. But whereas many actors would want to forget about all their wilderness years, Wittrock is only too happy to discuss his difficult path to stardom.

In 2014 he told BuzzFeed, “I’m very lucky, but I’ve taken the stairs, not the elevator. Some people jump to the top and I feel like I’ve had to work up, step by step, which I’m fine with [because] you appreciate acceptance more when you’ve experienced rejection.”

Indeed, these constant setbacks only appeared to make the multiple Emmy nominee hungrier to achieve bigger things. He added, “I’m still fighting for every job I get. In general, the only reason I want any fame or notoriety is so I can work with the best people. It just opens the door to rooms you want to be in, rooms filled with the people you want to meet. I want to work with the people who are at the top of their game, and that’s what fame does: It allows you more access to people in this business.”

Finn Wittrock is happily married

Finn Wittrock seems to prefer keeping his private life private. So you may not be aware that he’s been a happily married man since 2014. Yes, in the same year that he first graced American Horror Story, the actor walked down the aisle with Sarah Roberts at an intimate ceremony attended by only their nearest and dearest.

Although the newlyweds failed to share any pics of their special day, several of their guests did. As reported by E!, one friend uploaded a snap of the couple preparing to cut into their two-tier wedding cake on Instagram. While several other images of the occasion somehow surfaced online, including Wittrock and Roberts posing alongside their groomsmen and bridesmaids and another of them beaming while looking down from a balcony.

Little is known about Roberts apart from the fact that she also attended New York’s prestigious Juilliard School where she studied dance. As Bustle noted,  it looks like Roberts pivoted into the fashion world, specifically the L.A.-based women’s label Juan Carlos Obando.

Fatherhood has been 'pretty fun' for Finn Wittrock

In March 2019, Finn Wittrock and wife Sarah Roberts became parents for the first time with the birth of their son. So how did the American Horror Story staple adapt to life with a newborn baby? Relatively well judging by his interview with WWD just months after the tot’s arrival.

Wittrock said, “It’s hard, yes, but it’s pretty fun most of the time. It’s just nice to come home to or wake up to. Even if it’s been a late night or early morning, this little guy’s there. And the way your kid looks at you, that’s the unique thing.”

The La La Land actor also revealed that his first-born has helped him to keep his feet on the ground during the awards season: “You take off your tux and you get puked on. It’s like sort of like living two lives. But it’s nice. It keeps you grounded.” Wittrock may have had to deal with the odd bit of baby vomit, but at least he didn’t have many sleepless nights. The actor revealed to the outlet that his son would often doze for up to 11 hours straight through!

Finn Wittrock is proud of his soap opera past

In 2009, Finn Wittrock was cast as Stuart Colby’s biological father Damon Miller in soap opera institution All My Children. His character proved to be so popular that producers extended the actor’s contract from eight weeks to a full year. But in December 2010, the future Emmy nominee decided to seek pastures new.

However, despite being trained at one of America’s most prestigious drama schools, Wittrock has never been dismissive of his daytime TV experience. In a 2014 chat with Interview, the star explained that playing Damon had been an invaluable part of his career, explaining that “there is technical stuff on camera that you can’t learn until you do it.” He called watching his performance on the series “an education.”

Wittrock went on to add that the quick pace of a soap opera shooting schedule more or less requires “following your instinct” as an actor. “[Y]ou’re doing it, you’re hitting your mark, and if nothing f***s up — if there’s no boom in the shot — then you basically move on,” he said. “You have to learn how to make a choice and commit to it, and also how to work on the go.”

The 'cool kids club' invited Finn Wittrock to join

Finn Wittrock sure seemed to enjoy his first experience in the topsy-turvy world of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story. When Celebuzz asked him what it was like to portray crazed killer Dandy Mott, the star replied, “Yeah, it’s been great, it’s really kind of a character that you rarely get to play. It’s like a once in a lifetime opportunity. Obviously it’s an incredible group of people, and they’re really kind of tight-knit, Ryan Murphy has a family and if you’re a part of it, it’s a very cool thing to sort of be in that club, the ‘cool kids’ club.”

So how exactly did Wittrock manage to work his way into this exclusive group? Well, in 2018 he told IndieWire that he didn’t even have to try. Four years earlier he’d been called up by the head honcho himself and offered the part of Dandy in the Freak Show chapter of the AHS anthology. It was the first time that Wittrock hadn’t needed to fight for a role, too.

Understandably, the Massachusetts native was left dumbstruck by the call. “At that time, it was like my head exploded,” he recalled to IndieWire. “I was like, ‘I’ve made it. It’s over. I can retire.'” Wittrock also credited Murphy for taking a chance on a relative unknown, adding, “But he trusts his actors, and he sees something in them that I think even maybe they don’t see themselves.”

Middle school wasn't easy for Finn Wittrock

With multiple industry awards, a legion of adoring fans and seemingly a lifetime entry into Ryan Murphy’s “‘cool kids’ club,” Finn Wittrock doesn’t have to worry about his popularity levels. But that’s not always been the case. In fact, back in seventh grade, the future star was often mercilessly teased by his fellow pupils.

The Unbroken star recalled the childhood trauma in a 2020 interview with Glamour: “I remember in middle school I was called f****t all the time. It was just what people said and you build up a resistance to it, but you look back on it and you’re like, ‘F***, that was rough.’ Seventh grade f***ing sucks.”

Luckily, Wittrock had the support of his family to get him through the tough times, something which he remains eternally grateful for. “My dad worked at the Shakespeare Company, which I would go to,” he recalled to the magazine. “We moved away when I was young, though I would go back every summer and it was in the New England hills and it was this incredible way to grow up. I was so nurtured, artistically, too. I was given so much positive reinforcement. But it’s not hard to imagine not having that and how different that would be. But it’s tough, it’s a lot to unpack.”

Finn Wittrock doesn't let his body image 'overtake' him

Finn Wittrock has been asked to get his kit off throughout his career, particularly during his work in Ryan Murphy’s universe. In fact, he seemed to spend most of his screentime as Dandy Mott in American Horror Story: Freak Show wearing nothing but a pair of tighty whities.

Luckily, the Juilliard graduate doesn’t appear to have any qualms about baring flesh, although he did admit to Glamour in 2020 that there was one occasion when he questioned the necessity of going shirtless again. “I’ll be honest, there was a time with some parts in Ratched where I was like, ‘Am I being a little bit objectified here? But if I am, it’s okay!'” he said. “I think if I was playing a character that was maybe more put together, I might’ve been more anxious it or in my head about that stuff, but I had to find the bravery to just be raw, be naked emotionally and physically, as much as needed.”

Wittrock told the style bible that although his muscular frame takes a lot of effort, he tries not to “let that overtake” his life. “I obviously worked out a lot but there’s something that I think male actors do where they really get in their head about their bodies,” he said. “It happens a lot more than I think people realize with them counting calories, doing pushups and cutting carbs.”

Philip Seymour Hoffman helped shape Finn Wittrock's approach to acting

In 2012, Finn Wittrock landed the role of Harold ‘Happy’ Loman in the Ethel Barrymore Theatre’s production of Death of a Salesman. The then-relative unknown won gongs at both the Theatre World and Clarence Derwent Awards for his performance as the womanizer. But it was the lessons he learned from his colleague, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, that proved to be the biggest reward.

In a conversation with award-winning actor Renée Zellweger for Interview in 2020, Wittrock revealed to his Judy co-star that Hoffman influenced how he prepared for a role. “I always keep a script on me, close to my heart like I think he did, even if I’m not shooting that day,” he shared. “It’s always somewhere nearby. I think of it as keeping one toe in the character at all times.”

But it wasn’t just Wittrock’s frame of mind that Hoffman helped to shape. He also had a notable impact on his physicality. “Pre-Phil, I used to work more from the outside in,” he shared. “I used to be more like, ‘I’m going to try to find this guy’s walk, and this guy’s posture,’ before I did any of the other work. I think post-Phil, I start from the most internal stuff, and find a way to let that affect my body.”

Acting has been good to Finn Wittrock's wallet

In 2015, Finn Wittrock played Jamie Shipley, one of the many finance bros who attempt to make sense of the late-’00s financial crisis, in the Oscar-nominated The Big Short. And judging by reports of his net worth, the actor appears to be quite shrewd with his own money, too.

According to Celebrity Net Worth, the Juilliard alum apparently has $5 million to his name thanks to his numerous contributions to Ryan Murphy’s TV world, roles in big screen hits such as La La Land, Unbroken and Judy, and double duties on flicks like The Submarine Kid and Locating Silver Lake.

So how does that compare to all the rest of the American Horror Story regulars? Well, according to a 2019 list from The Richest, that’s more than Evan Peters, Denis O’Hare and Lily Rabe and on a par with Cheyenne Jackson. But it’s way behind the $10 million that Sarah Paulson has reportedly earned, and even further behind the $32 million that Kathy Bates is reported to have accrued over her glittering career.

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