Getting To Know The Strain’s Drew Nelson

Suit: Christopher Bates, Shirt: Victorinox Swiss Army, Wooden Pocket Squares: Baffi Collection

Chances are, if you’ve been following this summer’s stand out vampire horror-drama series ‘The Strain’ on FX, you’ve seen actor/filmmaker Drew Nelson in action as Matt Sayles. In real life, he embodies humility whilst  boasting an impressive resume – including this fresh (and terrifying!) take on vampire mythology written and directed by the one and only, Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy and Pacific Rim). Nelson is positive and ready to play around in our stylist’s closet while chatting about life, work and personal style. He currently resides in the west end of Toronto, working on gigs or prepping for auditions and frequenting the local spots in the vibrant neighborhood. “I definitely thrive in urban life, weaving in and out of people walking the streets, taking inspiration from everyday life by listening or watching. I walk through a lot of alleyways around town to document the city’s incredible graffiti scene. I’m drawn to places that people don’t normally go to – I’ve always been like that.” 

Bomber Jacket: J. Crew T-shirt & Jeans: Guess

Bomber Jacket: J. Crew
T-shirt & Jeans: Guess

We chat about hobbies and interests – he’s impassioned by music, Hip Hop culture and art, filmmaking, photography, sports and fashion (now we’re talking my language…); “I really learned about style when I went to London back in the early 2000’s. Fashion is sport to them and anything goes. I was really inspired by that attitude and I think that’s where my interest in it started to grow.” So what about personal style? “My personal style is relaxed and casual with some Hip Hop influence. I love hats! Fall and winter staples include rugged boots, plaid shirts, worn-in denim or my signature Legends League fitted. I’m inspired by street style blogs and magazines – especially The Sartorialist.”

It’s hard not to be deeply impressed by the leaps and bounds Nelson has made throughout his career. Landing a role on a del Toro series is nothing short of incredible. The acting world, (not unlike any creative industry) is competitive and full of hard lessons, so I’m curious about the experience of working on a production like The Strain; “The creative team was top notch”, he quips, “We had Guillermo, Carlton, and Chuck…all masters in their respective fields. We had writers from Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Battlestar, and guest directors like Peter Weller, and John Dahl of Rounders fame – we were in stellar company.  All of the people I came in contact with from the make up and wardrobe dept. to production designers to the producing team and of course the cast, were all very accessible, open, and down to earth people. It was a real pleasure being a part of The Strain family. The day after I wrapped the pilot I made it a point to go back to set to observe Guillermo working with his team and sit behind the scenes to soak it all in. His level of commitment to detail floored me. The details are what take something to the next level and it’s an aspect that I’m focusing on a lot more in my own work.” 

Suit, Shirt & Shoes: Tiger of Sweden Wooden Pocket Square: Baffi Collection

Suit, Shirt & Shoes: Tiger of Sweden
Wooden Pocket Square: Baffi Collection

For Drew, the journey to ‘The Strain’ was a result of hard work and a little bit of spirituality. “When I first saw Pans Labyrinth I remember thinking to myself  that it would be an absolute dream to work with Guillermo someday. It directly inspired a project of my own that I began to develop years before The Strain came to be. Leading up to that audition, I had been in the game for well over a decade doing whatever jobs came my way. A lot of day player roles on various TV shows and movies, moving around a bunch to LA, then to Vancouver, and back to Toronto to chase where the work was thriving at the time. I did a fair amount of theater as well when I wasn’t working on-camera gigs. I also jumped into the voice over industry and ran with that for a while, not to mention the handful of boring, shitty day jobs I had to pick up in order to pay my rent and eat!  And then next thing you know the opportunity to audition for The Strain came around. I really felt like it was the universe letting me know that I was still on the right path with where I was at in my life and career choice, and everything leading up to that audition had prepped me for that particular moment.”

In a world of hard work that can lead to disappointments, Drew Nelson’s perpetual positivity and realism is necessary. He lists his family and tribe of friends as constant inspirations, a deep love and enthusiasm for early 90’s Hip Hop and breakfast as his favourite meal. “Anything served up for a brunch, I will devour!” Consider us officially fans of this refreshing, talented man. We’ll be watching The Strain every Sunday (10pm EDT on FX) – although I might have to do it with my hands over my eyes!

Read more about Drew here and follow him on twitter @drewnelsonlive.


Stylist: Talya Macedo

Photography: Drew Haran

Grooming/MUA: Sherlyn Torres

Shot on location at Hotel Ocho, Toronto.