Alex Neustaedter’s star-on-the-rise status has been cemented since he first stepped into the lead role of Meg Ryan’s Ithaca, alongside Tom Hanks and Sam Shepard, followed by 2018’s throwback-feeling Sci-Fi A-X-L. Currently, he can be seen as the PBR-swigging Billy Poe on Showtime’s new crime drama American Rust. Based on Philipp Meyer’s beloved debut novel, the crime drama is centered around the tattered American dreams of the denizens of a Pennsylvania Rust Belt town full of good people making pretty terrible choices.
The sports fanatic (he was named 2018’s California All-State Baseball shortstop) and avid outdoorsman breaks down his love of surfing, favorite spots, and how a Kansas City boy found his first wave.
American Rust is available on Showtime or for streaming on Hulu.
FOR LOVE OF THE CHALLENGE
“It’s always changing; no two sessions are the same. The ocean has many moods. It challenges me physically, and when the waves get bigger, mentally. I’m always up for a challenge.”
“I’ll never forget my first time getting properly barreled in Nicaragua. That was the reason I went on that trip, and I will never forget it.”
WHERE THERE’S A WAVE THERE’S A WAY
“Depending on where I am in the world, I’m always checking where the closest waves are. I’m addicted to checking the forecast. When I was landlocked in Pittsburgh, I saw there was a storm at the great lakes and surfed Lake Erie. If there is a wave, and I have time to surf it, I’ll be there.”
PATIENCE & PERSISTENCE
“It helps because in both surfing and acting you have to be patient. A lot of surfing is sitting around/paddling around and waiting for the right wave. A lot of being on set is sitting around and waiting to get called to film.
I would also say it taught me persistence. Surfing is hard and takes a lot of time in the water to improve. It can be very discouraging starting out. I think acting has a similar quality. I went through so many auditions the first three years when I moved to LA without booking one job, but I kept at it. If it’s something you really want to get good at and do, you keep at it.”
“It’s a lot of cardio. Most of the time surfing, you are paddling, then being able to hold your breath when you have a max heart rate. It’s a mental battle when the waves get big to not panic when you are getting worked.
I almost always come out of the water happier, and I’m smiling for the rest of the day. It’s one of my favorite ways to start my day if I’m near the beach.”
NOT JUST FOR LOCALS
“Whenever you can share your joy of the same sport with someone else, it gets amplified. I think surfers feed off that energy seeing others stoked.
Definitely at some spots there are different vibes. It’s probably less hostile than it used to be. If you show respect in the lineup and wait your turn, you will get waves. The ocean is for everyone, and the best things in life are shared.”
“Since I’ve been on the East Coast a lot lately, my favorite spots have been Manasquan Inlet and Rockaway Beach. West Coast, my favorite wave is Four Mile in Santa Cruz.”
DREAM SURFING DESTINATION
“New Zealand, hands down.”
“Firewire Seaside shaped by Rob Machado.”
Firewire Seaside Surfboard
“A board from Simon Jones, Morning Of The Earth Surfboards.”
“I only ride Futures Fins.”
Futures Fins John John Techflex
“I really like the clothing and surf accessories that Outerknown makes. A lot of their products are sustainably and ethically made. The company was created by the GOAT of surfing too [Kelly Slater].”
CHECK OUT ALEX
As Billy Poe in Showtime’s American Rust
As Miles Hill in the fantasy sci-fi A-X-L
As Eddie Vayle in Netflix’s Things Heard and Seen
As Homer Macauley in Meg Ryan’s Ithaca