Standing at 6’3’’ with raven black hair, and piercing hazel eyes, Matthew Daddario definitely has a seraphic presence about him. It should come as no surprise, then, that he is one of the stars of Shadowhunters, a new show on the Freeform network based on The Mortal Instruments book series, about a centuries-old war between angels and demons. Playing Alec Lightwood, the stoic, selfless warrior on the side of good, Daddario was aware of how this character has been beloved by fans of the books. Luckily, this role suits him to a T—not only in appearance, but also because he can relate to Alec’s humanity. He tries to find the qualities that make Alec vulnerable, and translates that to the screen.
Originally from the Upper East Side of New York City, Daddario went on auditions for commercials as a child. “My mother wanted me to learn how to speak publicly, and she figured this would be a way to get me comfortable with speaking to other people,” he said. He would later attend Indiana University Bloomington, where he majored in business, seemingly abandoning acting entirely. But after seeing his sister, Alexandra Daddario, going after her dream of becoming an actress, he did an about-face.
“I wouldn’t say it was a mistake to study business in college, but it wasn’t my passion,” he said. “I was doing something that I thought would be best for my future. I then realized that business is not the thing I wanted to be doing, but thought I should be doing.”
Daddario already looks the part of a star, and has amassed a hefty social-media following, but he knows that this isn’t enough to secure lasting success in his industry. For him, great actors become iconic based on their performances. Harrison Ford, for instance, is someone he admires. “He became part of our culture because of great roles like Indiana Jones and Han Solo,” he said. “Getting great roles like that is something every guy wants.”
And though Alec in Shadowhunters may not be as renowned as Ford’s career-making personas, it is an important launch pad to rocket to greater things. Indeed, this up-and-comer has his sights set on the stars. As he said, “If I didn’t go into acting, I would have tried to be an astronaut.”
Rising to stardom with “Shadowhunters”
You auditioned for the original film, The Mortal Instruments, and didn’t get the gig. Did you feel vindicated in any way after getting cast in the television series?
When I got cast in the show, I wasn’t thinking about the movie. Also, I don’t believe that feeling vindicated requires feeling animosity or bitterness. And I wasn’t bitter about not being cast. So, I didn’t feel vindicated, but, in this instance, they made the right choice.