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If you've been watching what they call "genre" movies and TV in the month of October, 2021, you probably will recognize the face of a young actor named Dylan Arnold. Arnold is a relative newcomer to the acting world, but with major roles in both Season 3 of Netflix's twisted thriller You, and Halloween Kills, the latest chapter in the decades-long battle between Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode and serial killer Michael Myers, he's certainly making a splash for himself.
Arnold, a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, isn't exactly new to horror, though; he had a small role in the TV adaptation of The Purge back in 2018, and also appeared in two films of Hulu's Into the Dark horror anthology series. He also has an interesting experience with You—he auditioned for the show before, and in an alternate universe, may have been the person playing the show's main character.
"I auditioned for Joe for season 1, and then I auditioned for Forty for season 2, and now, third time’s the charm, I got Theo in season 3," he said in an interview with Teen Vogue. "So my relationship with the show goes way back, and I actually went to college with Elizabeth Lail, who played Guinevere Beck in the first season."
It's interesting to watch Arnold's range in both projects. While both of his characters are, uh, in imminent danger for just about all of their screen time, they don't share much else in common. Theo, the You character, is flirty, smart, and funny, but naive about his surroundings almost to a fault. Cameron, on the other hand, is clearly not the smartest character, but he's got a redemption arc in Halloween Kills after being kind of a jerk in his Halloween 2018 appearance.You also meet the adult version of his father, Lonnie (a returning character from the original Halloween, played by Midnight Mass star Robert Longstreet), and you get to see what this character is like in different contexts—he's not just a kind of fuck-up boyfriend, but a full-fledged person.
And based on these performances, it seems like three-dimensional characters may just be Arnold's thing.
Dylan Arnold plays Theo in Season 3 of You
Arnold makes a splash as Theo Engler, one of the most interesting new characters of You. Theo, a 19-year old Stanford student, has a close connection with Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti)—flirting with her quite a bit from the first instant he sees her in a parking lot. The relationship between the two, which ranges from friendship to something more than that, drives throughout season 2. And despite the fact that the show depicts Love—a married, working professional, mother—as clearly too old for college student Theo, Arnold is actually older than Pedretti in real life. He's 27 and she's 26.
He reflected on that dynamic in that same Teen Vogue interview, surrounding the mid-season scene where he plays "Supercut" by Lorde (the season has an unquestionably great soundtrack) on a bluetooth speaker held above his head, a la John Cusack in Say Anything.
"It’s actually funny, because I’m a year older than Victoria [Pedretti], and much older than my character," he said. "So those moments where she’s referring to me as a teenager were always really funny because I’m older than she is."
He also plays Cameron Elam in Halloween Kills
After playing Cameron Elam—the son of Lonnie, who we learn in Halloween Kills had a run-in with Michael Myers on that fateful night in 1978—in 2018's Halloween, Arnold returned to the role for the sequel, 2021's Halloween Kills. Cameron is the boyfriend of Allyson Nelson (Andi Matichak), who's the granddaughter of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, reprising her role from the 1978 classic).
Cameron is kind of a dick in the 2018 Halloween movie; after Allyson goes to bat for him as a good guy and different from his father, Lonnie (who her parents see as kind of a messy drunk), Cameron kisses another girl at the school Halloween dance (while the two are dressed up as gender-swapped Bonnie and Clyde). Allyson leaves with Cameron's best friend Oscar; Oscar makes a move on Allyson, she rejects him, and then Michael Myers finds Oscar and does his thing. We don't hear from Cameron again the rest of the movie.
Halloween Kills picks up right where 2018 Halloween left off, and Cameron gets something of a redemption arc, trying to make it right with Allyson. Through his relationship with both his dad and Allyson, Arnold gets to put on his charm and also deliver a layered performance that fits nicely in what's a quite violent and intense movie.
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