For a guy not even halfway through his twenties, Nick Jonas has already had a lifetime's worth of success. There was the fame he experienced as part of The Jonas Brothers, of course, as well as the attention he's received for his work as a solo artist whose songs, like "Levels" and "Jealous," have climbed up the Billboard charts. Yet for all the recognition he's gotten for his music career, Jonas' other job, acting, hasn't gotten nearly as much notice, despite a series of impressive performances on TV and in indie films. After the release of Goat , though, a new film in which Jonas plays a fraternity brother responsible for hazing a new group of recruits, the star's on-screen talents might finally take center stage.
In Goat, out Sept. 23, Jonas stars as Brett, a devoted member of one of his college's idealized fraternities. At the movie's start, Brett loves everything Greek life has to offer: the parties, the friendships, the easy and constant access to drugs, alcohol, and sex. Most of all, he loves his brotherhood, so when his actual sibling, Brad (Ben Schnetzer), decides to pledge, Brett beams with pride. Yet soon, that pride turns to concern, when he witnesses — and, sometimes, partakes in — the routine hazing the frat's new members have to undergo, and Brett begins to question his alliances. It's a complex, sympathetic role, and Jonas' performance, one of nuance and naturalism, is a stand-out. It's the kind of part any young actor would dream of, and Jonas, upon getting the script, was thrilled. "I was really excited to have the opportunity to do something as dark as this," he tells me while promoting the film in New York.
When Goat debuted at Sundance back in January, Jonas won strong acclaim, and once the film debuts to a larger audiences this fall, more people will be exposed to his impressive acting chops. Yet whether or not they'll choose to take him seriously as an actor remains to be seen; after all, Goat isn't the first time Jonas has shown off his on-screen abilities, only to have the public's perception of him as a one-trick pony not change. Back in 2014, he joined the cast of Kingdom, a DirecTV drama in which he plays mixed martial arts fighter struggling with his sexual orientation; the show has earned plenty of praise, particularly for Jonas, and yet remains firmly under-the-radar. Last year, Jonas had a recurring role on Fox's Scream Queens , a part that was received well by critics, yet was ultimately lost in a sea of memorable performances from the show's cast. And in his one leading film role, that in 2016's Careful What You Wish For, Jonas' solid performance was overshadowed by the film's lack of success, and ultimately ignored.
Meanwhile, his fame and respect as a musician has only grown, with sold-out tours and a bestselling new album. This success is well-deserved, and hopefully, Jonas' music career will continue to flourish in the coming years as he grows as an artist. Yet to many people, a musician is all he is, with his substantial acting talents either considered irrelevant or not known of in the first place. Even his fans often don't remember he possesses the talent, with tweets like "Woah woah woah!! Nick Jonas can act??" and "Who knew Nick Jonas could act?" appearing on a regular basis.
Ask anyone what Jonas does, and it's guaranteed they'll tell you he's a singer; mention his acting career, and they'll probably give you a raised eyebrow or a confused "huh?" That's a real shame, because Jonas has made it clear that his on-screen work isn't a silly side project, but a real focus in his life. "[My career] is kind of moving more towards, at least time-wise, acting being the centerpiece," he says. He loves music, and isn't hoping to leave it anytime soon — "I really do hope to accomplish both at the same time," he says — but clearly, Jonas wants his acting to be taken seriously.
And with the work he's done so far — with his performance in Goat as the ultimate example — he's proven that he deserves just that. Perhaps once Goat is released, audiences and critics alike will choose to view the star differently, realizing, finally, that his on-screen work is just as worthy of merit as his performances on-stage. Jonas has done his part to prove he's a talented actor — it's up to us, now, to give him the credit.
Images: Paramount Pictures; Fox; DirecTV; Chelsea LaSalle/Bustle