Ryan Murphy's new Netflix show, The Politician, stars Ben Platt as Payton, an aggressively ambitious high schooler who's known since age seven that he's going to be the President of the United States. Now a teenager, Payton will stop at nothing to bring his dream to fruition, but he won't be without his opponents: River, played by David Corenswet, runs against him for school president. And he'll be a tough rival to beat.
According to Vanity Fair, not only is River extremely handsome, he's more popular than Payton and a better public speaker. On paper, he's perfect: he's rich, athletic, fluent in Mandarin Chinese, and dating the most beautiful girl in school (Lucy Boynton's Astrid). But not all is as it seems.
"My character is not perfect, but he's sort of like a conscience — a voice of clarity and calm, unlike everyone else," Corenswet told Vanity Fair. "In the first episode, you find out he is the only one who is really honest about his emotions and shares how he's feeling. He's able to do that with Payton."
However, he eventually has a crisis of faith. "As the show goes on, everybody else struggles and connives, backstabs and plots against each other," Corenswet continued. "He starts to lose it from following the idea of faking it until you make it. If you start lying to other people, you stop being able to trust yourself. Eventually, you start wondering whether you really know who you are."
Corenswet's character is also seen in the show's trailer comforting Payton, so while they're competing against one another, they seem to have a complicated relationship — particularly considering V Magazine describes River as "The Iago to Hobart's Othello, the Cheney to his Bush," and his "frenemy-with-benefits."
As for Corenswet, he grew up in Philadelphia (where he still lives) as the son of a stage actor, per V. He discovered a shared love for theater early on, and eventually went to Juilliard. According to his IMDb page, he's appeared in shows including Elementary, House Of Cards, Instinct, and One Bad Choice, and has had a hand in just about everything, with credits including editing, cinematography, composing, directing, producing, and camera work in addition to acting. He also co-created wrote, and starred for two years in a Vimeo sketch show called Moe & Jerryweather. So while he's a relative newcomer, he definitely has the hunger to make it in the business.
Corenswet's personal life doesn't seem nearly as dramatic as The Politician's high-stakes world. His Instagram is full of selfies, pics with his family, and plenty of animal photos. He also seems to have a big sense of humor. "This is my friend's parrot, Steve," he captioned a picture of him and what is very clearly a cat. "He can talk but he only ever talks about moving to San Diego and opening a tuna fish store. Which, let's be honest, is never gonna happen. You're a parrot, Steve. Get real. We're cool though, me and Steve."
Hopefully, that's exactly the kind of comedic sensibility Corenswet will bring to The Politician.