Austin North

Fresh off the season three premiere of Netflix’s hit original series Outer Banks, and a role opposite Dylan Sprouse in the upcoming film Beautiful Disaster, rising actor Austin North is preparing for a breakout year in 2023. 

Topper Thornton – Austin North’s controversial character in Netflix’s Outer Banks – has come a long way since the series’ debut in 2020. Being the ex boyfriend of Kook turned Pogue protagonist Sarah Cameron [played by Madelyn Cline], Topper continuously finds himself in compromising situations, but somehow manages to keep the viewers rooting for him. This can only be explained by North’s undeniable acting chops, developing a character that would typically be villainized into one that’s lovable, just misunderstood. 

North’s sympathetic, understanding approach to portraying Topper probably stems from his affinity for mental health awareness, which he’s been extremely outspoken about on social media. A self-described introvert, North launched his brand, Honest Society, in 2021 as a way for himself and his followers to step out of their own comfort zones and have honest conversations with friends and strangers alike – and to inspire people to be their most authentic selves. 

Ahead of the official Outer Banks season three premiere, 1883 Magazine had a chat with North about his upcoming plans for new projects and traveling, Topper’s strengths and shortcomings, and his love of playing music – and possibly starting a Kook x Pogue band. 


We’re just a few weeks away from the Outer Banks season three premiere, Congrats!  How does it feel?

Thank you very  much! It feels amazing. We’ve been working on this for a while now, and we’re all so excited. I think we’re excited for season 3 specifically because we get to do an actual premiere and do all this press stuff that we really didn’t get to do back in the day and it’s just fun. We have a lot of events coming up, like the Poguelandia event [in Long Beach]. But I think the audience is really going to eat this season 3 up, and the stakes are higher, the adventure is higher and I’m just excited for February 23rd.


Do you feel like Topper has changed at all since season one premiered a little over three years ago? 

Yeah, I think there’s been a lot of amazing changes and character development with Topper. I think in the first season you see the side of Topper that’s a little overbearing– he has not been the most likable human in the world. And then I think season two, he has developed a little bit more, and you see that the things that push Sarah away are the fact that he is overbearing and he is a little controlling and a little aggressive. So in season 3 specifically when the show starts off, he doesn’t know if she’s alive. Like in season 2, she just leaves, he hasn’t heard from her, he doesn’t know where the Pogues are, and then all of a sudden he finds out that she’s alive. I think at the end of the day he just wants the best for her. Topper just wants Sarah to be safe and healthy and mentally okay. Rather than trying to win her back or whatever he was trying to do back in the day. But he is definitely up to a lot this season. I’m very excited.


Throughout most of season three, we continue to see Topper’s soft spot for Sarah. His loyalty to her is almost to a fault. Do you think his goal is to try and win her back? 

I don’t think it’s his ultimate goal. I think if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be at this point. And he just wants the best for her. I think we’re beyond the high school drama at this point and people’s lives have been at risk and the stakes are obviously very high. So I think at this point he just wants her to be relaxed and maybe have another bonfire with the Kooks like we did in season two, and just kind of have her get back to how things used to be and have a little glimpse of normality. But obviously the feelings are still there. The love is still there and it’s hard to say where things are going to go.


Yeah, it definitely  seems like there’s feelings on both sides because she consistently confides in Topper in a few different scenarios throughout the season. So I definitely can see where she might almost even be leading him on, to a certain extent.

Mm-Hmm. Yeah, I could agree with you on that. Yeah, I think there’s definitely moments in this season where he’s apologetic, sorry for being overbearing and pushing her away and at the end of the day he just wants her to be happy.



In episode seven, there’s an intense confrontation when John B attacks Topper at an event after finding out he and Sarah kissed, but Topper didn’t fight back. Can you tell us about filming that scene?

Yeah, that’s just the character development that I was talking about. At this point, like I mentioned previously, the high school drama’s over. I think Topper has humbled himself. He has grown a lot and I’m excited for the audience to see that. I think that’s completely new and unexpected and I’m interested to see how they take it. You know, it’s a moment where John B is in the wrong there.


Topper finally seems fed up after Sarah lied to him again about going back to John B in episode eight, lighting The Château on fire with the two of them and their friends inside. Can you share what it was like preparing for that scene?

Yeah, no doubt. There were a lot of emotions at one time. You know, you’re dealing with Sarah kind of unexpectedly leading you on, you’re dealing with the heartbreak. And then I think he’s dealing with anger, he is dealing with regret, the fact that he opened himself up yet again selflessly, and then at the end all of his crazy triggers and his anger problems kind of take over. I think in that scene I’m just dealing with all that at once and it definitely was a tricky thing to navigate. I got to work with Valerie West on that episode, or that scene. She was just amazing, walking me through everything. There’s a lot of technical issues as well with the fire and the special effects. That was a big moment, a big scene and very unexpected, obviously.


Yeah. I’m sure you had to channel some really dark things to kind of get into character for a scene like that.

Yeah. Exactly. Getting to the place where you can actually do it justice.


As a mental health advocate yourself, what advice would you give to Topper after all he’s been through? 

I would definitely tell Topper to think about the actions, the repercussions, and think about who you’re affecting. You know it affects everyone around him, his family, the way he was raised, the work that his parents put in and just want the best for him. His mom is overbearing and a little bit of a Cruella Deville and not the most likeable human in the world, but she ultimately wants him to succeed. He’s got to think about what he’s throwing away in those moments and not react too much out of emotion and take a step back and breathe and think about repercussions.


Yeah, definitely. That makes total sense. I feel like regardless of his flaws, he is kind of lovable, and I feel like his character has the audience rooting for him in a way.

Yeah, when you do sit back and look at the details, Sarah did cheat on him in season 1 and that was a lot to deal with. Then season 2, he is like, all right, you know, let’s move on. I just want the best for you. I want to show my love for you. And then in season 3, I think he definitely falls hard for her again, and that’s a lot of emotion to deal with. I definitely would have a soft spot for him.


Your clothing company, Honest Society, was started in hopes to inspire people to be their authentic selves. As your platform grows, what do you hope to do with the brand in the future? 

Yeah, I think it’s definitely a special place in my heart. I’m definitely a more introverted person, so I think the brand is accountability to myself to be more honest and real with my friends when I’m going through something, and then that conversation opens up a lot with them. “Oh, hey, I can actually relate to you. I didn’t know you’re dealing with that. I’m dealing with that too.” And I think that’s a beautiful thing. It just takes one person being vulnerable and speaking out. Obviously people love the clothes, love the designs, etc, but in the future I would love to maybe turn it into a little more than that. Maybe starting a podcast along with the brand’s message and bringing a few friends on Instagram live, just talking about real stuff and getting honest and showing that vulnerability– that side of them that people would love to relate to. It is a special thing. It’s a passion project of mine and it’s been amazing. All the people that have grasped onto it and the response has been awesome.


I know you have a couple of other features coming up that were wrapped recently. Can you tell us anything about those?

Yes, Beautiful Disaster. I’m not really sure exactly when the dates are, but that movie I filmed with Dylan Sprouse, who has become a really good friend of mine. We shot that in Bulgaria, which was a fun and interesting place to be filming a movie, and we’re really proud of the work. I’m just excited for the audience to see that one good thing is coming up.


I was digging around before our interview and saw that you’re also a very talented drummer! Is this a hobby, or do you see yourself putting out music in the future?

Oh, man, that was my first love. That was my first passion, before acting, it was drums. I played drums growing up in church, and played with my sister for about three years in our band at church. It’s definitely a huge passion and it’s also therapy for me. I mean, I can just sit behind the kit for two hours and just release and not be thinking about too much. I was actually going to go to Guitar Center today and get an electric drum kit to have in my apartment because my acoustic one’s a little too loud. As for future purposes, I would love to maybe be in a band at some point and release music. I got to go on stage recently with a good buddy of mine, Daniel Seavey. A few months ago he had a concert in LA and I hopped on the drums and played a song called “Hallelujah,” which is like a legendary song. I was definitely a little nervous. It had been a minute since I was on the kit and the response was amazing. I felt just such a cool feeling being on stage and showing that side of me that I hadn’t done in a while.


Maybe we could convince Netflix to have Topper start a band in Season 4!

I mean, hey, why not? I could see that happening!


Is there anything else in the pipeline or anything that you’re looking forward to doing, whether it’s a break, a vacation, a new project, music?

Yes. I would love to do some traveling this year. I’ve been talking to some friends about going to Europe, which would be the first time for me, I mean besides Bulgaria. I’m going to hit London and Spain. I just want to bounce around with somebody that knows what they’re doing, you know? So definitely I want to do that hopefully in the next couple months and then honestly dive in more with the clothing brand Honest Society, and really build that up more and take it to the next level. Same thing with drumming, just the other passions that I have. Obviously, like you just said, not just acting is a love of mine but all these other things that I definitely want to focus on. I’m really tight with my family and we got some trips planned up this year as well. I don’t know if they’ll make it to Europe. I’m also a big snowboarder, so I’ll probably be in the mountains very soon before the season ends. That’s on the agenda!


Season 3 of Outer Banks is streaming now on Netflix.


Interview Rachel Martin

Photography Luke Fontana

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