Lyon Daniels

With a starring role in The Spiderwick Chronicles, there is no stopping rising actor Lyon Daniels.

Daniels is as enchanting and extraordinary on-screen as the monsters and creatures he faces in The Spiderwick Chronicles. A standout offering for aficionados of eerie, suspenseful plots and mysterious storytelling, this live-action adaptation of Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi’s acclaimed novels grips viewers right from the outset. Daniels brings Jared Grace to life and, as an actor who is fresh to the scene, his presence commands attention. Daniels’ portrayal is a masterful blend of bravery, resilience, introspection, camaraderie, and familial devotion. Yet, the character’s unexpected journey and transformative evolution throughout each episode are nothing short of mesmerizing, often leaving audiences in awe.

Where this adaptation of The Spiderwick Chronicles is grittier than past editions, it has also sparked significant conversations, carving out its own place in history with a groundbreaking debut on the streaming platform, The Roku Channel, setting records as the most-watched on-demand title.

1883 Magazine chats with Lyon Daniels about his first major starring role, what he hopes for The Spiderwick Chronicles character, and more.

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Something simple to start with: What made you decide to become an actor? Was there a defining moment which made you go ‘this is what I’m going to do’? 

I have always loved film and cinema. I mean, getting to capture magnificent stories and emotions all within the confines of a lens is amazing. Storytelling has always been a passion of mine because I absolutely love to write and get lost in my vivid imagination. 

Did you have any acting training or background before booking your first role?

Most of my training comes from growing up as a movie buff. I practiced with Mom a lot, but I wouldn’t say that I’ve had actual acting training. When I was, I think maybe 6 or 7, I took a few classes at Second City in Chicago. My parents would drive me an hour to the city every weekend to attend. I also started modeling when I was 18 months old for places like Macy’s, Target and Kohl’s so that experience has helped me to become comfortable with being in front of the camera.

Your first role was Patriot back in 2017, how would you say you’ve grown as an actor since then?

Well, I think I was only 9 back then and I am about to turn 17 on June 14th. I’ve had more life experiences since then that I can bring to whatever role I’m playing. Also, I feel as though I’m more confident and less shy and timid because I’ve finally learned how to navigate the sometimes overwhelming habitat of a set. 

One of your first major breakthroughs was in We Can Be Heroes working with the likes of Pedro Pascal! What was it like working with him and that experience? 

It was great, he’s a very nice and down-to-earth guy. I only talked to him in passing, but funny enough at that time, I had absolutely no idea he was going to be THE Mandalorian!?

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black suede jacket Fray London essential white tee Paris Laundry

Do you remember the process for auditioning for The Spiderwick Chronicles and what it was like

Yes, very much so. It was very vigorous and filled with ups and downs. I auditioned for both twins via a self-tape submission first, then I didn’t hear anything for a while. I received an email one random night that they wanted me to read with another boy over a Zoom callback with the showrunner and a director. I saw Noah for the first time when I signed into the Zoom meeting, who would be reading for the twin brother. We read for both brothers and flip-flopped and that’s where they decided who they wanted us to be. I think it was maybe even a month later after that when they wanted to fly us both out to LA to read with each other in person with the showrunner and director. After that meeting, they showed the tapes to the studios, Gotham Group, 20th Century and Paramount, and we had to pass the studio tests, and then to the network at the time, Disney, and we had to pass the network test.

I read you were familiar with the books prior to booking the role but did a deep dive afterwards. What parts of the book and the character of Jared resonated with you when you first read about him?

At the very beginning, Jared mentions how Mallory knows exactly what she wants to be, like an Olympic fencer or something. Simon would be a Lion tamer, but if you asked Jared, he wouldn’t know what to say because he doesn’t know where he fits in. He doesn’t know who he wants to be. I found that to be very relatable to a lot of kids today, especially teenagers who are met with the expectation of knowing what they want to do after high school. You almost feel lost in this abyss of expectation and reality.  

This is a much grittier and darker version, exploring everything from mental health and familial struggles. What was it like exploring those topics and themes but in a fantasy world?

I found it to be brilliant and refreshing. I feel like it’s a completely different take on this aspect of the fantasy genre. Incorporating these prevalent topics and elements today and combining that with the beauty and adventure of a fantastical world such as Spiderwick is pure genius I feel.

Jared struggles to be understood because of his past problems and no one really believes him, which made me feel empathetic towards him. How was it like playing that side of him — did you feel sympathetic towards him as well?

Absolutely. One of my biggest worries was people not showing sympathy towards him because he tends to lash out. Then I realized that’s the whole point of his character. To prove that mental health isn’t a flaw, it’s human and to be made out as a “monster” because of your mental health won’t help you get better. So, when Jared made that comparison between him and the dragon near the very end it crushed me because he doesn’t see himself as human. 

I do like to think there’s a tie that connects a character to the actor; what do you think is the thing that ties yourself to Jared? What characteristics or similarities do you share?

Well, Jared and I are both artists at heart. I’ve always loved drawing ever since I can remember. I do think we both have an adventurous spirit and a need to explore, we both have a knack for the wild aspects of life if you will. I can also relate because growing up I never liked sports, I was never any good at football or basketball and I always found myself veering towards the arts, I loved drawing and music. I always saw myself as an outsider or loner because I didn’t fit in with all the jocks I grew up with so I can relate to Jared in that aspect.

The show highlights themes important to teens, like darker thoughts and the desire for perfection. What do you hope teens take away from watching the show?

I would like them to take away that family will always be there for you no matter how many fights you get in. I want them to know that you are not a monster, you are the hero of your own story. You can write your own destiny. Achieve what you thought you were less of capable of doing and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. 

Knowing what you do about his arc, if you could give Jared a piece of advice what would it be? 

I would tell him to slow down and look at things with less paranoia. While still having doubts and remaining skeptical. Paranoia can distract you from very important information. 

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top AKNVAS trouser WAX London

Do you have a specific scene or memory while making the show that really sticks out in your mind?

The scene where I screamed at Thimbletack was so fun. It was just me on set and it was like 8:00 at night. I thought this scene was going to be so awkward to film because I was going to be screaming at a puppet the whole time in front of a couple of 100 crew members, but Kat Coiro, the director of episodes 1 and 2, made that a very enjoyable and memorable experience. She acted like she was Thimbletack and screamed with me, it was super fun and made me feel a lot more comfortable. Kat is so awesome, loved working with her and she taught me so much!

Lastly, if you could manifest something for yourself this year, what would it be?

Hmm, very good question!! I would love to book more projects and work the entirety of this year of course. I would also love to get my own projects and stories made and developed. However, I hear they may be looking to cast Miles Morales in the upcoming new Spiderman movie, and I am manifesting that so hard!

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The Spiderwick Chronicles is available to watch now on Roku.

Interview Kelsey Barnes
Photography Ben Duggan
Styling Karolina Frechowicz
Grooming Heather Weppler for Exclusive Artists using ILIA Beauty and Camille Rose
Location The Ivory Space Studios

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