When Lana Del Rey’s “Born to Die” teaser clip dropped in early December, we became quite curious about the young man playing her boyfriend on camera. His tattoos made him seem pretty badass and tough, but that tender thumb stroke said otherwise. And it turns out the same mysterious figure plays a prominent role in the official video for “Born to Die.” Lana Del Rey’s onscreen lover is Bradley Soileau, a 25-year-old New-York-based model who has appeared in Vogue Japan, among many other fashion magazines. Soileau had never acted before landing this gig, but now he finds himself front-and-center in Del Rey’s world.
Hive tracked down Soileau and talked with him about his experiences shooting “Born to Die,” working with Del Rey and what the tattoo on his forehead actually says.
How did you hook up with Lana Del Rey?
There is this magazine called The Wild. It was an internet magazine and they had a party last night for their first print issue, and I’m in the first print issue. This photographer that shot it, is friends with Yoann, the director of the video. Yoann was like, “Yo, we are shooting this video and I need a tattooed kid,” and [this photographer] had just shot me, and he was like “Yo, I got this model and he’s a tattooed kid. Here are some pictures.” He said its gonna be shot in New York. They hit my agent up, and said “Yeah, we wanna cast him.” [But] they moved it to Paris, and had a casting for it instead. And then Lana actually saw pictures and picked me.
She picked you? The tattooed kid?
The tattooed kid wins again. Was the whole thing was shot in Paris?
Yeah it was shot at, excuse this, I’m probably gonna butcher this … Château de Fontainblue? I don’t know, it’s a 700-year-old castle. It’s like an hour and a half away from Paris.
How long did it take?
It took three days. The part where she is in the cathedral with tigers and stuff, that was one day. I wasn’t there. The next day we started shooting the rest of it. I shot for two days, and it was like, a solid 13-14 hours each day that we shot.
There seems to be a bit of a back story to your character in the video but it seems a little unexplained. Who is this dude?
Alright, the back story. I’m her boyfriend. It’s basically like, the boyfriend, you can see the two sides of the relationship where I’m kissing her, then pointing a gun at her head. That’s what it is. It’s a relationship that is so terrible but neither of them want to leave. That’s why when she is in the car, and she wipes the glass, she’s looking mad sad, distant, thoughtful. But I’m still trying to get her attention. That’s kinda the story for it.
How did you get into character? Have you had acted before?
I was really nervous about it at first because I’ve never acted, but they kind of boosted my head up before I went out. They were like, “Yo, are you cool shooting really intimate bedroom scenes?” And I’m like, “Am I going to have fake sex with this girl?” I can’t even fathom that, I was freaking out a little bit. Everyone was really nice, it felt all good. It wasn’t anything to get into character. They were just like, “Make out with her and just be [you].” I said okay, I can do both of those things, I’ve done both in real life.
There is a lot of making out. The internet is obsessed with her lips, have you noticed this?
Yeah, I do know this. Obsessed.
Are they real? Are they good? What’s the deal?
She said they are real, I can’t say anything on that, that’s not me, you know what I’m saying? They feel pretty ****ing real to me. I’ve kissed a girl with fake lips, and those aren’t fake lips in my opinion. I know everyone is so obsessed with her having plastic surgery, and if you really sit down and look at it — makeup, and more money behind her now, so the shoots are better, everything is going to look better than the stuff she did when she was Lizzy Grant. It doesn’t look good, they didn’t have a bunch of money backing it and so on and so forth. So it’s amazing what someone looks like once they are backed by money, compared to what they look like when they are broke. If you look at me in real life, and you look at me in a model picture, I look like a different person. And I’ve had no plastic surgery. People obsess about the wrong things. They should be obsessed with her voice, and her music because it’s ****ing amazing. But everyone got to make something bad from something beautiful. Everyone is gonna wanna hate and say whatever it is they wanna say. So it’s like, okay. Well, whatever.
Do you have a tattoo on your chest that says “Refuse to Lose”?
And one on your forehead?
Yeah. All the tattoos are real.
You seem really tender in the opening scene with the flag and the toplessness and the caressing thumb.
That what they wanted! They wanted tender-loving stroking. That’s what I gave them.
You did give it. I feel like that could have been the hardest part to shoot.
Nah, that was easy, I just stood there and closed my eyes. They were just like, “Yo, stand here on this box” so that I was way taller than her and her head was on my chest. So yeah, close your eyes and stroke her head, and I thought, “Okay, that’s the easiest thing ever.”
But there are tons of people watching you do this?
All my friends were like, “Dude, in the car scene, you didn’t have an erection?” No! There are 50 people, big lights, and while we are in the car there is a walky-talky sitting right next to us, and Yoann is screaming “More tongue!” **** like that. There is a lot of laughing going on.
There are tigers chilling in this video. Did you interact with them?
I wasn’t there that day. That was the day I was supposed to be there but I was having a hard time getting my passport, so, yeah … I missed that day.
They seem like pretty mellow tigers.
It’s actually one tiger.
Thought Catalog: So you’re from Louisiana? Bradley Soileau: Yeah I was born in Baton Rouge, and raised in New Orleans.
TC: How has being from Louisiana informed your character as a person? Do some of your tats pay homage to your southern roots? BS: Being from Louisiana has nothing to do with me at all. People wouldn’t know if I didn’t say it, people in Louisiana didn’t even know I was from Louisiana. And the only tattoo I have that pays homage is an outline of LA and above it the letters DTF.
TC: Hah. Would you say you identify with Jacksonville, Florida more? BS: Yeah, I definitely do. It’s more of a city, faster paced. Jacksonville was good and bad. I got in trouble, and made an *** of myself there, but I loved it, and I miss it.
TC: How long have you been in New York exactly? BS: Two years and about six months.
TC: When were you discovered? BS: About 6 months ago.
TC: What was your first modeling gig? BS: My first gig was Vogue Japan, but one of my first test shoots became an editorial in a men’s magazine.
TC: Is there a lot of aesthetic laboring that goes into being a male model? Do you work out more now? Do you watch what you eat? Have you lost weight since six months ago? BS: I work out a little more. I’ve lost weight for sure. That’s about it. I mean, you just have to be sample size which is pretty much standard modeling size. I lost about 10 or 15 pounds. I could be way off, though.
TC: I know you’re a friend of rapper/singer Robert Roy. How did you guys meet? BS: I met him through a friend. He was just a down to earth dude, real cool so we vibed out. It’s cool to see him do his thing too. I love his music and always show everyone his sh-t. He’s a talented dude and I hope the best for him.
TC: Aww, that’s sweet. Do you ever miss Jacksonville, or are you pretty settled in NYC? BS: I miss Florida a little, but NYC is the sh-t, plus, I came here and I’m achieving some kind of crazy goals and I couldn’t really see that happening anywhere else.
TC: How’s life been since Lana’s “Born to Die” came out? Notice any major changes? BS: Yeah. I went from like 300 followers on twitter to about 1600. Kanye tweeted pictures of me. That sh-t is f-cking CRAZY. Plus the jobs are rolling in now.
TC: Do you think you could be modeling for Kanye’s brand soon?! BS: Isn’t it just women’s clothes though? I think that would be the sh-t. He’s my favorite artist in the world.
TC: Well, if he branches out to men’s wear, he should hit you up. Have you gotten any movie offers? BS: He definitely should. I’d love to work with Kanye. That’d be huge for me. I already have been getting offers for indie films. Not really interested at all.
TC: Rob says — “That’s the homie! I’ll be visiting NYC soon. I’ll hit you up.” BS: Swag. That’s what’s up. It’ll be dope to see him. Hopefully he’s gonna perform ‘cause I really wanna see that.
TC: I saw what Perez said about Lana. It was cool of you to stick up for her in your recent tweets. BS: Oh yeah. Who the f-ck is he? He´s worthless.
TC: No one reads his blog anymore. BS: I mean, yeah. It’s just dumb. He’s only famous for talking sh-t. It just pissed me off. She’s an amazing person, and she kind of put me in the spotlight. I’m always gonna appreciate her.
TC: Do you want the spotlight? BS: I don’t know. I don’t want to be noticed on the street, but it’s too late for that.
TC: You got noticed on the street?! BS: Yeah, like 5 times now.
TC: Hey, that’s cool. Did you pose for photos? BS: Nope. I dont want to do that sh-t. I’m not interested.
TC: Tell me about your childhood and teenage years. Did you always want to model? From what I know, you were discovered. BS: My aspiration was to be an archeologist. Then I wanted to be a journalist. Then I got into hardcore, got a bunch of tattoos, and got into trouble. After that, I just wanted to be something. I moved to NYC to learn to produce hip hop, and then I learned to DJ. That’s my true goal — I wanna be a pop producer. I never once thought I’d be a model.
TC: Do you enjoy modeling? BS: I love being a model. I think it’s a different type of creativity I never knew I could be involved in.
TC: Your blog is certifiably Not Safe For Work, you admit to not being a fan of the one track you’ve got up on Soundcloud, you openly say you’re broke. You’re radically honest. You even talk about how unhappy you are. It’s refreshing. BS: I can´t lie, and there is no point. I don’t care what people think, and people appreciate honesty. It’s gotten me pretty far. It’s just how I wanna be. I lied too much in my past and it got me in a lot of trouble, so honesty is all I wanna do.
TC: What kind of trouble? BS: Just trouble with friends, and sh-t like that. Lying gets you in ****. F-ck it, I’m vulnerable, and I don’t care. I like what I am and how I portray myself ‘cause I just portray the real life me.
TC: That’s awesome. BS: Yeah, its dope. I really like where I am with myself.
TC: What are your goals for 2012? BS: To become a well-paid, successful DJ. Maybe get into producing professionally. Get some good high paying ad campaigns.
TC: What artists (designers and musical acts) would you most like to work with? BS: Burberry, Dior, Chanel, some big suit companies, any pop artist.
TC: It would be awesome if you could produce a Lana Del Rey song one day. BS: I would love to do a Lana Del Rey song.
TC: Do you plan to retire from modeling when/if your music producing career takes off? BS: I have no idea. I see like five years in modeling and hopefully the music builds up during my modeling career.
TC: I guess I’ll ask this for the fangirls — got a girlfriend? BS: Let’s just say I´m not on the market.
TC: This is going to disappoint your legions of fangirls. BS: I don’t care. Hahaha. They´ll still want me regardless.
TC: Are there any male models that inspire you? BS: Nope. What’s inspirational about getting your picture taken? No one has more talent than the next; it’s just luck, and a look.
TC: Have you been asked to star in more music videos? BS: Nope. And I won’t… maybe more Lana videos, if it’s a possibility. But no other videos unless it was mine, or a song I produced.
TC: Would you star in a Rob Roy video if he asked you? BS: F-ck yes. He’s the homie. His music, and vision is amazing.
TC: Aww. So, do you think you’re objectified? BS: Yes. Of course. I’m just used for the way I look. I’m a piece of meat, but it’s cool.
TC: Okay, so like you post a lot of raunchy stuff on your Tumblr, and some downright fetishistic stuff. BS: Yes, I do.
TC: The weird thing about porn is that it’s tailored for straight guys, so like the guys in pornos usually look ugly. BS: Of course it is, cause they spend more money on it.
TC: Who spends money on porn in 2011? BS: Weirdos.
TC: The infamous Carles called you ‘some tattooed alt bro.’ BS: It is funny if you view it for what it is. And Lana does have a great ***.
TC: Yeah, it’s ‘satire.’ TC: What do you think of Kreayshawn? Did you see her leaked nude photos?
BS: I hate Kreayshawn. I think she has no flow. I saw the nudes, I tumbled them. I feel she kind of ruined her career for backing V-nasty, and beefing with Rick Ross. She said he was fat in a freestyle verse, or some sh-t — just disrespectful, and something you don’t do in the industry. Also, her manager got into it with a dude from Ross’ crew. V-nasty [has] used the word n*gga a few times, and like tried to say she was allowed to. I went to jail, and I don’t say that type of sh-t. She was trying to say, since she went to jail, so she could say that. Just not someone you should back up, in that sense.
TC: Does anyone call you ‘Brad’? BS: Girls call me Bradley. Dudes call me Brad. My agent calls me both.
TC: Who is your favorite female model? BS: My favorite female model is Freja Beha Erichsen.
TC: Do you believe your good looks prevent you from being taken seriously? BS: Nah. Nobody knew who I was 6 months ago, and everyone took me seriously before.
TC: But do you think other DJs will write you off? BS: No one cares about looks in the DJ world. It actually gets you further if you are attractive.
TC: Were you into fashion at all before you were discovered? BS: I was into looking fly, but I didn’t really know that much about fashion. When I was scouted, I was wearing some vintage vans that were pretty crazy, some nudie skinny jeans, a long *** tank top, and a backwards supreme hat.
TC: That sounds fly. Would you want to be photographed by Terry Richardson? BS: I definitely wanna get photographed by Terry. I was supposed to for Vogue Homme Japan, but I guess he cancelled.
TC: Do you know Odd Future? BS: I don’t know them personally, but I follow them. They’re extremely talented kids. I give mad props, and respect to those dudes.
TC: I loooooveeee Frank Ocean. BS: Frank is the sickest.
TC: It’s kind of radical how you’re tatted all over and yet are a viable mainstream male model. I would think it would put you into a niche category. BS: I am somewhat in a niche, it’s cool though. It’s like me pretty much by myself.
TC: Your Tumblr is kind of dark, does it reflect you in every way? BS: Every single way. It’s every part of me — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
TC: The knives? BS: ‘Cause I´ve used knives. Haha. I’ve lived a wild life. I saw some sh-t, and it all comes out on Tumblr. When I write music it will come out in that, too.
TC: Did you listen to “N*ggas in Paris” while you were in Paris filming the Lana video? BS: I listened to it while I was in Paris, jumping on my bed, in my hotel room.
TC: What kind of writing do you do? BS: Lyrics, and melodies on guitar.
TC: You play guitar?! BS: I´ve played guitar since I was 8. People don’t know anything about me, honestly; people don’t know I used to play the trumpet.
TC: Do you have other hobbies? BS: Nah, I chill, DJ; I’m into music, clothes skateboarding, and watching movies.
TC: Tell me about the music you listened to in the 90s. BS: I listened to a lot of classic rock with my dad when I was younger. I tried to get into a lot of stuff like Beastie boys, I loved Styx, then towards the end I really got into stuff from Fat Wreck Chords, and all types of punk. Then I switched to Christian punk, and hardcore — I was kind of forced in by the parental figure. Then I got into a lot of sh-t like Zao and No Innocent Victim and Dodging Bullets. Rode that out until I got into a lot of secular hardcore like Hatebreed, and Terror, and Casey Jones, but then I switched to older punk, oldskool hardcore, and straight up hardcore like Carry On, Minor Threat, Black Flag, Down to Nothing, Kids Like Us, and even a little Thrash like Municipal Waste, and of course, Suicidal Tendencies.
My parents are southern Baptist, so no secular music or television. Couldn’t stay at my friends ‘cause they had internet. They were just trying to keep me from the terrors of the world, I guess. I feel like you need that a younger age, so you know what’s wrong, and right when you’re legal.
TC: How’s your relationship with your parents now? BS: A lot better. They understand I’m older, so they know I’ll do whatever I want.
TC: Do you have any siblings? BS: Two brothers, and one sister.
TC: Who’s the oldest? BS: Me.
TC: Are your parents, and siblings proud of you? BS: Yeah, I guess they are. I came a long way.
TC: What are you plans for Christmas? BS: No plans. I’ll chill by myself. If any friends are in town, I’ll probably get some food with them, or something.