‘Little Fires Everywhere’s Jordan Elsass on What’s to Come With Trip & Pearl
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Episode 5 of Little Fires Everywhere.]
Jordan Elsass is one of the brightest up-and-coming stars on the small screen and can currently be seen on Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere as Elena’s (Reese Witherspoon) “golden boy” child, Trip.
While Trip may seem like a bit of a ladies’ man at first, he quickly develops feelings for Peal (Lexi Underwood), Mia’s (Kerry Washington) daughter.
Here, Elsass chats about the show and his character’s relationships going forward and teases his upcoming role on Superman and Lois.
Were you familiar with the book before getting cast in the series?
Jordan Elsass: I was. However, I hadn’t actually read the book, and I chose not to read it until after we finished with production completely because I wanted to create the character’s arc and ‘fill’ Trip out just based off the scripts and that interpretation of it, because there’s always discrepancies between a TV rendition of a book versus the book itself. So, I was like, “I think I’m gonna wait,” and I’m almost glad I did because I loved the book, but there were definitely some key differences between the Trip in the book and the Trip that I molded.
The series opens up with the Richardsons’ house up in flames, leading us to question who set the house on fire and why. Having not read the book, how did that reveal inform how you approached your character?
That definitely was an interesting addition because I didn’t add anything that I typically do. I won’t get too ahead in the script. From the beginning, I had almost every episode, at least 1 through 4. Of course, they love to change and there’s new drafts that are coming in constantly, and that’s every day. … But I never like to read too far ahead. So, even if I had all of the episodes that were being produced, I probably would have only read maybe two or three episodes ahead from what we were actually shooting, to keep it fresh. So, I did not mind not knowing who actually set that fire because then you go back in time from that fire, just in Episode 1, and you may not see for quite a while who actually started [it].
What was it like to work with Reese Witherspoon as your TV mom and Joshua Jackson as your TV dad?
Amazing. They’re both incredible actors and I spent a lot of time with both of them before we even started shooting. We actually had a family dinner inside the set, the Richardson home, which was really cool, and we talked for several hours about our characters and the family relationship and what kind of issues we were facing: race issues and issues of the toxic masculinity that you may see in some of the male characters, especially Trip, and also Moody in some ways. We discussed where that may have come from and how we were raised by our dad and our mom, which was really cool.
It was amazing working with Reese. She’s so professional and so sweet and a really kind person, just in general. And Josh Jackson was amazing, too. He’s hilarious. He had us laughing our butts off all the time. Overall, just an amazing experience. And Kerry Washington, too! I didn’t really get to work with her one-on-one, but I still had plenty of conversations with her, and she was amazing and funny and just a really kind person.
Elena has very different relationships with her kids, and Trip can be seen as a bit of a “golden boy.”
You can see Trip as a very one-dimensional character that comes to have two dimensions, or you can see him as a really multi-dimensional character [with] a lot going on below the surface and a lot of strain on him to fit this image that’s been placed on him as this “golden boy, great at sports, gets all the girls,” just a very “normal” kid.
A lot of Trip’s storyline revolves around Pearl. It’s hinted in the first couple episodes that they would have a connection. However, Pearl becomes very good friends with Moody. How will Trip’s dynamic with his brother change once he finds out about Trip and Pearl?
In the TV rendition, there’s going to be a more hostile relationship between the brothers than what you might see in the book. There’s always going to be more of a rivalry there. You’re always going to have Moody crapping on Trip with his smarts, and Trip being like, “but I get girls, so who’s the real winner here?” and this back and forth thing between the two brothers all the time. And so, you can imagine that when Moody finds out that the one girl he’s truly been pursuing chose Trip over him, it’s not going to work out well. He’s going to get jealous, he’s going to get angry, and we’ll see where it goes from there.
At first, Pearl is unsure if she wants a relationship with Trip. But, after you guys talk in Episode 5, it’s clear they’re going to go forward and try to pursue it. What’s next for them?
It’s a really nice subplot and it’s really interesting because it’s not what you think is coming. You think Trip is going to screw it up or it’s not really going to blossom into something really nice, and it does. That’s the truth. Trip really cares and really likes Pearl, and she really likes him, and it’s a little unexpected.
Even from Episode 1, you’re like, “Well, maybe something will happen there. I sense this chemistry.” But, you never really know where it’s going to go, and it just keeps getting better. That’s the beauty of the relationship between Trip and Pearl; [with] every episode, there’s a little bit more, and you just keep stacking on and adding on until the end. … It’s going to be what you expect and predictable in a way of, “oh, I think I know where this is going,” and, “oh, it kind of was what I expected but didn’t know. Well, wait a second, it’s actually not.” Some of that has to do with the whole Moody thing.
At the end of Episode 5, there’s a reveal that Pearl may or may not truly be Mia’s daughter. How might this affect Trip and Pearl’s relationship?
Up until this point, Pearl has not had too many distractions. There’s not much drama in her life. This brings it to a whole new level. This reveal that “oh my goodness, this could not be what I thought it was. Who’s my dad?” It’s this new layer of stress on Pearl, and therefore, it pulls her away from the present and her living in the moment and being with Trip. It adds this new barrier between them that Trip has to work to break down, and she has to work to break it down, too.
Trip’s going to have his own problems, of course, and so it adds this whole new thing that they have to work through together, which is really cool. Later down the road, you’re going to see conversations about this kind of stuff between them, and it’s very exciting.
You’re joining Superman & Lois as one of their sons, Jonathan Kent. Were you a DC fan before? Did you watch any of the Arrowverse shows?
It’s funny because I actually was a huge Smallville fan growing up, but I don’t think I ever got into Arrow or The Flash or Supergirl or Batwoman or anything like that. It’s something that I have decided I will start watching because I think it’s really necessary for a show like that, that already has an established universe, that I get into it beforehand.
With Little Fires, because it has never been established in a live-action setting, I was like, “You know what? I can get away with waiting to read the book, answering the questions out on my own.” Whereas with the CW show that’s coming out, I definitely want to make sure that I’m educated, I know the lore, I have these shows in the back of my head at all times.
Little Fires Everywhere, Wednesdays, Hulu