In what felt like practically overnight, after the November premiere of Tim Burton’s new series Wednesday, now Netflix’s third most-watched show of all time, Percy Hynes White became something of a household name and face for fangirls and fanboys everywhere.
His social media exploded — his Instagram, currently, has him boasting nearly 5 million followers — and TikTok has him trending on the daily.
For the 21-year-old St. John’s native, that part of his newfound fame is “a little weird.” But, even at his young age, it’s a level of work he’s been aspiring to for quite some time. In fact, it’s in his bones. His parents, actor Joel Thomas Hynes (Orphan Black, Trickster) and producer and writer Sherry White (Pretty Hard Cases, Maudie), are long-time industry vets.
After first performing at the age of two around his hometown, it was at seven years old that Hynes White first made it to the screen, in Down to the Dirt, playing a younger version of his father. Being on sets at such a young age and watching his parents work on their craft rubbed off.
“I feel like I picked up everything from them,” Hynes White says. “They really got me into this world and they just let me do my thing. They never pushed me extra hard or tried to guide my career in any sort of way. They just let me be me and that was probably the most important thing that they could have done, because it really reaffirmed that this is what I wanted to do.”
I want to do weird movies, which are the type of movies that I would watch. I wanted to do indie movies and arthouse stuff. I want to play people who are completely on the other end of the spectrum, who are the opposite of myself. And just have fun.
Over the years, it led to roles in 2013’s The Grand Seduction alongside Brendan Gleeson, 2016’s Edge of Winter with Joel Kinnaman and Tom Holland, Milton’s Secret that same year with Donald Sutherland, and stints in series Murdoch Mysteries, Saving Hope, 11.22.63, and Between. Hynes White’s breakout role, however, was starring as mutant Andy Strucker in The Gifted, an X-Men spin-off series that ran for two seasons on Fox before its cancellation in 2019.
Throughout his career so far, what’s remained a common thread and kept Hynes White grounded is home, which, for the last while, has been Toronto. It’s where he’s shot many of his projects, including CBC comedy Pretty Hard Cases, in which he stars as Elliot Wazowski opposite stars Meredith MacNeill and Adrienne C. Moore.
“It’s really fun because I’m getting to work with all my friends and family, all my Canadian peeps,” Hynes White shared. (His mother has been an executive producer on the comedy since it debuted in 2021.) “I really love working with Meredith [MacNeill], she’s amazing.”
While he may be the son of a police officer, Hynes White’s 17-year-old Elliot still gets into a hustle and a scrape here and there, thanks to a winning charm he knows how to wield. That penchant for running intro trouble only intensified when he met Jackie Sullivan (Katie Douglas). It also gave the young actor his first taste of TikTok virality (with one video earning nearly 10 million views), as fans fell in love with Elliot and Jackie, also earning him his first portmanteau: #Jelliot.
When it comes to Pretty Hard Cases‘ upcoming third season, Hynes White promises an “action-packed, really fun” must-see arc for the character.
Jumping from Elliot, who Hynes White considers “just a normal kid,” to Xavier Thorpe, who he notes has far less of a sense of humour and has a habit of “not letting people in” was a trip for the actor — quite literally. It saw him moving from Toronto all the way to Romania, where he and the cast shot the Burton series and lived for eight months.
A modern coming-of-age take on Wednesday Addams, the series stars Jenna Ortega as the titular character, who attempts to piece together who the monster haunting her high school, Nevermore Academy (for supernaturally-inclined outcasts), might be. The series also stars Gwendoline Christie, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Luis Guzmán, and Christina Ricci, a former Wednesday Addams.
As Xavier, Hynes White plays a young and tortured soul — not unlike Wednesday. His supernatural ability allows him to bring his art to life, and to help Wednesday in her investigation. Needless to say, it also sees sparks fly between the pair, and has seen countless fans “shipping” the characters and actors. During that short span of time, the actor picked up a heft of new skills: archery, painting, drawing, canoeing, dancing and fencing.
Although he was a fan of Burton’s work and art (his father used to read him the famed director’s poetry) since he was a child, Hynes White was in such disbelief last year when his mother called to tell him he’d won the role that, noting her call came on April Fools Day, “I hung up and went back to sleep.”
Burton proved to be a lot more fun than Hynes White expected, and “goofed around” on set with the cast and crew, while Ortega was “really great to work with,” and has since become a close friend.
Keeping their chemistry alive, the pair have already shot their next project together, a romantic comedy called Winter Spring Summer or Fall, which is being billed as “Before Sunrise meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” according to Deadline. The film follows two teenagers (Ortega and Hynes White) who meet and fall in love over four especially seasonal days of the year.
“[Filming that] was totally different territory,” Hynes White says. “We were allowed to improvise a lot more and be a lot more relaxed with dialogue, so it was just a fun time.”
Mere photos from the set have already got fans buzzing, but that’s a part of the fame game that has remained markedly less appealing to the young star.
Bashful and as soft-spoken as ever, he explains, “I’m trying not to think too much about that part.” Although he’s found considerable love online, he adds, “I feel like there hasn’t really been a difference in my real-world life, so that’s all that matters.” It helps, too, he says, to spend a little less time on his phone lately.
Which makes sense — he’s too busy to bother. Next up, he can be seen in Chandler Levack’s I Like Movies, along with his new rom-com and Megan Park’s My Old Ass.
While it seems Hynes White is being careful to give every genre a taste — from action to supernatural to romantic — he’s just focused on character.
“It’s exciting,” he says. “I don’t think it’s ever about the project [for me]. I always just want it to be about the role, big or small, I think it’s always going to feel the same. There’s the same energy and excitement in taking it on.”
It seems Xavier Thorpe may have rubbed off more than most characters however, what with the brooding energy and his goals for the future.
Hynes White explains, “This is what I tell everybody: I want to do weird movies, which are the type of movies that I would watch. I wanted to do indie movies and arthouse stuff. I want to play people who are completely on the other end of the spectrum, who are the opposite of myself. And just have fun.”
See more of Percy Hynes White in Pretty Hard Cases, available to stream for free on CBC Gem.