Watch: Tom Mercier, Break-out Hunk from HBO's 'We Are Who We Are' Goes Full-Frontal

Monday December 7, 2020

The ratings may not be great for HBO's "We Are Who We Are," Luca Guadagnino's engrossing eight-part limited series, which is a shame, if only because audiences are not making the acquaintance of its stand-out cast of relative unknowns. The show features a number of identifiable actors, such as Chloë Sevigny, who plays the new commander of an American military base in Northern Italy where the series takes place, and Scott Mescudi (a.k.a. Kid Cudi) as an officer resentful of her for both professional and personal reasons. But for most of its ensemble Guadagnino has chosen relative unknowns, including his two leads: Jack Dylan Grazer as Sevigny's 14-year-old rebellious son Frazier, and Jordan Kristine Seamón as Caitlin, the daughter of Mescudi's character, who becomes Frazier's fast friend when he arrives in Italy in the fall of 2016.

But the actor making a considerable impression for any number of reasons is Tom Mercier, the Israeli native who plays Sevigny's assistant and Grazer's boy crush. Like Frazier, Mercier's Jonathan Kritchevsky is something of an outcast on the base. Ambitious and a loner, his backstory wasn't told until the fifth episode, when he moved from the narrative's background to the foreground as his path finally crosses with Frazier's.

Like his character, Mercier was born in Israel. A judo champion as a child, he quit the sport at age 19 to train as a dancer using what is called "the Gaga method, invented by Israeli dancer-choreographer Ohad Naharin," writes the Israeli website Haaretz in an interview with the actor.

"Judo was a milestone in my life, but afterward I went to dancing," he told Haaretz. "At first I saw ballet and hated it, because it required repetitiveness and power and a memory for movement, which is very similar to judo. Suddenly I was exposed to a lesson in contact [that is, a type of movement involving physical connections to others]. It's based far more on improvisation and that 'spoke to me' like crazy."

His other interest was acting, but in the theater, not movies and television. Even he was surprised to find himself in the lead of Israeli director Nadav Lapid's "Synonyms," a drama about an Israeli man who moves to Paris to escape his homeland. In 2019, the film won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. And like his character, who walks the streets of Paris substituting French words for Hebrew ones in an attempt to lose his national identity, Mercier immersed himself in learning the language, spending a year doing so with the help of a phone app.

"It was very surprising to me, the director chose me to work on that project and I was very fascinated by the director and his script," he told the website Flaunt.

When the film, which holds a 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, was released in the U.S. and Europe, Mercier not only turned heads for his acting ("Tom Mercier, charismatic and expressively stoic," wrote Manohla Dargis in the New York Times), but for his full-frontal scenes.

Watch this scene from "Synonyms" when Mercier arrives at a photographer's studio:

Below are links to his NSFW scenes from the film:

In one he takes a shower where he strokes himself, then finds his clothes have been stolen by a man who offered him shelter..

In the second, he walks about an apartment naked while a woman watches.

And in the third and most provocative, he has a photo shoot with a demanding photographer who instructs him to stroke himself (amongst other things).

A similar moment occurred in "We Are Who We Are," in a sequence when Frazier walks around the new base and wanders in the men's shower. He stands there staring at the men, including Mercier, who brazenly gives him the full Monty and likely sets the seed for Frazier's boy-crush.

Check out NSFW screenshots from the scene at this link.

And these pics from Mercier's Instagram: