The guys – who play fan faves Eli and Drew on the show – recently caught up with JJJ in New York City.
Munro and Luke opened up to us about their off-screen friendship, the difference between Canadian and American fans, what we can expect from their characters this season, and much more!
Don’t forget – Degrassi airs every Thursday @ 9PM on TeenNick!
Click inside to read our interview with Munro Chambers and Luke Bilyk…
JustJaredJr.com Interview – Munro Chambers & Luke Bilyk
JustJaredJr: Hi Guys! Welcome to the U.S.! What’s the biggest different between your Canadian fans and your American fans?
Munro: I feel like American fans are more enthusiastic about their support and expression when they see people on shows and stuff like that. Canadians get like that kind of…in a group session they’ll swarm. It will take one American fan and they’ll lose it. In Canada, it will take like six or seven and then people will start. If you get recognized, it takes four or five people to actually make a group effort.
JJJ: Does it ever get scary when they swarm?
Munro: It’s not scary. When we did American tours then that’s a lot. That’s what I was trying to say, Canadian fans they’ll come up to you and ask for an autograph and they’re more shy about it. I feel like Americans are more confident to come up and swarm, and then they’ll try to make conversation, though some of the Canadians do that. Most of them are like, “Can I get a picture?” and then they walk away. So it makes it easier to go to the stores and live a normal life because we don’t have the same media as you guys do, at all. We don’t really have the tabloids, we don’t have these kind of magazines, but we carry yours. We don’t have that kind of platform, so it makes it easier for us to kind of live normal lives and kind of focus on the craft. Then if you ever transfer over into the American market, like you’ve seen Nina [Dobrev] and you’ve seen Shanae [Grimes] and Drake, then it kind of hits that platform, but we kind of get it easy.
JJJ: Let’s talk about all the big shockers that happen on the show. Do you still get surprised reading scripts?
Luke: Definitely, probably every few scripts you’re reading through and you’re like, “There’s no way, there’s no way, and it’s like literally, I can’t believe they actually went there.” And it’s Degrassi so they can, and they’re going to do it properly, and the writing is going to be amazing. They always do their research especially even with the Campbell Saunders story line, you know especially with the suicide. I was sitting next to him in the read-through. I look at him and he was just like, “Yeah..” That read-through itself was very interesting. Personally, I was physically touched by it. Just reading it, it really got me. I haven’t gotten the chance to watch the full episode yet, but even just reading it I was like, “There’s just no way.” I was just gut-wrenched and shocked.
Munro: Well it’s one of those story lines…we haven’t really seen that in a long time. We’ve never seen suicide or any kind of death on the show for a while, so to have Dylan [Everett] come on to the show – and he’s such a great guy – and have that character become such a popular character and beloved niner leave the show, it really hits you. You get those butterflies in your stomach. I remember reading through it and I think Dylan knew from the get-go that that was going to happen, but I was like, “Am I going to cry here?” It’s shocking, but with our show this season I feel like every season, you know the writers and you know how they work, and you get the feel for all of the characters so you can plan it out and be like, “OK, that may happen” or “Oh, I called that one.” At least two or three times in the season you’ll turn the page and be like, “What’s going on?”
Luke: It was like that in “The Boiling Point” episode.
Munro: Oh! Yeah!
Luke: We’re sitting in the read-through and we’re like, “No please tell me Eli is not gonna get stabbed! Please tell me, No! No! Oh OK, No!”
Munro: That’s like three times! He like runs his car into the wall, almost gets stabbed…
Luke: It’s gut-wrenching to the next page.
Munro: You never know what’s gonna happen.
JJJ: At least you can feel comfortable knowing that they do a great job.
Munro: Amazing. They definitely do an amazing job. The writers on the show and obviously the directors, and the producers, and Linda [Schuyler] and Stephen [Stohn], they definitely know what they want and they’re good at portraying that towards the fans. That’s why it’s been around for so long and it will continue to be around.
JJJ: Let’s talk Eli and Clare. Obviously, Clare has cancer and a lot is going on right now. What can you tell us about what to expect from them this season?
Munro: Well it’s such a subject that people at home are really going to connect to. Cancer is something that affects everyone and for Eli, and for me, for this storyline is to support her – to be exactly what Eli should do as a boyfriend, is to support her storyline. Eli’s going be there to support her and to make sure that she’s good. It’s touchy, it’s a touchy subject, but I feel like everyone’s really going to enjoy Clare’s run-through. I can’t give too much away because it’s such an up and down – it’s a roller coaster. It’s going to be good and that’s what Luke said, with the writers they really do the research and they try not to glorify things or mock things. They really want to make it authentic.
Luke: Yeah, they hit the nail right on the head all the time.
Munro: And they do their best to make sure it’s relatable. So when people watch it, it sinks in.
JJJ: It’s probably better now that Eli is in a good place in his life and can be that support system for Clare.
Munro: Well exactly, I think he went through that stuff in Degrassi when he was at that school. And now he’s at NYU, he’s kind of getting his life on track, but then again these bombs come in life sometimes and you have to deal with them. But hopefully he will stay good, stay on his meds and everything will be fine.
JJJ: In terms of Drew, he’s been taking on a lot of responsibility lately and he’s growing up. What can you say about how Drew has evolved over the last couple of seasons?
Luke: It’s definitely interesting to see the start to finish – well it’s not finished yet – starting off as the quarterback and making fun of Riley because he was gay, and now looking forward towards everything. Now he’s class president, so he has to try and put on…at first, I feel like it’s almost an act. He’s trying to prove to everyone that he’s popular and he can do it, but now I think you guys are going to see that he not only thinks he can do it, he is actually starting to be a good president and turning into a responsible young adult. I think that’s what the whole point of him coming back the extra year was. He dropped out and was obviously trying to get married and started life without a high school diploma. Obviously, that wasn’t the best of choices, but he’s coming back and he’s trying to move forward.
Munro: Put the past behind him.
Luke: Put the past behind him.
JJJ: What can you tell us about Drew and Bianca’s relationship going forward?
Luke: Going forward…at the time being, she’s just off at university and their just trying to make it work with her coming back in between things. Yeah, she actually comes back after the summer break, does she not?
Munro: I think so, yeah.
Luke: Yeah, you will get to see their relationship obviously. It’s interesting having your significant other – I pointed at you [Munro] – you are not my significant other (laughs).
Luke: Eh, you are (laughs). You know Clare and Eli and Drew and Bianca.
Munro: Long distance relationships are so tough and that’s something with our characters is that it works so well, especially with him being engaged.
Luke: I love him.
Munro: You love me? (laughs)
JJJ: You guys make a really cute couple.
Both: Well, thank you (laughs).
JJJ: Is there a scene that sticks out for you that was super hard or one that you really had to prepare for?
Luke: I think one of the more interesting, at least for me, was the fight club stuff. I had to do training and stuff like that, that was definitely interesting. I love doing hands-on things like that, so when they asked me if I wanted to do it and said,” We’ll train you.” I was like, “100%.” Not a doubt in my mind would I not do that. That and doing shrooms was pretty cool. I watched a lot of shrooms videos and I was like, “Should I do shrooms?” My better judgment kicked in (laughs).
Munro: Like, “How method am I?” (laughs)
Luke: I was like, “I could get arrested afterwards. Let’s not do that.”
Munro: For me personally, one of my favorite things to do is disorders. I really enjoy them. On Degrassi, they really gave me the opportunity to do a couple. Like Eli was a hoarder for a little bit there in season 10. For like an episode, he was hoarder. And then he started becoming bipolar and stuff like that. My favorite scene that I really worked really hard on was in “Extraordinary Machine” where he’s on stage during Romeo and Jules and he kind of has a meltdown. That one and also an episode called “Ray of Light” where he takes MDMA because he’s nervous about getting into school, and he has a breakdown with his father and Mr. Simpson. I just really enjoy that kind of stuff. I feel like it’s fun for me because it’s an actual thing. And it’s not something…like you’re a jock or an emo or you’re this or you’re that, you kind of get to explore your own. The way I like to do it is, you know, all the attributes of that disorder and then you get to create your own. It’s like ingredients and getting to make your own dish. It’s your own personal style and it’s kind of unique. Fortunately on Degrassi they throw me back into stuff. I’m so grateful for that kind of stuff.
JJJ: You shoot a ton of episodes, but you also have a huge cast. Do you guys get a lot of free time? What are some of your hobbies?
Luke: I mean me and Munro, we try to stay as active as possible. We play on a hockey team together. Not to brag, but NHL, watch out!
JJJ: Nice! So who’s better?
Munro: He is. He plays offense and I play defense. He’s better at offense and I’m farrrr better…
Luke: I don’t know if I’d say “far better”… (laughs). We’re two different sides of the ice.
Munro: We’re kind of the perfect ying and yang. We are a cute couple (laughs).
JJJ: Told you! So have you thought about what you might do after the show? Would you ever come to the States?
Munro: Yeah, of course, I feel like every actor – whether you’re from Europe, Australia, Canada – you always want to break into that American market. You see all the time that they come in because I feel like that’s where the meatiest of the scripts come. And that’s where you really get to explore success in this industry. You should obviously be in it for the right reasons and if it comes, it comes. But of course you want to dabble into that. That would be an amazing experience, but it all depends on if your path works. If the script works and if they like you.
Luke: Yeah, definitely coming out here for the right reason. You hear horror stories of people from Canada coming out to LA and ruining their lives, spending all their money, and getting hooked on drugs. You wouldn’t be doing that if you were really focusing on your work.
JJJ: Like the LA Complex.
Both: Yeah, like the LA Complex!
Munro: I feel like it’s something that you want to do and every actor would want that, but it all depends on if it comes and it’s right. We’ll see because we’re Canadian and we would like to work on Canadian shows and love to work on American shows. The UK also has phenomenal shows, but it’s interesting because they only do 6 episodes. Like Luther, Idris Elba. It’s an amazing show – Misfits and the original Skins.
JJ: If you could pick any show to be on, which would you choose?
Both: Breaking Bad.
Luke: Or Lost.
JJJ: Good choices. So you have new characters come into Degrassi every season. How do you guys welcome them? Are there ever any pranks?
Munro: For the first week we just make fun of them.
Luke: The whole time.
JJJ: To their faces?
Luke: Right to their face.
Munro: We’re real!
Luke: No, no (laughs). It’s like you’re almost inducted right into the family. That’s how I felt, we felt the same way like you know coming on with Raymond [Ablack] and Charlotte [Arnold] and Annie [Clark], they were on the show for so long. You’re definitely intimidated after a while, but eventually you just grow to love them as people and you just create amazing friendships. Another amazing thing is the Free The Children trips we do when we actually get to meet and bond with people. That’s how we got so close when we went to India.
Munro: It’s an interesting concept because when you join Degrassi, Degrassi has been on for now 13 years for the New Generation, that is. It’s been 33 overall, but usually when you get cast on a show, unless it’s a recurring role and you know it’s a recurring [role], and you if get casted as a lead, you’re going into such a history. So you kind of have to know what their about.
Luke: You kind of have to do your research before. You have to.
Munro: Yeah. This show is so based on a humble cast and being a family, so no, there’s no hazing at all.
Luke: But we do tease each other.
Munro: Yeah, me and him tease each other all the time. Like the new kids that come in, a lot of them will be younger and a lot of them will actually be green. Like some of the kids that joined the show this year had done nothing prior and then they come onto the show, and we give them great storylines to work with and they start developing as a great actor. So it’s fun for us as well because we get to collaborate.
Luke: One of the new guys Eric [Osborne], he plays Miles, I love that character. The fans are going to love him so much. He’s not shy, he just doesn’t say too much. I don’t know what it is, but I love that guy. I don’t make fun of him, but I always mess with him. I always poke him and then I run away and he’s like, “I don’t get it. Is that a game he plays?” He’s so confused (laughs).
Be sure to tune into Degrassi every Thursday @ 9PM on TeenNick!