Lincoln Younes
Jacket, $999, by BOSS; shirt, $1,380, by Bottega Veneta; pants, $1,415, by Gucci; and shoes, $695, by P Johnson.
Oliver Begg

THERE IS A SMALL MOUND OF HAIR forming beneath Lincoln Younes’ chair. He offers a warm “hello”, but I can barely hear him beneath the sharp hum of hair clippers, which are in the process of buzzing his cut. The actor flew in from overseas this morning, having enjoyed some time off in Europe, hence the need for a trim. Between his bright blue eyes—the type you might describe as ‘piercing’—and his sculpted guns, Younes could easily pass as an underwear model, or a stereotypical Aussie bad boy, a part he’s no stranger to playing.

From 2011 to 2014, he cast his spell over viewers of iconic Australian soap Home and Away, as the intelligent yet misled River Boy Casey Braxton. Younes is forever grateful for the “technical learning ground” the series offered, as well as its rare opportunity for steady work (something that fellow Aussies Chris Hemsworth, Heath Ledger and Naomi Watts would understand, having launched their own careers in Summer Bay). The show’s loyal fanbase taught Younes a valuable lesson: “Without an audience, there’s no art. No matter what people think of different forms of art, if it’s affecting people in a positive or meaningful way, it’s important.” But inevitably, with an audience comes scrutiny—“whether you want it or not,” says the 31-year-old. “And I definitely didn’t. I really liked my anonymity.”

That anonymity is fading, following a string of major roles on Australian television—including the titular role in Paramount+ underworld drama Last King of the Cross—a Silver Logie nomination for Most Popular Actor, and invites to Paris Fashion Week with Dior Men. Fans stop him in the street for photos and tabloid newspapers report on his physical transformations (the Daily Mail ran an entire story on the buzzcut Younes received for this very photoshoot). Yet there’s no sense of ego or bravado in Younes’ manner, and he insists the bad boy casting is far from his truth.

“It’s fun to play—you get to experience it vicariously without consequence. I think I get perceived as that just because of certain roles, but…” he laughs again. “What’s that quote? I contain multitudes.”

Lincoln Younes
Coat, $1,695, by P Johnson; shorts, $325, by Haulier.
Oliver Begg

YOUNES AND HIS YOUNGER BROTHER were raised by their mother, who’s a journalist. As a child—equal parts shy, energetic, and nerdy—sports became an outlet for his unending restlessness, while books and studying fuelled his sense of curiosity.

At 12, he struck a “deal” with the newspaper his mum worked for, which allowed him to watch free movies in exchange for reviews, like some sort of pre-teen film critic. “There were a lot of things I didn’t quite understand about life, and the people my age,” Younes tells me. “But I found a lot of connection and understanding through film. That was where I felt at home, in the cinema.”

Younes was 17 when he started acting in earnest. After a few small parts in shorts and TV series, he landed the role of Casey Braxton on Home and Away. As tends to happen with actors who leave soaps, he was killed off in dramatic fashion—in this case, shot dead by a rival gang member in a plot Younes helped create with the show’s writers. A few years passed, and then, what would have been Younes’ big international break came with terrible timing. In 2020, he scored a leading role in an American vampire drama, but COVID forced a cancellation before he had a chance to step on set.

“I found a lot of connection and understanding through FILM. That was where I felt at home, IN THE CINEMA.”

Perhaps it was for the best: he returned to Australia with a role in the final season of Doctor Doctor in 2021, then continued the following year with Barons, a fictionalisation of the ’70s rivalry between Quiksilver and Billabong, which saw him sporting shoulder-grazing hair and an enviable suntan.

For Last King of the Cross, Younes transformed into John Ibrahim, the notorious monarch of Sydney’s Kings Cross nightclub scene in its ’90s heyday. The series wasn’t just a huge career opportunity—it also allowed him to tap into his Lebanese heritage.

“We’ve never had an immigrant story told here on that scale budget-wise”—the production was rumoured to have cost $40 million to make—“so it was really important for me that it did well, because if it seemed to be embraced, it opens the door for many more stories being told that are important and part of our wonderful tapestry and history.”

Lincoln Younes
Oliver Begg

Embraced it was: Last King has already been renewed for a second season. In the meantime, Younes’ gaze is focused on another streamer, as he prepares for the release of Stan Original C*A*U*G*H*T. The comedy series follows four Australian soldiers on a secret mission in a war-torn country, who seize their opportunity for fame when their hostage video goes viral after they’re captured.

Younes’ Barons co-star Kick Gurry dreamed up the idea while they were living together in LA with fellow Aussies and best mates Ben O’Toole and Alex England. “We were like, wouldn’t it be great if we had a project where the four of us could tap into the magic dynamism that we have?” says Younes.

Gurry serves as writer, director, producer, and actor for the series, a feat of which Younes is clearly in awe. But its biggest co-sign came when Hollywood heavyweight Sean Penn signed on to act and executive produce. Penn plays a fictionalised version of himself in the series, claiming he was attracted to Gurry’s “enthusiasm for all things considered inappropriate… from ball-sacks, to fame, idiots and intellectuals, and finally to that creepy-crawly continuum of war”.

“I never want to be the SMARTEST one in the room or the MOST TALENTED.”

A-listers aside, Younes calls it “a dream” to work alongside his mates. “There’s one scene where we were quite naked and that just proved to be incredibly bonding and incredibly funny,” he tells me. “And we had to reshoot it. Twice.”

C*A*U*G*H*T has served as inspiration, too. “Once you’ve experienced working with your friends, and seeing that joy actually creates the best art—it doesn’t detract, it heightens—it really spurred me on to develop and produce my own shows… so I’m in the process right now of developing [one],” he teases. His show aims to feed an appetite he sees for “more stories which are left of centre… tapping into parts of our society that we haven’t really dealt with in the best way. For me, mental health is one of those.”

“It’s a facet of humanity that is invisible, and it doesn’t appear in one certain way. We’re all very good at masking it. So [the show is] about unmasking that, and placing it or personifying it in a way you wouldn’t expect,” he says.

Lincoln Younes
Oliver Begg

YOUNES KNOWS THAT this is an industry of “ebbs and flows”; subject to the whims of “roaming factors you can’t predict—like Covid, and the strikes that are happening at the moment, which are incredibly important”.

His Silver Logie nomination is surely more flow than ebb. While he didn’t win—the gong went to Sam Neill—Younes is well aware of the exposure and opportunities that come with recognition of this kind.

“The hope is to always be in the room where conversations are happening—and so nominations like this just reinforce that I’m on my way, you know? I definitely don’t think I’m anywhere near certain actors that I respect and admire, but it’s nice to be in the same conversations as them,” he continues.

He’s certainly humble. “You have to be,” he asserts. “’Cause otherwise you plateau. I never want to be the smartest one in the room or the most talented. I want to be around people that push me.”

“Longevity” is what he seeks, not fame, or a “hit show”—so he’s learned the importance of preserving his wellbeing. “You change, you learn lessons, you forget them, you make mistakes, you make mistakes again,” he says, a sparkle in those piercing blue eyes. “And at the end of the day, I think sustainability is key.”

Lincoln Younes
Sunglasses, $995, by Mr. Leight; polo, $229, by Calibre; track pants, $295, and shoes, $695, by P Johnson; bag $4,860,by Gucci.
Oliver Begg

This interview was arranged prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike.
The Stan Original Series C*A*U*G*H*T is coming soon, only on Stan.


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