Shannon Jones, 31, was on the Skyler Gisondo train early. She’s been a fan of the actor ever since the 2015 movie Vacation, where he plays one of the grandsons of Chevy Chase’s Clark Griswold. “Everything I have seen since, every time he appears, he just strikes me as a little something special,” she says. “He’s always like the secret ingredient to whatever he’s in.”
Knowing Jones is a fan, one of her friends sent her one of Gisondo’s recent Instagram posts, in which he poses with his long haired dachshund in a field, his freckles on full display and his eyes with a somewhat far-off look. A thought immediately popped into her head: He mirrors like the famous Dorothea Lange photo of the migrant mother. So, Jones posted: “he looks like the dust bowl woman … burdened yet beautiful.” The post went viral.
It was the latest Gisondo-inspired meme to take off, proving that the 27-year-old character actor is a unique internet phenomenon.
What is it about Gisondo? The posts made about him aren’t as lustful as those made about, say, The Bear star Jeremy Allen White or Pedro Pascal—though there is a hint of Internet Boyfriend quality to him because of his meme-ability and seemingly jovial nature. At the same time, Gisondo, despite his credits, is not as famous as the other performers who get memed as often as he does. He’s never been the unequivocal lead of a show or a movie. Instead, he’s a great supporting player, like when he pops up for an amazing couple of scenes in Licorice Pizza as a smug actor who botches Shabbat with the fictionalized Haim family. He’s the endearingly dorky rich kid in Booksmart, and Jesse Gemstone’s wannabe stuntman son, Gideon Gemstone, in The Righteous Gemstones on HBO. (He spent the entirety of last season in a neck brace.)
KP Parker, 32, was watching that show when she made a TikTok in 2022 in which she points at a picture of Gisondo while Rina Sawayama’s cover of The 1975’s “Love It If We Made It” plays. The text reads: “i can describe the exact type of person that finds this guy hot,” before cutting to a close up of her face with the word “me” emblazoned on it. “I think I was really like, ‘I’ve gotta talk about this guy,'” she remembers. “I’ve been watching him on my screen for a few hours now, and I’m in a trance.”
As Parker explains: It’s not that Gisondo isn’t an attractive guy. It’s just that he isn’t the kind of dude Hollywood expects people to be into, which probably explains his run of somewhat-goofy roles. “I think Hollywood boys that are fed to us are a little like jawline-y stubble,” Parker adds. “He’s really giving this sort of freckle-y guy that would come over after school.”
It’s those guy-next-door vibes that inspired 27-year-old Megan Alves to tweet what may be the Gisondo post that may have been patient zero for his viral sensation, a picture of his smiling mug captioned, “he looks like he can do a crazy trick on the trampoline.”
“I just think he has like a spunkiness, specifically, in that photo,” Alves says. “He just looks like a kid in my neighborhood, his little freckles, and literally his teeth look like he just got his braces off, his perfect smile in that photo.He just gives the vibe that, like, at a pool day or something to get on the trampoline and be like, okay, everyone clear to the side: I’m going to hit this crazy flip.”
Through a manager, Gisondo declined to comment for this story in solidarity with the ongoing SAG strike. But he seems to have a sense of humor about himself. On Instagram stories he posted Alves’ trampoline comment, and said, “means a lot.”
Perhaps the best way to sum up the hold Gisondo has is a tweet from Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter, who wrote: “Who is this delightful young man?” J. Smith-Cameron, a.k.a. Gerri from Succession, replied, “Skyler Gisondo,” and then followed up in a separate post, “Very talented.”