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Interview with Musician, Actor, Director Riker Lynch at 74th Cannes Film Festival

Interview with Musician, Actor, Director Riker Lynch at 74th Cannes Film Festival Riker Lynch with Bruno Chatelin at 74th Cannes Film Festival. 

A resident of LA since 2007, multi-talented artist Riker Anthony Lynch is a musician, actor and director. In 2009, Riker and his siblings started the pop/rock band R5 for which Riker played bass and sang vocals. R5 toured five continents and played over 300 live performances, catapulting them into international renown. Riker’s acting career took off when he appeared in the TV show “Glee” in 2010. In 2015, Riker appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” and won 2nd place in the contest, which led to performances on The American Music Awards, Jimmy Kimmel, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Good Morning America, Live with Kelly and Michael, and The Radio Disney Music Awards.

Riker has since acted in feature films "Colossal Youth" and "Voyeur". He now plays bass for the alternative band, The Driver Era, and has started his own music side project called Riker and The Beachcombers. He has also started writing and directing his own films, the first of which was "Lyft Me Up” (2018) and most recently “Aliens on Halloween” (2021), which screened in the short corner at the 74th annual Cannes Film Festival.

In an interview with Riker about his career shortly after Cannes, here is what he had to say:


Your entertainment background is in music. Can you tell us about how you started your band R5? 

RIKER: R5 started in 2009. My family and I had moved out to California because I wanted to pursue acting. My brother Rocky started teaching himself how to play guitar and I thought it was so cool, so he showed me the basics. I then started playing bass and a few months later we were playing shows for friends at the house and then we got our first official gig in Pasadena, CA in June of 2009. This was when MySpace was popular, and Twitter was just getting going. We were posting videos and playing shows all around Southern California and we started to gain a little local following. 


Can you tell us about the success of your music career and touring worldwide? 

RIKER: After growing a little fanbase from the shows and videos online, I booked a role on the TV show Glee. I did four episodes and then went on the arena tour Glee Live with the rest of the cast. When I came back from the tour, I played a show with R5 and from the growing social media with R5 and from being on Glee, we had about 100 people show up, which was crazy at the time. Then shortly after that, my brother Ross booked the role of Austin on Austin & Ally which put the band on the radar of Hollywood Records, and we got signed there. Then with the band still growing a following, my following from Glee, Ross’s following from Disney, and a record deal, R5 had its first tour in 2012 and we pretty much toured around the world each year until about 2018.


You went from music to acting and appeared in “Glee”. How hard has it been to transition from your successful music career into acting?

RIKER: Glee was the best of both worlds as far as acting and music. I’ve always done both, so it feels very natural to me. I can’t ever pick one or the other but there’s always a time where one gets some momentum and I focus on that for a bit and then the other will circle back around. I feel very grateful to be able to do both successfully.


Your acting career became full on when you starred in films "Colossal Youth" and "Voyeur". Do you find that your music career helps your acting? And will you continue to do both?

RIKER: I will definitely continue to do both. I think they both help each other in certain ways but they also can take certain commitments away from the other. It’s always a little bit of a balancing act but it’s totally worth it in the end. I love them both!


You recently directed your first film, a short film “Lyft Me Up.” Can you tell us about it? 

RIKER: “Lyft Me Up” was just sort of a test drive to see if I could write and direct something and have it all work out. I basically got tired of waiting for someone to give me a job in the film industry, so I decided to make my own. Once I finished “Lyft Me Up”, I knew I could write and direct on a larger scale, so I went off and made “Aliens on Halloween”.


As a musician and actor, what did you like about the directing experience? 

RIKER: I like having a direct impact on the project as a whole. Sometimes when you’re acting you only have impact on one scene at a time. With directing, I love being involved in everything from pre-production, to filming each scene, to editing. I’ve been the musical director for R5 since the very beginning, and now The Driver Era, so directing feels very natural to me. I’m comfortable being in front and behind the camera and I really enjoy the whole process.


You attended the 2021 Cannes Film Festival? How was that experience?

RIKER: Cannes was truly incredible. Just to be there was amazing let alone to have my film as part of the festival. I look forward to the day I have a feature film of mine premiere at Cannes so I can walk the famous red steps again.


In your opinion, why is it crucial for a director to attend Cannes, even if the marketplace is not at peak performance?

RIKER: I think you just have to experience Cannes at least once. To be there with all the other filmmakers at such an iconic festival, it's worth it.


You also play bass for the alternative band, The Driver Era, and have started your own music side project called Riker and The Beachcombers. Can you tell us about those? Will you release an album and tour? 

RIKER: The Driver Era tour kicks off in November of 2021 in the U.S. and then Europe in the beginning of 2022. Very excited to get back out on the road after all the time off. I’m recording right now for Riker and The Beachcombers. I don’t have a timeline for that album, but you can listen to demos at


What are your upcoming projects? Where would you like to see yourself in the next 5-10 years?

RIKER: I’m currently editing my next short film and developing my first feature film and my first mini-series. Just looking for the right team for both of those projects. I’ll be directing and acting in major feature films in the next 5-10 years and continuing to make music with The Driver Era and Riker and The Beachcombers on the side.


The film is well directed and produced. As your directorial debut, can you walk us through how you put it all together? 

RIKER: Thank you so much! I came up with the story idea at a Halloween party where I saw a guy dressed as an alien and talking to a girl at the bar. I just thought to myself, “how funny would that be if that was actually an alien and we all just thought it was someone in costume.” Then when the lockdown in 2020 started, I finished my first draft of the script and got some actor friends together over Zoom for a table read. From there, I launched an IndieGoGo campaign to raise money to make it and in October of 2020 we shot the whole thing in five days. I basically just cast my friends and worked with people who I knew would bring a great energy to the production and I think it turned out very well. I’m very grateful to everyone that was part of it. I couldn’t have done it without them.


Did you make the film during quarantine? Why is staying creative and having a sense of humor so important in getting through hard or crazy times?

RIKER: Staying creative was definitely important. I think I’m usually pretty good about having a sense of humor with everything but making sure I’m not just hanging around waiting for something to happen is very important to me. I believe if you want something, you have to get out and get it. You have to make it happen. So even though it was weird times with quarantine and everything, I knew I needed to make it happen because nobody else was going to do it.


It feels a little like Bill and Ted's Adventures. What were your inspirations for the film? 

RIKER: Bill and Ted’s is an unconscious installation I think, but I’m always inspired by buddy comedies with some action. Super Bad is one for sure. Guardians of the Galaxy a little bit too.


Can you tell us about the music in the film?

RIKER: With the music I just used all my friends’ songs because I didn’t have the budget to pay for them unfortunately. The original opening scene had my character singing a Bruce Springsteen song but that was going to cost too much so we cut that scene out. Haha!


Will you turn it into a feature? Also, where can people view the film?

RIKER: I would turn it into a feature if the right team wanted to do it with me. Just depends on the timing of the rest of my work really. I think it would be a very fun feature though. The film isn’t available to the public yet but be sure to follow me on Instagram to be the first to know when it’s available. @rikerlynch

 Interview with Musician, Actor, Director Riker Lynch at 74th Cannes Film Festival Riker Lynch with spouse Savannah Lynch at 74th Cannes Film Festival. 

Interview by Vanessa McMahon. 74th Cannes Film Festival.

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