In his new film Goat, Nick Jonas stars as Brett Land, a college student who begins to question the morals of his fraternity as he watches his younger brother go through the difficult pledging process.
One of the main themes of the film – which premiered Friday at the Sundance Film Festival and features jarring scenes of hazing rituals based on real-life tales – is how exactly masculinity is defined and the transition from adolescence to manhood.
“An element of the film is this idea of how difficult it can be to trust your gut and do what’s right when everybody else around you is doing something that you don’t believe,” the film’s lead Ben Schnetzer, who plays Jonas’ younger brother Brad, told PEOPLE Saturday at the Acura Studios in Park City, Utah. “It’s a risky film, and it’s just exciting that it’s creating a dialogue and provoking a response from people.”
Jonas, 23, says he’s managed to stay grounded as he navigates his own journey to adulthood with the support of his family, including brothers Joe, Kevin and Frankie.
“I feel really fortunate to come from a home that was always supportive and stemming from creativity, integrity and building character,” said Jonas, whose manager Phil McIntyre hosted a dinner Saturday night at a one night only pop-up of L.A. hotspot Craig’s to toast him and the film. “I feel like your view of your father is super important, and your mother, and the way they are with each other.”
“There are a lot of things that influence the way you see the world as you approach your manhood,” he continued. “I would say that, at the core, that feeling of being accepted is there and those insecurities being put to rest is what keeps it healthy.”
“I think some of the other roles I’ve taken the last two years have kind of informed [my idea of manhood] as well,” he says. “This movie in a different way really touches on masculinity and what it means and what standards we’re held to and by who. It’s kind of nice to take a sledge hammer to that.”
The attention on his hulking physique for his latest roles also isn’t something he pays too much attention to. “It only get uncomfortable because you’re shooting Kingdom during the holidays and I love to eat,” he said, chuckling.
When he does finally get to indulge, the star digs into “pizza, pasta, anything breaded,” he says. “The holidays are tough in general. It’s like, cookies, and you can’t even say no to that!”
In late 2013, the Jonas Brothers shocked fans by announcing their decision to break up. But after a tricky period, Jonas says his relationship with his brothers – which he drew from for his role as Land – is better than ever.
“Our journey has been from working together, to not, and trying to redefine the dynamic as a family first,” he said about his relationship with Joe. “Now we’re closer than we’ve ever been, so it’s a good thing. We’re able to just be brothers. There’s a real support there.”