Can you tell us about your childhood growing up in rural Minnesota?
I grew up in a dome home, dad built with his pals, on the other side of the tracks of a small town named Hugo, MN. My dad ran a Welding Shop in nearby Centerville and mom stayed home with myself and my two older sisters Jessica and Lynnea. We had a lot of fun, dancing, singing around the house, putting on shows, recording home videos, lip-syncing 50’s and 60’s music, dressing up, clowning around. Was a real hoot! I love my Mama Sue’ ~ good times!
What made you want to get into acting?
True story: I watched Die Hard when I was about 12 years old and I had an epiphany! I realized that was his (Bruce Willis’) job, climbing down elevator shafts, crawling through air ducts, cursing. I immediately started smoking cigarettes and blowing sh*t up! Me and my cousin Ryan literally started smoking my parents cigs and actually lit my garage on fire. Accidentally. We put it out fast enough. No one was injured.
“Yippie Kie Yay, Mother F**ker..”
When did you first move to Los Angeles and what prompted the decision?
I moved to Dinky Town (a UMN campus town) right after High School, with a pal. I was working in Minneapolis as a waiter at TGIFriday’s, as well as a buss-boy at Prince’s, then nightclub “The Quest” while also studying Meisner/Method acting under Sandra K Horner at the Hennepin Center of the Arts, where I met my close friend Bridget Walsh. Bridget was the one who had prompted the decision to take the trip to LA, she had a friend, Amber, living in Valley Village and wished for me to drive with her there. **queue epic road trip mixed-tape** ..twas the summer of 99’ (sigh).
Tell us about some of your first jobs.
Being an “Actor” I really wasn’t dreaming of TV commercials, as a source of my creative expression, but after getting representation with the Jana Luker Agency, soon after arriving to Los Angeles, I seemed to audition for nothing but commercials. I booked my first on-camera acting gig in a national McDonalds commercial playing a drive-thru employee doing a Tarzan Yelp, for a Disney’s Tarzan Movie Promo. I slayed it! “
“So that’s two salad’s and two… AhhhhYaaaYaaaYaaaAhhhhh!!!”
Ironically, my first ‘day job’ was also McDonalds. (age 16)
It’s funny, no matter how many TV shows or Movies you do, friends back home still only go crazy over the TV commercial appearances. Strange.
You worked a coveted job at The Comedy Store, what was that experience like?
I loved it. A wonderful chapter in my younger years. I worked for Mitzi Shore as a phone receptionist during the day, and a doorman wearing my sunglasses at night, while doing a few minutes of awkward stand-up comedy on the weekends only as a requirement for employment.
I really thought it was my calling at the time, stand-up comedy. I remember talking on the phone to my mom, telling her “This is it! This is what I was meant to do!” But like every creative outlet, stand-up comedy is it’s own art form, and in the end it really wasn’t for me. I wasn’t working on my act and would never do the same act twice. I never wanted to audition for Mitzi to become a paid regular or do any other sets like the other comics. I was often compared to Andy Kaufman, never telling a joke or talking much at all, clutching my guitar and sometimes my teddy bear on stage, I would use music and odd energy to create a mood, confusing the audience and usually bombing was my forte’ ~ until it wasn’t
Lot of great memories there’
You starred in the 2010 cult horror film, Freeway Killer. What was it like to star in your first feature?
Amazing! Terrifying! Exciting.
I was initially cast and directed by Daniel Stamm who eventually dropped out to shoot The Last Exorcism, due to filming set backs and scheduling. So all the excitement we were creating along with Daniel, abruptly got sidelined and handed off to the direction of John Murlowski. Who did a great job with such short notice, enjoyed working with him, but was rather upset we weren’t able to continue the magic Daniel had summoned out of us.
I really enjoyed playing Vernon Butts, such a sad, multi-layered, interesting, troubled individual. I did a lot of research when playing him, went to his home in Downey, read court transcripts DTLA, was a real trip! Such a tragic story. Many victims families are still suffering today throughout the LA Area, over the actions of William Bonin and his accomplices.
Have fond memories working with Michael Rooker, Scott Leet, Cole Williams and CRM’s own, Eileen Dietz. Great actors!
You worked on the 2012 film, John Carter. What was it like working on such a mega budget film?
The time of my life!
Such an incredible experience. Disney bought Page, AZ – Kanab, UT locations, working alongside Bryan Cranston, under the direction of Andrew Stanton (Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Wall-E). Was literally a dream come true. I’ve been a Walt Disney fan since I could walk and talk and am now officially a ‘Disney Character.. “Twitchy Corporal”
The cast and crew were the best. I handed off a copy of the book John Carter of Mars to the JC team and Andrew himself sent it back to me, a few months after wrapping the film, signed by him and the entire cast, personally to me. A true prized possession.
No joke, was such a memorable time. My favorite filming experience to date.
You’ve made some TV appearances on some incredible shows like Heroes, Westworld, and Lucifer. Do you have a favorite TV show that you worked on?
Westworld, was a phenomenal job to be apart of. Especially working on it so early on, before anyone really had any mind as to what it was or what a massive hit it would be. Certainly a delight working with Evan Rachel Wood and James Marsden.
Criminal Minds, working with CRM’s very own Courtney Gains.
I also really enjoyed working on the pilot for ABC’s Stumptown. That was awesome! The pilot was the actual Greg Rucka comic brought to life, by Cobie Smulders (Dex), Joe Pingue (Whale) and myself (Dill). Working on location in Vancouver and Portland, OR.
Having such a brilliant stunt team in JJ Perry and my own stuntman Efka Kvaracirjus, (the Lithuanian John Hawkes). So much fun. JoJo Pingue and Efka both continue to be very close friends. Grateful.
Too bad the show didn’t get picked up a second season.
You often play characters that are sketchy, irrational, and dangerous. What are the unique challenges of playing these types of characters?
I’m very comfortable playing offbeat, darker characters. The more complicated, unpredictable and disheveled, the better.
I actually find it more challenging to play the straight, calm and collected characters. I’d certainly like to challenge myself more in the future, practice holding myself together in a role, or maybe even being a parent or a teacher.
I’m actually a really funny guy, I’ve been told.
What character have you portrayed from film or TV that you are the most proud of?
Vernon Butts, being my first starring role, my work in Stumptown really sticks out, working with such an outstanding stunt, choreography team. Westworld, John Carter.
I feel I’m still coming into my own. Still chasing the role of a lifetime.
What are some character types that you would like to play in the future?
Batman. Jus kidding, maybe a proud parent, or a cop.i love period projects. Westerns all day.
I’d like to challenge myself, be more vulnerable.
I do enjoy playing bad guys. Somebody’s got to be the bad guy.
The scarier the job the better. If it’s not scary it’s hardly worth it.
I’m excited for what’s to come. I’ve been so fortunate so far. I’m a lucky guy!
The great thing about acting is not knowing what’s next. Becoming. Growing. Discovering. I’m open to whatever. Jus happy to be here.
What is one of your most memorable experiences working in Hollywood?
They’re all uniquely memorable. So many. There’s really nothing like working in Hollywood. It’s a dream come true.
What’s up next for you?