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Q) Damon is living while is sort of Smashís dream. So how do you feel about playing a character while the environment, sports wise, is similar but very different because this is professional football?
A) Well thatís a very good question. Thanks for asking. First I would say that the world of Friday Night Lights and Panther Football and Smash and the NFL is a completely different and separate world from the world of necessary roughness and Damon and the hawks.So, you know, one thing that actually really helped me that differentiation in my mind was just realizing that this is a totally different show. Totally different style. Totally different genre. Totally different shooting style. You know, and so in a sense - yes I have had, you know, a fair amount of experience playing TV football you know. But, you know, I really saw a completely new character and completely new story. And, you know, as an actor you are always looking - an actor usually is always looking for ways to show a new side of them. Or a different kind of range of what they can do. So, because I have the wonderful opportunity of playing Smash, you know, this part came along as something to help me show another side of the coin, so to speak. It helped me show just, you know, how I can, you know, play the really big and, you know, gregarious confident characters. But how I also play very introverted complicated, you know, character who is also trying to find himself. And the vehicle, obviously, is, you know, professional sports. And I think that itís great because the sports, whether it be football or whatever professional sport. And, you know, on Friday Night Lights the pressure of High school football. Itís a great class form to show how people respond to challenges. And so you know I was just really, really happy to be able to play Damon and show another side to what I can do as an actor.
Q) Iím wondering what itís like for you to play this humble character that you have to play opposite such a bigger than life character, somewhat similar to your character in Friday Night Lights but being bigger.
A) I mean everybody is wonderful but I actually thought it was really smart writing in the sense that okay we have this larger than life, you know, wide receiver. And parents saying - now letís put him up against this, you know, very humble, you know, complicated character Damon and see what happens. we have shot four episodes so far. You are going to have to wait and see how that interaction plays out and how Damon is affected by his persona, his behavior. But also how he is affected by Damon you know, the challenge of having to hold your own when there is a new kid on the block so to speak.So it was a lot of fun, both on screen and you know the nature that, you know, I felt comfortable on set with many other actors so it was a real pleasure to work with them.
Q) So now that we know kind of the history and the secrets that Damon has been keeping. How much of that is going to affect the future of your role on the show in terms of working with Dani and maybe having some issues on the field?
A) Well, I never know how much I can say. But, it will affect it. You know, it will play in great and, you know, dramatic ways. You know, there is a point where you see Damon have to face the music. Because has so much potential he actually ends up doing a lot. So Matt played by Mark Blucas and so you sort of see their relationship start to develop well. So to get more compelling, but it also gets more, you know, Damon doesnít get away that easy in terms of his past. But he does, you know, eventually deal with the pressures, deal with the press, deal with.
Q) I know that you said you did a lot of research into Damon's insecurity disorder or whatever itís called. But I think youíve also mentioned that as an actor you could kind of relate to that. And I was wondering if you could - could you elaborate a little bit?
A) Yes. Itís interesting because when I was speaking they asked me about it. And in my research I found out that, you know, itís something - well first of all the actual diagnosis of a syndrome is very well according to the Psychologist that I spoke with. But the symptoms are common in the sense that high achievers, at times, struggle with their own gifts. And so from my research, you know, they talked about therapists and psychologists going up to places like Harvard and going up to Cambridge and talking to these, you know, super gifted folks, you know. And then explaining this syndrome and what not. And, you know, basically the room falling silent because these people had at some point struggled with it. Because you are so good at what you do, you know, you sometimes doubt yourself. I guess is what the article is pointing to. You know, but even actors in my research - actors and actresses like Michelle Pfeifer and, you know, other folks who are, you know, super talented award winning - Kate Winslet was another actress - a name that came up, struggle with this syndrome. And I guess, you know, all the time I talked to actors in the past who have said, you know, they struggle with believing themselves. I think sometimes the whole syndrome is kind of a big diagnosis to get your head around. But I think if you talk more in terms of self doubt, you know, whether you - whatever a point of success you, you know, find yourself - I think that itís much more common and much more, you know, a concept that we can grasp. And so I think we all struggle with self doubt but I would hope that we all also find the courage in ourselves to overcome it, if that makes sense.
Q) As an actor you are always being judged. You have to face rejection a lot as an actor. Did that help you relate to the character?
A) I think thatís a good - Iím glad you asked that because I think that as an actor you almost become really resilient to criticism and I mean rejection. In the since that like, you know, if you donít get the part you havenít gotten the part. Like you have been down that road before. You know how to react. You get back up on your feet and keep moving. So in a way I think being an actor can make you confident or more confident than certain other professions where you are not challenged or you are not rejected as much. If that makes sense.
Q) You are going to be working a lot with TK this season who is obviously dealing with a post traumatic stress disorder. Did you do any research into that or how did you deal with this story line knowing it is such a controversial one?
A) You know what, I was more focused on, again, my charactersí issue. Than TKís. And so, you know, even when I, you know, my character was introduced in the episode that aired last night - I donít really have a knowledge of TKís background. You know, in terms of Damon. So I wasnít particularly playing, you know, that I know that TK has PTSD and all that kind of stuff. I was more so staying in the moment and staying in the short line of each individual script if that makes sense. Because I think that, you know, the episode goes on you see other issues come up in players which is actually really cool. But I think for Damon and for me the focus is really on, you know the syndrome. The self doubt, and dealing with the results of it all.
Q) What is your favorite and least favorite aspect of putting back on the shoulder pads and stuff and returning back to the football field?
A) I know itís really cool, you know, I remember when I did the pilot for that. I hadnít played high school football and so you know the pads were bulky and trying to figure out how they all work. And, you know, trying to get into gear so to speak. And so, you know, returning to the field to portray Damon on Necessary Roughness was actually, you know, the learning curve was much shorter. You know, in terms of just feeling comfortable in the pads. Feeling comfortable on the field. You know, shooting - we shoot in Atlanta. And, you know, Atlanta and Austin are not necessarily the same in weather. But you know we are on the field one day and it is a 190 degrees and people are like oh my gosh. And Iím yes. So in a sense I was - I had the experience just kind of get past some of the challenges that I think some actors maybe fleeing from New York or L.A. to do something that, you know, they havenít really worked in those kind of conditions. They havenít had to you know get on the show and put on the pads and really get in the physical space of their character, you know. That was not a challenge for me. So I guess that was the good part. I canít really think of anything, you know, like negative. I would just say that you know, it was just good to have that experience because it has just helped me, you know, it has helped me get into a role that much easier.
Q) So what has been your favorite aspect of being on the show and why? The interactions that Damon has with the various characters like Dr. Dani, Matt and TK. Playing football on screen again. Getting to play such a complex character.
A) I think yes, probably getting to play a character again that is different than what people see me as. In terms of, you know, playing Smash and that kind of thing. I, you know, I am really very into research and very into like, you know, taking notes and calling contacts and people. And, you know, picking at brains and asking questions. And, you know, the research to me is probably one of the most fun aspects of acting because when you have the research down you have a framework to rely on. And then you can really kind of take risks and go places because you grounded all of your research and your understanding of who the character is in a reality that gives you the flexibility to kind of play. And go places that, you know, maybe you wouldnít go if you werenít sure, you know. So I think the research is probably one of my favorite things to do. And, you know, itís challenging going into a guest star role - particularly on an established show because itís like getting on a moving train, you know. The show is already well oiled. The characters and relationships are established. The rhythm of how things work are established. Usually the director who is coming in to do the episode - actually I was very fortunate coming on because (Kevin Dowling) who is an executive producer actually directed my episode. So, I didnít have to, you know, kind of learn the set and learn the new director. I just kind of had to join in to that family and that rhythm that is the production. So, that was great. So I would also say another positive thing was, you know, just being able to get to work with people who were very gracious and, you know, help me to just find my way. Which is a real blessing, you know.
Q) Speaking about the scene between TK and Damon I know that they were hosting together and I am thinking about a specific one that takes place during a party at TKís. Which makes me wonder, could you tell us a little bit more about how Damon will or wonít be corrupted so to speak about this world he just entered and how he will cope with that.
A) Yes. That is a really good question. I think that while - excuse me, itís easy to see how the rivalry between these two wide receivers. What ends up happening is you get more of sort of a friendship that develops and almost a brotherhood develops. And in a sense thatís grounded in reality because, you know, I am entering this new fraternity that is the New York Hawks and TK is my guide. You know, Damon's guide. And so, you know, just as much as Damon is, you know processing and figuring out how to deal with his past, he is also learning how to deal with his present with TK. And so in that part scene you see sort of a mentor mentee sort of relationship developing. And Damon has to decide whether the life that is presented for him by TK is the life he wants to live. And I believe that is probably - not two or three episodes from now. Yes, and it is something that is really - I think it was probably one of my favorite kind of moments in their interaction because you do start to see the respect. And the need that these two have for each other. Because I think also, you know, somebody asked me about the PTSD question. And, you know, I donít know that, you know, Iím just saying this sort of in my own experience. But, you know, sometimes when you help somebody else like TK is helping or mentoring or leading Damon you benefit from that. So in a sense I think the relationship might also be healing for TK like okay let me shepherd this young guy. And in a way that kind of helps me along with my own issues. I am reluctant to say that because I donít know, you know, what (Kyleís) perspective is but I could imagine that could be the case.
Q) I think Iíve read that you are not really the hugest football fan and I am wondering what are some of your favorite sports and some of your favorite teams.
A) Oh my gosh. Well, I donít know where you read that. But I will say that when I began FNL, yes I wasnít too into football. But now, I mean, you know, seven years later FNL and necessary roughness, itís like come on. But, yes. I like football. Iím really into basketball right now. I mean, how could you not be. I mean Iím just really, really into basketball. Iím more of a gym rat. Iím in the gym four or five days a week. I love endurance sports like the iron man and you know, all that kind of stuff - triathlons. I was actually trying to train for this triathlon coming up this month. But I started working on Necessary Roughness and I said thatís not going to happen. But in the future I hope to get around to competing in one.
Q) Earlier you were talking about the potential brotherly relationship that will exist between Damon and TK.
A) That was really great because it was at the end of the day. And I should say that - I think, you know, when you shoot TV film as I am sure most folks know who, you know, is that you shoot one location that whole day. Or you try to shoot out that location in a day so all the stuff in the dome was shot in the same day. So all of like the catching scenes, you know, where he is doing the drills and the gauntlet. You know, all of that was shot in the same day. But at the end of the day we shot the race scene. I think that was my first scene with him. Yes, that was my first scene with him because before that I was just with the, you know, with the other combine actors who were, you know, portraying the combine and all that. So it was just kind of cool to have that first introduction of working with him. And we were, you know, just kind of - I mean honestly I was really looking forward to the kind of rapport that we would have and everything. It was really interesting too because having played Smash and now looking at TK there was a thing in my mind where I had to be like, okay - remember you are Damon.
Q) He had to suppress his Smash.
A) Because the Smash wants to come out you know. But itís like okay wait a minute, you know, you are Damon now. Okay I got it. And so the race was cool because it was like I said our first initial sort of meeting on screen. And, you know, just setting off that rivalry and that relationship was a lot of fun.