From milwaukee to Tinseltown
On any given day, Milwaukee-born Brandon DeShazer is knocking on doors in Hollywood in search of roles. Recently, that hard-to-breach portal swung open. DeShazer, a 20-something actor who attended Marquette, already knows the ins-and-outs of show business because he’s been modeling and acting since childhood. Yet it was still exciting when he recently got the nod to act as police detective Harry on the long-running soap opera “Days of Our Lives.” His premiere episode launched Aug. 1.
How did you land the role?
It was a typical audition. The casting director, Marnie Saitta, actually kicked a guy out of her office for being unprepared, which I had never seen before but really respected. That was enough for me to break into a cold sweat. I actually auditioned for a different character that I didn’t quite fit, but it was a chance to be seen by the show’s casting directors. So I read the script for Saitta and she called my manager, saying she wanted me to meet the executive producer of “Days.” Within two weeks I was filming. It was a very quick process.
Explain your role and how long it is expected to run.
I step into the role of Harry, a savvy police detective and the go-to guy for anything that needs to be traced. He’ll not only find it, but will do the impossible by solving a crime from his living room… There is no telling how long the character will be on, so I’m hoping my fans and those of “Days” will enjoy it. The fans are really the ones who decide how long I remain. So blog and write in to NBC!
Were you nervous the first day on the set? And how were you received by the rest of the cast, especially the old-timers?
I actually wasn’t nervous at all because everyone was so welcoming and they are like a family. From the moment I pulled onto the NBC lot, everyone was so accommodating. When I got to the set, the stage manager took me to my dressing room and on the door was a note that said, “Brandon, welcome to ‘Days Of Our Lives,’” and then in pen was written, “…for the rest of your life.” It was really funny. On my first day, I filmed with Kristian Alfonso and Josh Taylor, who play Hope and Roman. It was incredible because I remember watching these characters with my grandma, when I was 5 years old. It was surreal.
Is it hard learning the lines?
I have never had more respect for a group of actors than soap actors. Their intuition, their timing, their ability to nail every line without a second take. I call it boot camp for actors. You usually get the script the night before, you get rewrites the next morning. From 8-8:45 a.m., you do a blocking run-through and by 9 a.m. you start shooting. It is very impressive. When making a film, you average about eight pages of script dialogue per day. With a soap, it is about 15 pages of script dialogue per hour. An episode a day, you can’t afford to screw up.
What do you love about acting?
Everything. I love that I get to do something that many won’t dare to do, which is explore the many personalities and emotions that exist in all of us. It a very cathartic career. It blows my mind that I get paid just to be me and explore those personalities.
Did your parents/teachers/friends encourage your acting career?
I had many who encouraged and many who tried to discourage me. Even now, I have people who say, “When you’re done with this acting thing…” I had a show on PBS as a kid, but it wasn’t until high school that I knew I was going to be an actor.
What other roles have you had in movies or TV, and which was the most memorable.
The year started off with a guest spot on one of my favorite shows, “Nip/Tuck.” I then went into production on a film called The Thacker Case, opposite Eliza Dushku and Gabriel Mann, and then a film called Jump the Broom opposite Lamman Rucker and two-time Emmy nominee Renee Goldsberry. My most memorable project will forever be when I worked as an extra in Mr. 3000 in Milwaukee. The director sat me directly next to Angela Bassett, the only person that I have ever been star-struck over. She candidly spoke to me between takes and I simply smiled and nodded because I was going into shock and couldn’t hear a word she was saying. It was so embarrassing.
I am thankful for my past but always focused on my future. I have several films coming out this year, as well as next year. I have a newly formed production company, PlainView Entertainment, along with my best friend, roommate and business partner, Erik David, who is on “The Young and The Restless.” Producing my own projects has always been a dream of mine and it is a natural progression for any actor. We have several scripts that we are looking to develop and actually begin filming our first production in October, called “Fat Chance.”