Rod Dysinger for T.E.N.
Bryan Friday is a stunt-man/actor who originally hailed from Zanesville, Ohio. His life in the entertainment industry has taken many interesting twists-and-turns over the years. Bryan took the time to sit-down with Rod Dysinger and discusses his TV/film career, including some exciting up-coming developments.
“Sons of Anarchy” (TV series)……………………………………..…2011
“Bones” (TV series)………………………………………….….2007-2011
“Angels & Demons”………………………………………………..…2009
“CSI: Miami” (TV series)………………………………………2008-2009
“Live Free and Die Hard”……………………………………………2007
“Firefly” (TV series)………………………………………………….2002
“24” (TV series)…………………………………….…………………2001
“Seven Nights” (pre-production)…………………….……..Donovan 2013
“Banshee” (TV series)…………………………………….…Randall 2013
“Castle” (TV series)…………………………….……………Thug #2 2012
“Grimm” (TV series)…………………………..……Monroe Creature 2012
“The Amazing Spider-Man”………………………….Tough Guy #4 2012
“Chuck” (TV series)………………………………………………Ted 2011
“Criminal Minds” (TV series)…………………………Adam Werner 2011
“Californication” (TV series)…………………………..…….Cop #1 2009
“Leverage” (TV series)……………………………………….Anatoly 2009
“NCIS” (TV series)………………………….…Captain Felix Wright 2011
Liam Patrick Coyle 2009
Russian Shooter 2008
“The Flight That Fought Back” (TV documentary)…..Todd Beamer 2005
“Walker, Texas Ranger” (TV series)…………………….….….Aldo 1994
The Entertainment Nexus– How did you first get interested in becoming a stunt-man/actor? Growing-up and living in Zanesville, Ohio had to be detrimental in pursuing this type of life. How did living here affect your aspirations to launch your pursuit of a “Hollywood” career?
Bryan Friday – I actually wanted to be an actor when I was a little kid. I watched “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Mayberry RFD” and I saw Ron Howard on the tube. I’m watching him and I guess I said to my Mom “I want to do what that little boy’s doing”. So I was probably only 5 or 6 years-old and that was kind of the first insight into something I thought I wanted to do. I got into high school and college and I was just so into sports…and there really wasn’t an outlet for me here to pursue the acting part of it…living in a small town. I didn’t even do any plays. I didn’t do theater or anything in high school…so it really was put on the backburner. It wasn’t until I got my Degree in Business and I worked in business for a little while…about a year and a half here in Zanesville and I just decided that I wanted to give it a shot. I did some modeling here locally…Elder-Beerman stuff and some commercials and so forth in and around the Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton area. I also did one or two plays here in Zanesville. I kind of got the bug and I said “Let me give this a shot before it’s too late”. So at that point I realized that I had to go to New York or LA. I actually went to New York first and was there for about two weeks…just to check it out and then went out to LA to do the same thing. I realized that LA was a little more conducive to my style of life. The weather…it was just a little more “laid-back” on the West Coast. At that point…I decided to load-up and actually move there.
I didn’t have any contacts, didn’t know anyone per se…and just tried to get an agent…tried to get some headshots. Just basically tried to do what people told me to do. I signed-up for some classes and just tried to pick-up what I could. I was in LA for approximately four months when my manager said “There’s an audition for a live stunt show at Six-Flags”. I said “I don’t know anything about stunts. I’ve never done stunts and I came out here to pursue acting”. He went “Well, you have to “act” too, so go to this audition and check it out”. I went to the audition and there were over 200 guys there. It happened to be for the “Batman Stunt Show” and it was the year when the “Batman” film was going to come-out. The very first “Batman” film with Michael Keaton. I went to the audition with all of those guys and I didn’t know what I was doing “stunt-wise”, but they said “You’ll have to do a “punch/fight” sequence here, then they’re going to ask you to do a little 10 or 15-foot “high-fall” and then a motorcycle thing…which I had covered because I raced motorcycles growing-up, so I had the motorcycle background…and I had to do a monologue. I “nailed” the monologue and I did really well on the fight scene and then they came to the “high-fall”. It was my turn to do it and they said “Bryan Friday?” (raises hand) “Right here”. “You ever done a “high-fall” before son?” “No sir”. “You want to try one today?” “No sir”. “Okay…next!” Then they went on past me. The very last thing was the motorcycle course they had set up. I did the motorcycle course and I just whipped around the course, did some jumps, did some wheelies and some “nose-wheelies” and the stunt-coordinator went “That’s how the course should be run”. That kind of cemented me into…at least the fact that they went “Well, this guy has no résumé, but he can act. He can play “Batman” (laughs) and he can do the motorcycle stunts and we can teach him everything else”. So that was my first really paying job in the industry.
They asked me if I would go to Dallas, Texas to open the show. That was going to be the largest show and they were going to open three…one in St. Louis, one in the Dallas “Six-Flags Over Texas” and then “Magic Mountain” [in California]. The largest one was Dallas and they wanted me to go and open that show first and play Batman. I actually turned it down. I told the manager, “I came out here to study acting and to try to be an actor. I don’t want to get into stunt work and live shows. I want to be on TV and film.” He said “Well, do you have any money?” I said “Um…No, I’ve already been out here only a couple of months and I’m probably three grand in the hole and I have nothing else.” He said “You should take this job. They’re going to fly you, take good care of you, pay your travel…you’ll make great money. They’ll put you up in a place and the whole deal…and then you can come back to LA.” So that ended-up being what I did. At that point, I ended-up doing the commercial for the “Batman” show…so I got my SAG [Screen Actors Guild] card. I got in the union there in Texas and that’s also where I worked on “Walker, Texas Ranger”…which was my first real “speaking” part. I think I did some “extra” work…maybe two or three “extra” parts on “Blossom” and a show called “Love & War”. I had really good screen-time, but I was just like “the guy sitting at the bar” or that kind of thing. My first actual dialogue was on “Walker, Texas Ranger” and I had a little fight scene. That’s what I did in Texas. I spent about 1991-1994ish in Dallas and then I went to Orlando with a bunch of guys. We went down to audition for a live stunt show for “Indiana Jones” (which would be a Disney) and I was too tall to play Indiana Jones and too short to play the giant. I was like in No Man’s Land as far as height went, but they said “We really liked you. You’re great as Indiana Jones. You should stay down here one more day, because they’re going to audition for the Super Bowl.” Super Bowl XXIX which was in 1995 in Miami. I auditioned for that and I ended-up getting the part of Indiana Jones. That was with Patti LaBelle and Tony Bennett. It was a pretty big deal. There were around 800 people in the show altogether, but only about 13 of us were paid. There were dancers and a big choreography of people, but only twelve of us that were actor/stunt people that were in this big sequence of Super Bowl XXIX. Of course, I got to work with Patti LaBelle and Tony Bennett which was a lot of fun. That’s what a lot of [local] people remember, because when I lived in Zanesville…I was still new. I hadn’t lived away from here for very long, so the local media kind of covered my career a lot. Even to this day, people go “Oh yeah! You were in that Super Bowl and you did that Ab-Roller infomercial.” It all happened about that time in Florida. I was down there until early 1997…and then in ’97 I realized I needed to go back either to New York or get back to LA to really get serious about it. I needed to be in a larger market. I did a couple of TV shows in Florida, but just not enough to really keep me going. There just wasn’t that much work down there. There was some commercial work, but not enough TV and film going on at that time. So I loaded back-up and back to LA I went. From ’97 until present-day…my roots are in LA fulltime.
TEN– You originally were involved in more stunt-work than acting roles. Has the transition to acting been difficult and do you miss the “thrill” of the more fulltime stunt-work since you’re doing more acting now?
BF – Stunt-work was great, because it kept me in front of the camera while I was taking classes and trying to improve as an actor (which I’m still doing). Stunts…it’s a different kind of a rush. Yeah! There’s definitely a thing that you get “amped-up” and you’re going to put this car sideways and you’ve got to make sure you don’t hit someone else…or the camera…or another car. You’ve got that excitement or you’re on the motorcycle and you’re gonna jump something or you’re going to do a chase scene or a fight scene. You’re gettin’ ready to go… everyone’s got to get “amped-up” and get your energy up and then “Action!” You’re diving across the table and you’re throwin’ punches, you’re takin’ punches and so forth. Doing a “high-fall” and especially…myself…I’m not a big fan of “high-falls”. The highest I’ve done is four-stories and that’s plenty high for me. I know guys that don’t even get “warmed-up” until they get to about 90-feet up. That’s just not my thing. I remember on “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” I did a four-story “high-fall”. It was a little…you know you can do it…but there’s just that moment where you “step-off” and then you’re kind of in limbo. Yeah!…so there’s that part of it that’s very different. I really enjoyed the stunts, but all along my heart has really been with acting. Stunt work was helpful…it’s gotten me a lot of roles, because a lot of times they don’t want to have to cast an actor and then get a stunt-double to double them. It’s really helped me get some acting roles when the “stunt-coordinator” will put my name into casting and say “Hey, you’ve got this role that has to do a bar-room fight and we also need him to play a bad guy and he’s got five lines. We’ll bring-in a couple of my guys and you can bring-in your actors. You can pick who you want and if you pick your actor over one of our stunt guys, then we’ll get a stunt-double for the actor.” A lot of times that’s helped benefit me. That’s been the transition right there. I’m looking forward to the day when I’ll have MY own stunt double. I won’t feel insecure at all. I’ll be ready to go “Hey! This guy’s making me look good. This is my stunt-double.” I look forward to that day, but right now I still do some action stuff. Every now and then I will stunt-double someone, but it’s very few and far between now where I double anyone. It’s pretty much me playing a character and then maybe I’ll play a cop and drive a car or play a bad guy in a shoot-out and get shot, or shoot someone else, or fall off something or whatever. But then I also have the character that’s involved with it as well, so I’m working with the director and it’s something else that goes on my IMDB [Internet Movie Data Base] page and on my acting résumé. It’s really been beneficial for me and I’ve never had to take another job. With so many actors out there…actually only 5% of actors/stunt-people make our living solely in front of the camera. The rest have to take other jobs to make ends meet, so I feel very blessed. I’ve been really fortunate since I’ve been out there. I’ve never had any other job since I left Ohio, other than doing stunts or acting.
TEN- You recently fought Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) on the subway in “The Amazing Spider-Man”. That must have been a personal milestone for you, especially since you have young sons that would enjoy seeing “Dad” in the film.
BF – Yeah, that was a lot of fun. Andrew Garfield was great to work with. He was a “super-nice” guy and I think we had rehearsal for about a week…leading-up to the actual shooting. Then we had two or three actual “shoot” days. It was a lot of fun and my boys are now into their “Spider-Man” pajamas, etc. Also, in “Entertainment Weekly”…of all the shots, someone e-mailed me and said “Hey! You know you’re in “Entertainment Weekly”? and I said “Really?” They said “There’s a still shot of you running at Andrew Garfield. It’s right before he slings his legs up to “clothesline” you.” So I went to the local drugstore and opened-up “Entertainment Weekly” and sure enough…there it was halfway through the magazine. A nice shot that had my name listed “Bryan Friday and Andrew Garfield”. It’s me getting ready to try to “take-him-out” and of course…he wins! That was a lot of fun too, because that fight scene is very “comedic”. He doesn’t know he has the power after being bitten…and he’s waking-up on the subway. We start a fight with him…picking on the guy. He’s very apologetic as he…kicks our butts (laughs). It’s something I can show my boys and it’s also nice to have a still shot of me with the star of “The Amazing Spider-Man”.
TEN- What are some of your more memorable roles and relationships that you’ve had in films and TV?
BF – Most memorable? Right off…I’m going to the most recent ones. I had a lot of fun on the show “Castle”…which just aired over the last couple months. That show has characters that are very dialogue “witty” and pretty fast-paced. The people that are on a lot of these shows: “Castle”, “Bones” (which I did a lot of stunt-double stunt work on)…it’s very nice to get to hang-out with some of these people on a regular basis…in-between the takes. Same thing with “NCIS”. The characters are so different than the actors. You’ll be working with them and we’re all in character and then on “Cut!”…the next thing you know, you’re talking about your families or you’re talking about baseball, basketball, football…whatever. The person totally changes their persona and they may be super, super funny…which a lot of these guys are…and then their characters are so factual and straight-laced and it’s really fun to get to see the other side of it. “NCIS”…everyone of them…Mark Harmon…actually the whole cast of “NCIS” are some of the nicest people. I come-in as “gueststar for the week” or whatever and they treat you like you’re one of their family…and they’re together every day for seven or eight years. So, it could be very easy for them to kind of give you the cold shoulder or just not really give you a whole lot of attention, but they just welcome you right in. The same with the cast of “CSI”, “CSI:NY”…Gary Sinise for instance. Such really super-nice people. Very “giving” actors…positive and welcoming and all that. Those [casts] kind of stick-out. “CSI”, “CSI:NY”, “Criminal Minds”, “NCIS”, “Castle”…those stick-out in my mind as being really fun casts to work with and you know if you saw them out somewhere…that they would invite you over to sit down with them.
We shot a film called “Premonition” and I was the stunt-double for Julian McMahon and Sandra Bullock was the lead. We were shooting in Louisiana and she was just the warmest person. She pretty much introduced herself to me and then took me around and introduced me to the rest of the cast. Things like that stick in your mind and you remember that this person went out of their way to bring you into the fold and also just “hang-out” with you and sit there and chit-chat and whatever…knowing that they’re such a big star. They have so many films and so much work under their belt, yet they are very giving and welcoming and ready to bring you right into their “family”. So, that was really memorable to work with her.
We shot a film not too far from here, over in Pittsburgh called “Abduction”. That was with Taylor Lautner. That was a lot of fun too. A lot of excitement kind of buzzin’ around with Taylor and Lily Collins (Phil Collins’ daughter) played his girlfriend in the film. Unfortunately, a lot [of my scenes] got cut out. My character actually kidnaps her character in the film and then towards the end…I’m shot in the back by an FBI agent and thrown into an SUV. That was all cut out. John Singleton or someone decided we didn’t need her to be kidnapped, so her character kind of disappears at a certain point…then the next thing you know, she’s sitting in a car and she’s fine. So there’s a big chunk [of story] that got left on the cutting-room floor…which happens sometimes.
I had actually worked with John Singleton before and I almost had one of the lead roles in a film called “Rosewood”…way back when I lived in Orlando. It would have been probably ’96 or so…we were shooting that and I kept making the “call-backs” and they kept bringing me back-in. It was for a central character who was a bad guy…the bad guy that started this big “uprising” in Rosewood, Florida. So it got down to me and Robert Patrick…and Robert Patrick, of course…was a known actor. I had not had any real roles at that point. The Casting Director said “Singleton loved your acting, but he went with Robert Patrick (who had recently done “Terminator 2”). The CA mentioned that in the future I might want to keep the stunt work a secret and I’d be taken more seriously as an actor. So, when I worked on “Abduction”…there was John Singleton and he remembered me (laughs). It was cool to finally get to work with him and say “Hey, I’m still out here, I’m still workin’ on things.” Hopefully, I’m sure I’ll run into him again and he’ll remember me even more now.
I almost forgot to mention Nathan Fillion from “Castle”! He is by far the nicest “star” I’ve ever worked with. An extremely down-to-earth guy. When I recently guest-starred on “Castle”, he spent time between takes hanging-out with us. It was shot outdoors at night and the weather was cold. He could have escaped to his trailer to keep warm, but he chose to stay outside in the cold with us. He has a great sense of humor and really kept everyone “loose” on the set.
TEN- You have an up-coming project that’s really starting to move in pre-production now called “Seven Nights”. Could you fill us in a little bit on it and give us what information you can at this point in time?
BF – In “Seven Nights”, my character is Donovan Chase. He’s a middle-aged real estate agent. He’s got four kids, a wife and a mortgage and things just aren’t going well for him. He really thought he was going to have the “big mansion” twenty years ago. He thought he was going to be well ahead of everything and very wealthy. He was going to be able to take care of his family and send his kids to college…but everything’s just starting to unravel and fall apart. He’s entering a dark period in his life and he is given seven nights and seven wishes to change his life. He is cautioned that if he makes any of these wishes selfishly…that it could be detrimental to many things. He kind of “blows it off”. It’s the outright “Yeah! Whatever!” Things start to happen and he does start to make these wishes on these seven nights. He is contacted by another character, who he finds out…had a similar situation forty years previous to that. [Without telling too much]…this central character is a “cautionary tale”, because he was selfish and these things started to happen to him. Even though he got his wishes…”You Be Careful What You Wish For…Because You Might Just Get It.” It gets very scary and some very unintended things happened when he made his wishes. I’ve got to now make sure how I make my wishes and make sure that I don’t lose all the things that I have. It’s something where you learn valuable lessons. It’s kind of a family thing as well. You have the “family” element and it takes a lot of twists and turns.
We’re shooting here in Ohio. The writer/producer Wendy Mohler lives in Newark, Ohio and I was put in touch with her by another director that I had worked with in Los Angeles on a couple of projects. I knew him pretty well. He submitted me to this writer/producer who I didn’t know and we just started talking and then we found-out that she was still right here in Newark, Ohio and I’m from thirty minutes or so away from there. Grew-up here in Zanesville and we’d never met each other. That really helped, because she wrote this to be in this area. My being raised in Zanesville really lent itself to me playing this role. The more we talked and got to know each other…she told my family the other night…”Bryan IS Donovan. He really is Donovan. He’s got it.” That made me feel really good and it’s nice that we have the “Ohio” connection.
We’re in “pre-production” right now. We’ve still got a few names that we haven’t contracted yet and the project is still growing. We’re going to shoot here. It’s going to be Licking County and Muskingum County entirely. We won’t be shooting anything anywhere else. We still have some casting to do and we still have to nail down exactly who’s going to direct. That will also let us know who some of the other “A-List” actors will be. Hopefully, we’ll have more of this information by the end of January. We’re then hoping to start shooting as early as April. We don’t have an exact “shoot” date and that will all be dependent upon who directs and what their schedule is and what the schedules are of the other actors we bring in. It’s going to be done right here in Ohio and we’re going to use as many Ohio people as we can…extras and some of the crew will be from right here in Ohio as well.
TEN- You’ve been a moto-cross rider for most of your life. Do you see this continuing to be an important part of your roles, because you are so good with a bike and it helps you secure additional roles?
BF – Yeah. More than anything…it’s part of me. My Dad started me riding when I was four and it’s just in my blood. When I’m not working, I still will go to the moto-cross track and ride through the week…once, sometimes twice a week. I also race every weekend, as long as I’m healthy. That’s what keeps me sane. More than anything…this is my pastime, it’s my hobby. As far as “moto-cross” jobs…I have to be honest and say that I bet I’ve only done twelve either films, TV shows, jobs that were motorcycle-oriented. You would think over the years that I would have done so many more because of that skill, but it has put me in connection with people…like stunt-coordinators that know me from moto-cross and then they go “You know what? He could double this guy, or he’s an actor…so he could play this too and do the stunts on this, even though it’s not a motorcycle thing.” It has put me in contact with coordinators that are also moto-cross lovers. For instance, not too long ago, I worked on “Sons of Anarchy”. The stunt-coordinator brought me in to play one of the “Sons”, even though I didn’t have any lines. I had the full-on shot wearing all their garb and rode their bikes. We had a chase scene in which there were cars. I don’t know how many…probably twenty cars, a couple SUVs and I think there were maybe seven or eight of us on bikes. There was gunfire and the whole deal and cars crashing. So there was one area where they needed a couple of us to ride the choppers and make a U-turn and go up over some pretty heavy gravel and dirt and a curb and so forth, so they wanted to make sure it was kind of an “off-road” guy that could kind of “moto-cross” it if he had to. Two of us got to do that particular part of the chase sequence. By doing that, I met some other stunt guys who were on that show that I’d never worked with before. Of course, “Sons of Anarchy” does bring a lot of stunt guys in. Yeah. That was really good. Having the moto-cross background is very, very helpful…especially in getting stunt-roles and who knows…hopefully there will be a motorcycle-role out there where I’ll be acting and I’ll be on the bike as well.