Not everybody can be a successful Hollywood actor. But some can easily transition in and out of film and television. One of the actors that’s able to do that flawlessly is Dylan McDermott. He’ll be appearing in Antoine Fuqua‘s latest intense action thriller Olympus Has Fallen co-starring alongside an all-star cast. He got to chat with us about working on the film, his career at this point and what he’s working on next.
It has to be a lot of fun playing a villainous traitor type of character in Olympus Has Fallen.
Dylan McDermott: Yeah, there is something about it that’s pleasurable somewhere as an actor. You don’t get arrested, you don’t get thrown in jail and you don’t get killed. It’s fun to be the bad guy because you exorcize some of those demons inside of you. I enjoyed it… You always have to play the white knight, do the right thing and in this I get to f–k it up, do whatever I want to do.
One of the things I like about your character is that he has one of the sweeter story arcs, without spoiling anything, because he’s got a lot of connections when it comes to dealing with the president, dealing with Gerard Butler’s character. Even though he’s doing this for money he still has that part of his conscious where it’s like should I be doing this?
Dylan McDermott: Well I think also politically he believes that America is going down the wrong road. He talks about it with the president, globalization, buying of the presidency, and I think that a lot of those things are true. I think he justifies it somewhere. The money is good but there’s also a reason for it as to why he turned. He felt like it was all going to s–t.
Gerard Butler and yourself share a number of scenes in this movie. It must have been fun going toe-to-toe against him.
Dylan McDermott: That’s the great thing about acting is that you get to do stuff you never would do in normal life. So again a nice fight scene, you don’t get to do too much of that in life. Maybe when I was a kid but not now. We had fun. Antoine [Fuqua] keeps it very tense. He keeps it very alive and he keeps that pressure on everybody. So it was a pressure cooker movie, so everybody was really amped up. I think that’s what shows on screen.
You spend a good chunk of the time in the Crisis Room with everybody. I was told it felt very much like a theater stage in there in a sense just with everybody in that one room. And the actors were very much into their characters.
Dylan McDermott: There’s just great actors on this movie. It was just fun to kind of walk into that gauntlet. I was actually doing two movies at the same time. I was doing Behaving Badly with Selena Gomez. I’d fly back here, shoot that and then go back there and do my scenes for Olympus Has Fallen. That was a comedy and this was a heightened drama. To fly back and forth… It was just like a dream come true for me. So I loved it. I loved walking onto a set and figuring it out, laying down your own scent as you walk in there. This is what I’m doing. You do what you do and we’re all doing it together but it’s very heightened atmosphere.
Was it easy to transition back and forth, especially when you’re going back into a comedy after acting through a heavy drama.
Dylan McDermott: I loved it. I did it before when I was.. I did Wonderland and The Practice at the same time. So that was also… My mind kind of works that day where I paid this guy, whenever I was doing The Practice, to stay in my room and play chess because I wanted to have that ability to use my mind because I feel like I need that kind of stimulation sometimes. One thing’s not enough. So I enjoy that part where I can split and play one character and then play another character, especially at the same time.
So you’re incredibly busy with all sorts of acting jobs at the moment.
Dylan McDermott: I’m doing a pilot right now.
You’re doing a pilot right now?!
Dylan McDermott: In between when I’m doing this press conference. You see, again, two things at once.
Well I mean it’s got to be a nice little break, talking about this movie and getting your mind off the pilot. What is it?
Dylan McDermott: It’s in New York. It’s called Hostages. It’s with Jerry Bruckheimer on CBS. It’s basically me and Toni Collette. So we’ll see. You never know with these things.
And that’s one of the things I like about you as an actor too is how you get yourself into these roles and continue to push yourself.
Dylan McDermott: I like that though. I never feel like I arrived. I feel like once you’ve arrived as an actor that’s when you get bad. Nobody knows the answers. Acting is a very jealous lover and you always have to kind of be very gentle with it and say listen, I don’t know, let’s try to work this out together. But once you say you know what? I know, that’s when it kind of turns on you a little bit. It’s one of those things where you have to be very cautious about. We’ve seen many great actors go down very bad avenues. I know it’s a process. I never think I have it down, so I always respect it. I always respect it and say okay, what do I have to discover now? What do I have to do? And I always go back to my work.I always go back to my acting teacher. Once I go back to him, it gets very real because he reminds me in my head that I have to continue to do the work.
It’s good to see that you don’t get too comfortable or too thick-headed in thinking that oh, I’m this big movie and television star.
Dylan McDermott: Because to me I never became an actor to be famous or to make money. I did it because I love it. I still love it. That’s where I get my joy from. I get turned on by the process of acting. Maybe not so much when I even watch it, but in the doing of it, I enjoy it. It’s probably the same for you. Maybe you enjoy this more than the actual writing of it or the article coming out.
I’ve always been curious when it comes to the world of acting in stuff in general because I’ve seen people try and make it or fail, all those different kind of scenarios.
Dylan McDermott: Yeah, because you can be disposed of. I think that’s the danger of being an actor, especially in Hollywood, is that people are disposable, unfortunately. There’s a lot of casualties that go with this business and it’s sad to watch and it’s hard to watch. You always think, is that me? Then why be a casualty or of course that’s always in the back of your mind somewhere because that’s happened so many times that you can’t help but think that.
There’s always that possibility. Do you do anything else on the side creatively?
Dylan McDermott: I take pictures. I’m actually going to have a show in Montreal in May, my first show. I love taking pictures and this is the one place where I show the world how I see it. My angle of the world and so my pictures sort of reflect that somewhere. I also did a show with Mark Seliger, a great director of a show called Capture. You can watch it on the web. It’s the three of us and we’re talking about taking pictures and it’s a lot of fun.
Have you ever consider trying to maybe direct something?
Dylan McDermott: I wrote a script. I’ve been trying to get financing for it for forever. It’s just one of those things where I suppose if it happens, it’ll happen correctly. I would like to do that before I get out of here is to direct that movie.
Do you see yourself continuing on with acting till the end of your days or do you want to eventually branch out into something else?
Dylan McDermott: I think I will, as long as I love it. When I don’t love it anymore then I’ll stop but I still love it. They keep hiring me, so I guess I should just take the ride.
It’s always fun talking to somebody who’s doing several different things at once. You’re always curious about how do they balance their time, do they get any free time?
Dylan McDermott: I know. Well fantasy’s very attractive, you know what I mean. It’s like wow… you can just go away into this little world. This little pocket. That’s what’s so cool about acting. You can disappear into a character or a time and live that world.
Is there any sort of character or genre or something like that you’re kind of hoping to maybe tackle someday?
Dylan McDermott: Well, I mean with The Campaign, a comedy that’s so great, an intense thriller with Olympus Has Fallen, back to comedy with Behaving Badly. The Freezer was a little bit of both, comedy and drama. Mercy is horror. American Horror Story is of course, it’s own animal. I really do try to push myself in all areas, just to see if I can do it. So that’s what I’ve been experimenting lately. It’s like okay, put me in a situation, let’s see what happens.
Olympus Has Fallen comes out in theaters on March 22nd.