Why It’s Important To Live In The Moment With Dan Amboyer

I recently had a great conversation with Dan Amboyer. You may know him from his role as Thad Steadman in TV Land’s hit show Younger also starring Hilary Duff or as Prince William in the Hallmark original film William & Catherine: A Royal Romance or in  Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. One of Dan’s most recent films Brawl In Cell Block 99, also starring Vince Vaughn, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. He will also be seen starring in Christmas Hours alongside Mario Lopez and Melissa Joan Hart. Whether the role is big or small Dan believes it’s important to put your heart in it and to fully embrace each moment with gratitude.

Dan and I had a great chat, he’s truly a great person and he loves brunch just as much as I do! Dan is an example of a person who lives their life one moment at a time while still remaining true to yourself. For Dan, it’s important to love what you do and to appreciate the journey.


TTIWIK: We can learn a lot from people we work with, you just recently worked with Vince Vaughn, What was it like to work with him? What did you learn from this experience?

DA:It really interesting because the film was not fully in the genre that most people know Vince Vaughn for, it’s like a really dark, gritty thriller. So I kind of didn’t know what to expect in terms of what he was going to be like, I guess I should start at the end of the story if I am going to get into this. But my very last scene and my last day with him we were both in the makeup chairs next to each other getting our makeup taken off before we left for the day and that was the first time he really opened up to me in a way and really talked to me as a normal person almost and I realized for the time before he really was trying to be this guy, this role, this character and he was trying to create a similar, kind of an energy between us that was appropriate for our two roles. So on set before that, I was a little bit afraid of him, at times. Then all of a sudden once I was done with my last scene I was just another guy and all of a sudden he was really warm and kind, you know sharing all these great stories with me but before that, in the film there is a bit of an antagonistic thing between us so I kind of didn’t know what to make of him. It’s a dark film and it’s pretty scary, he was in a very dark mode for the film which I really appreciated. It was cool to see somebody do that but not in a way that’s showboating, like it was kind of like a quiet thing he did, he just kept to himself in the role and that’s something I took with me. There’s a way to stay in the right place to shoot a role, a dark project like that without trying to draw attention to yourself and just keep that focus, I appreciate that.


TTIWIK: You’ve played a lot of different characters, is there a character that you could relate to, where you saw a little a bit of yourself in?

DA: It’s interesting because when I was studying acting, when I was in college, I had a great teacher who told me that all the characters, you just have to approach all of these characters, live inside of you and it’s like pulling back curtains to reveal them, parts of you. So I feel like all the characters have parts of me, but they are really different, in Younger, I was lucky to play twins in one part of the show, the main one was a Wall Street douchebag who’s aggressive and that’s not my natural state, so I found it was really fun to find that within myself and I really try to do that for each role. I just worked on a Christmas film with Melissa Joan Hart and Mario Lopez and in that film I am kind of comic relief, like really dopy, kind of dumb as a rock but a really sweet gentle brother. I loved that I don’t play this all the time, this really sweet-natured guy so it’s really fun to play something different from you and to kind of explore yourself in a way by exploring these characters, these people can live inside of you.


TTIWIK: You probably learn a lot about yourself?

DA: It really is, acting can be therapy and all that but it’s cool too, I feel like your empathy grows by trying so many different roles and playing people from different walks of life. I played Prince William, I was playing royalty.


TTIWIK: That’s not bad…

DA: Yeah, I know but I am from Detroit. So it’s cool to really, you know see other walks of life and understand that royalty is awesome and amazing and all that but with the pressures that go along with that are, what someone like that would go through.


TTIWIK: They’re still people, they go through the same emotions and worries…

DA: Yeah, under a microscope, everybody is watching you and judging you. There’s always a different side to it, underneath something that can look just glamorous.


TTIWIK: You started in theatre, what aspects of your theatre life have you brought into the roles you play in film and TV?

DA: I feel you know, a lot of actors don’t go to school and I was really excited by the training of it. When I started out I really just wanted to do theatre, I loved the chameleoning…if that’s a word?!! Into different people. I grew up going to Stratford and one of the things that I loved was that those actors knew three plays at the same time so they were in repertory and they are doing a Shakespeare a night and a musical in the afternoon. They’re constantly challenging themselves, I always thought that was really exciting so by going in theatre school and being stretched you’re kind of, stretching yourself to the farthest capabilities possible and playing a huge range of roles was exciting to me. I think that’s helped me to be able to do that and translate it into film and figure out how to make it smaller and not obvious.


TTIWIK: Is it because in theatre everything has to be bigger so people can see it?

DA: Right, there’s a slightly different energy, that’s required for it and in school also learning, like if I hadn’t gone to school and taken my accent class very seriously, you know Prince William might not have happened


TTIWIK: Sometimes you have to take the things that don’t seem so important seriously in life because later on, you will think oh, I could have used that!

DA: Definitely, you never know when it’s going to trickle back and really be a vital tool.


TTIWIK: What was it like growing up for you? Did you hope that you would be living the life you have now?

DA: It’s funny because growing up I always loved doing plays and I was always so hungry to do just whatever experience there was. I really wasn’t judgemental of what it was, I was like I will do it. Really my focus was, that if I can make a living as an actor, even just going from regional theatre to regional theatre I would be happy. No, I never really imagined the film and TV thing, it’s such an awesome world. I am also glad, I wasn’t aiming for that because I think maybe my intentions are good coming into it, it’s more about the work and not about hustling for the attention all the time, or whatever that is.


TTIWIK: I think it’s for the love of it, when you are doing something creative you have to continuously love it otherwise it’s just not there…

DA: Yes, because, the work, the creating of a film or a TV show with the people around you that’s what I love doing, I think it’s so fun. That’s what’s great about doing TV or films is that you get to share with people and experience it with them in a way because now we have social media, you can engage and respond to people and kind of have a talk-back in a way, get to know people’s responses a little bit which is a cool new thing that our modern world has brought to us.


TTIWIK: What do you do to prepare for a role? Do you follow the same process each time or does it depend on the character?

DA: It kind of depends on the character for me. To go back to the Prince William role, that was a very challenging moment because when you are playing someone who is a very well-known real person and there’s a lot of footage out there of him and people are very aware. You kind of have to…there’s a responsibility to honour this living person and portray them in a respectful way but at the same time play them in a slightly heightened fictionalized story. So there is a little bit of freedom that comes with that because everyone knows that they are watching a movie not the real person. For him I watched a lot of stuff on YouTube and I kind of created a specific vocabulary of, even just some of the gestures he had, or a couple of the ways he spoke that I can kind of peppered it into a performance without just trying to imitate someone. So there’s little things that people would recognized as him, like little simple things, the camera picks up on the way you move your head or they way you look up. So I can get as specific as that kind of thing but when you play…I love to do Shakespeare and play some of the great roles in the Shakespeare Canon and with that comes a lot of freedom because people aren’t as familiar with all the performances of the different roles and you can just kind of be that character without having to be a recognizable person.


TTIWIK: What was the response when you played William?

DA: The response was interesting because there’s a lot of people who really liked it because they picked up on the subtleties I put in but also it was funny because afterward I had so many audition stuff coming my way for British characters and everyone thought I was British for a while, so that was funny. But there was other people who were like oh you don’t look like him and that’s not something I really stressed myself out with because I was cast in the role and I look how I look and they thought I was their guy so it really wasn’t my place to worry about that.

But as far as other roles, I just did three films back to back and I really like to take my time with scripts, to learn, them and to explore them before I have to be on a set but this summer it was really kind of intense, I didn’t have the luxury to do that. I shot something and then a day later I had to be on set for something else. I had to adapt my, in a way my theatrical approach to these roles by really exploring the whole heart of a character within a story and kind of make it much more specific to what do I have to accomplish for tomorrow? What do I have to know about all these scenes? Where we are in the story to really give my all to this scene.


TTIWIK: Were the characters all really different in personality?

DA: Yeah, they really were, one character was a school teacher saving elementary school-aged children from a gunman and the next one was a very privileged kind of young mogul, kind of in the vain of my Younger character a little bit, then the character after that was the dopey loveable donut eating brother of Melissa Joan Hart in a Christmas film.


TTIWIK: That’s quite the contrast

DA: Yeah, they were really different but I really loved doing that and I think honestly sometimes I confuse people as an actor. There are so many actors that you can see, you know they do one thing and they do it awesome and you know what to expect but when you play a variety of roles it can be a little confusing to people.


TTIWIK: What would you tell yourself 5 years ago that you know now? What’s one or two things you wish you knew?

DA: I think the hardest thing ,specific to being an actor is, especially when you are young and you are starting in the industry is that you never know when your next job is going to come. When it’s going to come, there’s always that stress of will there be another job, will it happen, you know can you create a life and a career out of it so it would be amazing to tell myself 5 years ago just don’t stress out about it so much. To enjoy the ride of it all. That’s one thing I have kind of learned about my career which I am pretty good at now. To really enjoy each day and filming each scene and creating each new friendship with the cast, director or someone on the production team. To really enjoy it as much as possible in the moment because that’s the reason to do it. That would be my thing, to know that it’s all going to be all okay and the more you can enjoy the moment the better of you will be. Kind of the more ease you have doing it the more people might want to work with you too.


TTIWIK: What’s your idea of the perfect day?

DA: My perfect day would be, I love omelettes, I love breakfast, I would have a giant waffle, a big omelette and then I would go spend a day working on the set of a great TV show and then I would go do a play, a great off broadway play maybe that night and then I could come home to all the animals  (Dan has two cats and a parrot) and we would chill out and watch the new season of House Of Cards.


That sounds like a good day to me! Anything that involves breakfast or brunch food. That’s always good. I can have that all day!


Dan recently got married! Congratulations!!

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Hanifa Sekandi

Founder & Editor-in-Chief Follow Me on Instagram @thethingsiwishiknew

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