December 19th, 2006 04:08 EST
North Carolina Native Lands Role in DeNiro Film The Good Shepherd
Brendan Bradley is on his way to the big time. A Durham, North Carolina native and recent graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Bradley earned a part in Robert DeNiro’s new film “The Good Shepherd". The film stars Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, and Alec Baldwin.
Bradley talks about his experiences as an actor and what he has learned so far.
Gretchen Ross: What was the audition process for “The Good Shepherd"?
Brendan Bradley” Bernard Telsey is a background casting director for shows like “Law and Order.” I worked with them a bunch to make a quick buck. They were trying to cast for Matt Damon’s Yale school buddies called The Bonesmen, who are members of the Skull and Bones fraternity. They called up every single male between the age of 18 and 24 they had on file to take pictures and fill out a form.
Finally, one day they asked us to dress in the time period as a frat boy from a prep college in the 1950’s. There were 100-200 of us and they were looking for 30 frat boys. They took us five at a time, and I was freaking out because it was a Robert DeNiro directed film.
When we enter the room a man in the corner turns around and it was Robert DeNiro. He was silent and as intense as could be. He would walk up to each guy and take the headshot and resume from him and look at him and say, ‘Thank you,’ and walk to the next guy.
We both studied at the Lee Strasburg institute and he looked at me and my resume and kind of smiled and said ‘Thank you.’ Then they made us sit in a room afterward. A guy comes out with a board with 30 numbers and headshots on it. They called my number for the next round. I did get cast as one of the Bonesmen even though in the final callback there was miscommunication between my agent and me about what I was supposed to wear that day.
I did sit two seats down from Angelina Jolie. It was awesome. She is really sweet and funny. She had her kid on set, Maddox, and he was the best-behaved kid. Matt Damon was not as talkative and Robert DeNiro was quiet and focused. He would never speak above a mumble. He could notice everything. It was fantastic to see his amount of focus.
GR: How did you first become interested in acting?
BB: In school I basically had no direction. My mom was constantly getting me to meet other people. I would do my own thing. I stumbled into technical theater and I was doing some stage managing and some set building, and in the 8th grade, this kid got sick. He had mono and I made fun of him backstage and someone ratted me out and said, “Well, Brendan knows all of his lines.” I got out of class for the day to memorize his part.
The guy ended up showing up that night. Here I had spent the whole day memorizing his lines and he got to do the play. It kind of made me go, ‘I kinda want to try this.’
I took an introduction to theater class in high school. I kind of just stumbled into a community theater, Raleigh Little Theatre. My parents were terrified.
Two years later, I started producing shows outside of high school. I realized I needed to do more with this. I was lucky enough to get into NYU, and went up there. It was just one of those things when you know you are making the right decision.
GR: What was the most valuable lesson you learned while studying at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts?
BB: A really strong training program is nothing more than a trampoline. It will give you every ounce you put into it. If you push into it, it will push back. You have to want it. You have to be willing to fall over and over and over again in order to succeed in your own way, which isn’t necessarily fame or money or glory, but just to succeed in doing good work.
GR: What has been your most favorite and challenging role to play?
BB: The hardest role would have to be Rocky in ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show.’ I went to the audition because a friend of mine from NYU was doing the play. I ended up going to the gym for two hours a day, every day, and three hours on the weekends. I completely changed my diet and dyed my hair.
It was so incredibly demanding, and I was exhausted all the time. I had never put myself through that much physical exertion. It was like being on a varsity team. It’s varsity team and I had to dance in three-inch heels and wear a pink corset.
I wanted to be the Kurt Cobain of the play-I wanted that sexy grunge look. Every guy wants to be him, but only for a day. Nobody wants to live the life of this guy. That was the realm I was going for. I wanted to play that iconic image that we look up too and idolize. It was the only show I have ever been in where people give me their numbers after the show. It was a bizarre experience.
GR: How would you compare working in film and television to theater?
BB: Theater as we know it is dying because we have given up on it. Society is obsessed with the idea of real and reality TV.
People now see theater as one thing, and film and TV as another. If you look at people who have careers, who are legends, they have a theater background because it is the same art form. You have the exact same intensity, passion and connection, the only difference is you have a camera in your face and you are just putting everything into your eyes as opposed to you body.
It is a matter of allowing it to be expression, but it’s the same expression. If you’re playing the piano and you break your right arm, you can still play the piano, you just can’t play the right-handed piece. I am not really interested in reality television. I want to do it all. Film and television both lend something different to telling stories.
At certain times, I feel like this is the right character for film and this is the right character for stage. If I can act and eat, I will be happy. I want to develop enough clout to change the industry. I do not like the business and the way it’s going it’s just going to bury itself. Everyone just wants an overnight success.
“The Good Shepherd" is due out in theaters Friday December, 22. Bradley’s more recent projects include the independent short film, “Home for Good,” directed by Todd Tinkum of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Bradley just finished shooting the film “Kali Ma” in Florida.