"Call Me Adam" chats with Gregg Daniel, actor and Artistic Director of Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble about starring on HBO's True Blood for the past 4 seasons, his stage work including this summer's run of Romeo & Juliet at Shakespeare Center of L.A., and being the Artistic Director of Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble.
True Blood airs every Sunday on HBO at 9pm.
1. It's the final season of HBO's True Blood and you are back on as "Reverend Daniels." What initially made you want to be part of this Emmy Award winning show? One of the factors which drew me to the show was learning that writer producer, Alan Ball had created it. I'm an absolute devotee of Alan's work since he created, SIX FEET UNDER. He's an outstanding writer and possesses a fine sense of creating drama for television. I knew if Ball was involved, it was going to be high quality.
2. What has been the best part about being on the show for 4 seasons? What will you miss the most? One of the best parts of being on the show for 4 seasons is seeing how each character’s story line is being developed by our writers. I’m in awe of how our writers introduce key story elements and how those elements will alter the lives of our characters in future episodes. One of the many things I’ll miss about the show is the camaraderie among the actors, crew, office staff, etc. Every member on the True Blood team is focused on creating the best possible episode/season we can. To be in the company of so many dedicated and consummate professionals is inspiring!
3. What do you identify most with about "Reverend Daniels"? I like to think of "Reverend Daniel’s" as an ordinary man caught up in extraordinary circumstances. I identify with his fierce loyalty and the compassion he feels for compassion for Lettie Mae as well as for the town of Bon Temps. Daniels tries to face even the most difficult circumstances with faith and unconditional love.
4. This summer you're starring in Shakespeare Center of L.A.'s production of Romeo & Juliet as "Lord Montague." What makes you most excited about being back on stage? What makes working in theatre and being on stage exciting is the interaction between the audience and the performer. No other art form has anything quite like it. There’s a new and different audience every night to perform for. In the theatre, an actor can feel the audience’s interest and attention, it’s a amazing, unpredictable alchemy which fuels our performance!
5. In addition to acting, you are also the Artistic Director of the L.A. based Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble. Why did you want to become the Artistic Director of a theatre company? What do you get from this venture that you do not get from acting? Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble was founded by a group of theatre artists who wanted to keep their instruments sharp as well as to work with writers, actors, directors and designers we admire. Rather than waiting for a phone call to be invited to do something creative, we decided to create our own theatre company to mount plays we cared about. My colleagues chose me as the Artistic Director along the way. However, we make all our decisions in a very collaborative way.
6. From film to television to stage, you have acted in every medium. What do you like best about performing in each medium? The amount of people who can access an actor’s work through film and television is extremely satisfying. I’m constantly meeting fans who saw my work on a sitcom, episodic or feature film decades ago. I also enjoy the challenge of working in front of the camera. While you want your performance to be contained (since the camera is right there), it still needs to be charged, so your internal clock is needs to working overtime in order to keep the intensity. As I as stated earlier, theatre offers the thrill of working in front of a live audience nightly. Your performance changes ever so slightly depending on what the audience is giving you.
7. Who or what inspired you to become an actor? It was the love of language which first drew me into acting. My family had a volume of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets sitting around our house. I remember when I first opened it and began to say the words. I had no idea what they meant but it was something about the poetry which thrilled me. Later on, when I heard a trained speaker reciting classical language, I was hooked. I wanted to be able to sound like that and on reflection, be that character as well.
8. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? On our show, I’ve always wanted to work with Anna Paquin more, we rarely have scenes together. I just love what she does with the character of "Sookie," Anna makes what is an intensely complex character seem sweet and simple. In the larger realm of working with actors, there are a host of people whose work I admire and would some day like to work with, to name a few - Viola Davis, Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Christophe Waltz, etc.
9. What's the best advice you've ever received? I’ve been lucky enough to have received support and encouragement on my journey as an actor from many sources. Beginning with my parents and continuing on to teachers, fellow actors & directors I’ve worked with, the advice has always been the same, "pursue your dreams."
10. What have you learned about yourself from being an actor? I think I’ve discovered from being an actor that I’m actually a shy, quiet and thoughtful individual. I’d much rather stay at home reading a book. However the side of me that wants to share stories and characters I care about can only be expressed when I’m acting. It takes a certain amount of courage to be an actor, I’m glad I can find that courage when I need it!
11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? If I chose to have a super power it would probably be flying. The thought of defying gravity and being able to soar among the clouds is very appealing. On a practical level, being able to fly would help navigate around Los Angeles traffic.
12. If you could be any original flavor lifesaver, which flavor would you be? The one flavored Lifesaver I’ve always loved is, CHERRY. The taste and the color outshines all others.
13. How do you want to be remembered? Other than wanting to be remembered as a kind and decent human being, I’d like to be remembered as an actor’s actor. Someone who my peers thought was talented and brought honor to the craft of acting.
Actor/Director Gregg T. Daniel returns for the final season of HBO’s True Blood as the wise and sympathetic Reverend Daniels, marking his character’s fourth season on the Emmy winning series. With over 100 credits in film and television, Gregg’s roles span the spectrum from comedy (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Weeds) to drama (The West Wing, Castle, Desperate Housewives) to procedurals (NCIS), science fiction (Star Trek: Voyager) and children’s shows (Austin & Ally, Kickin’ It). Big screen credits include Spiderman 3, Hancock, Mars Attacks, Evan Almighty, Pump Up The Volume, and White Men Can’t Jump.
An accomplished theatre director, Gregg is the Artistic Director of the Los Angeles-based Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble, and was nominated for a 2013 NAACP Image Award for helming the Los Angeles production of Kwame Kwei-Armah’s Elmina’s Kitchen, which also won the NAACP Award for Best Ensemble for 2103. Prior to that, his stage direction included 2009’s acclaimed production of Tom Stoppard’s Heroes, Sybyl Walker’s Beneath Rippling Waters, Lee Blessing’s Cobb, and Frank McGuinness’s Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me. Gregg also directed the world premiere of solo performance artist Joyce Guy’s War Stories at the Los Angeles Theatre Center and at St. Mark’s Church in New York. For Theatre 150 in Ojai, California, he directed Athol Fugards’ Sizwe Bansi, Diana Son’s Stop Kiss, and the 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner, I Am My Own Wife by Doug Wright.
A trained theatre actor from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Gregg's previous stage acting credits include the Williamstown Theatre Festival (Back Country Crimes, Gogol), The Mark Taper Forum (Joe Turner’s Come and Gone), the Pasadena Playhouse (Jitney), Actors Theatre of Louisville (Master Harold), Hartford Stage Company (Peer Gynt), and South Coast Repertory (Fences, Death Of A Salesman).
A native of Brooklyn, NY, Gregg Daniel resides with his family in Los Angeles.