"Call Me Adam" chats with rising actor Riley Bodenstab about being on the new CBS series Life in Pieces which will be premiering this fall (starring Dianne Wiest, James Brolin, Betsy Brandt, Colin Hanks, Thomas Sadoski)! We also discuss working with Breaking Bad's Betsy Brandt, starring on NBC's Days of Our Lives as "Cole Hines," FX's Justified as "Derrick Waters," starting his own production company, and just how far he's come in such a short time!
1. The next time we'll see you on TV will be in the CBS series Life in Pieces. In the trailer, you are in a scene with Breaking Bad's Betsy Brandt. How was that experience? Working on Life in Pieces was a really rewarding experience. The entire cast was phenomenal. I am very proud to be a part of it. Betsy Brandt is one of the nicest people I have ever worked with on set. When I first met her in the make-up room, we were cracking jokes and laughing right off the bat. She is an incredible actress, and I look forward to working with her again.
2. Who or what inspired you to become an actor? That's a funny question in some ways, because I never really thought I could ever be an actor. But a girl I had a crush on in high school (who worked with me at one of my many jobs...haha) said she could see me on TV and being an actor someday. I had never acted a day in my life and thought she was actually a bit crazy but was just happy she was paying attention to me. I actually forgot about that until recently.
So no one really inspired me, per se, except maybe her putting it in the back of my head, in some ways. At the time I thought this was so far off base and that she was just being nice, so I didn’t think too much of it. Coincidentally, when I got to engineering school at Santa Clara University, I had to pick a liberal arts class, and the only one left was acting. I signed up for it only because I had to, since nothing else was available. I honestly worried if I would fail the class. I didn’t know if it was a good idea to sign up, since I had never acted and was really bad at memorizing. But they bumped me up a class and gave me the lead in the play. It was the hardest thing I had ever done, that I stuck to, and I’m still not really sure to this day why I did. But I slowly fell in love with acting - especially once we put on the show, and the rush of the performance came over me. By the time the show was up, I was switching my majors to business and communications.
That summer, I went to LA for a very intensive film acting program, and I was hooked.
3. Who do you hope to get to work with both on and off-screen? Wow that's so tough, because there are so many incredible actors I would love to work with. I'd have to say on-screen it would probably be Michael Fassbender. He is so incredibly engaged in every performance he does, and he captivates you like very few people can. I think my experience in gritty indie theater, like playing "Eric Harris" in The Columbine Project, taught me to not just be like the character - but to become the character.
Off-screen, I'd like to work with Darren Aronofsky. I have a few favorite filmmakers, but he is one guy who always goes after the film he wants to make the way he wants to make it, in a great way.
4. You were on NBC's long-running hit Soap Opera, Days of Our Lives in the recurring role of "Cole Hines" (also known as "Bad Teen #2"). What made you want to audition for Days of Our Lives? Bad Teen #2….Nice! I'm impressed you knew that was the original episode character name for Cole...haha. Honestly, when you're starting out as an actor, you pretty much go in on whatever comes your way. Days Of Our Lives is a professional show and the characters, Marnie Saitta (the casting director), always had me read for I responded well to. Not to mention Marnie is a very supportive casting director who doesn’t make you feel like you're just a number. I owe her a lot, as she really saw something in me, and took a chance on me by trying to find something I could play. She brought me in a few times before I got a call, out of the blue, about taking on this character that had the potential to turn into something bigger.
5. I have heard that being on a Soap Opera is some of the best training an actor can get. What have you learned about the craft from being Days of Our Lives? Be ready and be prepared. It moves fast, so you really have to learn how to have everything ready to go and be prepared for anything.
6. You were also on FX's hit show Justified as "Derrick Waters." What did you relate to most about "Derrick"? "Derrick" was a bit of a loose canon, but had a big heart deep down. I think I related the most to his big heart. I don't act on my temper, or even say anything often, as I have a filter and a sharp analytical mind that "Derrick" didn’t have. But none-the-less, those elements of him are very similar to my own fiery emotions. He felt indestructible like many guys at that age. I think if I hadn’t gone through all the hard times struggling to just get by in LA when I got here, I'd probably have that same false confidence about the world as well.
7. In addition to acting, you are also a filmmaker and head up the production aspect of Credence Entertainment. What do you get from film making that you do not get from acting? What is your favorite part of the creative process in making a film? I think the thing I get most out of filmmaking that I don’t get from acting is examining and engaging the psychology of human behavior and story telling. When you're acting, your job is to become the character and bring that to life. You're very focused on finding and preparing the emotional and physical elements as an actor only. Filmmaking really lets me get behind the wheel and blend all of those elements together and drive the ship, if you will, to go to the places I want.
My favorite part of the creative process in making films other than acting is directing and producing.
9. What have you learned about yourself from being an actor and filmmaker? I've learned everything about myself from being an actor and a filmmaker. Ironically, I’ve also changed into a different person as a result of getting into acting. I've learned I am capable of almost anything.
10. What is like to be the boy from Sammamish Washington, living out his Hollywood dreams? Did you always have your sights on film/television or was there a different career path you thought you might take? It's surreal. It's almost hard to say it was my dream, because I never even thought it was an option. I always loved film, but it was a hobby that I couldn’t have imagined could have been my life. I thought I’d get an engineering degree and go into business, real-estate or even architecture. But honestly, I was lost in general. I was already changing my major to business and communications instead of engineering after a couple weeks. I really didn’t know what I wanted. When I found acting, it kinda just fell into my lap. The whole thing became a dream, and it's been a very tough journey. I sacrificed a lot and though I’m finally working, I still have so many challenges and goals to overcome. But if anyone told me when I was 16 that I'd someday be living in Hollywood and acting on TV, I'd say they were crazy and ask what they were smoking...haha.
11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Flight. I always wanted to be a fighter pilot secretly deep down growing up. My uncle was a former Top Gun Navy fighter pilot, and as a kid I actually dreamed about that more than anything. I love to fly - being on planes. I took a few flying lessons growing up. The most amazing and unbelievable experience of my life was when I went skydiving for my 18th birthday. That rush was very similar to being on stage.
12. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what ingredients are you going to put in it? I’d call it Bodes Well. It would have Whiskey, Lemon, Cold Ginger Kombucha Tea - on the Rocks.
13. Favorite way to stay in shape? Pouring cement and hauling dirt...haha. But seriously, I work on my place a lot and run up in the hills. I built my own little cabin. I got in the best shape that way. I’ve kept it up doing little side projects pouring concrete steps or leveling off terraces. I also like going for runs up here in the hills and on hikes. I have a spot where I run to, and I can see all of LA. It reminds me how meaningless I am in the grand scheme of time and life. So that's my other favorite, as it's more than just a work out. It's a serene reminder of how unimportant the daily problems I give credence to really are.
14. Boxers or Briefs? Boxer-Briefs all the way. :)