I recently got the chance to talk to Brian F. Durkin about his role in ‘Footloose’. Here, Brian talks about how he got involved in the project in the first place and what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set…
Hey Brian. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘Footloose’.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
Funny you should ask… I’ve not seen it yet, so I’m not sure what was left in and what was left out. Based on the screenplay, it’s very close to the original. Small town southern family with a daughter that likes to toe-the-line. The big city rebel moves to town from Boston and stirs the pot with his “wicked” dance moves. That’s the best I can give you from the screenplay. I missed the Atlanta screening, but my wife Mary Catherine and her friend went and loved it. They are huge fans of the original and actually liked the new one better.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play Big Cowboy. He’s basically a “Good Time Charlie” at a bar waiting for somebody to dance with him. We’ve all been there… guy steps away to use the bathroom and comes out to you dancing with his girlfriend. It never goes over too well.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I showed up to audition here in Atlanta. Craig was there with one other person and when I finished my read, he got up from his chair and was genuinely interested in where I grew up and why I decided to leave Los Angeles and come back to Atlanta. I thought he was just being nice to me since I was the only 6 foot 200 pounder there. Everybody else was huge, and since the role was for “Big Cowboy”, I figured he was just cushioning the blow a bit. A few days later they called me with the offer.
Had you seen the original 1980’s version before you signed onto the project – how would you say the two are different?
Absolutely. Kevin Bacon teaching Chris Penn how to dance has to go down as one of the best montages in film history. The dancing is definitely dirtier and sweatier in the new one, but I think it’s probably the equivalent of the 1980’s maybe. Again, I’ve not seen it yet so I can’t make too many comments regarding similarities and differences.
The film stars Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid, Andie MacDowell and Miles Teller – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set?
I worked with Kenny and Miles and they are both great. My scene was more with Miles and I was amazed at how he stepped into the character. He put his own little polish on the character of Willard. Most of the positives I’ve heard about the film are how he crushed it. My wife is a huge Kevin Bacon fan in the original and she didn’t think she could see anybody else playing Wren, but after she went to the screening, she likes “The Kenny”. He had some big shoes to fill and it sounds like he did. I got to meet Dennis on a few occasions. It took me a while to realize I wasn’t talking to Jerry Lee Lewis or Doc Holiday. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time, and it’s always great to meet the ones you really admire.
Let’s talk a bit about you Brian. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?…
I always wanted to act as long as I can remember, but I never really explored it. I graduated at college with a construction degree and worked for about 2 years and found that 90 percent of my days were spent thinking about Hollywood. It ate at me so badly, that I sold my truck and my Harley, loaded up a Penskey truck and pointed it west. I didn’t know anybody out there, and the first morning I woke up, I wondered, “What the hell have I just done”? I dove into Howard Fine’s acting studio immediately and was studying under Laura Gardner. I knew immediately that I was going to love it and probably stay a while. After 2 months of studying with Laura, Howard came in and saw me do a scene and pulled me into his advanced class. I spent one month in that class and realized quickly that I couldn’t hang with that level of talent. I told Howard I didn’t think I belonged yet, and I think he respected me for that. For me, Howard Fine had just pulled me into his advanced class 2 months after I started acting. That told me that I had something, but I still needed to work to improve it. I asked Howard if I could go back to Laura’s class and he said yes. I studied with Laura for another year or so, then took a personalization class with Marilyn McIntire, and then settled in with Ted Brunetti. Ted can get paint to fall off the walls and start acting. He’s truly an industry gem. I knew I wanted to be an actor, but my time at Howard’s studio really made me want to be one. I was in LA for 3 years before I got my first audition (‘Bobby Jones: Stroke Of Genius’), and I booked it. No doubt class had prepared me.
Plus, like a lot of guys, I grew up wanting to be a cop, lawyer, fire fighter, etc., and being an actor was my only shot at really getting to explore them all.
You’ve been in a number of different TV series’ and films – who has been your favourite actor/actress to work with so far, and which project has been your favourite to be a part of?
Tough one. I’ve worked with some of the greats. Denzel Washington is everything you’d hope he’d be. What a class act. I played Kenneth Branagh’s son in ‘Warm Springs’ and he was amazing. Malcolm McDowell played in ‘Bobby Jones’ with me and I still stay in touch with him from time to time. He plays such hardcore characters, but is a complete teddy bear in real life. Every time I talk to him he calls me a blouse. It’s priceless. Robert Redford directed me “briefly” in ‘The Conspirator’ and that was a lifetime moment for sure. My scene in ‘The Conspirator’ was with Kevin Kline who is somebody I have always admired. I’m sure I’m leaving some out, but I’ve been extremely fortunate in the 10-year career that I’ve had. I’ve spit lines with 4 Academy Award Winners, and that still makes me shake my head.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things could you not live without?
My wife Mary Catherine, my daughter Evelyn Wiley and my dog J. Baker Bay. They get me through the days.
What is currently on your I-Pod right now?
I don’t have an I-Pod. I have all the other MAC family members, but have never really been big on downloading music. I did however just get Pandora Radio, which is a very solid product.
If you could invite three guests to a dinner – (living or dead) – who would you choose and why?
- George Washington – he was the first President, and best
- Albert Einstein – so I could pick his brain
- God – because I have a few questions that I need some immediate answers on
What’s coming up for you in 2011/12?
I actually just booked a small part in ‘Flight’. I start shooting end of the month. It’s Denzel Washington’s new film directed by Robert Zemeckis.
I’m also playing the lead in an episode of ABC’s new show ‘Final Witness’ coming in January. I can’t say anything about it, but it was a great project with a great team of filmmakers behind it.
Thanks for the interview!