I spoke with BREA GRANT about DEXTER, her comic book miniseries and so much more. Brea will be starring as Ryan Chambers, Masuka’s intern, in Dexter this season on Showtime. It was a pleasure to speak with her and make sure you follow Brea on twitter, @breagrant. Don’t miss the season premiere of Dexter tonight.
Lena: How did you get started in acting and writing?
Brea Grant: I was in Grad school for history and I decided I wasn’t as good at it as I thought I would be so I decided to pursue acting instead. It was something that I liked as a kid. You know that moment where you have to figure out what it is that you want to do with the rest of your life well I decided to go back to acting. I just went to Los Angeles and started auditioning. Writing is something that I’ve always done. It’s a nice outlet.
Lena: When you first began acting, what were some of the biggest challenges that you had to deal with?
Brea Grant: I came to Los Angeles with nothing on my resume. One of the biggest challenges was trying to balance everything because I had two jobs. It’s hard to balance the acting life, something that has no schedule and you have to pursue it because it’s not going to fall in your lap.
Lena: Do you have any interesting audition stories?
Brea Grant: I have really terrible ones. When I first starting acting, I had dreadlocks and I was reading for a part, where the girl was literally saying how stupid it was for white people to have dreadlocks. I called my manager, who is no longer my manager, and told him that I didn’t think I should go in for the part. It’s those moments that you have to laugh about when you are out of the room or else you would cry.
Lena: Do you still have your hair dyed platinum?
Brea Grant: Yes, I do now. I went brunette for like a year last year for a couple of movies and then I went blonde for a movie I did, The Baytown Disco and people like to hire me more as a blonde. I don’t know what that is but I was having dinner with a casting director friend of mine and he said that my personality fits me more as a blonde but I’m a natural brunette, so I figured that is what I should be.
Lena: How would you describe your writing process?
Brea Grant: I would describe it as, throw everything against the wall and see what sticks. I think for every ten pages I write I keep maybe one. I have several writing partners at this point and it drives them all crazy (laughing). I just sort of vomit on a page and then go back through and delete everything that doesn’t seem to work. That seems to be what works the best for me because I talk and think a mile a minute, so I think it’s better for me to get it all out and then go through it.
Lena: Can you talk about your comic book miniseries, We Will Bury You and the Suicide Girls?
Brea Grant: We Will Bury You is out in Trade paperback, meaning you can buy all four and it is a 1920s zombie story about two women. One of them is a prostitute and the other is a thief, so I took these underworld type of characters and gave them lead parts in the Zombie Apocalypse. The Suicide Girls is based on the website and it is sort of a utopian, futuristic story about an elite fighting team, the Suicide Girls, fighting a corporate religious cult. I’m still trying to figure out how to say that right. I don’t have my little pitch down, yet.
Lena: What inspired you to create them?
Brea Grant: I started writing during Heroes because I had a lot of downtime. They would film ten days at a time and I would shoot two days, so I would have eight days off. I wasn’t allowed to do anything, so I couldn’t go and audition or work on other stuff because I was under contract and I couldn’t leave the city in case they needed me. I guess boredom and the need to do something that I have control of because as actors we are literally waiting around for phone calls. Did I get into this meeting and if they say no, then there is literally nothing that you can do. You don’t want to show up to the room and audition for something that no one wants to see you for. I think out of necessity, for me not to lose my brain, I started writing.
Lena: You are going to be starring in Dexter this season as Masuka’s (C.S. Lee) intern, Ryan Chambers. I love Dexter. What was it like working with Michael C. Hall and the rest of that incredible cast?
Brea Grant: It was awesome. There is something really amazing going on set and seeing people that have been playing these characters for five years, which is incredible, and just seeing them in their world being so comfortable. It made me more comfortable. It’s hard to show up on a set for the first time and be the new kid in school but they were super nice and amazing. I love feeling like I belong somewhere. I do a lot of guest starring roles, so it’s nice to be somewhere where I am going to come back.
Lena: You are a pretty girl, so is it safe to assume that your character will be spending countless hours fending off Masuka’s advances.
Brea Grant: (Laughing) My character definitely gives him something to advance at. They definitely put me in there to play off that part of him.
Lena: Masuka hits on everyone in the show.
Brea Grant: Yeah, I think my character deals with it a little differently than everyone else. They always blow him off and my character is more intrigued by Masuka.
Lena: Were you a fan of Dexter prior to your role?
Brea Grant: Yes, I was. I watched season one and two and then when I got this part I went back and watched the rest of them.
Lena: They always have the best guest stars like John Lithgow, Peter Weller and now this season they have you and Colin Hanks.
Brea Grant: Yes, and Edward James Olmos and Mos Def. It is a really nice cast this season.
Lena: Yes, I miss Colin Hanks in The Good Guys.
Brea Grant: I never caught that show. I don’t catch a lot of things. It takes me a long time to catch up.
Lena: What can you tell me about your character in Dexter?
Brea Grant: I think the weird thing about it for me is that I normally play more of a smart girl or a weird girl, and don’t get me wrong, my character is definitely weird but she is also written as very attractive. That was a change for me, to have to come in and read, all the men are staring at her. I’m just not used to that, yet.
Lena: Do they put that in your script, where and how people are supposed to be staring at you?
Brea Grant: Oh yeah, they totally do like she’s smoking hot or something like that. How do you play smoking hot (laughing)? I have no idea.
Lena: I’ve never seen a script, so I’m just curious.
Brea Grant: Yes, they do, they break down a lot of that stuff. It’s usually helpful for us because we know what everybody’s reaction is. The scripts for Dexter are so well written. They really let you know what is going on. They let you know when they want you to give a little smile and obviously actors go and add a lot to that but it’s nice to know where they think the joke is or where they think you are getting flustered. I always think of acting as more of an interpretation more than anything else. You are not inventing the character, which is so different from writing because in writing, I’m actually inventing but in acting, you are taking someone else’s ideas and trying to make sure that you include all them as well as interpreting it through your view of the world as well.
Lena: You were also in Halloween II, so what was it like working with Rob Zombie?
Brea Grant: Awesome! It was great. He’s really open to letting actors put their input in. He’s such an artist and he will come in and start redecorating and that shows how much he loves the process as well, which is just fantastic.
Lena: How would you describe his artistic approach to filmmaking?
Brea Grant: I would say hands on more than anything else. Literally, day to day, he would come in and say, “I was up all night and I rewrote this entire scene.” For me, doing a lot of television, it was horrifying because I had learned my lines and I was ready to go when I walked in but it was a great experience to learn them on the spot and be okay with that. We got to spend a lot of time with the characters on the set, so we were really versed as to what our characters were supposed to be like. He had ideas and he was really open to what we wanted to do. He’s a great director and great directors are collaborative but also make decisions. He has an amazing crew and he’s just fantastic.
Lena: I think most people know you from Heroes, so what did you learn from playing Daphne that has helped you working on other sets and shows?
Brea Grant: That was a huge learning process for me. That was my first show. I had done a few TV shows before that but as an actor it’s really not a lot to have done three TV shows. It was like walking up to a foreign planet. I think I learned a lot about what was expected from me as an actor, what it’s like to be on set week after week, etiquette and all sorts of things that I was not aware of. Which was great because there was no better place to learn that than with people that were incredibly nice and willing to help.
Lena: Do you wish you had Daphne’s ability in real life?
Brea Grant: Yeah, definitely, I would never be late and my house would always be super clean because I could run through it and clean it really fast. I would never have to get in the car because I get super car sick all the time. I’d be in great shape, so yeah, totally. That would be amazing.
Lena: You did an episode of Raising the Bar with Mark-Paul Gosselaar. How was that?
Brea Grant: It was good. I didn’t get to actually work with Mark-Paul, which was such a bummer because Saved by the Bell was one of my favorite shows.
Lena: Yes, I love Mark-Paul.
Brea Grant: Oh my God, he was so hot and I had such a crush.
Lena: His new show is good, Franklin & Bash. If you like him, watch the first episode because he walks out of a hot tub nude.
Brea Grant: Oh, are you serious? I have not seen it.
Lena: I was the one that had to ask him about that on an interview call. I figured, why not, I might as well be the one to bring up his ass.
Brea Grant: Yeah, I’m mean that is perfect.
Lena: What is the oddest thing that a fan has ever said or given to you?
Brea Grant: Right when Heroes first started airing I was walking through the airport and somebody came up to me and said, “Daphne” and it was one of the first times that I was recognized and he said, “Wow, you look much bigger on TV.” I was like, oh, no. It’s the first time I got recognized and I was hoping he meant because I looked taller, since I’m short and not fatter (laughing). It was just one of those, oh, great, this is what my life is going to be like moments (laughing). You do look taller on screen. People do look taller and I don’t know why. I’m always surprised when I meet people and they are super short.
Lena: Some of the things people say (laughing).
Brea Grant: I know (laughing).