Interview with James Badge Dale (as Chase Edmunds)
How did you feel going into the show?
JAMES BADGE DALE: There is a little bit of pressure, but the work has already been established, they’ve been working for two seasons. It being such a good show, I knew I was in good hands and there was a safety in that. They’ve done such a good job with it and I knew I was going to be taken care of. That they’re going to make every effort to make the work good.
How do you feel about working with Kiefer?
JAMES: I was really excited to come in and learn from him. He’s a very good actor. He’s been around for a long time, and I’ve learned a lot from him artistically. The craft of it. Professional things also. He’s been great to me, he lets me do what I need to do. He’s worked with me on what works and what doesn’t work.
Did you read the interview?
JAMES: No I haven’t, no.
Did you watch the show? What did you think?
JAMES: I have watched. I like it a lot. Though, I don’t sit at home and watch shows. I’ve been in New York, bouncing around for the past couple years and in a lot of the places I lived, I didn’t have television because I didn’t have any money or I was living on somebody’s couch. I’d definitely watched it and I’d liked what I’d seen.
How tough was it to live on the couch?
JAMES: When (laughs) you’re living on someone’s couch and you’re wondering “Hmm. In three, four, five years from now am I still going to be doing a couch tour? Doing whatever job I can find just to pay my rent?” it can be a little crazy. I have very fond memories of it, though, and in this business it can go back to that at any time. As an actor I think you have to be prepared for that.
It’s not meant to last forever?
JAMES: Yeah, it’s funny. (laughs)
You worked in construction?
JAMES: I worked off and on in construction for six years, I was doing other things intermittently in between that. I went to college for a while, I played hockey for a while. I was never a-I guess most actors work in restaurants or bars and I’m just not built that way-I don’t know, construction was fun for me. I’m not good at it, I’m horrible, but there’s a romanticism about it when you’re standing on top of a building and the sun is shining and you feel good at the end of the day.
What was the test process like?
JAMES: It was the exact same thing. I didn’t think I was right for it. I didn’t think I would get it. I was doing a play in New York and for whatever reason I was really stressed out. When the first audition came by, I read it and I knew it was a very good show. But when I read it, I just thought, I’m too young for this, I’m not right for this, they’re not going to cast me, they’re going to go for something different. I just don’t feel like taking my time to go back because they’re not going to give me this job anyway. So I didn’t go in. And then a week later, they called me back and said, “Come in, come in!” And I was going to cancel again, but I didn’t have enough time because they called me about 7:30 at night when everything was closed and I had to go in the next morning. I went in and I prepared but it was kind of a throwaway? I didn’t think I would be up for it. I kind of went in and did my thing, and the casting directors, we had a lot of fun together, and then I got a call the next day saying come to LA and screen test. I screen tested and they gave me the job on the spot, said “You start work next week.”
Did you realize how big the part was?
JAMES: I didn’t. I didn’t know. They’d only given me the first and second episode and I really didn’t know where the storylines were going so I didn’t know what was going to happen for my character. As far as I knew, I could be around all year, or I could be gone by episode six. Jon Cassar, who is such a great creative force on the show, sat me down and he said, “Look, we’re really glad to have you here. But we do kill a lot of people.”
Is it unnerving not knowing your role’s future?
JAMES: I don’t think about it. You do the work.
You don’t know if you’ll be killed off?
JAMES: I don’t know where this season ends. You come in and you do your work. It’s very funny to work on a character, work on a story where you don’t have an arc, you don’t have a beginning, middle and end. You can’t map out how your character’s going to grow or whatnot, because you don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s all in one day, so you have to trust and just be in the moment and not worry about what’s going to happen in the next episode. .
Are you happy with Chase?
JAMES: Yeah. I’m having a lot of fun with him, trying to separate him and make him different and make him my own. And at the same time taking what they’ve put in. I’m having fun with Chase.
How open is the production team to your ideas?
JAMES: The story is concrete. I don’t say, “Well this is what I want to do with Chase down the line.” That’s completely up to them. Whatever they give me, I try to do the best I can with it. They’re very open to the little things when we get to rehearsal. Any ideas you come up with, within the scene. Just as long as the scene is the same. It’s a really organic process we have here. We come in and we’ll rehearse for a half-hour and I think we have a small window to make this work. Everybody’s really protective of that, everybody’s very protective of each other’s characters. Kiefer’s very protective of the show as a whole, so if he thinks something’s not working for me, or for somebody else, he’s not hesitant to let you try to fix it and come up with ways to make things work.
Are you nervous about being Kim’s boyfriend?
JAMES: Yes. I really try not to think about it.
The best outcome was an amputated leg.
JAMES: Maybe I’ll just lose a finger.
Does the show impact where you want your career?
JAMES: I don’t know what impact it will have, but it has given me opportunities. I would take any job anybody gave me as long as I thought I could sleep at night doing it. But now, I have a little more of a choice, I don’t have to take any job. It’s really kind of a cool opportunity to get to do this. I love doing this. Trying to stretch myself in a different direction.
Is there more discipline to work on this show?
JAMES: It’s a nine-month run. You’ve got to be ready to show up for nine months and come to work. It’s taught me a lot; as a person and as an actor about responsibility, suiting up and showing up and being ready.
How is fame suiting you?
JAMES: I’ve found people to be really, really nice. I think what I’ve found with this show is that the fan base is very loyal, and the people who watch it really love it. I know that they’re the reason I’m here, they’re the reason I’m working today. It’s kind of a symbiotic thing, like, we’re all helping each other out here. People have come up to me and been just great. It’s kind of funny sometimes, when you’re sitting somewhere and you see somebody looking at you, and you don’t know if they’re looking at you because they don’t like you or because they recognize you. Yes, it’s all new to me so I’m kind of figuring it out.
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