The So-and-So Profiles shines a spotlight on Dane White, a comedic actor who's more than meets the eye and has promised me an exclusive interview as soon as he wins his first Oscar. I don't care if he gets so big that George Clooney himself will holding his umbrella for him, I am holding Dane to that promise.
1. When, where and how did you decide to become an actor?
I fell in love with it when I was a young lad. We had a senior program in high school where the older kids would come into the elementary schools and they would mentor the students. I was fortunate enough to be mentored by one of the senior guys in theatre.
He mentioned to the class that he was in this show at the high school – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat -- and to come check it out. I found out the brother of my neighbor across the street was an actor. He invited me to go see it. I go and I’m just blown away by it because the guy was well beyond a gifted high school student. You don’t think that talent like that would be at a high school show. He sings professional opera now.
I was like, I want to do that. I want to go up there and do that stuff. I wanted to be that guy that can take over a room and entertain and have them leave happy.
We had The Nutcracker for the fifth grade show and I wanted to be the lead. I got the script beforehand and I rehearsed it for my audition. I was working on it in my bedroom, looking in the mirror. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m a kid. I go in, I audition, nail it and they cast me as Arabian Dancer #3. I was heartbroken.
I had a great time doing it. It was fun but I was so jealous of all the people that got to go up there and say their lines and speak. From that very young age, I wanted to perform for people. I just knew. There’s nothing else I could be doing. I wouldn’t be happy any other way. It just wouldn’t fulfill me.
2. Do you feel that losing out on The Nutcracker prepared you for future disappointments?
I felt really disappointed but I did get to be an Arabian dancer with a really cute girl. I got to hold her leg. That was one of my first lady-touching moments. She put her leg up and I had to hold her belly. She dipped down. For a young 12-year-old that’s a pretty exciting moment. So I think I won in the end.
It just taught me that I need to work harder than anyone else. I worked really hard on that. If that wasn’t enough, what will be?
I’ve always been one of those people that would win out in everything because I would do more than the other person would. I may not be as talented but I will get cast because they know I will work harder. I will put in the effort. If you work two hours, I’ll work four.
3. What, for you, is the draw of acting and performing?
It just gives me so much joy. When people describe “being in the moment” when they’re up on stage, it’s not necessarily that you go to this other place. It’s just there’s nothing else but what you’re doing.
I love that feeling of just doing it, hearing the laughter or, when I’m watching something that I’ve done, watching other people’s faces. Whether I’ve done a good or bad job, I’ve changed them in a way. Art can leave a lasting impression on someone. I’m still talking about Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as one of my top favorite musicals because of what it did to me as a 5-year-old.
That’s why I like doing it. And I’m selfish. It makes me feel good. I’m an attention whore.
4. What role has been your favorite to play and why?
I did a comedy in high school called The Foreigner by Larry Shue. I play this very corrupt, evil Reverend who’s very southern, charming and confident. I loved the show. It’s one of those shows that got people roaring laughing.
It may not have been my best work and it was in high school, but that was the role that if I wasn’t completely committed to [acting], I was after that. Satisfied with that answer?
Good. I hope I’m giving you everything you’ve ever dreamed of.
No comment. (laughter) You set me up. I’m surprised I have the class not to jump right on that.
5. Do you gravitate more toward comedy or drama?
I do comedy because it’s easy. For some reason, I hear the music in it. Comedy is music, comedy is timing. If you have to choose, are you going to write right-handed or left-handed, I’m going to write right-handed because that’s what I’m good at.
That’s comedy for me. I fall into it. I understand it. Drama is the hardest thing for me but deep down inside I yearn to get up there and do Hamlet.
Unfortunately, I don’t look like that. Before you can do those kinds of things, you have to show that you can be whatever they see you as. I fit those comedy roles because I don’t take things very seriously in general.
I’m very light, I’m very jokey, I’m very easygoing so I get cast in roles like Goofy Boyfriend or Romantic Comedy Lead. I’m Goofy Office Worker. That’s fine and dandy because I love to work no matter what I’m doing and that makes people laugh, but we all have that yearning to do it all.
I was trained in theatre. When I was 17-years-old, I got to play MacDuff. Nobody’s going to let me play MacDuff until I’m 40. I couldn’t play MacBeth until I’m 45 or 50. I had a hard time accepting that when I came out here.
It’s hard to go, “But I played MacDuff!”
People are like, “Welcome to the business, buddy. You are what you are.” And that’s frustrating.
6. Where does your focus lie -- stage, film, TV, web or either?
Film is the goal I’d be going for because you get one story, commit to that story, shoot it over a couple months and you’re done. But I would just like to perform – whatever it may be.
7. What is your dream role or type of role?
I don’t know if it’s been written yet. Maybe I’m going to create it. Maybe I’m going to write my greatest role. Maybe you will. Maybe it will be a Shakespeare play that is turned into a movie. I would love to play Antony.
If I could have done Fight Club, that would have been awesome. I would also love to do a Gladiator. I’d love to do Scrubs [if it was still on the air]. They had so much fun.
After four-and-a-half years of being here, I finally got full representation. She has the opportunity to submit me for the things I could never get to. I know I’m talented enough that if I’m seen by enough people, I will have success. They will see what this guy’s got to offer.
8. You’re generally cast in the goofy type of roles as the date guy and/or the romantic lead. Do you feel the need to try to combat that at this point?
I’ve accepted it. What’s best is to embrace it and really commit to it and be the best at that task. Whether it’s being that goofy frat guy or that romantic, I’m going to do it better or slightly more different than anyone else. Instead of just making that character the goofy frat boy, I see that character for what he is and why he’s like that to give that performance that makes them go, “I thought it was just going to be about goofy frat guy when really I got to see this character that was completely well-rounded and developed.”
Eventually they’re going to go, “Bump him up, give him the lead in this [other movie].”
9. How do you approach a role?
I work from the outside in. I got to play MacDuff in high school but it wasn’t until I got to put on the costume and carry the sword that I started to feel it. So I like to get how this person walks, how he moves, how they speak, how they think. Once I get that I work on the words.
I work on it to the point where I stop thinking about it. It just comes natural. It flows out of you. And then you can go into that part where it’s like now do it like a silly man, do it like a crazy person, speed up, slow it down. I can play. I can gauge the other person -- really listen and take what they’re giving me and give it right back in a way that’s different each time.
Once you feel completely comfortable with it, there’s nothing you can’t do. You can adjust. Then it’s just a dance. I really like that part of it.
10. What do you draw upon to find a character?
My own life. Finally, I’m at an age now where at least I have some life experiences to draw from. I’m not 20 years old trying to play 35-year-old characters that have lost their wives and children and have no way of really understanding that. I can emulate it and I can try, but at least now I draw from myself and I draw from my director and we work together to create it.
11. How do you describe your style of acting?
I hope it’d just be good, but shocking is a better answer because if people underestimate me as much as they do, then they see me going above their expectations.
I get this a lot – “You’re really good, I didn’t think you were going to be that good.”
I can see why [they’d] say that. I’m a goofy guy. I don’t come across as someone who takes the craft as seriously as I do, but when you see it you go, “That was so much different than I thought you would give.”
And I’ll take that as a compliment. It’s a little bit of a slight, but it’s a good slight.
12. And the Oscar goes to…Dane White. What would you say?
I don’t think you could prepare for that moment. Everyone goes up there and they always have that speech written down and they stumble through it like a mess.
Of course I got to thank Mom and Dad. Always. I can’t believe when I told them I was doing this, they supported me 100%. Always thank the theatre teachers. Thank those that inspired me.
Then I’d probably start crying like a baby. I’d thank my wife, children and dog for being there. And just leave. Just go home. Snuggle with it. Polish it. I don’t know if that day would ever come. I hope it would. We’ll see what happens. Re-interview me in ten years when I’m holding it.
I’m holding you to this.
Fair enough. Call me and I’ll have it sitting right here.
I’m telling you. As soon as I find out you’re nominated, I’m going to email you.
What makes you think you’ll be able to get to my email address.
Are you going to change it?
I’ve had the same one since I was in high school. Hotmail!
And it’s on your facebook, that’s how I got it the first time.
Is it? I’m right there on facebook. You can’t hide from the world now.
And I have your number.
I haven’t changed that since I was sixteen.
I’m telling you. Another guy said the same thing about a follow-up interview. I will hold you to this.
I’ll be here and I’ll give you the exclusive. Alright, where are we at?
13. You’re not an ugly guy. In an image-focused industry, do you think that really good looks are an enhancement or a hindrance to someone who wants to be an actor versus just wanting to be a movie star?
I don’t think I have really good looks. I’m Everyman attractive. I work out and I try to keep my body in shape, but you’re never going to see me in a Ralph Lauren commercial with my shirt off coming out of the pool dripping wet. But you can definitely see me with a very attractive girl on my arm being the nice guy.
I don’t think it hinders me.
I’ve often been told I have a look that’s different than the typical because I’m so Anglo-looking, so American made. I’m all English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh with a dash of German. But my family’s been here so long, came here on the Mayflower. I’m the prototype of the American.
This is what I got. This is what I’m bringing to the table. It can only help if you know how you look and how to market yourself to the best of that look. I’m a jeans and t-shirt kinda guy. I think people see me as that. It makes me very humble. I’m approachable and I’ll be that guy that fixes your flat tire on the side of the road.
If you look at a lot of leading men, they’re pretty sculpted but there’s always something different about them when you look at them. It’s more their charisma. It’s something that comes from within that overwhelms you [and] makes you look at them in a different light.
14. What has been your greatest acting experience?
I got to work with Rob Lowe on a Butterfinger commercial. That was cool. I didn’t get to talk to him a lot and I didn’t get a lot of one-on-one with him but it was cool to watch somebody so big come out of their trailer and be like, “What are we doing? What’s happening? Oh, we’re doing this part? Mind if I just make it up? Ok, here we go.”
I got to do scenes with him. It was just awesome.
As far as theatrical experience, I got to do this thing called the International Thespian Festival when I was in high school. We performed for 1500 people. There’s nothing that prepares you for 1500 people. The electricity in the room and the feeling of it is so great.
What’s funny is when I went up there and did it, what I did was no different than what I had done in front of two people.
15. What has been your worst performing experience?
I’m on an improv team and I perform around town. I was [previously] on a team that wasn’t necessarily the greatest. We got along real well but we just didn’t click on stage. We weren’t mentally connected. We went up there and just BOMBED. I wanted to stop and go, “Guys, I’m sorry, stop. I’m sorry, audience, that you had to watch this first ten minutes. We will get down now, Thank you.”
I fully expected people to boo us. I’m surprised they didn’t. I deserved to be booed off the stage. What I did was bad. Maybe I had to get through it and learn, but them not laughing is ten times worse than booing.
I’ve never felt so uncomfortable and humiliated on the stage. I’m embarrassed thinking about it. Let’s move on.
16. Who are your professional inspirations?
I’ve always loved Matt Damon and Brad Pitt. Edward Norton. They make great choices and I would love be able to make great choices. You must make wise choices when it comes to work. I’m sure everybody wants to make the best choice, but we’ve seen a lot of people not make the best choice for whatever reason it may be.
Ryan Gosling -- he’s so hot right now. I’d love to have his career. I did some research on him and he’s been working since he was a kid. There was this huge span of nothing and then one little thing here like The Notebook and then years later, BOOM.
Patience is one of the things. You just learn patience, patience, patience. It is a virtue. I don’t have a lot of it. I’m a quick draw.
He didn’t mean that ladies.
It’s true. Quick draw White.
I’m trying to help. You can’t have a man who won’t help himself.
You can’t help me. There’s no help. But I have good hands.
You can get by on those looks. I have to have personality.
Alright, get back on track. What do we got?
17. If a production was casting for a "Dane White" type, what would they be looking for?
They would be looking for a very nice, handsome, joyful, kind and charming person with a little bit of spice. Very light-hearted. Very emotional. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve and I tell people way too many things that they shouldn’t know.
A lot of people often think I play the dumb card or the goofy card, but people that know me know I’m very intelligent. I’m very educated. I hope that that’s something that they would write down.
That’d be a long breakdown.
18. What is your ultimate goal -- if you haven't already achieved it?
To make a living without having to support myself any other way than acting. If I can achieve that and live my life where I can still support a family, go on vacations, put a kid through college and I can do it all from acting in whatever way – theatre, film, TV, standing on the corner dancing in the streets -- I would be happy.
I’m not going to say my ultimate goal is to be Oscar-award winning. That’s the supreme thing I would love to have achieved but my realistic goal that would make me happy wouldn't be that.
If I’m detective on a cop show for the next ten years and I get to do the cop show but then on my spare time I get to go and have my own theatre company and experience that, I will be 100% satisfied.
19. When you tell people you’re an actor and the first thing they ask is what restaurant you work at, how do you respond?
It’s probably some dope at my restaurant so he knows I’m a server. [It’s] clearly not anybody in the business because somebody in the business would have the class to not say that. [But] you can’t take yourself that seriously. Who cares? I’ll come back with a joke and move on.
There’s a reason why they say that. A lot of us are. It’s not like you’re breaking the stereotype by any means.
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