Hamilton Major: Theatre
College Productions: Moe's Lucky Seven, directed by Carole Bellini-Sharp [professor of theatre], Oresteia, directed by Gerry Large [former visiting professor] and Lysistrata and The Master and Margarita, both directed by Adrian Giurgea [former visiting professor]. For my senior project I wrote a one-man show called Spinning the Bottle. I interviewed about 50 people on campus — from students to professors to a campus safety officer — to get their views on sex on the Hill. I used that as a basis to write monologues for nine different characters.
Other Acting at Hamilton: In my freshman year, Marc Campbell ['96], Brett Straten ['96], Josh Gardner ['94], Andy Scully ['97] and I started Bobby Peru [a sketch-improv group]. The first time we performed was before a Buffers concert. I'll never forget, we were sitting outside the Chapel terrified as a hundred or so people filed in. We did three sketches and people loved it.
Moment You Knew You Wanted to be an Actor: Ever since I was in grade school I liked being in plays. They were usually musicals, and since I didn't have a very good voice, I would get minor parts and be up on stage making funny faces to make everyone laugh. I got such a rush from that, I knew I wanted to keep acting.
Why Hamilton: I wanted a full experience — a liberal arts education where I could be a theatre major but do other things, too. I spent my junior year in California at Pomona College taking theatre classes and performing. That's when I first got involved with The Groundlings [LA improv company where such actors as Jon Lovitz, Lisa Kudrow and Phil Hartman got their start]. I came back my senior year with even more enthusiasm for Bobby Peru, and we started doing bigger and bigger shows. What was great was that a lot of the people who came to see us weren't in my social circle, so I got to know people from all across campus.
First Acting Job: I was cast in a commercial for Pac Bell by Tony Kaye [director of American History X]. He liked working with the same actors, and that "in" led to a lot of exposure. I did a string of commercials for Sony PlayStation, Chevy, State Farm (I'm the husband whose wife runs over his foot) and McDonald's where I played the father of two kids who were about 9. I was in my early 20s at the time. He [Kaye] used his people no matter what!
Big Break: Getting on Grosse Pointe [former comedy on WB]. I was a guest star in the pilot and became a series regular. That's when I quit bartending.
Favorite Role: Probably the evil German in Beerfest. I tend to play supportive kinds of roles — the hot guy's comedic, dorky roommate. This was certainly a departure.
Most Recent Role: I played Brad on the short-lived Fox comedy Happy Hour. Brad was closer to the roles that I usually do: dim, naive and, in this case, completely whipped. I'm not sure why people always see me as the likeable dumb guy. I hope not because I'm really ... wait a minute!
Actor You Most Admire: I've worked with Jack Black [in the film Orange County], who brings incredible energy to a role and creates characters — sometimes out of nothing — that really stand out. His spastic, all-over-the-place energy was fun to watch. It can be outrageous at times, but what he creates comes from a "real" place.
Next Project: Two years ago I co-wrote a show with a guy I met at Groundlings called Adopted. It was an incredible — and crazy — experience. It got made as a pilot for ABC with Bernadette Peters and Christine Baranski. It didn't get picked up, but the fact that we were able to sell it was huge. After that we developed another show for NBC that didn't go and are now developing a half-hour comedy for Sony which we hope to sell to the networks. We also just finished a screenplay that we are shopping around.
Biggest Challenge: There are so many obstacles — you audition for the casting director, then for the producer, then again for the casting director, and then do a studio test and a network test — and that's just to get a part on a show that might not even get produced. In a way, the system is set up for you to fail. The challenge is to find ways to create opportunities for yourself. That's one of the reasons I started writing shows for myself.
How Classmates Would Remember You: As a motivated guy who started Bobby Peru and hopefully, at some point, made someone laugh.