What did you do to prepare yourself for the role of “Riley Dupree” in the series Beauty?
I can tell you what I didn’t do. Sleep. I was too wracked with nerves I couldn’t. I stayed up running lines and by the time I got to the audition I was so tired I think I must have passed out a few times waiting for my name to be called. The worst was actually yawning as I was doing my piece. I was so sure I’d screwed up and that was it. I was surprised when my agent called to tell me I’d gotten the role!
What did you enjoy the most with your time on Beauty?
The experience of it all. Beauty was my first major gig. I’d had a few roles here and there, mostly walk on stuff. Beauty was the first time I got a script with words haha. It was a great time and I really enjoyed my time on the set with the rest of the cast. It was a HUGE deal for me and it really helped me get my foot in the door. I think I made a rather interesting presence on the show. I’ve even been recognized by adoring or rather non-adoring fans.
What was the most challenging part about playing the “bad guy”?
Playing tough. In reality I’m the biggest teddy bear ever. No really, I am. ‘Riley Dupree’ was a real piece of work and it took some real ‘acting’ to get into the role and really make it believable, which I’m certain I did. It was fun though. It helped me hone my skills and really work on a range of emotions that I don’t think I really had before.
What seemed to be the biggest obstacle for “Riley Dupree”?
Himself. He was a complete asshole. He treated the girl he supposedly love as an object and expected her to kowtow to his wishes. He even tried to trick her into marrying him. I’ve never received so much hate mail or death threats in my life. I guess that’s a sign that I was doing the character justice but still…people take these characters and such seriously. It’s kinda scary.
How do you handle negative criticism and rumors?
Well I do my best to ignore it. My Mom is really good about helping me with that too. For every piece of mail I get that’s negative or browbeating, she sends one that’s uplifting and inspiring. She’s always said ‘forget what hurt you but never forget what it taught you.’
Are there any new roles coming up for you?I’ve been on a few auditions. I’m hoping to hear back on a role as we speak. I’ve done a few pilots. One for a sitcom about two roommates who move across the hall from a spy and try and prove that he is in fact a spy. It will, hopefully, be picked and premiere sometime next year. The other is about a group of college students recruited into an undercover branch of government and used as assassins to deter terror plots and other threats against the US.
What was your first job?
I worked at a car wash one summer when I was in high school. I was paid a whole $3 an hour but it was mostly a tip job like most restaurant staff.
What book are you reading now?
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I admit, I’m a little late on the Harry Potter train but I’ve been really enjoying the novels. My best friend bought me the first book for my birthday a year ago and ever since then I’ve been soaking the rest up like a sponge!
What are your favorite foods?
Khachapuri. It’s an Armenian pastry. It’s a phyllo filled with cheese and meat; similar to lasagna. My Mom cooks a lot of Romanian dishes also, they are just to die for. I’m a huge fan of her Tocaniţă which is meat stew seasoned with onions.
If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?
Donate to my favorite charity, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer. My Mom and my grandmother both had it and survived it. I always make sure to give to the foundation whenever I can.
If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
Draw. Or paint. I’m a huge lover of art and have always been a bit envious of the talent it takes to make some of the most exquisite works of art. I’d really, really love to learn how to mix paints and draw a picture that’s worth a damn. I’m lucky if I can even color in the lines!
Have you ever met a famous person?
Several. In this business if you’re not ‘rubbing elbows’ they say at a fancy Hollywood shindig within the first few months of getting to California, you’re never gonna make it in the business. It’s all about networking and finding that person that will help you make it to the next stage of your career.
What's your favorite curse word?
Bloody. I’m not British or anything but I really like hearing the way they use the term. My favorite to use is “fuck”. Has a really strong connotation. People know you mean business when you drop the f-bomb on them haha.
What do your parents do?
My Dad is a city bus driver back home. And my Mom does hair in her own salon.
What is one of your favorite quotes?
‘A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new’ Albert Einstein.
What is your favorite time of day/day of the week/month of the year?
Winter is my favorite time of year. Everyone just seems nicer then because of Christmas and the air is clearer. The entire atmosphere the season brings is very joyous and relaxing. I love it!
Shaved or furry?
Furry. More accurately Amazonian bush. Not even kidding. I don’t shave and my Dad, part Armenian, gave me the hair gene so I get pretty hairy everywhere. It’s nice in some places, like my head, obviously, but in others…not so much. I will trim but completely shaving is out of the question. I don’t think it’s manly at all and I don’t like the itching it causes when it’s growing back.
What’s your least favorite mode of transportation?
Taxi. I have this fear whenever I or someone I’m with calls for one that we’ll be hijacked and taken to some remote area where no one will know where we went and be mugged or killed. It sounds crazy but I mean you see it in like movies and stuff a lot and I don’t know it just is a fear of mine so I will rarely ever go anywhere by cab.
What sound do you love?
The ringtone I set for my agent on my cellphone. It’s like Christmas and my birthday all combined into one snappy jingle. He calls mostly when he has a role for me to audition for but there are the odd check-ins to see how I’m doing.
If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?Al Pacino. I love and own every movie he’s ever been in. The guy is my hero. He’s a very talented actor that has a way of drawing me and I’m sure his entire audience into whatever role he’s performing. He’s just great!
Which celebrity do you get mistaken for?
Zac Efron. Haha. I even signed an autograph for a confused fan in the airport once.
What was one of the best parties you’ve ever been to?
Taylor Swift’s 26th Christmas themed bash. I got to sit on Santa’s lap! Haha It was a lot of fun. She really knows how to celebrate a birthday. There were TONS of people there. It was nuts.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?Leave my home for Los Angeles. I was broke and living off of Ramen for the first couple of months here. I never told my Mom. She would have been sending me money and baked goods I’m sure. My parents kept encouraging me to go and follow my dreams but it had to be the hardest choice to make ever. I was comfortable and happy. I would have eventually found something to do back home. But my parents with all their wisdom knew that it would never be enough. I’d always have regrets and look at my accomplishments with disdain. They pushed me to do what I wanted and what I loved and I couldn’t love them more for it. I’ve been able to chase my dreams with their full support and here I am. Living in the city of stars and getting roles for the big screen and television. I feel really lucky to have the support system I have.
What do you miss most about being a kid?
Recess. Haha I miss being about to just hang out without worries about bills and where I’ll be fed. I had parents that handled all that. You really do take that carefree time of your life for granted and then look back like ‘damn, I had it good.’ I just wish that was still a possibility but…you have to grow up at some point.
I also miss the freedom to make mistakes and have fun without judgment. Nowadays you’re criticized for everything you do. It’s immeasurably worse for people in the public eye. You are under constant scrutiny and expected to be Mr./Ms. Goody Two-Shoes and never mess up. But to ere is human. I think that kids are allowed more mistakes as they’re ‘growing’ and ‘learning’ but really you’re never too old to learn. People just need to learn to mind their own business and let others be free to be themselves.
Which sport(s) do you like?
Football and hockey. My favorite teams are the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
What is your favorite movie?
Dog Day Afternoon.
Do you live alone?
I do. Well no. Haha I have a few cats. Missy, Boots and Fresh J.
When was the last time you were nervous?
One week ago. I was auditioning for a role, a pretty small role, in an upcoming action flick staring Leonardo DiCaprio. I was already pretty nervous because I got a call back. But when I showed up and saw Leo was there…man my anxiety shot through the roof. I didn’t get the part, unfortunately, but it was a great opportunity to even be in the same room as DiCaprio.
Do you have any closing words?
Uh…insert witty remark here.
Thank you for coming out to speak to us today!
I appreciate being invited to the couch. Thank you so much.
Stay tuned! There are more interviews to come with the cast of Beauty!