Interview with Darin Brooks from "Blue Mountain State"
Darin Brooks is one of the most exciting young actors to come along since Tom Cruise skidded to box office gold in “Risky Business”. He stars as Alex Moran in “Blue Mountain State”, Spike’s hilariously vulgar football themed comedy, a show so sexually charged you should wrap a condom around your remote. I spoke with Darin Brooks in conjunction with the release of “Blue Mountain State” season one on DVD just as season two is getting underway and earning big ratings again for SPIKE.
I asked Darin to describe “Blue Mountain State”.
Darin: Wow. I don’t know how to describe it, it’s in the vein of “Animal House” and “Porky’s”, like “Van Wilder”. I’d say it’s our generation’s version of “Porky’s” but with more raunch and edge to it. I play Alex Moran, a second string quarterback who goes to this all football college, Blue Mountain State University. He’s got the talent to be first string but he just wants to sit back and ride the bench so that he can party and drink and get laid and have fun as much as he can without the responsibility.
How did you land the role?
Darin: I was on Days of Our Lives for four years before this. Usually you can’t really get out of Soap contracts, it’s kind of hard to get out of a Soap contract for however many years you sign up for. I originally signed up for three and I renegotiated for two more. By the fourth year I had the audition for “Blue Mountain State” and I talked it over with my agents and managers and I said, “Maybe we should try this, try some comedy, see what happens, see if it sticks, and then if we have to get out of our contract with the Soap we’ll try.” I just went out and auditioned and got a callback. Right away I went to my producer over at Days and I talked to him and said, “Hey, it’s a good opportunity, do you mind if I go on this callback?” I just went to callback to callback, to meeting the director, the producer, to screen testing and finally I booked the pilot. And every time I went back to my producer he was like, “Okay, well, just just keep me in the loop, let me know what happens. We need to know what to do with you.” By the time we booked it he pulled me aside and said, “This is a great opportunity for you, it sounds like there are some really great people behind it and I wish you the best of luck, go do your thing.”
You were the first Emmy win for an actor on “Days of our Lives” in over twenty years.
Darin: I thought I heard that and I was like, it couldn’t have been twenty years. Maybe, I don’t know. I surprised me, you can see on my Emmy speech, me swearing on national television. I didn’t know it was coming.
You had been nominated the year before. Did that cause any problems with the rest of the cast, winning an Emmy and coming back to work?
Darin: No, people are always happy about it, you know. Page Kennedy and Frankie Shaw, who are two of the new actors (on BMS), Page always gives me shit. He’s actually a really good-hearted dude, but he’d always say stuff. He’d walk up to me and he’d be like, “Dude, you won an Emmy!!!” and I’d just be like, “I know man, c’mon, you don’t have to scream it in my face.” He’s like, “I know but it’s so exciting!” I always downplay everything anyway but it’s kinda funny when he starts screaming it at my face, you know?
(If you haven’t seen Blue Mountain State you have no idea the crazy situations these guys get in to. The most infamous example has to be when the guys raced across the field with a cookie wedged in their butt cheeks.)
I asked Darin if he was surprised by the things he’s been asked to do on the show.
Darin: You know what? With all of us and all the new characters, Page and Frankie and Denise as well, Denise Richards, everybody was really game to do whatever. Literally like, whatever they wrote we would read at the table read and just crack up, it was so funny. We knew just by going for it and making those choices, just to go after whatever the hell crazy thing we’re getting into, it’s going to end up funnier that way. And people are either going to cringe at what’s going on or they’re going to laugh their asses off that we actually did it, you know what I mean?
Denise Richards joined the cast for season two?
Darin: Yeah, she came in, did her thing, she was great. She was really funny, she had good comedic chops and she was a sweetheart on set, very professional. She’s been doing this for a while so it’s kind of cool to see how she does it.
It has to be a completely sexually charged atmosphere on the set, everyone’s in a state of undress most of the time. Is everybody screwing everybody else like they are in my neighborhood?
Darin: (Laughs) You know, some of us are married or have girlfriends and stuff like that, so for us we kinda hang out together, it’s sort of like a frat house. There’s a couple of people that are single and they have their
fun, Montreal’s a beautiful town. They’re out running around, going out and doing all that kind of stuff. We all have fun and at the end of the day we get our work done. It’s all good. The single people are having fun.
Considering that he spends much of his on screen time bedding beautiful young ladies, I figured the wives and girlfriends had to be awfully understanding.
Darin: Totally. My girlfriend is an actress too, she’s great. I love her to death. She always gives me shit when she hears about an episode but she knows it’s all good. She was an actress on another Soap too so she
understands. People know that it’s business, it’s work and at the end of the day you don’t take it home. That’s what it all boils down to. We also learn that kind of stuff in our acting class. We do those kinds of scenes so that we’re comfortable when we do them on TV but we’ve been doing it for such a long time too in our classes. You find a way to detach from that.
From the fifties into the seventies they were shooting Soaps in real time, a half hour show took a half hour to film. Unless the walls fell on the actors they shot one take and used what they had, flubs and all. Not being the type of person who’s afraid to ask a dumb question, I wondered if they still tape the Soaps that way?
Darin: You mean like live? No, we were shooting from maybe about like seven o’clock ’till five o’clock, I would say, with an hour break for lunch.
Days of our Lives star Frances Reid, who played Alice Horton from 1965-2007, passed away in December of 2009. I asked about working with her.
Darin: Oh yeah, she was great. She was such a sweetheart and a pro, too. I remember the episode that I shot with everyone for the fourth of July, at the barbeque we had, and she was there with the Jeremy character who was dating the Stephanie character. Jeremy was a Horton essentially and I remember just sort of standing offstage when it was their part of the scene and I was watching Frances doing her thing. And she was still quick. She’d be reading the lines off the cue cards but every little undertone and underpinning of what she was saying to the Jeremy Horton character was there. She’d be like, “Well, I hope you’re staying out of trouble” – just the way she said it you knew it was just like the matriarch, the grandmother
telling the grandson to not slip up and keep his nose clean. It was awesome to watch because she was such a pro, she’d been at it for a long time. Everybody said it was going to be sad without her but everybody loved her. She was such an awesome person as well as a great actress.
Can you work from cue cards on a Soap?
Darin: For us no. For her it was sort of, you know, we’ll just do it, it was easier for her. We had to memorize everything, we’d have to memorize eighty pages, sixty pages a day.
So, on Blue Mountain State, do you have friends in the cast or do you all hate each other?
Darin: Yeah, we all hate each other. No actually, to be honest with you since day one shooting the pilot we became a huge family and a frat house of our own almost. Alan, Romano, me and Ed Marinaro from first season are still together and we brought in Page Kennedy and Frankie Shaw and everybody else
kinda just meshed in together. We have fun. Some of us haven’t really experienced the college life so for us just hanging around each other and with the vibe on set, we became like a frat house. We go out together, we help each other shoot auditions or work on scenes for the next day and stuff like that. We just have a good time, play pranks on each other, joke around, laugh a lot, we always laugh on this set so much.
What’s in store for your character?
Darin: This season he’s still a second string quarterback, you know, he just wants to ride the bench and do his thing. But I’d like to see him take the limelight, maybe go into first string, maybe use that element of it, where
he becomes too big for his britches and then has to come back down but also have to deal with what he likes and doesn’t like about being the famous kid in college. Some romance if we can do it in a comedic way.
What’s life like during the off season for Blue Mountain State?
Darin: I’m still in acting classes so I’m always trying to learn things and get out there and broaden my horizons and my craft. It’s just getting back in the mix and auditioning, trying to get another part here and there. We
actually shoot this show for three or four months and then we have eight or nine months off the rest of the year to go do other things. You know, movies, reoccurring guest stars, anything else like that. The schedule is actually great for us as actors, we can get back out there and do some more stuff. Last season I did a couple of episodes on Days. They asked me to come back so I was like, “Sure, I’ll come back and do a couple of episodes real quick.” I’m out and about, doing some writing, trying to produce a film.
A true class act, no wonder Darin Brooks considered one of the hottest up and coming stars in Hollywood. Blue Mountain State Season one is now out on DVD and season two is underway on SPIKE. Check out Darin’s website at www.darinbrooks.net