Dan: "I’ve always had a desire to perform".
Conducted by Phil Davies Brown
October 27th, 2006
This is one for all our genre TV readers out there. Dan Payne is a well known face in the cultural hub of all things genre; a.k.a Canada, so I sat down with the man to talk about his work and his outlook on life.
Dan, who has previosuly appeared in shows such as Stargate:Atlantis, Dead Like Me and Smallville to name a few, was a very interesting and interested character, so I hope you enjoy this break from the norm.
How did you get into acting?
I’ve always had a desire to perform. Sports were the initial outlet for that desire. Then the day came to hang up the professional sports career and take a different direction. I called my brother who was living in Australia at the time, and right after that call I moved down under. We had aspirations of making our own films via a career as professional photographers. My brother started a photographic company and we began the journey. After four amazing years there I realized I needed to walk my own path and moved to London, England where I got my first agent. Five years later I moved back to Canada and I have now spent the last four years living the dream in Vancouver.
You are a great believer in education and formal training; do you still feel that this applies to acting?
Absolutely! Learning is an on-going process. There is always something new to learn to help you be better at whatever you have chosen to do. I can’t remember who said…and if no one else claims it – I will! – Learning is a process that starts the day we are born and should stay with us for the rest of our lives. I think it is the same as going to the gym to stay physically fit. I have a competitive nature (mostly with myself) so I push and test myself to see how far I can go and what I can achieve.
Acquiring knowledge will always be an essential element of growth for me.
You have traveled a lot, where are some of your favourite places in the world?
The first place that comes to mind is Australia. There were a great deal of places I could go on about but I lived with my brother in an amazing place called Airlie Beach in Far North Queensland. I have so many great memories from there. It is the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands, and I had the pleasure of working on many of the resort islands in the area.
There is also the greatest place in the world to get a Gyros or Kebab or Schwarma….whatever you want to call it – it is phenomenal!
Santorini, Greece! What a stunningly beautiful place. It is the ultimate place to relax and enjoy the scenery and ocean by day and amazing food and wine by night. You may have guessed by now that I like food!
The Wernecke Mountains in the Yukon were a unique experience. My best friend Steve and I worked on an exploration crew up there for a couple of summers during university. There were vast mountain ranges everywhere and not another soul in sight. It was like a page out of Lord of the Rings.
I’m not so sure, but they told Steve and I that, due to our position on the Arctic Circle, we had probably walked where no other human being had before. Neat thought!
" I am very lucky to call it home".
I can’t talk of favorite places and not mention Vancouver. I am very lucky to call it home. It is the perfect blend of mountains, beach and ‘busy’. Something about Vancouver just seems to fit.
I have done my fair share of traveling and it is comforting to find a place that feels like where you are supposed to be…for now!
You spent some time here in the UK. Were you just in London or did you go anywhere else whilst you were here?
London was an eye opening experience. It was the hub to traveling all over Europe – so I did! I lived near Clapham Common for the most part but spent some time living in Ealing as well. I visited relatives in St.
Albans and Southend-on-Sea. I saw the white cliffs of Dover and did the tourist run to Brighton. I took in as much as I could but London and the UK has seemingly unlimited offerings. That’s why I take every chance I can to get back there.
What was your first role and were you nervous about it?
My first true ‘role’ that I could sink my teeth into was as a lawyer on a show called ‘Just Cause’. I had had some roles before that but the nerves weren’t as great because I felt those roles were within my comfort range.
The lawyer role was far larger than anything I had tackled before and there were far more layers to the character. I was really nervous before we shot the first day because it was the first time I had been cast as a Guest Star and it was my first chance to prove myself. I was fortunate to have great support on that set and once the camera rolled I took a deep breath and jumped in head first!
"It is a rollercoaster ride with
a million variables".
What is the best and worst thing you have ever had to do for a role?
Ironically, the best thing I’ve ever had to do for a role is nothing! It is an incredible experience to be offered a role outright. And unfortunately I don’t have a worst thing to tell you about. Either I have been very lucky or maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment. The only thing that may come close to tough going is the full body cast. I was covered head to toe in plaster cast with just my nostrils free so I could breath so they could get a mold of my body for the Polar Bear in Snow Queen. Not a good idea for any one who even thinks they may be claustrophobic!
What advice would you give to an aspiring actor?
I would say you have to let your passion be your driving force not the number of jobs you get or the number of rejections you get. It is a rollercoaster ride with a million variables. Never stop training so that you are ready when the call comes and you have a creative outlet until it does. And most importantly – be a responsible actor. I learned from a great teacher that you have to look after the now while creating for a future. She told me that acting is a bit like a lottery and you must prepare to live as though that is the case. This brings me back to passion – many things will tell you ‘no’ along the way and as long as your passion helps you get back up one more time than you are knocked down then anything is possible!
Which of your roles have you enjoyed playing the most?
I have enjoyed playing John Macleod, the father character on the series ‘Alice, I Think’ the most - so far! I love comedy. I always say that two of my favorite things are laughing and making people laugh.
You have appeared in a number of popular genre shows, which have you most enjoyed working on?
I honestly could not pick a front-runner! I am the guy who just loves to be working. Being on set rocks! Being a part of the creative process is addictive. Each genre has helped me explore a different aspect of the industry and to indulge in the challenges and obstacles offered by each.
I have done costumes, prosthetics, characters and criminals and I would do every one again!
Are you a fan of the horror and sci-fi genres?
I used to watch Star Trek with my Dad… need I say more!! ;)
Where can we see you next?
The series ‘Alice, I Think’ will be on the CTV and the Comedy Network in Canada, and I had a blast doing the episode ‘Sateda’ for Stargate:
Atlantis which is airing around this time. If the theaters are still showing ‘John Tucker Must Die’, I got to run around and have a little fun on that movie as well! I hope to be coming to the screen with a lot more in the near future.
"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview Dan.
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."