Interview With Actor Daniel Bacon, “Somewhere Between”

By Ruth on July 25, 2017 in Interview, movie, television
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Yet again, my dedicated attention to the supporting cast (especially of Hallmark films) led me to another talented actor named Daniel Bacon. However, his body of work is so extensive, I would venture to say that everyone reading this has probably seen him in something without even realizing it. From Steven Spielberg’s BFG to Hallmark’s Aurora Teagarden to the current ABC hit Somewhere Between, Daniel’s career is diverse and consistent. Very recently, he and I chatted about his career and his perspective on the industry and specifically working actors just like him.

RH: So nice to make connections and talk to you today, Daniel.

DB: Same here, Ruth.

When I was looking over your credits, I noticed you’ve been in so many things. You’ve got a lot of credits to your name, which is pretty cool.

Yeah, well, I consider myself a journeyman.

True, and that’s what often happens to actors just like you.  People may not know you by name, but they’ve probably seen you in a lot of different things and didn’t realize it.  I didn’t realize how many Hallmark things you’d been in.

True, and somehow that journey with them just took off. I had a small part in one of their productions, and one of the producers said, “You know, you have the kindest eyes.”  That seems to be what they draw upon and notice with me.

It seems like a lot of different networks like you. And you’ve done some big movies as well. I love interviewing the supporting cast because they often get overlooked, but are just as important to the story as the leads, at least, in my opinion.

I always try to be honest with myself. I’m forty-seven this year, and my goals are just to work. I’m not so focused on being the lead. As long as I can have the opportunity to do fun projects and work with great people, then that’s what really satisfies what I hope to get out of this career.

That’s what I hear from a lot of the supporting cast members. They have done lots of small roles and people may not know who they are, but they continue working. I have said before that while the leads are very important and yes, people will often remember the leads, without the supporting cast, the story would be very boring I think. Sometimes I’ll be sitting there watching a movie and I’ll get more interested in the supporting characters and what they’re doing just because it’s something a little different. They often have fun, little parts that you don’t expect and they inject something a little bit different into the storylines.

I think there’s a little more freedom sometimes when you’re a supporting cast member to maybe go outside the box a little bit with your choices.  It can be a really nice opportunity for you to explore the character a bit.

So how did you get into acting? 

I fell into it. I came out of high school and went to college to become a teacher–history and physical education–and this would have been around the late eighties, early nineties. Around that time, I was doing a singing project. I’m not a singer by trade, but I was involved with a singing group and two of the guys had gone to this contest. There was a record company there checking them out and I happened to do the show with them. So the record company asked them afterward if I sang as well because I wasn’t singing in this particular show. One of the guys said, “Yes, he does.” So I ended up having an audition with them and they signed me on.  It was to do a boy band project that they were working on. I did that for about two years, and through that, there was another person at the record company on the label that was doing commercial auditions. One day, they came by and asked all the guys that were in the group I was in if we wanted to go to this open call for a commercial. So all four of us trucked along,  and I ended up getting a callback. Subsequently, I got a commercial.  I’d never had any real interest or even thought about this, but I had a blast. I really enjoyed it.  That particular person’s agent contacted me and asked if I’d like to go out for more commercial auditions and I said, “Sure, why not?”  I ended up getting two more in the following month and by the third one, I went, “You know what?  This is really fun. I’ve never really thought about doing acting or anything like that.” So I thought maybe I’d check it out and go do a class. That was in 1991. I took an acting class and was hooked. I jumped right in.

I appreciate the part about you being a teacher because I’m one too. And I know the time period you’re talking about; that’s my era too. I always find it interesting how you think you know what you’re going to do in life and where you’re headed, and then something comes along and changes it.  That’s how it was for my writing.

Well, you came on my radar because one of my longtime friends that I met right as I was getting into theater school…I was taking part-time classes for a couple years, and then I had a meltdown at twenty-five saying, “I can’t be an actor. I gotta go finish my degree.”  Then I actually made the life decision that no, I have to do what I want to, not what I feel I should do.  I went to theater school, and while there, I met a gentleman by the name of Kavan Smith. He worked at a restaurant for like a year, I think, and we met and he’s been a longtime friend of mine. Now we live about four blocks apart here in Vancouver and talk all the time.  It was good to have met him when I was starting out because he’d been at it for a couple years when I was in school. He was able to give me some guidance and some tips to get me started.  It was great having him as a resource.

Well, that’s quite an interesting start to your career. Amazing how that all came about. So you were doing the commercial stuff. Then how did you transition over to doing TV and film?

I’d done a couple commercials, and I did a full-time theater program in Vancouver. When I got out of school, I got an agent right away. I think it was like my fourth or fifth audition that I booked a role on Millennium. And things just went from there.  I ended up booking about five more in the next six months. I memorize well, and I got some opportunities to read for some bigger stuff. But I was just not yet ready on the acting side. I wasn’t a strong enough actor. I didn’t bomb any auditions, but I didn’t shine in any either. So it kind of knocked me back down. I had gotten this opportunity to rise up a step and then got knocked down. I had to plug away in the one-line actor roles for a few years and sort of earn my stripes if you will.  I spent this time understanding and learning the biz and stuck it out long enough through a couple attempts to quit and do something else. Then I finally got the opportunity to read for some bigger stuff and some deeper roles.

I think that happens with so many actors that I’ve talked to. “Earning your stripes.” I like how you said that. It’s a good way to think of it. You have to put in your time and play the smaller roles and then move on to the bigger roles. 

Especially if you’re not one of these “leading character” types.  There’s a few people you come across that have the right look and the right work ethic. They get the opportunities, and they take advantage of them. But you know, I’m five foot nine and now in my late forties. Those lead poster guys are not really what I was gonna be doing.  You have to know what you’re doing if you’re not with those people. I think some people can slide through if they have a great look and they know what the hit is and they understand how their hit works. Then they have to just find their niche and make it work for them. Then you’ve got the other side with people who are just really talented. I know really strong actors, but if you’re maybe somewhere in between those two, you have to really understand what project you’re auditioning for or what role you’re playing in the bigger arc of the story that they’re putting together. You need to take some time to really understand how a movie works or how a TV series works. That’s what I was focused on for all those years.

 I think the really neat thing about not instantly being a lead is that you have gotten to be on some amazing projects. As I look through your works, even your earlier works, you got to be on Stargate, which has an incredible following even now. 

from Stargate

Speaking of Stargate, when I got out of theater school, I didn’t have an agent yet. I took a casting workshop ’cause I’d done only theater. I hadn’t done any filming. This workshop was with the woman who was casting for Stargate. I took it over the weekend and she kept looking at me going, “How come I’ve never met you before?” I was like, ” I just got out of school and I don’t have an agent yet.” She said, “I could use you on Stargate tomorrow in my control room.”  She referred me to an agent, and a year almost to the day later, I was brought in for an audition for Stargate in the control room and I ended up booking it. While it took her a year to be able to get me in, she got me in for the controller.

Wow, that’s quite a story. It says you were in nine episodes.

I don’t know how familiar you are with it, but there’s a guy in it named Gary Jones, who was the main gate controller. He was in loads of episodes, but there was a section in like seasons two, three, four, where his wife had a baby or some other reason and so he wasn’t able to do the role during that time. So during that time, I was brought in to do those nine episodes over those couple years where he was unavailable. Then I ended up coming back and doing an episode of Atlantis too.

I am so glad that happened for you.  I’m always amazed at how the opportunities come about. I know there are some people in the business who try their best to get everything lined up exactly right, and they think it’s all gonna happen a certain way. Sometimes that happens, but so often, the opportunity comes up like what you’re talking about. Almost out of nowhere, and then it leads to a place you wouldn’t have ever dreamed. 

I’m appreciative now looking back that I got kinda knocked back down a couple of pegs when I started out. I had to learn what I was doing because otherwise, I think I might have failed on a bigger scale and been discouraged. I really didn’t know what I was doing in a lot of ways. I’m much more at ease now.  I’m not never nervous, but I’m more at ease because I understand how to fix things on the fly, how to interpret direction, how to make adjustments so much more efficiently and effectively now than when I was back there.  That’s what allowed me to have the time I put into this and to be able to walk onto any set now and understand what I need to do to get the job done.

 I actually am a big proponent of having those kinds of things happen, even negative things. When I’m going through the negative time or difficulty, I might wish I didn’t have to go through it, but once I get through it, I look back and say how I’m really glad I went through that because I learned more from that than all my successes and all the good that has happened.

I love that quote that says, “You don’t win or lose; you win or learn.” I really like that.

I agree with that completely. {pause} I know you’ve been on some bigger movies. 

A lot of people ask me about the BFG. That was amazing to get to work with Steven Spielberg. It was really, really interesting how that project came about.  I got sent the audition when I was out of town. When I saw it, I was like, “What is this?” It didn’t have the big, funny giant name on it. It was under a different name. I think they called it Giants. So I thought they wanted people to come and audition for Giants. I’m thinking, “I’m five-nine. I don’t understand why I’m being asked to come in for this.”

As I read further, I realized it was all motion-capture and they wanted people who had theater backgrounds with some animation experience. Then I saw who was attached to the project, and I was like, “Oooo-kay.” Once I found out it was a Spielberg project, I knew I had to figure out what I needed to do for this. They gave me a couple of chunks of details about the characters, and they wanted us to create the scene.  They basically wanted us to write our own scene with a whole character developed and so forth. So I took the weekend.  I took a walk with my dog and came up with some ideas and really set about just going in there to have a blast. I now teach auditions to students,  and I constantly say to them that there’s never any such thing as a big audition.  You have an audition. It doesn’t matter if you’re auditioning for a student film or you’re auditioning for Steven Spielberg. You have to approach it the same way. I take that from my sports background, saying that NHL or NFL players don’t train any differently for the playoffs or the Superbowl than they would for the regular season. They go about the same steps, the same things as they would for any regular game. The adrenaline will take care of it being a bigger event. I approach my auditions the same way. It doesn’t matter who it’s for.  I had said that for years, so I had to put my money where my mouth is when I went into audition, and I was gonna have fun. I knew right away that I thought it had gone well. The casting director said it was fantastic. I felt pretty good when I left. I felt that I could let that go. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.  I know I did everything that I wanted to do for that particular audition. In the end, I ended up getting it. I worked for three months alongside some wonderful, amazing, talented people, like Mark Rylance, Bill Hader, Jemaine Clement.  And I got to work with Steven Spielberg. That was really something I wanted to do. I wanted to work on a Disney film at some point in my life, and I really wanted to go to a premiere. That movie allowed me to do both. I was really happy to get that chance.

From the BFG premiere

Working with Spielberg had to be amazing, but I have to admit I still have not seen it. It’s one I need to see as I’ve interviewed a few people now who were in it.

It didn’t do super well at the box office.  For Spielberg, it was a bit of a bomb.  But it was beautifully done. It’s really targeted towards younger kids. They scaled back on some of the original Roald Dahl book in terms of the scariness. But I enjoyed the journey of it, and I loved watching it. But it didn’t have a lot of tension. So in terms of a two-hour movie that doesn’t have a ton of tension, I can see how that’s where maybe it didn’t connect with a larger audience that way. But it does stay pretty true to the plotline of the book.

Le’ts shift gears a bit and talk about your Hallmark works. Do you happen to know what your first Hallmark film was?

I think it might have been The Christmas Secret. But I have done so many.  I also did the first Aurora Teagarden one, and I was signed on to do the second one as the same character. But what happened is another movie came up and conflicted with that, and that movie happened to be the BFG. So we had a situation where I could go and do the Aurora Teagarden movie, or I could do the Spielberg film.

I think I would have gone with the Spielberg one too. I think anyone would have. I would say that’s a justifiable reason. 

I was in also in Autumn DreamsA Time to DanceSummer of DreamsA Heavenly Christmas… the list goes on.

A Heavenly Christmas just played again this month since Hallmark recently finished its Christmas in July movie schedule. 

I love doing all these Hallmark movies. And now that I have a beard with gray in it and with even more gray coming in, I get better opportunities to play roles like the dad and other roles like that. So that’s been a nice journey. The thing I love about Hallmark is I get to meet all these people that I grew up watching and getting entertained by. I’m getting to work with Kristin Davis and Jennie Garth and all these others. It’s such a great opportunity to meet these people. I got a small role on Summer of Dreams, and I got to work with Debbie Gibson, which was great too. In fact, I actually just finished one where I played a supporting lead role with Andie MacDowell called At Home in Mitford. I play Andie’s character’s publisher. She’s a writer, and she has writer’s block. It’s funny ’cause all my scenes with her are over the phone. So I have three scenes with her, and it’s all about me trying to get her to get this book written. It was a fun experience. And I recently auditioned for a couple new Hallmark films. Auditions went well, so we’ll see what happens with those.

Well, it sounds like they must like you because they keep putting you in these movies. I love the fact that Hallmark is very loyal with the leads, yes, but especially with the supporting actors. I love that they bring people like you back so often to their films. 

I know Hallmark tends to follow a similar structure, and sometimes an actor may say, “Oh, it’s Hallmark structure. You know how that’s gonna go.” But you know, it’s applicative work with other directors and other actors. You can work stuff out on set and it gives you income to allow you to do pet projects every so often as well.  My view is, anytime you get to work, you get to work. I’m not picky about whether it’s a Hallmark movie or not. Work is work, and they are good people at Hallmark, and I have no complaints.

Well, just look at the ratings Hallmark has been getting. People are craving these nice, family-friendly films because no other network has these. There’s nothing else out there like this network.

I also really appreciate that there’s a lot of strong female leads in Hallmark movies. Often number one
on the call sheet is the female lead as opposed to the male lead. And they do get creative with the casting. I’ve gone in for stuff that was maybe written for a woman or vice versa. I went in for a role and they cast a woman. They’re really open to taking a few risks here and there, which is nice to see.

You have done some voice work as well, right?

Yes, I don’t do a ton, but when I do, I seem to get the fortuitous ones. I started with an Iron Man cartoon and then worked up to Bob the Builder.  Bob the Builder was a lot of fun to do. I’m very excited for when my son gets old enough that he can start watching.

I know that Vancouver is like this big hub for voice actors. 

There are some really talented voice people here in Vancouver. Sometimes I’ll have a lead role,  but somebody’s coming in doing four supporting roles. They jump from one voice to the next. It’s really remarkable.

I know you do have a show that just premiered July 24th called Somewhere Between. I’ve been following that very closely because I have so many friends that are in that. I recently published an interview with Aaron Craven. I’ve also interviewed Cindy Busby, Giles Panton, Rebecca Staab, Imogen Tear, and the list goes on. A lot of Hallmark talent and wonderful people in that series.

Yes, in the show, Devon Sawa plays Imogen’s character’s uncle. I play Devon Sawa’s partner when he was a cop. Anything he needs from the police force, he comes back and interacts with my character. Almost a month before the audition, my goal had been to have a recurring role on a TV show. It has been twenty years since I started in TV, and I haven’t had a recurring role in over fifteen years. I wanted to get one this year, and that was my goal. And here I am. It’s such a great project–holy cow–it’s just an amazing project.

I know there’s not a lot you can say about it. Just that it’s gonna be really exciting and you want to be sure to tune in because I know it’s quite a story with lots of twists and turns. It’s a thriller. I’m sure excited about it since I first found out about it and saw the talent that is attached to it. 

Paula Patton, who plays the mother, I worked a few days with her, and her character never gets to relax. Over the three or four months that we shot, her character was in everything. I’m just like, holy cow, that’s got to be exhausting to have to be playing a character that just never ever comes down off this journey that she’s on. She is a really wonderful and warm and lovely person. And Devon Sawa, it was great getting to work with him. I’d met JR Bourne on Stargate twenty years ago. They’ve got three great leads that have put years and years and years into the craft in the business. Hopefully, people will tune in and enjoy it as much as we enjoyed working on it.

So you are in seven of the episodes?

Yes, they say there are ten chapters, and I’m in seven of them. Did you know it is actually a remake of a Korean drama?

No, I didn’t realize that.

They had to make a few adjustments because it’s Korean, and there’s a few characters that are known in Korean culture but don’t necessarily translate well to North American audiences.  But it essentially follows the same plotline of the original Korean, and, apparently that’s effective.  I didn’t get a chance to watch the original, but a couple of the cast did, and they said it was really, really great. It just has ten parts–that’s it.  I don’t know what happens in the end. I have an idea, but I’m excited to watch it to see if my predictions are right.

I think I notice there’s another movie coming up for you as well. I think it’s called Police Mom

Yes, with Laura Mennel. And Marcus Rosner as well.

Say, you’ve been in a movie with Marcus before, haven’t you?

Yes, I did Firehouse Christmas with him. And I had known Laura. We had crossed paths years ago, but we never worked together. It was a great opportunity to get a chance to work with her.  I play her boss. She’s a detective and I play her captain. I have to say that these last four years, I’ve definitely jumped up a little bit in terms of the size of the characters I get to play. I always can tell by the number on the cast sheet. I’m in the top ten a lot. I have yet to play number one, but I’ve been number three.

Well, what Hallmark should do next is they should put you in as the “other guy” in one of their movies. 

I feel that could be my goal for next year.

Well maybe the fans can help you meet that goal.

Well, at least I know I’m on their radar. For years, I had to battle against the typecasting that I was given. I was always seen as the nice guy. Casting would try to put me forth for different roles, but the feedback was always, “We love Dan, but he’s just not that guy.” I had the nice guy persona. I had to work hard to shed that. With the Hallmark films, it feels like that’s exactly what they like about me. I walk in the room, and that’s the sense that they get. I still work hard to buck that nice guy vibe that people get from me.

I believe it can happen because I’ve seen it happen with other actors.

Well, I’ll just keep plugging away. We–my wife and I–actually found out recently that we’re going to be expecting a second baby.

Congratulations on that!

Thank you. They always say that having children changes you, but it didn’t really change me.  It just helped develop new parts of myself. I’m a dad now. I can settle into dad roles a little bit more truthfully. I also have a different perspective on some of the family-type things that I’m now reading for. It helps you to focus and be more driven that way. I’m now the family man of the family-friendly network.

Has it been difficult to manage your personal life and professional life since you now have a family?

It’s always been something I had to do, and I like to keep myself busy. But I think the only thing that took a hit was my golf game. I’m an avid golfer.  But now I don’t get to play as much golf as I used to since I have a toddler around the house.  I used to relax and unwind with golf. Now I find that I unwind with him. We go for walks or go to the playground and play. I’ve found that the best way of unwinding is to unwind with him.

I think sometimes when I’m talking with actors who are cast in lead roles regularly, they are the ones who have a hard time because they don’t see their kids much. Their rarely home.

Exactly. I always say you have to be careful what you ask for. When you’re the lead and it’s like a sixteen-day shoot, you’re often there for at least fifteen of them. If you’re a secondary character, you’re only there for seven or eight. That makes a big difference, especially because it’s tiring. Twelve-hour, fourteen-hour days, and then you’re back the next day for another twelve to fourteen hours. You barely have time to sleep, let alone family time.

In your case, being a working actor may work in your favor so you can spend more time with your family than if you were a lead actor. 

I tell you, I got to work on a movie called The Day the Earth Stood Still with Jennifer Connelly, Keanu Reeves, Jon Hamm, and many more.  Working with them,  you realize that when you are on the poster or you’re the lead male or female, if a movie does poorly or does well, you often are the face of that movie. It’s not the director or the editor. If people are like, “That movie is terrible,”  they associate it with the lead actor. So there’s an added pressure, I think, when you’re that face. It’s not just yourself, it’s everybody–cast, crew, everybody–that worked on that project is sort of relying on you to be the front-runner. So that’s another added pressure that you have when you play those lead roles.

I had never thought about that before in quite that way. What an interesting observation.

Well, I definitely saw it with that movie. You saw that the leads were feeling the pressure that the movie has to do well opening weekend.

So many people tend to think that acting is an easy job. It’s glamorous and it’s just about being a celebrity. They don’t seem to realize how hard actors do work. 

And it’s a career that you always have to qualify for some reason. If someone asks what you do and you say, “I’m an actor,” they go, “What have you been in?” Immediately, you have to qualify your career choice. When you meet a lawyer or a doctor, you don’t ask, “You’re a doctor? What patients have you cured?”

Is there anything else we have not mentioned that you would like to?

The only thing I don’t know about, but I was excited to work on and haven’t seen yet, is Brain on Fire. It’s based on a book. It’s actually a true story.

It looks like it’s been released overseas, but no release date for North America as of yet. 

It’s got Jenny Slate in it as well as Thomas Mann, Chloë Grace Moretz, Carrie-Ann Moss, Tyler Perry, and lots more great talent.  I play a real-life character. The story actually happened to a woman named Susannah Cahalan. A lot of characters in the film are actual people.  I had read the book–unbelievable. So this was my first time playing an actual, real-life person.

We’ll definitely keep our eyes open for it.

I know it’s done a couple of festivals, but I have not seen it come out yet. Maybe it will make its way here before the end of this year.

Let’s hope so. Thank you so much, Daniel, for sharing so much of your life and career with us today.

My pleasure, Ruth. Looking forward to Somewhere Between and all the stuff I have coming up, and I hope that everyone will tune in.

I so appreciate the perspective and details Daniel provided as we chatted about so much of his amplitudinous career, and he was quite forthcoming about the reality of the business to which he has invested so much of his time and his talents over the past twenty years. His humility, work ethic, and pragmatic outlook combined with his general positivity have made him a quiet but indomitable part of the entertainment universe, and I’m so glad that a wide variety of networks have recognized and rewarded his unique contributions to the art. The fact that he continues to learn and hone his craft only makes me respect him that much more. I’ve had the supreme delight of watching this gifted but unassuming actor in a wide variety of films and shows, and I only hope that more opportunities come his way in the years to come. So please take a moment to check out his links below and follow him where applicable. Look up his filmography if you are so inclined. And if you are able to, please tune in tonight (July 25th) to ABC to watch him in Somewhere Between. The series only premiered at a special time last night, and for the next nine Tuesdays (including tonight), we can watch this story unfold and luxuriate in every moment Daniel graces the screen. Some will maintain that a man’s best years might be behind him when he reaches forty, but in my categorical opinion, I think Daniel’s best years are yet to come!

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
42-year-old single mother of an active 13-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher

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