Interview With Actor Bradley Stryker, “Chesapeake Shores”

By Ruth on September 17, 2017 in Interview, movie, television
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I could not establish why the name Bradley Stryker sounded familiar when I first reached out to him for an interview concerning Chesapeake Shores, but once I realized that he shot a film last year with one of my dear friends, I instantly recalled the reason. Regardless, watching him in Chesapeake Shores as John Rawl has been a joy, and having the honor of interviewing this talented filmmaker and actor was a true pleasure for me. Moreover, it is equally delightful to share it with my readers as we prepare to watch the third to last episode of season two.

Photo by Kyle Cassie

RH: So nice to get to chat with you today, Bradley. We are so enjoying you on Chesapeake Shores.

BS: Happy to speak with you, Ruth. Thanks for reaching out.

According to IMDB page, you are from Eugene, Oregon. Is that correct?

Yes, I was born in Eugene. Do you have a connection?

Well, not necessarily. I am from Washington state, so I always notice people from the Pacific Northwest. I rarely get to chat with people from that part of the U.S. I live in Yelm, but I was born in Tacoma.

Oh, I grew up in Bothell, and then my parents moved to Kirkland.

I know where both of those places are! Small world!

Of course, now they live in Arizona.

I get that.

Well, logically speaking, you’re not gonna stick around in the cold weather of the Pacific Northwest if you don’t have to.

BTS Witness Protection with Sebastian Spence, James Dean and Yancy Butler

You’re actually going to be in an upcoming film with one of my friends. Witness Protection–I realize it’s not out yet. But my friend is Sebastian Spenceand I remember him telling me about it when he was filming it last year on Vancouver Island.

Absolutely. And all of a sudden, there’s so much work over on Vancouver Island.

I’ve noticed that in the past year especially. {pause} So how did you get into acting?

Well, in my sophomore year of college, I was in Santa Barbara, and while walking down the street one day, I was approached to be on one of those MTV shows called Singled Out. So I ended up doing that a couple of times. I would go and “audition” for them, and so I got kind of a taste for what it was, and I thought it was a lot of fun.

I went back to school, and while going to school, as a junior, I went to New York for the summer. I was there technically doing the “modeling thing,” but I didn’t really do much except take a ton of pictures. But I did end up taking a couple acting classes while in New York that summer. And that’s when I got bitten by the bug. My plan was to stay in New York and drop out of college. My mom, being far wiser than I am though very supportive said, “Okay, I just wanted to let you know this is how much money you will owe for your college loans, and you have six months before you have to start paying for it, so don’t worry about it right now.” Well, it popped into my head that I owe all that money and I have no job and no degree. That seemed kind of stupid to me. So I didn’t stay in New York. I went back to San Diego to finish college.

I had a year and a half of college left. I had gone to six different schools. I wanted to be done and move on with my life, so I did a year and a half of school in one year. I actually had to petition the school to do it because they told me it wasn’t possible to take every credit that I wanted to take. But I did it. Because my schedule was so tight with my classes and my work which was thirty hours a week at a restaurant, I went to one class that got canceled. They moved it to another day when I couldn’t do it. So I was standing there and across the quad was a theater. I knew I had one freshman elective I still needed. I walked into the theater class–it took forever to get into the class because it was so full–but they let me in and that is when I really got a taste for acting. I got to do some monologues and scenes, and that is when I officially said to myself, “Oh, wow, I’ve got to do this.” I graduated from college and about eight hours later, I was living in LA. I stayed with a friend there in LA for a while, and then I started a very long journey that is still going on eighteen years later.

I noticed you’ve been in a lot of projects I recognize.

It’s been a lot of fun. It’s an interesting business because there are so many avenues you can take. Of course, I moved to LA. I was around a lot of different people who had no idea what they were doing, and the next thing I knew, they were leads in TV shows. LA is a wild city and very hard to navigate in that regard. When it comes to making it in the business, there really is not a logical way to do it. I have a blue-collar mentality and always have had that mindset. I always think that if you want to do it, you do it. You put in the work. I think my mentality has spilled over and there’s been a lot of opportunity to work on a variety of things, which I really enjoy.

Photo by Kyle Cassie

I also see that you have done some independent films as well as some writing, directing, and producing. 

Some time ago, when we were wrapping on a TV show I had been working on for about three months, I realized during that process that something was missing. I went away on a trip to Thailand for about two months on what I would call my spiritual journey trip. And while there, I had this epiphany where I realized I couldn’t just be an actor. I wanted to tell stories too. You know, an actor is a piece of a machine that tells a story. You’re a tradesman who does a very specific trade, but by no means do you decide the story. It is directors, writers, producers, and editors that put the final product of the story together. You go do your best work and let them finish it up. But I was someone who was more interested in having power over the actual storytelling.

When I came back from that trip, I started getting involved in filmmaking. When you’re on set, you know there’s a lot of downtime. As a result of making the choice to tell stories, I finally had something to do with all that downtime. So when I’m on set and sitting in my trailer, I’m writing. Or one time when I was working on Smallville, it was a Friday and I was filming the next day–it was one of my own projects–my trailer became my production office. They would come and get me, “We need you on set.” When they came in, they saw that I was this one-man production office. I had things everywhere, and I was on the phone organizing props and this, that, and the other. I think it seems to fit my personality a little bit better.

I think in this day and age, it is almost a given that an actor will be more than “just an actor.”  It seems like actors are always working on their “passion projects,” as they call them. 

I think part of that too is that it’s a place where you have more say and more power. Your power is limited as an actor until you reach a certain status when it becomes almost infinite and the tables turn in your favor. But for most of us, though, you’re at the beck and call of someone else who tells you where and how it works. There is something really gratifying and exciting about somebody who gets to be in charge and piece it together. I actually believe wholeheartedly that if you want to do this for a living, you have to do more than just one thing. And to be honest, it makes you a better actor.

Photo by Keenan Henson Photography

I am in full agreement with everything you have said. I am a huge proponent of indie film myself. I am always amazed by what indie filmmakers put out. Some people are quick to criticize them because they don’t look like the mega-budget hits coming out of Hollywood. However, I am amazed by what indie filmmakers can do on a limited budget.

That’s the thing. Because we have access to all this entertainment today, it doesn’t matter what you do. You’re gonna be compared to the last Spiderman or Wonder Woman. Even if you have only forty thousand dollars, you’re still gonna be compared to a two hundred million dollar film. And I don’t think that’s anyone’s fault. That’s just the reality of it. In fact, I was just talking to someone the other day, and I said, “I thought I was humbled by the acting profession, and then I started making movies.” [laughs} I don’t think I need to be humbled anymore.

But what it does, and I find this challenging for a lot of people in this business, it creates strong human beings on a certain level. But it also creates broken human beings. And I think everyone in the world notices that which is why you hear people say, “Oh that person is such a mess!” I think you have to be made of a different sort of material to take all the beat downs and still smile and walk down the street. This business is definitely not for everyone. I think you have to be a little bit crazy to make it work.

And that is why I make it a point as a reviewer and interviewer to be as positive as possible and look for the good in every work and every person. I refuse to bash actors and movies in public. If I don’t like something, I tend to keep quiet or focus on the good points. I wish more reviewers did that.

I really appreciate your attitude. With some of the content I have created, I have actually had people go out of their way to email me and tell me how much they hate it. I learned real quick when I started making films that whether somebody loves it, hates it, or is indifferent to it, none of it matters. If you really boil it down and do the research, I don’t think you should be too offended by a thirteen-year-old from Nebraska who thinks your film is awful. The fact of the matter is that you can’t make everybody happy. It is what it is, and we’re all learning. Anyone who thinks they’ve made a perfect film–whether it’s first or tenth–they probably are not being honest with themselves. I hate to say it, but they are wrong. Perfect films just don’t exist.

The other thing I find intriguing and it is definitely a sign of the world we’re living is how many people love to put negative energy into the world. Social media can be such a negative place in so many regards, and it’s quite sad ’cause people could use the same resources and put positive energy out there. But all too often, they just don’t. I believe it will get better, but that’s where we are in some regards right now. Unfortunately, the more I generate and put out into the world, whether it be in front of the camera or behind the camera,  the less I read or care what people post or say. The fact of the matter is that none of this garbage people put out there is constructive. Constructive stuff typically comes from my peers and people I respect. Constructive criticism is when people are watching something and they are able to offer genuine feedback about what works and what doesn’t and why. Constructive criticism is not, “Well, I think you’re an awful human, and I think we’d all be better off if you weren’t here on this planet.” When I get that kind of “feedback,” I feel like telling people to calm down, get out of their house and gather some perspective and realize that you are putting far too much energy and thought into this negativity. I need people who can tell me real constructive criticism so that I can grow.

I’m a firm believer in educating myself. I have believed that my whole life, but sometimes it doesn’t work out financially. No matter what I’m pursuing, I’m constantly trying to find ways to educate myself as an actor, writer, director, and as a human being. I notice that if people are stuck, it’s often because they haven’t tried anything new in years. Sometimes people spend far too much time complaining about how they can’t do what they want to or they’re not successful enough, and they don’t put that time into actually learning how to do what they want to do in life. I have a hard time feeling sorry for people who are not getting out there and trying to grow in their knowledge and skills no matter what they are pursuing.

Photo by Kyle Cassie

Well, from what I can tell, you seem to have had a very good year as far as acting goes. And I think one of your independent films has been getting a lot of attention too.

Yes, it’s been a good year in regards to that. I think part of what happens is, just like athletes and other professions, you do it long enough, and you hit your stride. But part of hitting your stride is you stop working so hard. You find a bit of a flow to things. I think a lot of people learn to do this, but it can be tough sometimes. You surrender the perfect. That takes a very long time to do, I think, to realize that you’re never going to get it perfect. So you just take a deep breath.

A big thing for me right now is that I’m not really worried about people telling me if I’m good or not. I’ve been doing this long enough, and I know what I’m doing. I’m not perfect; I’m still learning all the time, which I love.

Also, my son is twenty-two months old. Part of what you do with parenthood is you smile and go, “Oh yeah, look at the movie! Isn’t that fun?” The twenty-one-year-old panic attack is gone. I have a little human who every time I see him, it’s like….you know how when somebody is in cardiac arrest and they put paddles on them? My son is like “paddles for reality.” All that other stuff is not as important anymore. This is what is real. I know people say that often for many different reasons, but for me when all the cliches of parenthood came true, I was able to breathe easier.

With wife and son on red carpet for Land of Smiles

I’ve spent a lot of time personally just not being so hard on myself. I think a lot of that came from making my first feature-length film {Land of Smiles}. The process of making it was very difficult. I put a lot of time and money into it, and it was very humbling.  And not in a way that I wanted it to be. Let me put it in these terms. When I was about three years into the process, and I was done with the film…but honestly, the film is never really done. You have festivals and other stuff happening. About two years in, I started winning all these trophies, and the film was doing really well. Then it started to go out to the public, and I started to get emails and people telling me how much they hate it. That was an education for me. Part of the way I sold my first feature film was we sold it as a thriller-adventure-horror film. But it’s not a horror film. So horror fans watch it and get angry. They’re like, “You promised me something, and this isn’t it.” My first reaction was to not pay attention and to get angry, but then I realized they had a point. They expected something, and we didn’t fulfill the promise. So these problems aren’t so much creative problems as they are business problems. Especially for people like me who are new to the business or trying to figure out. A lot of that stuff is way beyond me.

So it’s a good time for me with reality checks both externally in the film world and internally within my family and with my son. I’m making films and acting in shows and movies and having fun doing it. I take my job very seriously, and for me, the main thing is to do it all with as much integrity as I can and everything that happens outside of that, I have no control over.

Speaking of family, my mom is one of my biggest fans, if not my biggest. She loves seeing me in Chesapeake Shores and she actually saw me in this kid’s film that came out this year–Max 2. Of course, I had fun doing it. In fact, I still haven’t seen it. My mom called me, crying, “Bradley, I love this film!” I was like, “What movie, Mom?” When she told me, I was thinking, “Really?” That was not the movie I expected her to be raving about. {laughs}

I actually know about that film! A lot of my Vancouver friends are in that film. So often, I will look at the cast of a film or show and find I know half of the people involved.

Well, you have to remember something. Vancouver is a small community. I’m American, and I married into the Canadian part up here. I split my time between the two countries. My wife and I are on the move quite often due to my job, and we are a very mobile family. We call it “nomad living.” Our little dude loves that we move around so much. It’s funny. Since February, our son has been in the sunshine. We were in LA for four months, and then we came back to Vancouver, we had a beautiful summer. He thinks you go to the park in the morning and the beach in the afternoon. Now that fall is coming, we walked outside and it was raining. He looked at me and my wife with this disgusted look. It was like, “Water? Why is water coming from the sky?”  I told him it was raining, and he said, “No beach!” And I was like, “No beach today.” He was lost. He didn’t have any idea what to do for the second half of the day now. He was used to throwing rocks at the beach. So we went and got him one of the yellow rain jumpsuits so we can still take him to the beach so he can throw rocks.

I’m so glad this lifestyle works for you and your family. That should make you more marketable as an actor.

Well, it’s kind of who I am. I always said if I didn’t do this for a living, I would probably be living out of a backpack in some third-world country, doing odd jobs. I’m very intrigued by people in the world and their culture. While I don’t want to become political or anything, I think part of the problem we have today in America is this. I think thirty percent of the people in the country have passports, and I think part of the problem is the perspective problem. If you’ve never left, why would you think any differently? I get that, but I think too many people today have an entitlement problem. If they were to go to a third-world country and spend a week there, they would realize that by being born in America, you won the lottery. If you’re born in a first-world country, you’ve won the lottery. While I’m not saying that life is easy and people don’t have struggles, when I hear all this “woe is me” stuff, I’m blown away. We really have a very nice life in the U.S. I would invite those people to get out and see the world and soak up some of that energy. The time I spent in Thailand made me see that the people there have nothing like we do, but they were ten thousand times happier than we are. At that time, I was living in some nice condo and living a nice life, just finished working on a TV show. I remember laughing at myself and realizing that I had a perspective issue. For me, it was a wake-up call.

as John Rawl Chesapeake Shores

Okay, on to Chesapeake Shores. That is your first work with Hallmark from what I can tell.

Yes, I believe so.

How did you land this role of John Rawl?

I was living in LA. I had been working on this movie Hard Powder which shot in Calgary, and we finished in Vancouver. I was at the hotel in downtown Vancouver where the production company had put everyone. It was kind of funny. I was living in the city I used to live in four months ago. My agent decided to send me out for auditions while I was there. And it just so happens that Chesapeake Shores was the only audition I had. I was actually in and out in three minutes for that one. It was just one of those things. Sometimes it just fits.

I will say, however, Hallmark has a certain connotation in terms of what it is to a lot of people. I worked a lot with Jesse {Metcalfe} and he and I spoke about this. I was pleasantly surprised. Our first scene together was me in the wheelchair with the door open. We were rehearsing the scene, and the door opened. Jesse was standing there, full of emotion. After I saw what was happening, I was like, “Oh my gosh, I really have to bring more to this role.” So I got out of my wheelchair and went for a walk while I did a little bit more preparation. I didn’t realize we were going to be playing things at that level. I underestimated what was expected from Hallmark and this scene.  I realized I needed to get into it and really bring it. {laughs} It was such a nice surprise and made the entire run so much fun. And the history between the two characters really made it ring true.

While in real life, I’m not John Rawl and Jesse is not Trace, the foundation underneath it all is two best friends, lost friendship, history, hardships–I know a lot about all that. So it just takes awhile to make these connections between who you are and your character and not overwork it. And sometimes you get to work with actors like Jesse, and it just works. I was pleasantly surprised many times while working with him and the show at how it turned out.

With Jerry Trimble and Britany Willacy Chesapeake Shores

I’m so glad as it seems that you guys work well together on-screen. But the burning question is–do you have any musical background?

{laughs} No, we had a lot of jokes about that. They are all very talented musicians. So my comment was, “You guys sound good as you are, but I got the face.” I make the “bass face.” Actually, everybody on stage in the band is a musician and they travel around doing concerts in the summer and playing all over the world. Everybody else is a musician except me. So I was just like, “Guys, I got this. Get out the way! You know I’m good! ” {laughs} We all made lots of jokes about it. At first, I was a bit intimidated. I called production saying I wanted to get lessons, but there wasn’t the time nor the resources for that. So what I did instead was invest in the relationship and then learned to get there up on stage and make it work.

The Lizzie Borden Chronicles

As I said, my mom is a big fan of my work, and she loves me in Chesapeake Shores, and she always tells everyone about my roles. In fact, I did a show called The Lizzie Borden Chronicles. My mom told the whole world, “Bradley is playing this awful human in this show.” One of her friends watched it and said to my mom, “I watched it, but I’m sorry, your son is not in it.” My mom was like, “What are you talking about? I saw him in it.” But this lady was like, “No, I watched it, and your son is not in it.” My mom told her what character I was playing. The lady came back with, “Oh my goodness! I did not know that was him!” The ultimate compliment! I had buried myself so deep in this human that she didn’t realize it was me. I felt good about that.

Your character last week on Chesapeake Shores was a bit difficult. We thought Trace was gonna have to throw you out. 

{laughs} If you don’t have that, what have you got? You got to have some controversy, come on! But of course, this is Chesapeake Shores, so we’re only gonna push the envelope so far. But John has a few scenes that create some tension and conflict. But it was fun. I did see a tweet that said something like, “Right when the band gets back together, John Rawl is so awful.” {laughs} I love it! Somebody gets me! And then some were saying, “Oh, John, don’t do it!” Honestly, with all the news on radio and TV now, it’s such a great escape to have this show on. I think it’s a perfect time for it. I can’t get over how much I love how invested people get with this series especially. It’s wonderful.

And they do. Hallmark fans are great about following the actors that they really like even to other shows and networks. I don’t always see that amongst fans with other networks.

Well, in today’s world, Hallmark really represents the best version of everything. Who knew this would happen? It’s one of the true wholesome entities out there. While I don’t say that anything out there is right or wrong and it’s necessary to have all of it, there is something special about Hallmark. And the people who love it, love it, and they gravitate to these humans and follow them wherever they go.

There are four episodes of Chesapeake Shores left. I’m assuming we’ll see your character in–

–half of them. Two of the next four.

And of course, everyone is hoping for a third season.

Well, from what I hear from Hallmark, Chesapeake Shores is one of their most popular shows, if not the most popular show, so let’s hope another season happens.

With Jesse Metcalfe and the rest Chesapeake Shores

Well, Hallmark has grown so much, it’s absolutely amazing. It didn’t used to be cool to watch Hallmark, but now so many people watch it.

My mom puts it this way. She says that this one place she can go and not be worried about what she’s gonna see.

Right, and it’s good for families too. You don’t have to worry about having it on and seeing something you don’t want your kids to see. {pause} So is there anything else upcoming for you that you can mention?

I’m currently working on a show called Damnation which is about the Depression and the 1930’s. It’s a far cry from John Rawl, a far different character, but it will be out this October. I don’t know when Witness Protection comes out, but maybe we’ll see it before the end of the year if we’re lucky.

Well, I know about Damnation because I recently interviewed Teach Grant.

Oh, yeah, he’s pretty busy with Damnation and Altered Carbon. It looked like my film, Land of Smiles, will be out in the U.S. sometime in 2018. I optioned a couple of my own scripts and I’m in the process of trying to cast another one. Just trying to get my projects off the ground. That always seems to be a bit of a juggle. Once you get something moving into production, it becomes a full-time job.

Well, it all sounds good, and Bradley, I thank you so much for chatting with me and sharing so much of yourself today.

My pleasure, Ruth. Thank you again for your interest.

Photo by Kyle Cassie

To be honest, Bradley’s point of view is refreshing and pragmatic in a world where people are intentionally fallacious and regularly artificial in their day to day interactions. Negativity seems to have permeated every facet of society, and it is only people with an outlook like Bradley’s who have the power to swing the pendulum to the opposite way. In his own quiet way, Bradley is consistently changing his world as he perseveres in every aspect of his career in spite of acclaimed notoriety or not. Additionally, he is committed to self-reformation as needed and sensible recognition of appropriate assessments of his works. I believe many of us recovering perfectionists could learn from his example and release our unattainable ideal and acknowledge our genuine capabilities. 

While Bradley’s character on Chesapeake Shores may be considered a supporting cast member, there is no doubt that his portrayal of this complex man has evoked strong feelings within the Chessies. His prowess in John’s characterization has cemented his rank as an integral part of the show. We can only hope that a third season is imminent so that John and Trace can continue to restore their friendship and progress with the exhilarating occurrences that may be on the horizon for each individual member of Trace’s band. So please remember to tune in every Sunday night to the Hallmark Channel to watch the series which continues to skyrocket in ratings every week. Furthermore, please check out all of Bradley’s links below and consider following him where applicable. While he is relatively new to the Hallmark family, he is unquestionably a perfectly humble and benevolent fit with the network, and we can only hope that we will see him featured in other Hallmark roles in the future.

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher

2 Comments

  1. denise September 18, 2017 Reply

    wonderful Q&A!

    • Author
      Ruth September 18, 2017 Reply

      Thank you Denise!

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