'Cougar Town' Star Dan Byrd Brings The Drama
He's best known for bringing the laughs on Cougar Town and in Easy A, but thanks to his new movie Norman, America has learned that Dan Byrd can deliver the drama like few others his age. Alongside Emily VanCamp, Dan brings to life the dark but oddly hopeful story of a teenager, grappling with high school, first love and innate need to lie.
I caught up with the actor to talk all about this impressive performance but also got the scoop on the third season of Cougar Town, where he'll pop up as part of the show's brilliantly unconventional promotion and whether this year will finally see Travis hook up with Laurie!
Insider.com: I think your fans will be shocked to see you in this movie given just how dark and dramatic it gets. Which, I would imagine, was the whole point.
Dan Byrd: Definitely. It was a completely unique opportunity like nothing I've ever gotten to do before. And I feel like that comes as a result of there being little in the way of material for people my age, and my look. So I knew from the beginning this was a rare thing. Something I should put as much time, energy and thought into. It wasn’t the most happy-go-lucky experience I've ever had but it was a rewarding one.
Insider: Yea, it's a fairly heavy role -- do you have a trick for unwinding after a particularly tough day?
Dan: Drinking heavily [laughs]. Downing whatever narcotics were on hand. No, I mean, it was hard – each day was more exhausting than the next. At the end of the day, you do whatever you gotta do to calm down. Which is, to be honest, a glass of whiskey. But at the same time, I wasn't trying to leave Norman behind because we only had 21 days to work on this, so it was kind of like "go, go, go, go." I had to stay in that headspace to emotionally access what I wanted to. I was actually trying to embrace the stress and anxiety as much as possible.
Insider: It's a far cry from Travis on Cougar Town -- which is currently filming season three, right?
Dan: Yes. We're about nine episodes in and it's really good. I think this is our funniest season, to be honest. The first year was us finding out footing and the second season was us living in that, but this third one feels funnier. It's even more wacky than normal and it's a bit of a defining season for us being on a new night, at new time and leading an hour – this year will be the deciding factor as to whether or not we fade gracefully into the background or get to keep playing. Everybody is really giving it their all. I'm excited for people to see it.
Insider: Although it's a long way off, I love that the cast is popping up on other shows. Where should we look for you?
Dan: I did one on Body of Proof and I think I'm going to be on Parenthood. It comes up as scheduling allows on all our ends. We're all over the map between the seven of us. [laughs] Bill Lawrence [creator] is this TV genius. He knows the ins and outs of this business so well and he came up with this whole idea to keep us on people's radar. It's pretty genius.
Insider: When the show does return, is Travis still at college?
Dan: Yes. I'm not at the house as much this year. They kind of use my storyline as the wild card. The one that can get extra abstract and extra weird, which is fun. This year, Travis moves into a house with nine other guys -- it's kind of like a frat and he actually makes some new friends. There's lot of new people to play with this year.
Insider: That said, people love seeing you with Laurie. Any thoughts on the much teased possibility of them getting together?
Dan: I think it's important to have one "Will They or Won't They? couple in any self-respecting TV series. But it's much more interesting living in the ambiguity than it is to cross the line. Once they do it, everyone loses interest. They cease to care, so I'd rather leave it strung out. That said, I don't necessarily think they should be together in the first place. I don’t think it's right for the show, storyline-wise.
Norman is now playing at AMC theaters, while Cougar Town returns to ABC early 2012.