Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Graceland - Conference Call with Brandon Jay McLaren

Graceland airs Wednesdays on USA Network at 10/9 C.

USA Network Conference Call Transcript:


Emily Kaufman: Hi everyone. My name is Emily Kaufman from USA Network and I’m so happy that you’re all here and you’re able to take the time to speak with Brandon Jay McLaren today. He stars as Dale Jakes in the hit drama series Graceland which airs Wednesday nights at 10:00, 9:00 central. And the second season follows SBI, DEA and ICE agents who struggle to maintain a sense of normalcy especially when former SBI rookie, Mike Warren, played by Aaron Tveit, returns to Graceland to run point on his dangerous mission against the cartel. And with that, I’m going to turn it over to Brandon who can tell you a little bit more about the upcoming season and where we find Dale and what fans can expect.

Brandon McLaren: Hi. Are there questions or do I just say stuff?

Emily Kaufman: Well, we can turn it over to questions, if you’d like. Otherwise, you know, if you want to tell us a little bit about where Season 2 takes you and where it starts off with your...

Brandon McLaren: Okay. Yes. Sure. Sure. I can go ahead. Season 2, so at the beginning of Season 2 everybody in the house, we kind of find everybody in maybe different positions than where we left off in the finale of Season 1. You know, Briggs is, you know, trying to change his life and sort of, you know, gains some redemption for the things that he did in the first season. You know, and Dale specifically, Jakes, he’s a lot happier. He’s in a very good place mainly because he has a plan to leave the house and get his son back and so he kind of wants to make a sharp pivot and change his life for the better. So, you know, you find out that he gets his own apartment and he does his own, you know, secretly behind everybody’s back, and plans to get the house and be with his son. And as we saw last night, his plan kind of goes awry and that sort of pain will kind of drive him through the rest of the second season and we’ll see that it kind of goes to a dark place.

Emily Kaufman: Okay great. So with that I think we’re ready for questions.

Operator: One moment please, for the first question. And our first question comes from the line of Sabienna Bowman with TV Equals. Please proceed.

Sabienna Bowman: Hi Brandon. It’s so nice to speak with you.

Brandon McLaren: Hi.

Sabienna Bowman: I wanted to ask you about last night’s episode because your performance was just so great. How did it feel filming this when you weren’t allowed to see your son after all of that build-up?

Brandon McLaren: You know, I feel like the way Jeff wrote it, he wrote it in such a great way sort of building, you know, you could sort of see the excitement that was building inside of Jakes in terms of his getting his son back and putting his place together. And so all the pieces were coming together. So on the day we shot the scene where I showed up at the door, I’ve got to say first of all it was extremely hot that day so being in the suit wasn’t fantastic. But Ciera Payton who plays Cassie was so great and, you know, they really sort of, everybody just sort of committed to the moment and to what was going on in the scene. So it was a really, really fun scene to shoot. Raheem Babalola who plays Derek was also fantastic and even with the police officers, you know, taking me away, we did it a few times and we were really wrestling, you know, because you want to give it a sense of realness and authenticity.

Sabienna Bowman: Absolutely and then a quick follow-up. I was wondering is Jakes going to be any closer to the people in the house because it always feels like he’s the one that kind of keeps this emotional distance from the other group now that he kind of needs distance more?

Brandon McLaren: Well that’s the thing about Jakes this season is you’re right. He’s sort of, he’s sort of like the last person to add the (kid) for what the house represents and what it stands for. But now that his plan has been spoiled, he really needs the house now more than anybody else which is interesting.
So throughout the season we kind of see how he comes to terms with that and, you know, that’s definitely like part of the ride that he’s on for Season 2.

Sabienna Bowman: That sounds amazing. Thank you so much Brandon. It was great to speak with you.

Brandon McLaren: Thank you very much.

Operator: And our next question comes from the line of Blake Mitchell with Share T.V. Please proceed.

Alissa: Hi. This is Alissa from Share T.V. and we just wanted to ask you, there’s so many cop, SBI undercover shows out there. What do you think sets Graceland apart and makes it so loved by the fans?

Brandon McLaren: You know, I think that with a lot, a lot of cop, a lot of cop shows out there, you know, once the crime is solved, you know, the show, that’s the end of the episode. What’s good about our show is that’s only half if it, if that. It might only be 25% of it and what’s interesting is you get to go home with these people after, after the crime is solved and see how it affects their lives. And I think that’s what sets it apart. I think, you know, the serialized nature of our show with all the characters and all the layering is what fans, I think, really, really appreciate about it and what make is, what makes it different.

Alissa: That’s an awesome answer. So true. We have one more question. Just based on the last question that was asked, you know, the show’s so physical. What was the audition process like for Graceland? Was there any physical aspect to it?

Brandon McLaren: There was no physical aspect, no, for the audition process. However, when we shot the pilot, there was definitely a physical aspect. We trained with the Ft. Lauderdale Police Department in terms, and did a lot of sort of SWAT kind of training. So we went onsite with them until, their fake house that they have set up where they do all their actual training, and we learned how to clear houses the right way and, you know, and shoot. And then, so, you know, we want to try to make it as authentic as we can.

Alissa: Awesome. Thanks so much.

Brandon McLaren: Thank you.

Operator: And our next question comes from the line of Greg Saffo with Your Entertainment Corner. Please proceed.

Greg Saffo: Hi Brandon. Thanks for taking our calls today. As a fan of the show, I felt that for much of the middle of the Season 1 that you were kind of the off man out and I don’t know if it was because of the writing or your character but I’m looking very forward to seeing Jakes get a much larger kind of storyline of his own this season. Without giving away too much, can you tell us about an upcoming scene that you’re particular excited for your fans to see?

Brandon McLaren: You know, there’s a scene with Paige. I don’ remember what episode exactly but it’s coming up and I think it sort of, it sort of represents, you know, a major shift in Jakes in terms of where he’s at emotionally and also how he views his place in the house. And it was just a great scene to work on and (???) one of those great men. And, yes, I’m looking forward to that one.

Greg Saffo: Thank you.

Brandon McLaren: Thank you.

Operator: It’s a follow-up question from the line of Blake Mitchell with Share T.V. Please proceed.

Alissa: Hi. It’s Alissa again. Growing up in Vancouver, how did you adjust to living in L.A. and was there anyone in particular that helped you?

Brandon McLaren: Yes, I mean, you know, it was definitely an eye-opener coming down to L.A., you know, there’s a lot of actors down here and so moving from Vancouver, you know you see that right away. Every restaurant. Every coffee shop. You get a sense of, you know, the magnitude of the size of the city and that the film and T.V. industry is paramount. So that was an adjustment and it took some getting used to. But, you know, I relied on a lot of great people. I had a lot of people help me out. You know people who’d I worked with up in Vancouver who, when I came down, you know, they let me stay in, it’s a place a little way or what have you. So I had a lot of, a lot of, you know, support and positivity and it made the transition a lot easier.

Alissa: That’s awesome. Was it the same for the, you know, trip down to Florida too?

Brandon McLaren: No, Florida was a little different. I mean, you know, I’m, before I was just there, just, I’m just there to do Graceland, you know.

Alissa: Mm-hmm.

Brandon McLaren: But I do love, I do love shooting in Miami and I spend a considerable amount of time there now. So, yes, it’s a great, it’s a great thing to, you know, be, you know, be there for extended periods of time actually, I mean.

Alissa: Oh, awesome. So thank you very much.

Pattye Grippo: Hi Brandon. Thanks for talking with us today.

Brandon McLaren: For sure. Thank you.

Pattye Grippo: So let me ask you. During this season, how will Jakes personal life affect his professional life?

Brandon McLaren: How? Very directly and not only, and not only his professional life but, you know, you’ll see that issues that arise in his personal life will also start to affect other people in the house professional life. That causes some serious conflict and it also cause Jakes to sort of, you know, step back and take a hard look at where his life is going. And, you know, if he continues on the path that he is on, you know, he might end up in a place where there’s no coming back from. So yes, the two lives definitely collide this year and the result is not always positive.

Pattye Grippo: Right. And let me just ask, what is your character’s journey going to be this year?

Brandon McLaren: Well I mean after last month’s episode, you see that he’s in a really bad place. Probably, well not the lowest place but he’s definitely on a downward spiral after, you know, being essentially arrested by the, by the police. So he needs to sort of, as I was saying earlier, you know, the funny thing about Jakes is that, you know, he probably believes least in what the house represents but at this moment, he really has nothing else. So he needs the house more than anybody else. So, you know, in the next few episodes you’ll really, you’ll really see that.

Pattye Grippo: Okay. Great. Thank you very much.

Brandon McLaren: Thank you.

Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Jaime Sanberg with (???) Magazine. Please proceed.

Jaime Sanberg: Hi. Such a pleasure to speak with you.

Brandon McLaren: Hi.

Jaime Sanberg: I was wondering, is there anything that you added to this role that wasn’t originally scripted for you?

Brandon McLaren: In terms of what?

Jaime Sanberg: Maybe something that wasn’t on that page, that is a backstory or a little bit of edge or something that you gave to him that you felt wasn’t really on the page but you gave a spin to it?

Brandon McLaren: I mean, I mean I think, that’s the great thing about working with Jeff Eastin. He’s sort of, he sort of lets you sort of fill in the blanks. So I mean there is nothing consciously that I did but I do try to bring an element of myself to every role I play. I think that that’s how the role, you know, becomes grounded in some sort of truth is, you know, bringing part of yourself into it. So that’s something that I do with every role, not just, not just this one.

Jaime Sanberg: And can you talk about the capture? In Season 2 right now, how have you guys continued to maintain such great chemistry between all of you?

Brandon McLaren: I, you know, I think it’s because all just really enjoy the job. You know, that first scene, you know, when we’re in the first episode of this season where we’re all in the, in the, in the living room playing the game with (De Gannes) and Mike comes in. That was actually the first thing that we shot when we all got back and it was just such a, everybody just was so happy to be back and be together again. And I think that’s the secret, you know. We just like coming to work and playing around with each other and, you know, hopefully that shows up on screen.

Jaime Sanberg: Oh, it definitely does. So thank you very much.

Brandon McLaren: Thank you.

Operator: And our next question comes from the line of Dahne with SpoilerTV. Please proceed.

Dahne: Hi. We had learned in this episode that Jakes actually followed his son to, that’s why he went to Graceland. Do you think the events of last season accelerated Jakes’ desire reunite with his son? Or was that his plan all the way along?

Brandon McLaren: That was his plan all the way along. That’s the only reason why he actually moved to California was to be closer to the, to his son. I don’t think he had like sort of a detail plan moving forward. I think he was just like, let me just go out there, be closer to him and once I get out there I’ll figure out what the next step is. And, but no, that was definitely the one and only driving force for him being in Graceland to begin with.

Dahne: And what housemate would you like to see Jakes interact a little bit more with?

Brandon McLaren: You know, I would say, I mean I would say Charlie. Him and Charlie don’t really, don’t really have much interaction. You know, obviously, you know, Jakes and Tuturro interact a lot and then moving forward you’ll see that Jakes and Paige start to interact a little more. But I think Charlie’s the only one really that, Jakes doesn’t really interact with much on the show. But I think that would be cool.

Dahne: I agree. I think that would be a great one to explore.

Brandon McLaren: Yes.

Dahne: Thank you.

Brandon McLaren: Thank you.

Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Tina Charles with T.V. Goodness. Please proceed.

Tina Charles: Hey there. Well you just touched on this a little bit but who does Jakes turn to in the house as the season continues?

Brandon McLaren: Who does he turn to? You know, Jakes, I don’t feel like he really turns to anybody. What he does however is he doesn’t realize that he needs to step up and maybe be better coworker/house mate/maybe friend. And so, yes, that happens. But I don’t know if he really turns to anybody. He’s still, he’s still keeps his private life private for the most part.

Tina Charles: And also, how much does Jakes get pulled into Briggs’ story because you guys, there’s something going on. You know he knows a lot about Briggs’ life.

Brandon McLaren: Yes. Towards the end, you know, he does get involved again, not by choice but because, if you remember, you know, there’s still a tape out there with the audio of Briggs’, you know, killing an FBI agent. And Jakes’ was complicit in that cover-up. So, you know, until that is resolved, you know, Briggs’ and Jakes will sort of always be linked in this cover-up together.

Tina Charles: So does that create a lot of conflict between you guys or...

Brandon McLaren: Yes it does. It ends up, it ends up coming up again and I don’t think either party is really happy about it.

Tina Charles: Great. Thank you.

Brandon McLaren: Thank you.

Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Greg Saffo with Your Entertainment Corner. Please proceed.

Greg Saffo: Thanks. In yesterday’s episode, your character described the house as a coed frat house. With so much of the show revolving around you guys as a collective group and given the intensity of the show, can you share anything about what the cast does together to blow-off steam during, you know, the season of filming.

Brandon McLaren: You know, we don’t, we don’t really do a lot of things together as a group. I think in part because, you know, we all kind of live spread out in the area. You know, three of us live in Miami. Three other people live in Ft. Lauderdale. And then, you know, everybody, you know, we really don’t as a cast do a lot of things outside which I think is great because when we do get together on set, you know, we’re, it’s, you know, we’re happy to see one another and it’s fun. So I think we strike a nice balance, struck a nice balance there.

Greg Saffo: Okay. And a quick unrelated follow-up. I believe you attended college on a soccer scholarship. Any the World Cup?

Brandon McLaren: Yes.  Well Spain was my favorite and they got knocked out of the first round yesterday so my heart’s really broken. So now moving forward I think, you know, I think it would be great to see Brazil win World Cup in Brazil. I think that would just be a great, a great story. So I’m hoping they can, they can pull it out.

Greg Saffo: Thank you.

Brandon McLaren: Thank you.

Operator: Our next question is a follow-up question from the line of Dahne with SpoilerTV. Please proceed.

Dahne: Are we going to see Jakes still fighting for his son or has that desire kind of been crushed for Season 2?

Brandon McLaren: I don’t think it’s ever going to be crushed. I think he just needs to sort of recalibrate and, you know, just now chose a different course of action because this one now has been squashed. But no, I think it matters too much to him to stop. He just has to figure out a different way to, so yes. And like I said, you’re going to see, you’re going to see some more of Daniel in this season even coming up in the next couple of episodes.

Dahne: Oh great. Also, as being the only character from the ICE agency, are we going to see Jakes fitting more into the overall story or is he going to have his own cases to pursue as we go in?

Brandon McLaren: The great thing about this season is that everybody is sort of involved in this, in one case that sort of overarches the entire season. So everybody’s specialty is sort of put to work and, you know, obviously when Mike is tracking down this new bus route, you know, Customs comes heavily into play because, you know, about some deals with all the contraband coming now into the country. That’s essentially the Customs’ job. So Jakes does go undercover, you know, under Mike and yes, is involved very, very much in the, in the case this year.

Dahne: Great. I’ll look forward to seeing that.

Brandon McLaren: Thank you.

Operator: Our next question is a follow-up question from the line of Greg Saffo with Your Entertainment Corner. Please proceed.

Greg Saffo: Thanks. For much of last season, there was many what I like to call holy crap moments. Just wondering, after you get done filming, you’re done filming before the first episode airs. Am I correct?

Brandon McLaren: No, not this year. Last season we were. This season, no. We were still shooting while the premiere aired.

Greg Saffo: Okay. Are you able to then go back and watch as a fan or is this, after you’re done filming, does it move onto another project and you kind of leave it behind you? Are you able to watch the fan and if so, what was your holy crap moment watching, you know, that surprised you that you weren’t fully in on while you were filming?

Brandon McLaren: I mean, you know, obviously I read the scripts over and over and over again. So in terms of, there’s no, there’s no holy crap moment in terms of story because, you know, I, you know, I know the story so well. But I absolutely watch it as a fan because, you know, you know, three-quarters of the show I’m not there while it’s being shot. And I just, I’m just a fan of my castmates’ work so I just love seeing, you know, I love seeing them do their thing and seeing the scenes that I’ve read up on the screen and seeing how it was shot and then their performances. So I guess I look forward to watching it every Wednesday.

Greg Saffo: And then a quick unrelated follow-up question. You’re a well know Canadian actor and while Graceland isn’t filmed in Canada, many of your shows are. In your opinion is there much difference between shooting a Canadian show versus a U.S show? Do you see a time when more Canadian shows appear on U.S. T.V.’s like the show Flashpoint did?

Brandon McLaren: There is no real difference. No, you know. Every, you know, if you shoot is Toronto, if you shoot in Florida, it all has the same feel. You know, and I do, I do see, in the future, I do see more Canadian shows being shown down here in the U.S. I think, you know, I think the quality of Canadian T.V. is steadily increasing and I think it does well for everybody back home, everybody back home in Canada.

Greg Saffo: Thank you.

Brandon McLaren: Thank you.

Operator: Our next question comes from the line, it’s a follow-up question from the line of Sabienna Bowman with T.V. Equals. Please proceed.

Sabienna Bowman: Hi again Brandon. I wanted to mention, last season one of my favorite (unintelligible) was you and Johnny because of the dynamics for Johnny is probably the most in love with the house and having this found family. And Jakes is more standoffish one. I was wondering, this season will Johnny (finally) get his full bromance moment with Jakes that he seems to be craving so badly?

Brandon McLaren: You know, Jakes and Johnny, I mean it’s, you know, it’s sort of, an odd couple type of pairing. But they do have lot of stuff this season and Johnny sort of, I think John has a great storyline first of all this season and Manny does a great job. But I feel like Jakes kind of realizing that Johnny needs to sort of learn from his own mistakes, you know, and you can only preach to somebody so much but you kind of got to let them fall and pick themselves back up. And I think, you know, they both come to an understanding but that’s after quite a bit of conflict and I don’t know if you’ve seen but in a preview they had already shown that there is a head butt coming up. So they definitely, so they definitely have some conflict coming up.

Sabienna Bowman: Awesome, I’m looking forward it. Thank you again.

Brandon McLaren: Thank you so much.

Operator: Our next question is a follow-up question from the line of (Dahne) with SpoilerTV. Please proceed.

Dahne: Hey. This one’s not really a professional question but more personal. I saw that your family background is also in Trinidad.

Brandon McLaren: Yes.

Dahne: Beautiful country. I was just wondering if you get a chance to go back there or what kind of travelling you get to do independent of what you do as an actor?

Brandon McLaren: Yes, I haven’t been, my mom is from Trinidad. I mean, I haven’t been in Trinidad for a while, actually. I haven’t been there since I was maybe about 10 years. But my dad’s from Grenada which is a neighboring island and I go to Grenada actually quite a bit. I was actually there probably about 9 months ago and before that end of the year, you know, before that. So I go to Grenada quite a bit. We just kind of go to Grenada more than we go to Trinidad. But yes, they’re both beautiful countries and it’s definitely important to me to, you know, obviously keep contact and keep that link alive.

Dahne: Great. And then, when you have your downtime on set, what do you and your cast mates do?

Brandon McLaren: Downtime on set, you know, we like to hang out. You know, we joke around. You know, you know, actually we don’t have a ton of downtime because our scheduling is so great. So when we’re on set it’s usually because we’re working but like I said before, we all really enjoy each other’s company and, you know, I do feel like it shows up on screen.

Dahne: It definitely does that. Thank you very much.

Brandon McLaren: Thank you.

Operator: Miss Kaufman, I will now turn the call back to you. Please continue with your presentation.

Emily Kaufman: I’d like to thank you all so much for taking the time to speak with Brandon. If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact myself or Melissa Cusack. Be sure to tune in next week for another brand new episode of Graceland at Wednesday at 10:00/9:00 central. Have a great day everyone.

About the Author - Dahne
One part teacher librarian - one part avid TV fan, Dahne is a contributing writer for SpoilerTV, where she recaps, reviews, and creates polls for Sleepy Hollow, Arrow, White Collar, Grimm, Teen Wolf, and others. She's addicted to Twitter, live tweets a multitude of shows each week, and co-hosts the Warehouse 13 "Endless Wonder", Sleepy Hollow "Headless," and Teen Wolf "Welcome to Beacon Hills" podcasts for Southgate Media Group. Currently she writes a Last Week in TV column for her blog and SpoilerTV. ~ "I speak TV."
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