VEGAS Star TAYLOR HANDLEY Reveals His Hand About Acting
By Jonathan Metzelaar
The character of Oliver Trask will forever have a place on my list of most-hated television villains. Perhaps it’s because The O.C. was the first television drama that I watched religiously, and I consequently cared tremendously about the show’s characters–some of whom Oliver tried to harm during his time on the show. Perhaps it’s because Oliver almost succeeded in tearing apart the relationship between Ryan and Marissa, the star-crossed lovers whose romance on the show was as fragile and beautiful as a blooming rose.
Or perhaps it’s simply because Oliver Trask was not a one-dimensional, easily forgettable villain. There was a complexity to his evil. He was cunning, smug, and passive-aggressive. He didn’t dumbly try to ruin the show’s character dynamics through brute force, but instead planted the seeds of dissension in a seemingly innocuous and innocent way. In short, he had a complexity to him that was both detestable and not easily forgettable, even all these years later.
This complexity is a feature that actor Taylor Handley brings to many of his characters, and to great effect. In Vegas, Handley plays Dixon Lamb, a brash young deputy intent on upholding justice. It’s a role on the opposite end of the spectrum from Oliver Trask, but it’s handled withjust as much attention to detail and depth. Taylor Handley was kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions about the acting process and his inspiration.
Jonathan Metzelaar: You did a really great job of playing the infuriating, detestable character of Oliver Trask in Season 1 of The O.C. To this very day I still feel trace amounts of hatred towards him for what he tried to do to Ryan and Marissa’s relationship on the show. But that character is very different than your character on Vegas, Dixon Lamb; Oliver seemed like a meek but manipulative villain, whereas Dixon is kind of a brash, bold hero of sorts. Which end of the spectrum do you enjoy playing more, the unhinged bad guy or the cool, confident good guy?
Taylor Handley: These days I’m leaning more towards playing the good guy, but if some juicy villain role happens to cross my path, I’m not opposed. Playing Dixon Lamb is a hell of a lot of fun.
JM: Although I’m sure the writers outline the key characteristics of the characters you play, there still must be plenty that you yourself are bringing to the table. How do you go about preparing for your roles? What are some examples of things you’ve done in order to better understand or “walk in the shoes” of some characters you’ve played?
TH: I take what the writers have come up for the character, and then I break it down. I explore the backstory and try to find the character’s wants and needs. I like to find what makes them tick, what they are good at, and what they are bad at. I do as much prep as possible so I can get a sense of what the character is going through, then on the day we shoot I just live in the characters skin and try not to act. It’s not a foolproof system, but it tends to work most of the time.
JM: You’ve played a pretty wide array of characters in some thematically diverse projects. What are the things you’re looking for when you’re being offered a part? I saw in an interview that, as a surfer, you were very interested in being a part of Chasing Mavericks. Are you looking for projects you think would be the most “fun”? Are you trying to challenge yourself and explore interesting characters? Some combination thereof?
TH: I love to mix it up with characters. I never want to be one note. Some roles will be more fun than difficult, and some will be more interesting and difficult than easy. I’m looking for it all, and I always enjoy a challenge.
JM: Who were the actors you looked up to when you started getting into acting? What was it about them that you admired? And are there any actors or directors you’d really like to work with one day, and why?
TH: I’ve always admired and looked up to the effortless cool of Brando, McQueen, Newman, and Redford. “Effortless” being the key word, and the most difficult to pull off. There are so many great filmmakers today that I’d like to work with, it would be unfair to just name a few.
JM: You’ve worked on a lot of different sets, with a lot of different people. Just off the top of your head, what was the strangest thing you’ve experienced or witnessed up to this point as an actor?
TH: The most phenomenal thing I’ve seen is when hundreds of residents from Santa Cruz paddled out to commemorate and reenact the prayer circle for Jay Moriarity in Chasing Mavericks.
JM: Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like people to know about?
TH: Watch Vegas, returning to CBS on Friday, April 5th at 9pm. And if you have some time on your hands, you should check this out. You won’t be disappointed.
Taylor Handley is an actor who has been featured in films like Chasing Mavericks, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, and Battle Los Angeles. He can be seen on CBS’s Vegas, which returns Friday, April 5th.
Written and Edited by Jonathan Metzelaar
Photography by David Crotty for PatrickMcMullan.com
Design by Jillian Mercado
Taylor Handley, SKATELAND Los Angeles Premiere, Arclight Theater, Hollywood, CA, May 11, 2011, Photography by DAVID CROTTY for PatrickMcMullan.com