The giant billboard in Times Square that bore an image of Dillon Casey in his underwear has long been taken down, following the cancellation of MVP, a TV series he starred in. But that hasn’t stopped the Canadian/American actor from striving to make a name as big as his old billboard. [update]
After MVP ended, Dillon has been guest-starring in a number of shows and making memorable appearances despite his limited screen time. His filmography includes The Vampire Diaries and Torchwood; his steamy sex scene with co-star John Barrowman in the latter has been creating quite a buzz since the episode aired in mid-2011.
Most recently, he was added to the main cast of spy drama, Nikita. DA MAN caught up with the 28-year-old in this exclusive fashion shoot and interview to talk about the TV series, his upcoming movie The Vow and much more.
DA MAN: One of your most memorable experiences is…
Dillon Casey: My time at McGill University. I finished high school a year early and was on my own in Montreal at 17. It took me a couple years to find my place, but everything clicked in my third year. Met the greatest group of friends, an amazing girl and really learned how to work hard. University is a great place. I have definitely changed a lot since then, but the time there definitely laid a great foundation for knowing what to look for in life.
DA MAN: You can’t live without your…
Dillon Casey: I really don’t think there’s anything I ‘can’t live without.’ When you’re trying to make it as an actor and especially when you start getting work you can end up living a very nomadic existence. I’m never in one place for very long so maybe by necessity I’ve kind of lost any strong attachment to anything in particular. I mean, I love my family, my dog and my friends, but as a middle child starving for attention, I’ve learned to entertain myself in my head pretty well. If that makes sense! That being said, I wear the same jeans every day, so I guess I can’t live without them. And I like food.
DA MAN: Your idea of happiness…
Dillon Casey: Tough question. Not really sure. Happiness always comes for me in these ‘moments’. In University I can clearly remember one moment in particular: Walking home one morning from my girlfriend’s apartment after an amazing night, exams finished, sun shining in downtown Montreal, young, squash game booked for the afternoon, plans to hit a patio that evening… and it just kind of hit me that life was perfect for that moment. Another one was on a film set. I remember walking around it just taking it in thinking ‘Hmm, I’m doing it. This is pretty cool.’ Things like that. There are always ups and downs, but sometimes when you get that moment of self-awareness to look at everything you have, rather than what you don’t have or are trying to achieve, life can look pretty good.
Pants and belt by Dolce & Gabbana
DA MAN: You value….
Dillon Casey: Life.
DA MAN: Something that you have not told anyone is…
Dillon Casey: I sometimes go to tanning booths. They can be very soothing.
DA MAN: This year, your goal is to…
Dillon Casey: Honestly, I don’t have one in particular… at least nothing written down. I guess I want to keep living day by day and continue to grow as an actor and a person; learn as much as I can from working on Nikita; maybe do some traveling in the off time. I just [want to] keep on enjoying the ride I guess.
DA MAN: Fashion, to you, is….
Dillon Casey: More of a state of mind than anything. A buddy of mine and I were talking about this girl the other day and trying to figure out if she was a ‘hipster’ or not. We came to the conclusion that she was not because she had that ‘quirky’ fashion before it became popular or ‘cool’. What that means is: she had the personality that matched the clothes. I don’t buy some rich dude dressing like a homeless person. You gotta own who you are and have the state of mind to back up the clothes. My brother keeps telling me to dress like a nerd so I can look like “IRS” from the WWF. Right now, I can’t pull that off; maybe someday.
DA MAN: If you were not acting, you would be…
Dillon Casey: Again, I don’t know. I forget who said it, but it might have been Matt Damon. There’s a saying that goes something like ‘If you can picture yourself being anything other than an actor, do that thing.’ That’s why whenever people ask me advice on how to make it as an actor, I say, ‘Don’t do it.’ Honestly, if you’re not hungry enough to figure that stuff out on your own, you’re in the wrong industry.
DA MAN: Your favorite journey has been…
Dillon Casey: The ‘Los Angeles’ journey has been an interesting one. If you check out my episodes of Living in L.A. With Dillon Casey, you can actually see where my mind is at at different stages since the start of my time in L.A. There have been moments of being bat-shit crazy, being Zen, then having a lighter sense of humor about it all. I’ve always had a sense of humor about my own craziness and overreactions to things, but you can see the skin getting thicker as the episodes move forward. That reminds me of another thing: Rejection makes a man out of you. When you get to L.A., all you hear is ‘Nope.’ They slowly turn into ‘maybe’ and then the occasional ‘Yes.’ If you work hard enough, learn from your mistakes and stick it out, that’s a journey I wouldn’t trade. People who make it too fast in this business are the first people to crash and burn. Rejection is actually one of the most important things as an actor.
DA MAN: Your motto in life is…
Dillon Casey: I’m about to get really pretentious here, but there’s a quote from Don Quixote that I like: ‘Ah, madman that I am! Now that I am absent and far from danger I say I should have done what I did not do!’ What that means to me: if something scares you, you should just f#@king do it. Stop the talk. Just f#@king do it already. Get over yourself, get out there and fail your ass off. In the end, nobody cares about your life more than you, so if you make an ass of yourself, the only person who’s going to remember it in a week is you. People have their own lives to worry about.
DA MAN: What’s it like shooting Nikita in Canada?
Dillon Casey: It’s funny. I moved to L.A. to make it as an actor and as soon as I got a big job, I moved back in with my dad. Ironic. It’s nice to be back with my friends and family, but a part of me wishes I could be doing this in L.A. Not that I don’t love Canada, but it’s also a bit of a tease. I was just starting to enjoy and adapt to the pace of L.A. Toronto’s incredible though and it’s amazing to be a part of this show, so you know what? No complaints. It’s awesome. Couldn’t be luckier.
DA MAN: Do you have any favorite tourist tips for people visiting Canada?
Dillon Casey: I always tell people to go Montreal in the summer. That’s it. Go there.
DA MAN: Tell us about working on The Vow, which is out in February?
Dillon Casey: The Vow was another amazing experience. There was one moment that can go back to your question on ‘happiness’. I’m sitting at a dinner table. To my right is Sam Neill, the guy from f#@king Jurassic Park. One of those movies that tells a kid to become an actor. To my left is Jessica Lange. Legend. In front of me is Rachel McAdams and beside me is Channing Tatum. Stacked cast and I was a part of it. And watching these guys between takes work on their lines and listen to the director and have the same hangups and jokes about filming was a really cool thing. We were all equals. It was nice.
DA MAN: How do people reach you?
Dillon Casey: Go to caseybros.ca and check out my website. My brothers Conor, Lyndon and I have been working together for a while, we have a short film called Captain Coulier that was in Sundance 2009 along with a number of other amazing short films on that site. Check it out. You will not be disappointed.
[Update Feb. 23, 2012]
DA MAN: When you first arrived in Hollywood what or who made the biggest impact on you and why?
Dillon Casey: When I first came out to L.A. I was so green. Basically, I had an idea of what acting was, and what to expect but everything was very reactive on my part. Then I started working with this coach named Nikolai Guzov. He basically taught me how to act. Not only that, but he taught me how to ground myself, take auditions objectively, handle rejection and, for lack of a better way to say it (or more just because I like the saying), he taught me to get my head out of my ass. This guy is a huge reason for my recent success. Making it in this business extends to a lot more than just having good auditions. You need to know how to keep your head on straight and put things in perspective. It’s a journey and sometimes you need a guide. I was lucky to find one early.
Photographs: Eric Silverberg