OUT FOR REVENGE. On the hit television series Revenge, British-born Josh Bowman plays Daniel Grayson, the scion of a wealthy family who is targeted by a beautiful young woman out to avenge her father. He talks to DA MAN about the role, the difficulty of nailing a perfect American accent and what he thinks it takes to make it in Hollywood. By Shannon Hart
Josh Bowman went from breaking bones (including his own) on the rugby pitch to breaking the hearts of women all over the world with his portrayal of the handsome, rich and complicated Daniel Grayson on the hit series Revenge, which airs locally on Star World. After playing rugby at a professional level in the British leagues, a series of injuries left him contemplating another career, and a friend who was an agent helped him make the switch to acting. After scoring a number of gigs on British TV series, he landed the role of Grayson, which has taken his career to a whole new level.
DA MAN: We’re so happy Revenge is back for a second season. What can you tell us about the twists and turns of this season?
Josh Bowman: They constantly have characters coming in and out of our show, which creates the conflict and obstacles needed for the story to come to life, so you can expect a lot of new characters and completely different dynamics and relationships between some of these people, which is always fun to watch. The second season is the most challenging for any TV show, so if we can get through this one it’ll be an achievement.
DA MAN: The character of Daniel has grown a lot within the series in such a short span of time. Where would you like to see him go in terms of character development?
Josh Bowman: I think what you’ve seen is the development of Daniel in various arcs throughout the character’s story. This season he becomes much more ruthless and street smart, which has definitely been more enjoyable to play and, in my opinion, suitable for the character.
DA MAN: What’s it like on the set of Revenge? We’ve seen interviews you have done together with your co-stars; you and the other guys like Nick, Connor and Gabriel seem to really get along. Is it like that with the rest of your cast as well? How rare is that kind of rapport on set?
Josh Bowman: Truly, from the start of the series, we have all gotten along so well with each other that it has, without a doubt, made this show what it has become. We all feel a huge sense of support on the set and our crew and team working behind the scenes feels like one big family and that’s rare. It’s no secret why directors, crew members and actors all try and work together repeatedly throughout their careers.
DA MAN: Your American accent is really good. Have there been times that they’ve made you redo lines because you sounded “too British”? What do you think are some of the hardest words to do in an American accent?
Josh Bowman: Oh yes, of course! I make mistakes all the time! I hope I continue to make mistakes because that means I’m free and comfortable in the environment. I’ve worked hard on the American accent because you want people to believe that it’s your natural voice – that you don’t need to think about the pronunciation before you speak. If you need to think about it more than what’s actually going on in the scene, then you’re not ready in my opinion. It took me half of season one to feel secure with the accent, but the real key is listening. If you can hear the accent and hear your mistakes, then you can keep improving.
DA MAN: Since becoming a successful actor, especially now with Revenge, no doubt your life has changed. You’re photographed constantly and written about all time. You’re basically in the spotlight. How have you been coping with it?
Josh Bowman: I’ve been so fortunate to firstly have a job where I get to do what I love doing while also having an opportunity to be on a show that is doing very well as far as viewership, so I can’t complain at all. But for some people who understand what it’s like to be judged so closely and scrutinized by pretty much anyone who wants to know, it’s not the best feeling. I’m also a private person who likes to keep myself to myself, so when your identity is taken from you, it does become a difficult thing to deal with.
DA MAN: So your advice to newcomers trying to stay sane in Hollywood would be…?
Josh Bowman: I think the key for that is to keep your focus on work. I’ve seen a lot of people who come here and talk a lot of shit and not achieve anything because they have their own idea of what Hollywood is like. They think it’s all about parties and beautiful people and fun times with their friends at the beach. If you want to achieve anything here, you have to be 110% dedicated to your goal while also having the discipline to focus on your craft. At the end of the day, if you want something bad enough, you’ll get it no matter what.
DA MAN: And your advice for a fellow Brit actor landing his first American series would be…?
Josh Bowman: Make sure your American accent is flawless. Practice, practice, practice. In the supermarket, in your car, at home, at dinner, over the phone ordering pizza, anywhere you can. I would constantly go out in the city and just speak in an accent and try to fool people. When you can make an American believe you’re from their country, then you’re ready!
DA MAN: You were on The Talk recently. One guy, with a table full of ladies – a room in fact – how nerve wracking was that for you? Does one ever get used to having a room full of screaming women, all screaming for you?
Josh Bowman: I grew up with three women in my house, so if I got through that I can get through anything!
DA MAN: Tell us what it was like for you to move halfway around the world and start a relatively new career?
Josh Bowman: You know the world isn’t as big as we make it out to be. For me, I felt a strong urge to come to the States to get out of my comfort zone and keep me on my toes. So I went to New York first and then came to Los Angeles. I think that’s why so many Brits and Aussies are working in the industry today, because we all need visa’s to work here and to get one you need to get a job here (well, at least in my case I did). So when you get off that plane you are breaking your back to make sure you get a job. Plus it helps that the weather’s nice in California!
DA MAN: A lot of actors have crossed over to directing at one point or another. Most start out by directing an episode or two on their own series. Is this something you might be interested in doing?
Josh Bowman: Absolutely. Whenever I can on set, I shadow the directors who are shooting and ask what are probably a lot of annoying questions to the camera men, but to me it’s a free directing class. We have a new director almost every episode, so it’s great to see all the different shooting styles they have. I’m excited to try it somewhere down the line for sure.
DA MAN: You used to be a rugby player in England. Do you ever miss it?
Josh Bowman: Why would you miss breaking your bones, dislocating limbs, tearing muscles and losing teeth?!
DA MAN: What is so appealing about acting, that made you make the change from rugby to acting instead of… say, music or something? You already play the drums; why not pursue music?
Josh Bowman: I think, for me, if I was good enough I would have for sure wanted to have a music career, but I picked it up too late and only have fun with it now. I do incorporate music into my acting and use it as a tool as it can be so helpful in terms of a characters rhythms and voice. Acting is such a beautiful study of people and relationships and that’s what I have always found so intriguing. Not only that but you learn so much about yourself by being an actor and isn’t that part of why we’re here?
DA MAN: Could you name a few actors who inspire you, whose style and methods you take cue from?
Josh Bowman: Gary Oldman, I think, is truly exceptional. There are very few who take the risks and make the choices he does. Not only that, but everytime I watch him, I see him enjoying himself, and for me, that’s the key to it all. When you enjoy yourself during a scene, you free yourself up so much more – Meryl Streep is another great example of that.
DA MAN: Some actors like to take risks and make unpopular decisions to do roles that challenge their acting abilities, even though they don’t necessarily work for them careerwise. What are your thoughts on that? Does popularity outweigh the art or is it the other way around for you?
Josh Bowman: Well, like I said, Gary Oldman, as well as Mark Rylance and other actors of their ilk, are pioneers of risk taking and bold choices. I think if you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to land roles like they do, and obviously if you are prepared and talented enough, then for sure I would want to challenge myself and work on something that I could “act” in. By “act” I mean – look different, talk different, move different. That’s what it’s all about, and if you get a chance to do that then that’s where the fun lies. Right?
DA MAN: Everyone talks about the infamous real slap Madeline gave you in one of the scenes. How far would you go for a role? Do you limit yourself to anything?
Josh Bowman: Never.
DA MAN: Fast-forward five years from now, what do you hope you’ve managed to accomplish in your career by then?
Josh Bowman: I hate wishing away life as it is too bloody short. About the only thing that comes to us without effort is old age! So I try to live my life in the present and not in the future – que sera sera...
Photographs: Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
Styling: Drew Manares