Douglas Smith of BIG LOVE

BIG Ben

Douglas Smith is the star of Big Love and an accomplished musician. He took some time to dress up fashionably and tell us a bit about himself.

Photographs: Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
Styling: Ashley Phan-Weston
Interview: Dino Moriartie

Douglas Smith was born in Toronto and grew up in a showbiz-oriented family. His mother dabbled in opera, while his father, Maurice, was a movie producer and his older brother is actor Gregory Smith (The Patriot, Everwood). Douglas Smith has been “in the game” since he was a child (he had a role in The X-Files as an 11-year-old kid), but only had his breakout with his current TV show, Big Love.

In addition to being a series regular on Big Love, Smith has co-starred in the films Sleepover, Rock the Paint, Santa’s Slay and State’s Evidence, among others.
Smith, who is over 1.9 meters tall, has guest starred on several TV shows including CSI, Goodbye and Good Luck as Marlon West, Close to Home, Everwood, Joan of Arcadia, Crossing Jordan and Cold Case. He was in Remember the Daze, and appeared in The Hangman’s Curse as Elijah Springfield.
He is also a musician/lyricist for a couple of bands, one is called Alaskan Summer and the other is His Orchestra—both of which have released recordings. In between takes and riffs, Smith gave DA MAN some insights into what makes him tick, The Beatles and how he might have become an archeologist.

DA MAN: So what can you tell us about your role on Big Love?
Douglas Smith:
I play Ben Henrickson, the oldest son of the polygamist Bill Henrickson. When Season 1 first began, I was a nervous Mormon virgin wracked with guilt over my feelings of sexual desire. I ended up beginning a sexual relationship with my girlfriend, which lasted until the end of Season 2. After we broke up, I began to form an attraction to my father’s youngest wife, Margene. Last season, my father learned of this infatuation and he kicked me out of the house. I ended up going down to Mexico and getting kidnapped along with my grandfather and grandmother. My father came down and rescued us and forgave me for my sins. Since then, I have been on a righteous path. Ben is growing wiser and more mature in this new fifth season. Or is he? Sometimes, I think Ben is a normal guy in an extraordinary circumstance and other times I think he’s just a little sexual deviant.

DA MAN: You’ve been in the business for over a dozen years, would you call Big Love your breakout role?
Douglas Smith:
Yes I would call Big Love my breakout role. No question about it.

DA MAN: We hear you are also a musician, what can you tell us about that?
Douglas Smith:
I have recorded a full length album with my band His Orchestra and an EP with my side project Alaskan Summer. I write the majority of the songs for both bands. I am a performing artist. Acting and music fit under that umbrella quite naturally.

DA MAN: Where did you get the musical talent?
Douglas Smith:
My mother was trained as an opera singer. Now, she is a piano and voice coach, so I think I definitely got my musical talent from her.

DA MAN: When did you realize that acting/showbiz was the right thing for you and your career?
Douglas Smith:
I had done a little acting as a kid, but I didn’t have an agent or anything. The decision came when I was 14 years old. I saw the movie American Beauty and it just stopped me dead in my tracks. At the time, I thought I wanted to be an Olympic runner. After seeing that movie, I quit the track team and got an agent.

DA MAN: Have you ever taken formal acting courses, or are you just a natural and picked it up?
Douglas Smith:
I work privately with a coach before everything and I have attended a number of different acting classes over the last 10 years. Additionally, I have been able to observe some of the greatest actors in the business on a daily basis: Bruce Dern, Mary Kay Place, Harry Dean Stanton, Bill Paxton … these guys are amazing!

DA MAN: Who is the coolest cast-member you’ve ever worked with?
Douglas Smith:
Bill Paxton [who plays Bill Henrickson on Big Love].

DA MAN: Do you get back home to Canada much?
Douglas Smith:
I go to Canada quite a lot! My whole family lives there. My folks are in Vancouver. My big brother and little sister are in Toronto. My little bro is in Montreal.

DA MAN: Are you now living permanently in L.A.?
Douglas Smith:
Yes, I live in L.A. permanently, although I am planning on moving to New York after Big Love wraps.

DA MAN: Do you ever do shoots/episodes for Big Love in Utah, where it’s supposedly set?
Douglas Smith:
We shoot the show in and around Los Angeles.

DA MAN: Are you into the whole party scene?
Douglas Smith:
No, I am not, nor have I ever been, into the L.A. party scene.

DA MAN: Who do you hang out with there?
Douglas Smith: I hang out with other showbiz people.

DA MAN: If you weren’t an actor, what would you be?
Douglas Smith: If I wasn’t an actor, I would be an archeologist

DA MAN: Do you have any bizarre behind-the-scenes stories when doing a shoot?
Douglas Smith:
I’m not good at remembering things like that

DA MAN: Who are your influences as an actor?
Douglas Smith: My influences as an actor are: Jon Voight, Elliot Gould, John Cleese, Tim Robbins…pretty much anyone tall.

DA MAN: Who/what have been your musical influences?
Douglas Smith:
My biggest musical influence is The Beatles.

DA MAN: Which role/character have you played that is closest to the real Douglas?
Douglas Smith:
I am yet to play a role that feels close to the real me.

DA MAN: What is your biggest fear?
Douglas Smith: My biggest fear is being trapped inside an elevator.

DA MAN: What is your most treasured possession?
Douglas Smith:
My most treasured possession? That would have to be my cat, her name is Julia.

DA MAN: Where do you hope to be 10 years from now?
Douglas Smith:
Ten years from now I hope to be working. I love to work.

To see more of Douglas, pick up DA MAN’s December 2010/January 2011 issue or subscribe.

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