KILLER INSTINCT. A flourishing actor and talented musician, Riley Smith takes a break to talk to DA MAN about joining “True Blood,” songwriting and horses.
“Acting is my passion. Music is my hobby. Modeling is something I get to do on the side”
The irrepressible actor Riley Smith has racked up over fifty on-screen roles in the last twelve years, however he shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. The thirty-four-year-old actor has also managed to retain the youthful appearance that captured him so many roles early on in his career. After playing a paraplegic character in the soap opera rollercoaster “90210” and an outlaw in a pilot for Nicholas Spark’s “Deliverance Creek,” Smith also stars as a vampire in the final season of “True Blood.”
DA MAN: Riley, how are you doing? Congrats on joining the cast of “True Blood.” How did the role come about?
Riley Smith: Hey, thanks very much! Well the role came about extremely quickly. I was actually shooting the pilot for “Deliverance Creek” in Austin, and the show shares the same casting team as “True Blood.” So they called me in for this new vampire role of Keith and helped make it all possible. I met with the “True Blood” producers on a Thursday morning and received a call saying that the role was mine before I’d even got back to my house after the meeting. Twelve hours later, I was in a wardrobe fitting!
DA: Did the fact that you’re a musician help you adapt to the character of “Keith,” who is a rock drummer in the show?
RS: I love playing musicians, simply because music is a great hobby of mine. However, though Keith is a drummer in the show, there are very few scenes with him actually playing drums. As such, I didn’t really have to do much to prepare in that respect!
DA: So what’s challenging about playing Keith?
RS: Well, “fanging out” took some time to get used to. You have to get comfortable speaking with them in and basically learn how to not speak with a lisp. Otherwise, I really enjoyed playing him.
DA: How do you think the viewers can relate to Keith?
RS: He’s a hopeless romantic. I think everyone has that in them somewhere and can relate to him in that way, maybe also because he seems more human than some of the other vamps.
DA: “True Blood” is known as a show with dark, gory and supernatural elements. What is the atmosphere on set like and how are the other cast members?
RS: Quite the opposite actually. Everyone on set is so light and fun, which allows you to get creative and try new things. They are all understandably very close after being together for seven years, and they make the most of it. All the actors totally surpassed my expectations.
DA: Were you a fan of the show before joining?
RS: Yes I was! It was very surreal on the first day being in a room with them all, but thankfully I managed to get over it pretty quickly and do my job.
DA: The seventh season will be the last of “True Blood,” yet we’ve already heard that you’re also joining Nicolas Sparks’ “Deliverance Creek.” How do you manage to split the time between doing both projects?
RS: Well, I shot the two-hour backdoor pilot for “Deliverance Creek” before starting “True Blood.” The pilot will first be aired as a movie and, based on how it does, they will decide if they want to take it to series. So I guess I’ve just been lucky with the timing so far. And if all goes perfectly, I’ll finish “True Blood” and then get started on the series of “Deliverance Creek” straight after.
“I’m always writing. Every free moment I get, I try to create music”
DA: Tell us about “Deliverance Creek” and the role that you’re playing in the show?
RS: It’s a civil war romantic drama set in the 1800s from Nicholas Sparks, author of “The Notebook.” I play Toby, an outlaw who returns home to Deliverance Creek to rekindle a romance with his first love, Belle Gatlin, played by Lauren Ambrose. The shows got everything action, romance and drama. I think the audience is going to love it.
DA: If you had to pick a dramatic genre, say between the horror drama of “True Blood” and the teen drama of “90210,” which would it be?
RS: That’s impossible for me as the content, setting and characters are all so different, not to mention that I’ve had great experiences on both shows. I’ve got to pass on that question!
Leather jacket by Calvin Klein Collection
DA: Aside from the acting projects, do you still write songs every now and then?
RS: I’m always writing. Every free moment I get, I try to create music. It’s the artistic outlet that I get to have 100 percent control of and it’s also my meditation.
DA: What generally inspires you to write songs?
RS: Every song is different. Some are personal experiences. Some are things I’ve witnessed. Sometimes, it’s just a melody or beat that gets me going and then I get to make up a story for the sake of a song. I just try to keep an open mind and let the songs come to me.
T-shirt by BDG
DA: You’re also a talented horse rider. Do you still get to ride?
RS: Nowhere near as much as I’d like to. I just don’t have the time or resources. But my father is very big in the equestrian world, something I’m really proud of, so I will never lose touch complete. And I know that I always have a place in that world, whenever I find the time in the future.
DA: It’s clear that you’re a multitalented guy, who has dabbled in modeling, music and acting. But which one you actually prefer to do?
RS: Acting is my passion. Music is my hobby. Modeling is something I get to do on the side.
DA: Who are your role models in life?
RS: My family.
DA: Throughout your career, what’s the most important thing that you’ve learned?
RS: Work hard, be kind and always remember where you came from. It’s that simple.
“Work hard, be kind and always remember where you came from. It’s that simple”
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