DAMAN chats with seasoned actor James Tupper about being part of “Big Little Lies” and his positive mindset on life.
With more than two-dozen titles to his name, James Tupper likely knows quite a bit about the finer details about acting and being an actor. The Canadian actor made his screen debut with a small part in David Spade’s comedy “Joe Dirt” before establishing a successful television career. He is known for his roles in many television series, including “Men in Trees”, “Mercy,” “Revenge” and the post-apocalyptic thriller “Aftermath” to name a few.
He now returns for season two of HBO’s high-powered drama “Big Little Lies” where he plays as Nathan Carlson, the ex-husband of Reese Witherspoon’s character and the current husband of Zoe Kravitz’s character. DAMAN talks with the seasoned actor and, naturally, he has quite a few stories about his journey that has shaped him into who he is today.
DAMAN: Hi James, awesome to have you with us. What have you been up to these days?
James Tupper: Swimming, running with my dogs, picking up my sweet boy from his tennis camp. Lucky!
DA: Congratulations on the success of “Big Little Lies” and the show’s upcoming second season. So, first of all, how does it feel shooting with an all-star cast?
JT: People always ask me if it’s difficult working with strong women. I love it. It’s a place I feel I belong as a strong man. Working beside great talent is affirming in a myriad of ways.
DA: Tell us more about your character, Nathan Carlson, and what about him that you’ve come to love and what you hate….
JT: I love that Nathan has to make some really tough choices this season. When women lose, their men lose too.
DA: Did working on “Big Little Lies” present any new challenges for you as an actor?
JT: Yes it did, funnily. So much star power! We did a read through and I was looking at five or six—you count them—of America’s greatest actresses all sitting in a row. Made me proud to be there.
DA: Who is your favorite character on “Big Little Lies” and why?
JT: I enjoyed all of them. This season though, Meryl Streep does something close to a miracle playing a mom looking for answers and clues. She is vulnerable yet totally unstoppable.
DA: You are not a stranger to the camera. Do you still get nervous on the first day of shoot?
JT: Yes, I suppose I do. Nerves are good. Keeps you sharp and it means you are doing what you are supposed to be doing.
DA: How do you always manage to bring your dynamic characters to life in each and every role?
JT: Geez, thanks for calling me dynamic. I guess I think of them as a rhythm in some ways. Actors are storytellers and I just want my part of the story to be true and unforgettable. Like this interview!
DA: Was there a role, a film project or even a single moment on set that made you go “yes, this is what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life”?
JT: No, but whenever my life steered me away from this choice I was always filled with a profound sadness. It gave my life purpose to go after this dream.
DA: In your opinion, what does it take for an actor to succeed in this day and age?
JT: Vulnerability, smarts, curiosity, tenacity, kindness and an understanding that you can always go deeper.
DA: What do you believe is the key to your success?
JT: I trained hard in New York and Montreal and then I forgave the people that hurt me. The people who betrayed me, I let it go. It made me free and opened up a space to grow. Then they couldn’t stop me anymore.
DA: What was the best piece of advice that you’ve ever heard and who is it from?
JT: Oh, sure: It’s nice to be important but it’s much more important to be nice. That’s from The Rock.
DA: Have you ever thought about what you’d be doing today if all those years ago you had not gone into acting?
JT: I wanted to build boats, be a spy or drive a long haul truck. Now it’s up to you to figure out if the spy part came true. “Canadian James Tupper Bond”
DA: Conversely, if we look back along your filmography so far, which titles would you say defined your career?
JT: Oh, I don’t know. Nowadays most people enjoy separate things. For instance, I went to Mexico City a couple of years ago and a lot of people recognized me from “Revenge,” which was different for me. I loved working with Richard Linkkater on “Me and Orson Welles” but the whole world didn’t see that. “Big Little Lies” is out now and my family back in Nova Scotia literally cannot believe I’m on screen with Meryl and Reese and Nicole. It’s all been really fun.
DA: What are the some of the things you still struggle with from being in this industry?
JT: I don’t know, I don’t love being away from my son. I mainly think of myself as the luckiest person in the west.
DA: What are some of your plans for the near and far future?
JT: Near: Go swimming. Far: write songs or music and make an album.
DA: In general, how do you decide which production or acting projects you want to be involved in?
JT: They come calling along. Some you really fight for and don’t get to do. Some just fall in your lap. You have to have a faith that you are being called to do something great. My purpose is to accept what I’m given and go as far and deep as I can.
“You have to have a faith that you are being called to do something great. My purpose is to accept what I’m given and go as far and deep as I can.”
DA: Which talent would you most like to have?
JT: Oh man, easy! To sing! I’d love to be a great singer.
DA: Who is your favorite fiction hero and why?
JT: I liked Daredevil. He was silent, swift and internal. He ran cool but was hot underneath.
DA: Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
JT: Dude! I don’t know, dude? I have boys and I’m so woke, dude.
DA: What do you do when you’re not busy filming?
JT: I’m trying to write/play songs. Travel. I love to eat out. But my favorite of all is spending time with my boy. As I just said that and he ran past here and said “Dad, let’s go!!” [Laughs].
DA: What are your plans for the rest of the year? Any exiting projects you can tell us about?
JT: Yes. Travelling to Vancouver, London, Nova Scotia in that order. And I’m going to go fishing off the Grand Banks.
DA: Last question: How do you keep a positive mindset each day?
JT: Well, I work out on most days. But the trick to staying positive is thinking about others. How and what to give. To surprise them and help make their dreams come true, without ever telling them.
PHOTOGRAPHY Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
STYLING Luca Kingston
Grooming Stephanie Hobgood
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