The Hunter’s Path: Exclusive Interview with Hunter Doohan

DAMAN chats with actor Hunter Doohan about his appearance in “Your Honor,” on working with his favorite actor and more

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American actor Hunter Doohan first became interested in acting during his high school days. Sounds like the American dream, but he was lucky enough that his high school and community theatre had great programs that helped shape him into the actor that he is today. Maybe it’s just pure luck, or perhaps, destiny. But Hunter Doohan went from being a fan of “Breaking Bad” into working together with the lead role of the iconic show. The Los Angeles-based actor has come a long way from his hometown in Fort Smith, Arkansas, but not without a fight and plenty of determination. Doohan has paid his dues, and now he’s well on his way to becoming a good—nay, great—performer.

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DAMAN: Hi Hunter, great to have you with us. How are you doing these days?
Hunter Doohan: Thank you for having me! I am doing well and just grateful to be safe and healthy right now.

DA: What was growing up in Fort Smith, Arkansas, like for you? Also, have you always had Hollywood aspirations?
HD: I loved growing up in Fort Smith. I try and go back as often as possible but this year’s holiday plans had to be a little different, so I’m missing my friends and family. And no, I haven’t. I was lucky to have great high school and community theatre programs that got me interested in acting during high school.

DA: Can you tell us a b it about the drama series you’ve recently appeared in? “Your Honor”…
HD: I’m so proud of this show! I keep telling people this is a show I genuinely would’ve been a fan of without any connection at all. I mean, it’s Bryan Cranston! So, Cranston plays Michael Desiato, a respected judge in New Orleans whose son gets involved in a deadly hit and run accident. At first, Michael knows they should go to the police, but they find out the boy who died is the son of the head of a vicious crime family. So, Michael is forced to cover up the crime to protect his son.

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DA: Tell us about your character, Adam Desiato, and what you think about him…
HD: Well, he’s no criminal mastermind, which is made pretty clear by the trail of evidence he leaves behind! [Laughs] Adam is a good kid at heart; but ultimately, he panics and makes a terrible mistake out of fear. I think anyone outside of the situation can look at what he does and clearly say it’s the wrong thing to do, but I understand why he decides to leave. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent so much time in Adam’s head, but I hope I was able to portray that as flawed as he is. He’s human and it’s a terrible, messy—but undeniably honest—reaction.

DA: We learned that “Your Honor” is an adaptation from the Israeli TV series “Kvodo.” Comparatively speaking, what can we expect from this new adaptation?
HD: Yes! It’s such a great concept for a show and obviously I’m so glad they decided to adapt it here in the U.S. You can expect a version of the show that honors the original, but [series developer] Peter Moffat and the rest of the incredible creative team have come up with so many exciting twists that will definitely have viewers on the edge of their seats.

DA: What was it like for you to work alongside Bryan Cranston?
HD: Incredible. He’s amazing, both as an actor and as just a really great guy. I learned so much from him. And it’s great to be in a scene with him, because not only does he make you better but you know if you mess up they can always cut to him and it’ll be brilliant.

DA: Are you a fan of him?
HD: Absolutely! I’m a gigantic “Breaking Bad” fan.

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DA: “Your Honor” is an intense drama series. Did you face any challenges in getting in touch with your character?
HD: Of course. Adam makes some terrible choices, but who wants to watch a show where all the characters only do the right thing? A lot of actors talk about not judging the character you’re playing, but to me Adam is judging himself for the mistakes he’s made. In fact, Adam hates himself for what he’s done so that was a way in for me to understand what was going on with him.

DA: How was the casting process like for “Your Honor”?
HD: Long. It took about four months from my first self-tape I sent in for Adam until eventually, after several rounds, they flew me to New York to read with Bryan Cranston. That was nerve-racking but a lot of fun. He really gave me so much to work off of. He even grabbed my face in a scene just minutes after meeting him. And I got to shout out to Junie Lowry Johnson and Libby Goldstein who were the casting directors when I first auditioned, and who also cast me in “Truth Be Told”!

DA: Speaking of which, you also have a recurring role in “Truth Be Told” where you play Aaron Paul’s younger self. Your path with the cast members of “Breaking Bad” seem to be in line. What do you think about that coincidence?
HD: Ha ha, yeah! I keep telling people I feel like I won some kind of “Breaking Bad” fan sweepstakes. But really, I just feel beyond lucky to have gotten to work with two of my favorite actors on such incredible projects!

DA: By the way, what is your creative process like when preparing for a character?
HD: Honestly, I felt a lot of pressure to prepare in the most in-depth way I could for this role. I think it’s because I knew how lucky I was to have gotten it. Beyond working off of the incredible scripts and relentlessly rehearsing those, I tried to research every aspect of Adam as best as I could. I learned how to shoot on film and develop in a dark room since Adam is a photographer. To portray Adam’s asthma and PTSD from the crash I met with a pulmonologist in L.A. and spoke with two psychiatrists about everything Adam is going through in the scripts.

DA: Going back to the beginning a bit, how did you initially get involved in acting?
HD: I got involved in theatre in high school while growing up back home in Arkansas.

DA: Do you still remember what your first professional acting gig was and how it felt?
HD: I guess it was this movie I did called “Soundwave.” Dylan Narang directed it and I had the best time and learned so much.

DA: How do you see yourself in the next, say, three to five years?
HD: I have absolutely no idea. I just hope I can continue to be as fortunate as I’ve been and get to work on some great projects.

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DA: We learned that besides acting, you also enjoy working behind the camera and have been part of several shorts. Tell us more about your short movies…
HD: A lot of people have asked about these. Advice to actors: Be careful what you put on your IMDb. Really, they’re just shorts I made with friends because no one was giving us opportunities, so we made them for no money so we could have material for our reels. I do love writing and directing though, so I’ll continue to do both.

DA: If you had to pick just one between writing, acting and directing, which would you choose and why?
HD: I don’t, so I won’t!

DA: Any upcoming projects that you can tell us about? More of your own short movies, perhaps?
HD: I’ve been writing a lot during quarantine. Other than that, I’m just excited to be back in L.A. reading scripts and to be auditioning again.

DA: We read that you’re a TV buff too. What’s your favorite series and why?
HD: You’re going to think I’m lying, but it’s “Breaking Bad.” But besides that, I loved “Game of Thrones,” currently watching “The Sopranos”—I know I’m behind—and I just finished “The Queen’s Gambit” which I loved!

DA: What has the pandemic taught you so far?
HD: I learned how to bake bread like everyone else, apparently!

DA: What are your plans for 2021?
HD: That’s really what the pandemic has taught me: Don’t rely too much on your plans! I don’t think there was a magical switch as soon as the clock strikes midnight on January first. So, for now, my plan is to wear my mask and hopefully get back to work as soon as possible!

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PHOTOGRAPHY Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
STYLING Kimberly Goodnight
GROOMING Dillon Pena