— by VANNA LAND —
I recently had the opportunity to interview character actor Dan Braverman. If you haven’t heard his name before, that soon may change.
Like so many others, he has not been an overnight success. He has been working in acting since moving to Galveston, Texas, in ‘96 or 97, starting first on stage — after spending years fronting a rock band.
In 2010, several movies featuring Braverman are set to be released, including “Artois the Goat,” “The Waiter,” “Dead of Night” and “Dead of Knight.” And no, just in case you are wondering, that is not a duplication with a typo mixed in.
He speaks highly of “Artois the Goat,” which he calls a fun comedy.
“To be completely honest, ‘Artois’ is one of the best movies I have ever seen, and not because I’m in it,” Braverman said. “I just love it, and would love it anyway, even if I weren’t in it. But I’m glad I am! It was also the most grueling shoot I’ve ever been involved with, but was well worth it.”
“The Waiter” is an independent film written and directed by Jason Konopisos with Charles Durning in the lead role.
“‘The Waiter’ is very much a post 9/11, post-Enron, Bush-era political commentary, and those times have passed,” Braverman said. “I think it will do well in Europe, as it is a very European type of a movie.”
He went on to say it may end up being more of “a cult film, along the lines of ‘Arlington Road,’ which was also filmed in Houston.” He described “The Waiter” as gory and violent, but very well done.
Braverman said “Dead of Night” is “basically a parody of film noir — an original idea.”
He plays a Mafioso zombie in the film named Big Al. “Dead of Night” is based on the very popular Italian comic book character Dylan Dog. In the movie, Dylan Dog (played by Brandon Routh) is a supernatural private eye relocated in the film to the Louisiana bayou.Braverman plays a detective in “Dead of Knight,” which is an independent, small budget horror film produced and directed by Joe Grisaffi.
This movie features a medieval knight who goes on a deadly quest after being accidentally released into the present day.
I asked him whether if it was confusing to be a part of two films that are so closely titled.
“It is indeed,” Braverman replied. “A couple of Web sites are confusing the two, and aren’t sure which of my characters is in which movie. It’s also confusing because they are both supernatural horror/comedies and there are some similarities in the plots. The ‘Dead of Knight’ people are elated, because that one is very low-budget and the confusion is getting them noticed on some of the ‘Dead of Night’ sites — i.e.: free advertising they could never afford. DoK decided to reciprocate and gave DoN a plug on one of their sites. I think whoever likes one of these movies is going to like the other one also. It’s a funny business, isn’t it?”
When speaking of his other work, Braverman said: “‘Friday Night Lights’ seems like a documentary. We didn’t rehearse, they just wanted to make sure you hit this and that.”
He also has appeared on “Prison Break,” and in a Jessica Simpson movie — “Blonde Ambition” — as a cab driver.
I mentioned a picture I had seen of him, commenting that I found it sweet he has the name of his wife, Holly, tattooed on his arm.
“I owe her so much, it’s the least I can do,” Braverman said. “I’m proud to have her name on my arm.”
He credits his wife with any success he has had, saying she has had faith in him even when he had lost faith in himself.
Braverman lives with his wife in Galveston, which is about the same driving distance to New Orleans, Dallas, Shreveport or Austin. Most of his acting work has been in those cities and New Orleans is even promoting itself now as “The Hollywood of the South.” When asked if he had noticed an increase in the number of movies shooting in these cities in recent years, he said “it sort of shifts between those locations.”
Braverman said he had gotten an agent just shortly before Hurricane Katrina, adding, “Most of the work is now in New Orleans. Most of the Louisiana (movie) business is now in New Orleans. Texas just passed new movie incentives and they are just now gearing up and some things are coming back to Austin.”
We spoke briefly about how he and his wife had stayed for Hurricane Ike last year when it made a direct hit on Galveston. He said they thought they were prepared, but what they didn’t prepare for was fire.
“Fire was the scariest and least predictable and with all the flooding, you were trapped where you were,” Braverman said. “It was the least likely thing to prepare for.”
I asked him what aspects of the business he found to be the most enjoyable.
“Actually reading the script,” he said. “When I get a complete script, it is like unwrapping a Christmas present. I always read the whole thing. I like to read the whole thing to see how my character fits in. I like doing the work better than anything. I have a golden opportunity to live in a make believe world. It is like getting paid to play — like being a child.”
Braverman said he hates having to wait for any of his movies to come out. He said he has enjoyed everything he’s done equally “because you get to delve into all aspects of your personality. Playing people that are the most different are the most interesting to me. It is a real creative outlet. It is a permanent record — not like when you do theater, which I also enjoy — a permanent record of your creativity.”
When asked if he had had any acting lessons, he responded that he taken a few drama classes and TV acting classes at the University in Houston, but his best learning experience has been teaching. He has taught English since 1978, mostly English as a second language, but also has taught public speaking and a few other classes.
“Teaching is really Improv Acting 101,” Braverman said. “Right now, I’m doing about half teaching, half acting and, as Davy Crocker would say, half auditioning.”
He said being the front man for a death rock band for about 10 years also was good preparation.
“If you can get on stage where they are throwing knives and beer bottles at you, it cures you of ever having any stage fright,” Braverman said. “The trick to most acting is just being real. People have a problem being real. Get on camera and be yourself or whatever that character is suppose to be. You have to be believable to the audience — they have to believe the guy is the real guy.”
I asked whether anyone had ever told him he looked like Dennis Franz from the TV show “NYPD Blue.” He said he has and that he was even asked to do an impression of Franz in “Dead of Knight,” where he plays a detective.Asked if there were any actors or directors that he particularly enjoyed working with or would like to work with in the future, Braverman answered: “Probably young up-and-coming directors the Bogart Brothers from ‘Artois the Goat’ and Joe Grisaffi the director of ‘Dead of Knight.’ They are on the cusp of becoming well known. Also, Kevin Munroe (the director of ‘Dead of Night’), he gave me a lot of leeway. He let me ad lib. He is actually a beginner, as well. This is actually his first live action movie. I found him real easy to work with and he casts well. Casting is the most important. If you cast right, [the actors will] take the script and make it work. Time will tell.”
As far as actors, Braverman said he’d like another chance to work with “everybody in ‘Dead of Night’ — Brandon, [Sam] Huntington, Anita [Briem] — they were easy to work with and I suspect it probably shows on screen. Also, with Charles Durning [in ‘The Waiter’], it was an honor to be on screen with him. The people in ‘Artois the Goat’ were probably some of the best actors I have worked with. We did 15-hour days. We worked in a shack with no electricity. Antonio Bandares, he’s real nice.”
Braverman said he hasn’t met anybody that I hasn’t liked, but added that “some are nicer than others.”
“One more thing I wanted to add, just because I find it charming,” he said. “I was sitting in the hair stylists’ trailer next to Brandon and we talked a bit. I told him he was the best Superman ever — and meant it — and we talked about New Orleans. He said this was the first time he had been there, and I asked how he liked it. He said he was nervous about driving there and that it was difficult to find healthy food options. I thought, ‘This is the friggin’ Man of Steel, and he’s worried about driving and eating healthy?’ But I found it endearing and humanizing. Brandon conveys all of these human qualities in subtext as Superman. That is why he’s the best. I believe he’s brought the same qualities to bear on his interpretation of Dylan Dog. I love this guy.”
“TIME WILL TELL”
While doing research for this interview, I listened to an audio interview conducted several months ago by Lynda Guidry — who has known Dan Braverman for about 10 years — for her regional Online News Service “GuidryNews.com.” In the interview with Guidry, Braverman said that by the end of the year he expects to be a fairly well-known character actor.
“What I really want is to be the romantic lead in something,” he told Guidry. “I want to be the next Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie, it doesn’t matter.”During our conversation, I asked jokingly if he was still aiming for Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie. Braverman replied, “Well sure!,” then added that the comment actually had a basis in the fact — he had actually played a woman in one of the many stage plays he has been in.
“It was not a pretty thing,” he stated laughing.
As I said at the beginning, you will be seeing a lot of this talented actor. “Artois the Goat” is currently doing the festival circuit with an expected release date sometime in 2010. You can see a trailer here.
“The Waiter,” which is a social-political movie, also is expected to surface at theaters in 2010. “Dead of Knight” is expected to be released on DVD early next year – you can view a trailer here — and finally “Dead of Night” is due in theaters Spring or Fall 2010 (you can read an exclusive review of the first test screening here).
Braverman e-mailed me the following quote after we concluded the active part of the interview process: “When I get my first Oscar, I’m going to say ‘Vanna likes me! She really likes me!’”
I can’t help but wonder if I need to report this in light of new FTC rules requiring writers on the Web to clearly disclose any freebies or payments they may get in the process or reporting or reviewing. As Braverman said, “Time will tell.”
You can listen to the interesting audio interview between Guidry and Braverman at “GuidryNews.com.” The quote in this article was used with permission.
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