Read our exclusive interview with actress Brea Grant, who portrays lab intern Ryan Chambers in the upcoming sixth season of Showtime’s hit drama series ‘Dexter’ co-starring Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter. Grant, who was excited to audition for the role because she’s a fan of the serial killer-based show and is a horror enthusiast, has also appeared in ‘Halloween II’ and TV’s ‘Heroes.’ The actress discusses with us, among other things, how she prepared for the role of Ryan, and why she decided to write a zombie series called “We Will Bury You” with her brother Zane.
ShockYa (SY): You’ll be appearing as Ryan Chambers in three episodes of the upcoming sixth season of ‘Dexter,’ which is set to debut in Fall 2011. How does Ryan fit into the season’s storyline?
Brea Grant (BG): I’ll be playing a new lab intern at the Miami Police Department who is a perfect match for Masuka…in many ways.
SY: What attracted you to Ryan? Were you a fan of the series before you were cast?
BG: I was a fan of the show (who isn’t??) because it’s so smartly written and pushes so many boundaries. When I got the opportunity to audition for the show, I jumped at it. Ryan’s a completely different character for me. I’m generally the smart but kind of dorky girl who marches to the beat of her own drum. There are elements of that here, but Ryan is definitely written as “sexy” as well as smart and a little dark. So, it’s interesting for me to be the hot girl on set as opposed to the girl with the glasses.
SY: How did you prepare for not only your role of Ryan, but also for appearing on a hit cable drama series about a serial killer? Did you do any research into the minds of killers?
BG: Ryan has an interest in the dark side, particularly in murderers and serial killers so because of that, I had a great excuse to read a bit of serial killer history, as well as re-watch earlier seasons of Dexter due to her obsession with Miami serial killers. But in as is the way with television, I think I knew I was going to be on the show about 4 days before I started shooting, so my prep time is always limited.
SY: The show’s executive producer and new showrunner Scott Buck has said that Dexter has changed his outlook on life since the end of Season 5; he’s now very centered, strong and focused, much like the way he was in season 1. Do you think these characteristics were part of the reason why the public was so drawn to the character when the show first premiered in 2006?
BG: Yeah – I think Dexter presents a whole new style of thinking. He’s a serial killer but relatable. That gray area is what drew people in at the start of the show – there was something both insane but likeable about Dexter. It’s something that a lot of good shows are doing now – ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘Weeds,’ ‘House’ – there’s no black and white in a lot of television anymore. ‘Dexter’ is on the extreme end of that clearly, but people in middle America can still somehow relate.
SY: Besides ‘Dexter,’ you’ve also appeared in a variety of television genres, including the sci-fi thriller ‘Heroes’ and the comedy ‘Valley Peaks.’ Do you use different acting techniques when working on different genres?
BG: Well ‘Valley Peaks’ is a web series so that’s a whole different world altogether. As far as different genres go, the rules are the same – learning lines, hitting marks, generally trying not to suck – but every show has its own tone. I think it’s important for actors to know what the feeling of each show is before they join, even just for a guest star. Of course you want to bring something interesting and new, but on a show like ‘Dexter’ or ‘Heroes,’ the characters are completely different from a sitcom or even a regular procedural. And I think a good actor has to bring his or her ideas and talents while staying true to the world he or she is entering.
SY: You’ll also be appearing as Pammy in next year’s action-comedy movie ‘The Baytown Disco,’ alongside Paul Wesley, Billy Bob Thornton and Eva Longoria. The movie follows a woman who hires three outlawed and redneck brothers to bring her godson back to her. What were some of the most memorable scenes you had while filming?
BG: I think the most amazing thing was watching Zoe Bell walk into a bar with a giant gun blazing. She’s such a badass.
SY: Do you have any movies or television shows lined up right now?
BG: Technically I’m still doing ‘Dexter’ right now. I’m also shooting a sci-fi road trip movie in the fall I co-wrote with my friend Vera Miao called ‘Best Friends Forever.’
SY: In addition to ‘Dexter’ and ‘Heroes,’ you’ve also acted in such horror thriller films as ‘Halloween II’ and ‘You’re So Dead.’ What were some of the most shocking horror movies you’ve seen that convinced you to appear in the genre?
Some of my favorite, more shocking horror movies are ‘Devil’s Rejects,’ ‘Hard Candy,’ ‘Drag Me to Hell’ and ‘Teeth.’ Obviously those are all shocking for different reasons. Rob Zombie is brilliant because he can take completely unlikeable characters and make them likeable. ‘Hard Candy’ does the opposite because it makes you question right and wrong about a character who you should be cheering for. A movie like ‘Drag Me to Hell’ literally will shock you so much, you’ll jump in your theater seat. And ‘Teeth’… well, it just has the most shocking premise you could ever imagine.
SY: You have also written a zombie series called We Will Bury You with your brother Zane. Where did you get the inspiration for the series?
BG: Zane and I are both horror fans and comic fans and he called me up one day saying we should put our Masters degrees to use by writing something historically accurate but horror. So we wrote a 1920s zombie comic. I love history and I love horror so it seemed the logical choice.
Written by: Karen Benardello