Actor Gregg Daniel and I sat down to talk about some of his many roles, including Truth or Dare, which recently opened in theaters, and his recurring role on series like “True Blood“.
Gregg got his start on the stage while at NYU’s Tisch Scholl of the Arts before going on to appear in over a hundred roles in films like Hancock, Spider-Man 3, and Hollywood Homicide. You might also recognize him for his appearances in “Grey’s Anatomy”, “True Detective”, “Castle”, “Weeds”, or “Ghost Whisperer.”
Horror Fuel: “Where did you find your inspiration for your portrayal of Reverend Daniels in True Blood?”
Gregg Daniel: “I grew up in the church. My father was very involved in the church. We went to church every Sunday. I went to Sunday school for an hour, then we’d go to the service. So, I have a long line of being involved with the church as well. In fact, I thought that I was going to go to Divinity school. People in the church really supported me. I wanted to bring that to True Blood. In True Blood, we’ve got vampires, witches, warlocks, werewolves, Reverend Daniels tries to keep the calm. Even with all of these supernatural creatures he’s trying to bring the community together. With everything going on he’s still trying to bring people together. I definitely drew on growing up in the church, the Bible, and scripture.”
Horror Fuel: I really loved True Blood. I remember in one scene where you and Tara’s mom performed that exorcism. That was a crazy scene.”
Gregg Daniel: “That was a fun scene to shoot. How do you exorcise a demon? It was left up to me and the actress who played my wife, the incredibly talented Née Thornton. It was left up to us what to do. They did prepare a song for us to learn. Creatively, that was a lot of fun. I sure did love working on that show. That was probably my favorite scene.
We had to exorcise a spirit out of a baby. We sang, we went about shaking the tambourine. That was really fun for me to do.”
Horror Fuel: “That was a great scene and episode.”
Gregg Daniel: “Thank you.”
Gregg Daniel: “I was on True Blood for a number of seasons. That was really a gas. I just love what they did with that series.
Reverend Daniels was trying to hold everyone together. How do you hold a community together? How do you bring God to these people and make them understand each other? It was a real thrill to work on that.”
Horror Fuel: “I imagine it wouldn’t be easy to bring humans, vampires, werewolves, fairies and everything else together.”
Horror Fuel: “You played the role of Tara’s stepfather. When she turns into a vampire, how do you think the Reverend felt about it?”
Gregg Daniel: “Very distressing [laughter]. Well, he thought how do I un-vampire her? There has to be a way. My task then was, well, this is my family, how can help her and keep her from hurting others? It’s complicated now, this is family. That was my goal. Then his wife got a little possessed.”
Horror Fuel: “What was it like to work on the set of True Blood with all the special effects and other cast members?”
Gregg Daniel: “It was wonderful. It was a large ensemble cast, so there were a few people I wouldn’t see for weeks only at the table reads because we weren’t on the same set or there at different times. The people I did work with, we all brought our A-game and so every episode we had we set out to do the best we could do. You have to stay focused and supportive of other cast members. It really was a group of professionals coming together to do the best episode possible, every day. Anna Paquin was really great. It was a treat. We had a very loyal fan base. There were times when we were filming and out of nowhere fans would show up. No one got rowdy. They would ask you about an episode or maybe ask for a photo. The fans taught me a lot, they knew everything about that show. I’d like to work with Alan Ball and HBO again.”
Horror Fuel: “I see a pattern with a lot of your roles being in law enforcement, detectives like in Spider-Man 3, police chiefs like with Hancock, and Judges in True Detective and General Hospital. Is that a coincidence or do you pursue those type of roles?”
Gregg Daniel: “Well, I guess when casting directors think of me they think of me as an authority figure. Rather if you are a cop or judge, people want to think of you as an authority figure, someone you want to trust. Casting directors get that. I might be a good choice. I think that is the way casting directors think of me. I tend to book a lot of shows and features because I guess I emulate that in some way.
I moved out here from New York. It’s been very good for me. I’ve always had projects. That’s a blessing. There are thousands and thousands of good actors, I’m not sure why I keep getting those roles. I’m very humbled and thankful for it. It’s an achievement that I’m very proud of. You learn your craft and you’ll have a long career. I want to have a long career. Getting into your 60s, 70,s, look at Christopher Plummer, my goodness. When you hire seasoned actors you’re going to get what you pay for. That’s an advantage you get when you hire a seasoned actor, you are going to get what you need and get it consistently, you get it every take.”
Horror Fuel: “Speaking of law enforcement roles, can you tell us about your character Detective Kranis in Truth or Dare?”
Gregg Daniel: “I didn’t want to play him like a police officer, but more like a father figure or favorite uncle. These kids from college are dying left and right from playing this game. I don’t have enough information to know why, but while I was in the investigation room with Lucy Hale, who played Olivia, I am trying to find out. He probably has kids that age, he’s sympathetic, and he wants her to trust him. I like to think that I’m the adult in the room and a sympathetic character. I truly want to help them, someone they can trust. I want to save the kids that are left before the same thing happens to them. The ones that have died, died pretty grisly. I’m trying to get enough information from them so I can save them. I have to stop it.”
Horror Fuel: “What would you say is the scariest aspect of Truth or Dare?”
Gregg Daniel: “When you see the movie it’s a personal thing, but when someone is possessed by a demon their face takes on a different look. It only lasts about thirty seconds, but I thought it was so great of the special effects people when they’re possessed, their faces take on this look, but to me, that was such a treat. One minute they’re good-looking folks and then, and it’s very subtle, that’s when they look inhabited by the demon. Then, it goes back to the regular face. I mean wow! That scared me more than anything, trying to guess who is possessed. Oh man. The corners of their mouth open up, their eyebrows kind of look like Doctor Spock’s, and the look in their eyes like they’re gleaming. I was like, “Oh my God. Something is happening.”
Horror Fuel: “Any chance of a sequel?”
Gregg Daniel: “It would be great if there was a sequel to our Truth or Dare. Let’s just say there is room at the end to create another film if they were inclined to it. The film has done very well at the box office. I have no inside information. This is only a wish on my part.”
Horror Fuel: “Is it true that besides film and TV roles, you also have a love for the theater?”
Gregg Daniel: “Yes, that was how I was trained. I’m from New York and I was trained there. After I graduated I spent eight, nine, ten years touring the country. Texas, Maine, I went anywhere there was work. That really helped me to be a stronger actor. That’s been really important in my life. I love film and television, but on stage where you have a different audience every night and it’s different every night it’s due to the chemistry with the audience. I always go back and do a few plays a year if I can. I think for an actor that’s a good testing ground. You can’t fix it in post, you can’t edit it away, it’s live. You really have to have your craft together.”
Horror Fuel: “I imagine.”
Horror Fuel: “Do you have any films or projects coming out that we should look out for?”
Gregg Daniel: “I just shot a pilot in Vancouver, I can’t say much about it, but I will say that it’s kind of Mork and Mindy meets Men in Black. It’s a comedy, and very, very funny. I have not heard yet if it is going to be picked up. That is a project that I would love to continue to work on.
I do have a feature called Jerico, it’s set in the Jim Crow era. It just came out on DVD and it’s out on Amazon, Wal-Mart, Best Buy. You can buy it anywhere online. I went to Dallas, Texas over the weekend to the release party. It’s a funny but moving film.”