Ian Anthony Dale is often recognized for his break out role in NBC’s acclaimed series “The Event” as double agent Simon Lee and “Hawaii Five-0.” His additional television credits include a series regular role on “Surface,” and recurring roles on “Day Break,” “24,” and “Criminal Minds.” He has also appeared on “American Horror Story,” “The Mentalist,” and all three shows in the “CSI” franchise. Starting next month he starts production on TNT’s “Murder In The First” which airs this summer. We sit down and talk about his career, films, and more. Read below for the full Q&A…
You are a multi disciplined actor who lends his voice to games, is comfortable behind a TV camera, as well as a film camera. Is it tough to juggle these multiple interests at times?
Ian: I’ve been extremely fortunate to make my living doing something that I really enjoy, and I’m at my happiest when my plate is full. I’m entering into a very exciting time in my career and I’d like to explore as many creative opportunities as I can over the next several years. I don’t think it’s possible for me to ever be too busy.
What is the main difference between TV and film? Are films easier due to shorter shooting times?
Ian: The differences between TV and film are becoming smaller and smaller. The quality of television has gotten so good, particularly on cable. Cable networks are not held to the same stringent regulations that limit the types of stories the broadcast networks can tell, making it possible for more risk taking shows like “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead” to be on the air. For that very reason, I’ve always wanted to work in cable, and I’m excited to finally have the chance to do so this February when we start production on TNT’s “Murder In The First.”
You’ve been cast in some of the most iconic shows, from JAG, to The Event, to Hawaii Five-0, are you just lucky to have chosen all these successful projects or is there a specific method to your acting selection process?
Ian: I’m certainly lucky for all the opportunities I’ve been given throughout my career and for the many wonderful relationships I have made along the way. When it comes to selecting projects, I tend to look at the quality of the material and people involved and ask myself if it’s something that I genuinely find interesting and want to be involved with. But with every project, no mater how interesting, sometimes you’re the right guy for the job and sometimes you’re not. I’ve been the wrong guy more times then not, but fortunately for a number of really great projects, I’ve been right.
Having acting ties in both Tekken and Mortal Kombat and lending your voice to Call of Duty, I can only assume you’re a video game fan. Did you experience any pressure having to represent Scorpion who is well known by many video game enthusiasts?
Ian: It’s been a privilege to be associated with such a storied franchise as Mortal Kombat, and for me, getting to play Scorpion has truly been an honor. There is an enormous responsibility that comes with playing such an iconic character, one that I didn’t take lightly. Going into it, I knew that everyone was going to have his or her own expectations for this character, and it would be impossible for me to live up to every single one of those expectations. I just made sure to do my very best and hoped that my portrayal would elicit a positive response.
We talked to Brian Tee a few weeks ago who told us his secret to playing Liu Kang was that in able to really play him in truth, you have to strip away what he is and really get into who he is. Did you have a similar process embodying Scorpion?
Ian: I did. I felt it was important, particularly in season one, to find the humanity of the character and make him someone the audience could relate to. In season one we got a chance to see him with his wife and child, being a family man and a father, and we were able to connect with him through the loss he experiences when his family is murdered. This connection makes it possible to continue to root for him even after he transforms into the much darker, blood thirsty Scorpion of season two.
What can you tell us about ‘Murder In The First’ and what kind of character Jim Koto is all about?
Ian: “Murder In The First” is a powerful new crime drama from Emmy winner Steven Bochco and newcomer Eric Lodal that takes an up-close and personal look at a complex homicide investigation. Set in San Francisco, “Murder” will follow a single case across an entire season, from the commitment of the crime, through the investigation, arrest, and trial. The drama centers on homicide detectives Terry English (Taye Diggs) and Hildy Mulligan (Kathleen Robertson) as they investigate the murder of an apparent drug addict with connections to one of Silicon Valley’s most influential young tech geniuses. I play Terry and Hildy’s superior, Lieutenant Jim Koto, a rising star for the San Francisco police department with ambitions to one day become Mayor.
What are some of your favorite Asian films?
Do you feel, yourself, personally, have paved the way for more Asian-American roles in Hollywood?
Ian: I am just one of many Asian American actors working in Hollywood today that are determined to bolster the perception of Asian Americans through our work and our visibility. I think the more we all continue to strive for excellence and do good work the more opportunities there will be for all of us.
Being an actor probably requires that a lot of your time be spent in Los Angeles, but I know you like to travel. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you like to settle down in?
Ian: I took a trip to Japan back in 2011 to promote “The Event” and absolutely fell in love with the place. I was so impressed with the food and the architecture, but most importantly, with the people. I’d never experienced a culture before that was so kind and generous and respectful. I could definitely see myself living there one day.
Lastly, any advice for young actors out there?
Ian: Don’t dwell on the things that are out of your control. Instead, pour all of your focus and efforts into the things you can control. Remember that the one thing you will always have complete control over is how hard you work. Nobody can take that away from you.
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