Actor Sam Daly, who is starring in the upcoming movie Office Uprising alongside Zachary Levi, talks to BLEEP about his perspective on his craft, his famous family, and being recognized for one very specific role on The Office.
You come from a showbiz family. What made you want to carve out your own career in the same field?
I do come from a showbiz family. There’s nothing normal about having two parents as actors. I actually wrote my college essay about having actors as parents. I wasn’t a kid actor at all and I kinda poke fun at my parents for making faces for a living. While there’s nothing normal about the profession, when both of your parents are doing it, it becomes the norm. It’s all I ever knew. Both my dad’s parents were actors, my aunt Tyne is a celebrated actor as well. It really wasn’t until I went off to college that I took a film class and realized I had a deeply ingrained passion for film and television as mediums. Having been exposed to so much of it as an early age, I had an interesting perspective on it. I studied abroad and got to write, direct and act in my films. That’s when I was really bit by the bug.
Do people still ask you about playing “gay warehouse guy” on The Office? You’ve done work on comedies, dramas, films and TV shows. Is there a format you’ve found challenges you more than the others?
If I get recognized, 9 out of 10 times it’s as the “gay warehouse guy” from The Office. If I go near a college campus, kids will come up and say that. It’s been 8 years now but it’s still a show that resonates with people and has so many super fans. They are so fanatically faithful and know the ins and outs of every episode. But I get it. It was the first show I’d seen every episode of when I went to work on it. I knew where to go in the office and who sat where and everything. It was such an incredible experience. It was supposed to be a tiny role but turned into a recurring guest spot for a few episodes. I’ll never take that for granted and being around all those other actors was a blessing.
It’s interesting because comedy really is challenging but it’s so much fun to film. The end game is to get laughs so that makes it fun, but you can also be making something really dramatic and have a blast doing it because it’s a joy to work with the people on the project. I think there are challenges to both and I’m glad to have been able to do both.
What was the most surprising thing about working on your new movie, Office Uprising?
The first thing would have to be the action and stunts performed in this movie. I knew it was going to be an action comedy but I didn’t realize how amazing the action was going to be. This was my first time seeing people thrown through walls and tossed by cables. There were flamethrowers and things exploding. That was the biggest surprise.
How do you nurture your craft? What do you do to push yourself and make yourself better as an actor?
When I was first waiting tables to try to make ends meet, I would work with other people who were actors. I’d ask them if they had agents or were taking classes or going to auditions and many of them would say no—they wouldn’t be doing anything except saying they were an actor. What I think is this: If you want to be a professional basketball player, you take a thousand jump shots to get better at what you do. Even if you’re already a professional, you’re still on the court working to get better at it. I approach acting the same way. For instance, I’m constantly trying to memorize classical or modern monologues. I just recently learned one from Julius Caesar just to have that in the bank and really be able to work on that phrasing. Last year, I did a class with Larry Moss to feed that artistic element within me. I love to collaborate on short projects with friends and perform in writing labs to help bring new writers’ work to life. I work really hard at what I do and I take it seriously. Yes, there’s the aspect of working out to take care of your body and your mind, but you have to show up to work with that sword being sharp.
What’s a misconception you think young actors have about life in the business?
I think the misconception is about how hard it really is to have a career as an actor. The way social media has taken off, everything seems to be about YouTube stars and kids with enormous social media followings. But the reality is that it takes a lot of work and dedication to do this for a living. I think a lot of actors get into it to become a celebrity because they see that lifestyle on TV or in the tabloids, but they don’t see how hard it is to go audition over and over. I think if you’re getting into this to be a celebrity or make a lot of money, you’re in it for the wrong reason.