Daniel Hepner is a unique individual. Unique in the finest sense of the word. Originally from Sydney, Australia, he has lived in Los Angeles since 2000 and has experience with commercial, television, film, and theatrical work. He has appeared on shows such as Days of Our Lives, The Office, and Ghost Whisperer, movies that include Alice in Wonderland and A Thousand Words, and commercials for companies such as Burger King. For his photoshoot, we went for a few specific character looks: the cold-hearted, elitist snob (think Ryan Phillipe in Cruel Intentions), a hideous, poorly-dressed foreign dude (who just immigrated from Germany and can also pass as a high school teacher), and a bored yet witty office worker in his mid-30’s. Sometimes we nailed the exact look we wanted, and other times we were graced with interesting variations. Needless to say, we had fun throughout the process. Daniel was kind enough to answer some questions I had for him following the shoot. . .
What led you to acting?
In the beginning, like when I was about 8 or 9 (and maybe for a lot longer after,) acting was was an escape from reality for me. I often felt really shy around people, so it was a chance to be the center of attention and express something in front of an audience.
What is one (or some) of your favorite roles that you’ve played in your lifetime? Why?
I played a Porn Star on stage once. I loved taking on that sexual confidence and mixing it with a masked emotional vulnerability. Actually what I really loved was directly addressing the audience.
I loved being in makeup and costume when I did a day’s background work on Alice in Wonderland. It was so exciting to be a part of that creation even though I had so little to do -it really gave me a sense of wonder and amazement. I got to watch a lot of great people (such as Tim Burton and Colleen Atwood) do their jobs on set. Talk about marvel -I was basically walking around with my mouth hanging open.
What is your ideal role?
There’s no “ideal” role. It’s about making the most of every role, and that’s not easy to do. But that said -I truly love comedy that’s supported by a good sense of truth. I enjoy playing characters that seem unlikeable or unpleasant. I feel like I can specialize in this area. I gravitate towards characters that really stand out in a crowd and are interesting to me. Basically I want to represent the neurotic unlikeable freaks! I want people to laugh (at themselves, at me and at LIFE) and I want to laugh with them. Nothing’s funnier than the truth.
How do you define character?
I currently define character as how someone acts under pressure. That’s per my current acting teacher Steve Tiestort at The Imagine Life.
Did you enjoy our photoshoot? Why/why not?
I enjoyed the collaboration and especially the improv I had with the Photographer and Susan (the other gal on the shoot.) It was easy and fun, and I got to play in different situations.
What actor do you admire most?
You mean other than me? I always forget. There isn’t just one person. But I seem to like watching a lot of women actors these days. Like Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett. I used to have a James Dean complex. I love Miranda Richardson. Leonardo DiCaprio always wins me over and is great to watch. Brian Cox is amazing. I love “Old Hollywood” too, the actors were really graceful onscreen and (at least)in their public image.
I also admire the actors that make their material. Especially the British comics like Jennifer Saunders and Tracey Ullman and then ofcourse there’s Woody Allen.
Anything else you’d like to add about yourself? (something strange, funny, quirky…)
Hmmm… I love eating. In restaurants. Especially steak, fried chicken and dessert like ice cream. And I love to travel to Europe and Australia. And I love to dance. I definitely have my own style. I sort of learnt to dance watching Madonna’s Blond Ambition tour as a teenager -that inspired me for life. I got to do this dance The Office (The Wedding Dance at Jim and Pam’s Wedding.) That was a real honor and LOT of fun!
Thanks to Susan Weingartner for helping with the shoot. And many thanks to you, Mr. Hepner. 🙂 Best of luck to you in your career!