Friday, January 4, 2013

5Qs on Friday: Dan Byrd

Cougar Town's Dan Byrd Has Been Lining Up A-List Gigs for Half His Life

On Cougar Town, the former ABC show with Courteney Cox that's now on TBS (Tuesday, 10pm), Dan Byrd plays the wise college-age son Travis to Courteney's wine-sipping Jules and Brian Van Holt's surfer-dude Bobby.

In real life, Dan is a 27-year-old actor who landed his first TV series when he was 13 on Annie Potts' Lifetime drama Any Day Now. In 2010, Dan co-starred in the movie Easy A with Emma Stone.

These days, Dan is Travis on Cougar Town, a show that has evolved from being about a mom who hits on younger guys to a great show about family - both the kind you're born into and the the kind you find along the way.

Dan spoke with TVFirstLook about Cougar Town's upcoming fourth season, being bossed around by Courteney Cox and getting busy kissing Cougar co-star Busy Philipps.

TVFirstLook: OK, so your character Travis Cobb started out as a wise kid, but a kid. Now, Travis is growing up. How so in Cougar Town season four?

Dan Byrd: This season picks up one week after we left off last season, so there's not a big time jump. I'm still in college.

The most eventful thing was Travis turning 21 last season, so now he can partake in drinking wine. So, for years after being handed a Coca-Cola when everyone else was getting handed wine or beer I feel like I'm officially part of the gang. That feels nice.

The other thing is that the dynamic between Travis and Laurie (Busy Philipps) develops. Now, [a romantic relationship] is becoming a realistic possibility.

TVFirstlook: So, Courteney Cox directed a few episodes in the new season. What's her directing style?

Dan: She's great. In certain ways, it feels like there isn't a director on set. That can be a good thing because everyone feels more freedom to try things or go broader.

She obviously knows the show very well. And she knows each of the characters very well. So, if she's giving you a note, you know it's the right thing. You can totally trust her judgement. It's really cool because there is a strong level of trust between her and the cast.

At this point, the actors know the characters well, so we can kind of manage ourselves. When she tells you to try something differently, it's exciting because she knows the show better than anyone else.

TVFirstLook: Long before Cougar Town you were a busy kid actor. Am I correct in thinking you first got interested in acting when you saw Phantom of the Opera?

Dan: That is what first got me interested in acting. I'm from Atlanta, so after that I started doing community theater and commercials around there.

Then, around 13, I moved out to L.A. to be on Any Day Now on Lifetime. I wasn't in every episode of that show, but the episodes I was in kept me out in L.A. about half the year. I ended up splitting my time between Atlanta and L.A. When I turned 18, I moved to L.A. and have been lucky enough to work consistently since then.

TVFirstLook: How did you make the switch from being a kid actor to being an adult actor?

Dan: I don't even know if I've made that transition, yet, but Cougar Town is helping me.

It's a steady job that allows me to work through these weird years for my age group and my look, especially for desirable jobs. Most roles where you make the jump are like going from being a high school kid to a cop.

Hopefully, whenever Cougar Town is done I can go out for roles and people won't think of me as a kid actor.

TVFirstLook: OK, last thing. So, the paparazzi has been snapping photos of you smooching pregnant Cougar co-star Busy Philipps. What gives?

Dan: Us smooching was for the show. She's married. She has one beautiful child and another on the way, so there's no way I'm getting involved in that situation. But it does go to show how the Laurie-Travis dynamic on Cougar Town is unfolding.

There's a mixed bag of opinions when it comes to whether they should or shouldn't get together. But you have to keep the show moving along. And they've done a really good job on the show this season laying out their relationship.

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