The Alcalde chatted with True Blood actor Todd Lowe, BFA ’99, this weekend during his visit to campus as a panelist with the Department of Theatre and Dance’s Fantasticks‘ celebration weekend.
Lowe spoke to a small audience in the B. Iden Payne Theater about his time at UT and making it as an actor in Los Angeles. He was joined by fellow actors Bruce McGill, BFA ’73, and Brian Danner, BFA ’96.
McGill may be best known for one of his first roles — as D-Day in Animal House he famously rode a motorcycle up the stairs of the Delta house. These days he can be seen as Detective Vince Korsak on USA’s Rizzoli & Isles, which stars a fellow Texan, Angie Harmon.
Danner’s face is occasionally seen in films and TV shows, but you’re more likely to have noticed his work. He trains actors for choreographed sword-fighting scenes and sometimes stands in as a stunt double. He’s worked with Natalie Portman (for the upcoming film Your Highness), Paul Rudd (in I Love You, Man), Jeremy Piven (for Old School), and Rico Rodriguez (for an episode of Modern Family).
The trio shared with theater alumni, students, and fans lessons learned about their work in LA’s entertainment industry. All stressed the lasting benefits they found in the stiff competition for roles as UT students and the pride they hold in their degrees.
McGill said a visiting director told him as a student to finish his degree. “You’ll spend more time in the rest of your life wondering if you should have,” he said, “than the time it will take to get it done.”
Lowe, too, said he’s glad he earned his degree. He completed requirements for the actor-training program in 1995 but failed a degree-requirement course. Years later he retook the class in summer school. Having that degree helped him get jobs like substitute teaching while trying to find his next acting gig.
While Lowe says as an actor he’s always looking for that next job, he’s found pretty steady work the last few years. He played Zack Van Gerbig on Gilmore Girls for five seasons and signed on as Terry Bellefleur in True Blood not long after Gilmore Girls wrapped.
We spent a few minutes after the panel talking about his time on each show, his growing celebrity (he says he often has to convince strangers the place they recognize him from isn’t high school, it’s HBO), and drawing inspiration from some interesting Austin characters. Stay tuned to a future Alcalde for more on Todd Lowe.
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Photo by Rebecca Fontenot/The Alcalde