At age 15 Dylan Minnette has accomplished quite a bit. His band The Feaver had a show on The Warped Tour, he played Jack Shepherd’s son on ‘Lost’, and now he’s working alongside ‘Harry Potter’s Jason Isaacs in NBC’s newest series ‘Awake’. Minnette plays Rex, the son who Michael (Isaacs) lost in a car accident in one reality, and is alive in an alternate one where his mother died in the crash instead.
I was lucky enough to be able to talk to Minnette. Charming and mature, he has a lot going for him. We talked a little about his band and a lot about ‘Awake’, which I cannot describe how excited he is for the premiere. I never got the feeling with him that his passion was just a front to promote the show. I genuinely felt that he is really excited to share this show with people, which is reassuring for a show that’s already had a few issues. He’s also really excited about his band The Feaver, whose first EP should be out this April. There’s a lot of exciting things happening for this young man, and I’m glad I got to spend some time speaking with him so that we all could get to know him a little better and hear more about ‘Awake’ coming up in March.
So your band The Feaver is coming off of the Warped Tour, correct?
We did one show in Ventura, California. We just did a little side stage. We did one show, but it was pretty cool.
Okay, can you tell me more about that? You won a battle of the bands, correct?
Yes, yeah, we got the Warped Tour show as a part of one of the prizes of a competition that we won and the competition we won was the 98.7 rock solid competition we won against 96 other bands across LA, that were in the competition. The prizes were $10,000, studio time, photo shoots, the show Warped Tour, meeting record labels, and we got to do all of that. It was really cool.
That’s quite the prize, congratulations!
Thanks! Its been pretty cool, I mean, it was a cool experience once we won, because we got to do a bunch of cool stuff, it was awesome. It was really cool.
Is singing and guitar something you wanted to make a career out of in the beginning? Or did acting come first?
Acting came first. I was always interested in music but it’s a different kind of music. When I was little I would kind of dance in front of the TV and use a flashlight as a microphone. I would watch myself, and my dad would use it to entertain me. He was watching me and he would have a video camera on me and I would watch myself. Then I guess I kinda got used to watching myself on TV and I guess I liked it. I guess I got into acting and here I am, but for like the rest of my life. I think music is a really, really cool thing to do if you become successful; if you become a successful musician to have that for the rest of your life that would be amazing. So music is pretty incredible.
Do you prefer music or do you prefer acting?
I can’t really say. In the future, I don’t know, I feel … I’m really passionate about acting, because I’ve been doing it for so many years, but I’m becoming so much more passionate about music, like day by day so, who knows? I think I guess I just wait and see what life works out and what turns out for the best. Go with the flow.
So do you still do gigs while you’re filming, or do you just do one or the other?
Oh no, I still do gigs while filming. I actually, a couple weeks ago, I had to rush off, really cutting it close. I got off work at 7 and we had a gig at 8, but the whole crew helped me get done and get out of there. The crew on ‘Awake’ is great. They know I’m in a band, they know I love music, they made sure to do their best to get me out of there, so it was pretty cool. We played at the Troubadour in January, and that was really cool, and we played the Roxy three times, so we’ve played some really cool venues.
I was going to say, those are some pretty big name venues. That’s pretty cool.
Oh yeah, yeah. And in April we should have our very first official EP, we’re in the final recording and mixing processes right now, and we’ll for sure have it out by mid-April, so we’ll have our first EP on iTunes and on sale at our shows and will probably have shipping kind of things for discs, so we’re really excited about that, with 5 original songs on there.
Well that’s really cool. Congratulations, that’s a really big thing!
Now do you still attend school or did you get your GED?
I’m homeschooled, it just works better with either schedule. So yeah, I’m homeschooled.
Does it affect schoolwork, being this busy all the time?
Well when you’re on set, you have to do 3 hours of school with a set teacher. I think there’s actually a law about it, with your work. You can also, if you’re going to have a day with a bunch of scenes and you’re not going to have time for school, they check that ahead and they have you bank hours, which means you’ll do extra hours. And then if you bank 2 hours and if you’re really busy you can have one hour of school, so if you have banked hours you have to do one hour no matter what but if you don’t you have to do 3 hours.
So you’ve done quite a bit in television and movies from such a young age, is there a character that you’ve always felt really connected with?
I really liked playing Kenny in ‘Let Me In’, I thought that was really cool. It was great. But yeah I really liked playing that role because I’ve never played that kind of role before, so it was a lot of fun. Especially because we shot it in New Mexico, and there’s really not much to do in New Mexico at all and the fact that we were just a bunch of kids on the cast and we were all around, you know, we just all hung out and it was really cool.
So what was the first thing you bought with your paycheck? Since you started at such a young age, that’s just one of the things I wonder, like what would you buy?
I really have no idea. I really don’t use my paychecks to buy anything. And if I do, I can’t remember. I don’t think I have though. I’m sure, you know, I’m sure that something I’ve bought has been paid off because of a paycheck before, but I never really do that. I just kind of get an allowance every week.
So we’ll talk about Awake a little bit, what brought you to the role of Rex?
Definitely just the plot. I was just actually working on multiple NBC pilots. There was one that I had gotten really close to that just didn’t get picked up, so, it was lucky enough that I didn’t become a part of that so that I could become a part of ‘Awake’, which has been an amazing experience. In the first place I got the audition, because I did audition, and I knew, because it was originally called ‘REM’, and I read the plot and I read the pilot and I knew that it was going to be picked up and I loved that. I wanted to get close enough to get this part. The process of getting the job actually went by really fast because the first audition Kyle Killen [creator of 'Awake'] was in the room, Jason [Isaacs] was in the room, the cast director was in the room and the director was in the room. David Slade. And they were all there, for the first audition and I was like “Wow! Okay.” And I went to band practice that night and that night I found out I was testing for it. So then I was testing for it and about 2 weeks later or about a week and a half later it was just a really fast and unreal process. I was given the part, and really the whole experience has been like that because…it’s been unreal because we’ve filmed this entire season with no air date; we had no idea when we were airing so it’s just been so unreal, to be a part of this show that they have put together and not know if anyone is going to see, so it’s just been unreal, and now we’re filming the last two episodes of the season and now there’s an air date and there’s billboards everywhere and commercials all over TV and its like “Wow, its real!” and I’m kind of freaking out here. So it’s been a pretty unreal experience, but the thing that brought me to the character was definitely the story line and I just loved it the second I read about it and I was like “Aw, I would love to be a part of this” yeah, definitely.
So, just going back a little bit to not having an air date, which congratulations you’re coming out on March 1st.
Yeah! Hopefully that’s not the death slot! I’m just kidding!
What went through your mind when there were script delays and rewrites and things like that. What goes through your mind when things like that happen?
Well I automatically thought on the positive side when I found out about the hiatus. I automatically thought “well, theres gotta be a good reason for this” because you have to trust their decision and everyone at NBC. So it’s funny, the episode we were filming when I found out about the hiatus was one where I had one little scene in the episode and I think I was just going to shoot that scene and I was like “Aw, thats an awesome scene to leave with!” No I’m kidding. I just automatically thought on the positive side, because I knew it was a positive decision they were making. That it was just going to help the show for whatever reason. I don’t really know what they did over the hiatus, I never really asked, I don’t really see, well its hard to see what changed because I didn’t see what script ideas they already had were, so I can’t really tell you of any changes because I don’t know what they were going to do anyway. They probably changed or redid something. I have no idea, but I’m sure it worked out for the best and the scripts have been incredible. Especially the last half of the season, after the hiatus, so something really paid off, I think its really good that they did it.
In the reality that you are in, you’ve suffered the loss your mother, is that difficult to portray?
Yes, well, it’s actually not that difficult because Rex is the kind of character that its like in the first two episodes, that Rex is just a very self content guy that if he’s around people…well its actually very difficult I take that back. Because when he’s around people he just kind of keeps to himself and all of his emotions in and you can see that he’s in line and likes to keep quiet. Especially around his dad Michael, because he just doesn’t really know how to communicate with Michael without his mom Hannah, and its really hard on him. In the scenes with Jason, Rex is just…really keeps to himself. So its really not that difficult, but it is, because you have like, one word to say back to Jason and I hope that I’m keeping this interesting with my one word response.
Right, you have to portray everything in that single word.
Its difficult, but sometimes its easy, it’s kind of like a mix. Rex is also fun to play because there is a couple, like teenager roles on the show, like I have a friend named Cole who Logan Miller plays and a girlfriend named Emma who Daniela Bobadilla plays, and I got to work with them a lot this season, and when Rex is around them he just opens up and you would never see it, it’s like Hannah is never gone when he is with them. So, you get to play a different type of character when he’s with his friends, and that’s pretty cool.
Is it difficult to play to play a character where he is dead in an alternate reality? Is it difficult to develop that character?
No, because in the grand reality you really just play it that you’re the one that’s alive, its all that you know, its all that Rex knows. I’ll read the scripts and I’ll know whats going on in the alternate reality because I have the whole script, it’s sometimes kind of weird to play a role where you know nothing of this other reality, this craziness going on, especially when I know everything that is going on, not Rex, but I know. Sometimes its weird, but I sometimes read the script with just the green scenes [Rex scenes] but then I’m also dying to know what’s happening in the show, so I hate that. It’s interesting, and its cool to see little details of each world cross over. Like, certain things happen, things that happen with some people you wouldn’t think to happen because they are in alternate realities. Like I have instances with people that I wouldn’t normally have and that’s pretty cool. I’ve read all the scripts of the season and I think people are really going to enjoy it. The first half of the season is really just people getting used to what the show is about, and the characters. Just getting used to the feel of the show, and getting used to what they will feel when they watch it. I just hope that people stick with the entire season, and they see every episode because I know by the end of the finale they are going to be wanting season 2, because the finale is pretty awesome.
With finally having an air date, that makes things on the set much more interesting doesn’t it?
Definitely. Having a release date is like knowing that the show is real. People know what it is and people are watching commercials about it. This feels real now, this is something that only people online knew about because they knew about the pilot, but now people at home know about it, the general public is starting to learn about it and it just feels real. My Dad, and well my parents watch NBC shows, and now ‘Awake’ commercials pop up every other second and its like ‘Wow’. It’s just so unreal, especially since we’ve already filmed the season. So we’re going to be done filming, right before it airs, so we’ll have an entire season of waiting,
So we won’t have to pause waiting for new episodes to be filmed, which will be nice for the viewership.
I hope enough people tune in to keep the show going, because I love the crew and I love the scripts and I want to know what happens after the finale just like everyone else. When I read the scripts I get just as excited as everyone else that is going to be watching the show. I just can’t wait to see what happens from now on. So now I’m waiting, and waiting for everyone else to catch up so that I can get the next script.
There have been comments made that ‘Awake’ is too complicated, what do you think about that?
I really don’t think that’s true at all, and every time I see that I think it’s lies. Really, I don’t think it’s too complicated at all. Most people just watch the pilot of a show, and they’ll really get the idea of the show. The episodes are really just, they really aren’t going to be too confusing to people. It’s really going to be…they do the best they can to keep it easy to follow, and it really is. I think they did a really great job of it. I think once people understand the concept of the show, they’re set and I really think that once you just watch the pilot, you’ll understand it. You can watch it a second time, you just get it. I really don’t think people will have a problem with it being too complicated. The pilot, the first episode explaining everything, I think that if people have problems understanding it that is the episode people have to watch twice to really like, understand. But I think people are going to have some confusing mind twitches as the season progresses but I really think that its going to be fairly easy, more easy then people think to really enjoy it. I don’t think they’ll have the “I hate not knowing” factor.
So this definitely isn’t a series where you can skip the first episode then..
Well, yeah. You can’t skip the first episode. I know that the opening credit sequence kind of explains the premise. It’s kind of like a ‘Quantum Leap’ kind of thing, the opening credits. They just kind of explain a little bit of what is going on, so if people do miss the first episode they can watch it be like ‘Wait, that’s what its about?’ But if you skip the first episode then it will be way more confusing. It’ll be like “wait wait wait, why isn’t he looking at his mom? Why is he with .. what? I don’t get it.” They do little things in between scenes that’ll show okay we’re in this reality, now we’re in this reality, and you’ll see when you watch it.
You’ve actually gotten to watch some of it already?
I’ve seen three episodes. I’ve seen episode 1,3 and 4 and they are all very good
What are you excited to have people see with the series?
I’m excited to have people see how the stories and characters progress throughout the season. What this show is going to become. I’m excited for people to see the twist that the show will throw their way, the stories and characters that will be thrown their way. It’s really a character driven show, so the progression is really in the characters, and I’m really excited for people to get attached to the characters, to get attached to the stories, and I’m really excited for people to see the different crimes every week, because every week is different. People can get really involved in the cases each week. Especially because the cases each week in each case in each reality there are hints most of the time in each reality that he goes back to that messes with him and it weirds him out and I think people will see that. And I’m excited for people to see the crossovers and all that. Especially the character crossovers.
Can you watch each episode multiple times and catch something new?
I’m sure people can see something new each time. I’m sure they’ll find something and be like “Oh that makes more sense now!” or “Aw I didn’t see that before!’ Like, I’ve seen every episode of ‘Lost’, and I was like that with that, where you would just be surprised with the “I didn’t see that before!” and I didn’t get that, but I think people will see that where they will see the “I didn’t get that before but I get that now”.
Do you think Awake will be like ‘Lost’, where there are blogs blowing up everywhere with people having different opinions and people seeing different things and theories?
‘Awake’ is a lot like ‘Lost’ in certain ways, but at the same time its very different. With ‘Lost’ you absolutely have to watch every episode, to see the series through. With ‘Awake’, you can miss an episode in one week, and they did a really good job with this in the first season, to get people used to the idea of the show and not to have people tune in every week, so if you miss an episode you aren’t going to be dying in the next episode wondering what happened the week before. It’s not like there are certain things…certain stories that are running throughout the entire season that you would be a little confused, but its a different case every week so you aren’t going to be confused there. There is some family stuff, and you might be confused there, but I really think it’s a lot like ‘Lost’ in the alternate reality ways and the sci-fi ways kind of, so I think people will really enjoy that, but I think they’ll also enjoy that they won’t have to be keeping up like that. I mean I think everyone should watch every episode because every episode is great, so I’m not saying you should skip any episode, but if something happens and you miss it you’re not going to be completely lost, except for the last few episodes, the last few episodes if you miss any of it you’re going to be like “What the heck is going on?” I like taking it down to the last few episodes, just easier. The last few are just amazing. Hopefully people will see it through to that point because the last few are just…Oh my god, I’m just like every other fan of the show wanting to watch it, and I’m so excited for people to see it.
So are you going to have a viewing party on March 1st?
I normally don’t do things like that because I think it’s kind of weird, but I honestly want to. I have honestly never been this excited for a project to air or to be released, like ever. Because this is my first really big, every episode role in a series, and especially on a prime time network. So I’m just really excited for it. I’ve gotten so involved, more involved then I ever have in this project, more than any other project, because I’ve never been in every episode of something before, and I’m just excited for it to air and to be too involved with the story, I just can’t wait for people to see it. I think I will have a viewing party just so I can have people see it, because I know people are going to be hooked. I know that everyone I know will like it, I know people won’t turn away from it and go “Oh wow that sucked.” I really don’t think people would be like that with this. It’s literally good. People can tune in the first episode and know that is the definition of good, and that they can keep watching it and the fact that they’ll like it. I think the first episode can really get people hooked, and they’ll be like “Oh my god.” It’s really an original concept and one that people don’t see every week on TV. I know people think it’s just another crime show, because focuses on cases every week, but there are these characters, there are a lot of character driven stories. There is that twist in there that people can relate to, that people can just get closer to the answer while watching a new case every week. So you can watch a new case every week while getting closer to the answer. But you really don’t get closer to the answer because that’s not the main point of the show. I think the writers had the goal of the show as to have people in the shoes of Michael, have them feel the same way that he is. There are certain things that people will know more than Michael, but they won’t know more on the aspect on who is real and who is not. Michael doesn’t want to know who is real. He likes not having his family broken apart. He loves being with each other. He doesn’t want to let one of them go. I think what people when they start watching, they’re going to want to know who is real, but they really aren’t going to want to know, and they aren’t going to want to get closer to the answer. Well, I guess people are going to want to get closer to the answer, only they’re not going to, because they are going to be put into the shoes of Michael, and they aren’t going to want to know, because they are going to be attached to each character.
Do you have a favorite case that Michael gets to go through?
I have to think for a second…wait…wait…wait…That is so cool, I haven’t been asked that question. The episode is called Oregon, and it’s kind of like a serial killer, so that was really cool. I know that I’m going to come up with different theories once I hang up the phone. No, wait, I know my favorite case, but I can’t give details away. There’s like snipers in the tree, watching what I say…”whats he saying?…what’s he saying?…” But I think I’ve given you some good bits of information.
Can you give us anything spoiler wise?
I can say that there is one major twist, in the entire season that I think people are going to be very attached to, and I think that it will be very exciting and driven. I think people are really going to really like it. There is one twist I don’t think people are going to see coming. All I can say is don’t forget Howard Gordon is involved, from ’24′, so there will be one giant twist. So, yes. It’s the perfect mix of action and drama and his mind boggling stuff. I think people are really going to like it. I hope the right amount of people to get attached to it. I’m hoping third times a charm with the time slot, ‘Prime Suspect’ didn’t really work out there, ‘The Firm’ obviously didn’t work out there. I think ‘Awake’ is the best show to go into that slot. I know that the pilot will get the right amount of viewers and I hope that people just stick with it. I know that that’s a problem for shows, is that people need to stick with it.
Now do you think that this will be a show that will raise the bar for science fiction and crime shows?
I think that people will view this as a really cool concept. I think when people, and when I say people I mean writers and people who set up pilots, are going to come up with something creative, I think they are going to ask themselves if this is as good as ‘Awake’. I think that whoever tries to come up with a new alternate reality show will have to wonder if this is too much like ‘Awake’. I think if someone was to do another type of alternate reality type of show I think they will have to compare it to ‘Awake’, I think ‘Awake’ really sets the bar for that.
Any closing remarks?
I’m just really excited for everyone to watch it. I think that its going to be a really cool show that everyone should tune into. Also check out my band The Feaver!
As you can see, Minnette is very excited for this show to begin. His enthusiasm is catching, because now I cannot wait to start this series.
Awake airs March 1st on NBC at 10/9central. You can also check out The Feaver on Twitter at @thefeaverband.