It should come as no surprise to everyone who reads the site – THE MIDDLE is one of my favorite shows currently on air, and everytime I get to chat with their cast, it’s a delight, because we all share the same excitement for the show. That was the case in today’s newest “Spotlight On” interview, where I chatted with John Gammon (Axl’s friend Darrin) about his role on the show. THE MIDDLE is all new tonight with an episode that finds Sue making a new friend. Read on to see my chat with John about THE MIDDLE, what he wants to see for Darrin, his career, and advice for actors starting out.
I have to say, i just recently rewatched the episode of the three of you digging out that trunk in the man’s front yard – I could watch that episode a million times.
Yeah, I love that one, too! It’s great!
Talking about Darrin for the season – what we can we expect this year from the three of you?
So far, this season, there will be some surprises with cheerleaders. That’s about the only thing I can give out, but it will be entertaining. The three guys, they get to be a handful, they’re really funny.
On a show like this where everyone is so funny, a lot of my reflections on episodes I’ve watched are the three of you – chasing the speed sign, to run 25 mph; the trunk. So many great ones. How do you approach a scene like that? Is it hard to get through scenes like that without breaking?
You know, I think it’s a good motivation. TO be able to have fun is probably one of the best motivations of all time. I know it’s why I got into acting for sure. I think it’s easy to hold together for all of that stuff; it’s just not as fun.
You mentioned getting into acting because you wanted to have fun – was there one singular moment where you said “Oh I want to be an actor” or did you just have a feeling in general, and follow through?
Yeah, it was just sort of the way I grew up, and the way I saw life in general. I always figured, people are performing all the time. It doesn’t matter what it is that you do, you have to play a role. That’s not just a figure of speech; that’s the actual truth. There are a lot of people who don’t get to do what I do for a living. They have to perform a role for their bosses, things they can say, and things they can never say. It’s all part of the script, or the job description, whatever you want to call it. They have to perform every single day. I noticed that at a very young age, and it took naturally to me. When I had the chance I had to jump on it.
Is it comedy or drama that you really want to focus on? Or is it a little bit of everything?
OH a little bit of everything, absolutely! Yeah, I love comedy. It’s closer to my natural outlook, how I normally am, but nothing beats a really good drama. If given something very, very good, I would absolutely jump at the chance, any day of the week.
Talking more about THE MIDDLE – what are some things that you would love to see for the character this year, and experiences to have as Darrin?
Darrin, I think could use a steady girlfriend. It would be funny to see who ends up being the steady girlfriend, but I think it would be kind of fun to have that in the mix. Certainly, mutiny on the boat, kind of, would work. Some kind of grudge that took place among the boys, and kind of came full circle later on in the season. I leave it up to our great writers; it’s not really my strong point. I would like to see a lot of things, yeah!
Now that you’ve gotten to play this character for a couple of seasons, if you had some idea or thought of what Darrin might do or say, can you take that to the writers? Is there a back and forth about it?
It’s never anything like explicit. I just normally say, yeah, this is sort of what Darrin is all about, and it’s every day on the board. It’s never said “Oh I believe this is what Darrin could do;” mostly it’s by the script.
Why do you think that THE MIDDLE is a show that people should be tuning into, and should be watching?
It’s about them. I think that all of these other shows, for the most part, about how people from the Midwest, the middle class, people in their middle age, is how they’d really like to see themselves. And that’s okay, TV is an escape, but what I really like about THE MIDDLE is that it is who most of Americans really are, and I think that is what is so really attractive about the show. This is how we live. You know, MODERN FAMILY, everybody is out in this really sunny climate, beautiful wives, great houses, and everything like that, and they never seem to really run out of money. On THE MIDDLE, it’s like, struggling to pay the cable bill, or Sue doesn’t have clothes that are any younger than like, 10 years. It’s how people normally live, and I think that’s pretty important. It’s kind of unique for a show on TV, especially on a primetime network.
I think it’s very realistic.
It’s funny, because it’s realistic in that sense, and then comes the quirky side to it, which is kind of what gets you to jump out of your seat with laughter. It’s funny that way!
Do you have time to sit and watch other shows, what do you put on your DVR and can’t miss?
I really like the stuff being done on cable nowadays. I cannot wait to finish BREAKING BAD. I’m still not sure when they’re coming back, but oh man, I absolutely love that show! I watch DEXTER, HOMELAND, was absolutely in love with EASTBOUND AND DOWN. HUNG, I was sad to see it go. I really liked the show HUNG. SHAMELESS. A lot of the stuff I’ve seen on cable, for sure, I really like.
Cable seems to be doing such great stuff. So many people are gravitating towards it.
For myself, I know that I like to see stuff that isn’t so washed out – if there is a little bit stronger language, or a little bit more explicit material, I tend to go for that. For me, the first love is movies. When I grew up, I was always watching movies, probably on a television, from the early 90s, late 80s, and that was kind of the stuff I was first seeing in film. I don’t think that it’s lost on people when it comes to cable that more premium content is going to be a little bit more raw and real. I think that’s probably why people tend to like it more. It’s called premium content for a reason.
Do you have an actor whose career footsteps you’d love to follow?
I think the best actor is Daniel Day Lewis, for sure. There are a lot of other guys I really like, too. Certainly Tom Hardy. Ryan Reynolds, there’s a lot of people.
Is there a role that you would love to play – one you’ve crafted in your head, that you seek as the white whale so to speak?
Certainly, like a young veteran coming home from Iraq or one of these other wars. Somewhere, figure prominently in the storyline, how much of a lost cause that is, and how it affects his relationships at home, something along those lines.
Do you see yourself getting into writing and directing too?
Writing, I would definitely say is a second endeavor for me. I would certainly see myself as a writer. I don’t know very much about directing. I am learning more and more about writing, that’s for sure!
What else do you have coming up besides THE MIDDLE?
I’m hoping to see myself on one of these cable shows. I would love to be someone who guest stars on SHAMELESS or EAST BOUND AND DOWN, so something along the lines, coming down the pipe on HBO.
Is there advice to give younger actors and actresses, coming into the business?
I would say follow the advice of trusted, intelligent adults in your life. Absolutely follow their advice, as well as teachers. You can tell if they know what they’re talking about or not. But the most important is really the hardest, which is sacrifice. If you’re willing to sacrifice, of course, it goes without saying that you have to have some sort of talent, work ethic needs to be there. If you’re not willing to sacrifice, then it’s not going to happen. I would remember that. It’s the toughest one, but I think it’s the most important. That’s what separates people who actually get it, or those who always fall short.