Windell Middlebrooks Balances Life Between BODY OF PROOF and Miller High Life
When Windell Middlebrooks auditioned for the role of Dr. Curtis Brumfield on Body of Evidence (now Body of Proof), he just knew he had blown all hope of ever getting the job.
No Time to Prepare
He told me, “Normally, I like to get more time than I had to prepare and get ready for an audition, but this time I had no choice.
“I had just returned home from Los Angeles in the middle of the night, on the red eye. And, I got the call to go in and read. I had to go in to work early the next morning, so the audition was set for the afternoon.
A Special Reading
“Anyway, I went in and started to read. I took one look at the casting director, who burst out laughing. I guess it was the look I had. That’s how I started it, with that look.
“And this was for a one-hour drama. If it had been for a situation comedy, it would have been great. I thought, ‘Dear Lord, this is so awful.’
“I apologized, and they told me to try it again. That happened four times. I just knew I had blown it.
“But, as I read the last scenes, they told me they wanted me to put more humor and more of myself into it. What happened was, they had seen my commercials, and that’s why they requested that I come in and read for the role. Once they said all that, I kinda relaxed and read for the part.
“But, I still didn’t think I had the job. I didn’t make it to my car, though, before I got the call that they wanted me to test with the network.
“From there, here we are,” he laughed.
“I’m always kind of a perfectionist when it comes to auditions, but it all worked out.”
Two of a Kind
“I’ve always felt Curtis was my alter ego, though.”
He went on to explain, “People know me, and I’m very happy and always smiling, whereas Curtis has always got this attitude.
“But I think there’s an answer to that.
“Before I took the role, I did a lot of research on the job that he’s in, being a Deputy Medical Examiner,” he said.
“I talked to doctors and watched them perform autopsies. I got to watch them in their day-to-day.
“And I realized they have such a weight on them,” he said. “They deal with death every day, and they try to give peace to loved ones’ families. A tremendous responsibility comes with that. And, some people handle it in a good way, some people don’t.
“I believe Curtis takes on that weight, and it wears on him. When he’s trying to deal with everything, I think that’s what makes him not always pleasant. He’s always stressed.
“But I love being able to bring in the layers,” he added. “I see humor in everything. And you can bring in the humor, but it’s grounded in something that is very real.
“People understand his frustration and his attitude. One thing I feel about him is that he’s very likeable and loveable, because you can see his heart.
“If I’m not careful, I could get into that kind of funk myself,” he went on. “When I’m focused about business or whatever, I get a little into that attitude.
“Curtis is like my grandmother,” he laughed. “When he’s reacting to something, he can say so much without saying anything. He says a lot with his eyes. I get that all the time in my life. I say a lot with my eyes. That came from my grandmother. She could cut her eyes at you, and you knew exactly what she meant.”
Bringing the Character to Life
Middlebrooks also loves the relationship Curtis has between his boss and his co-workers. He loves bringing the character to life. The challenge, he told me, is to reveal that character to the audience. He said, “I have to pay close attention. No one is a jack— just to be one. The audience has to see the heart behind him. That’s the only way to deal with the character. The audience has to like him and care about what he’s doing, what happens to him. I can’t just make him a total jack–.
“We’re in corporate America on the show. And, we try to be true to the script and to the role of doctors as much as we can. We have to stay true to the world we’re in.”
Miller High Life
Something else Middlebrooks has remained true to over the years is his work with Miller High Life.
He became well known as the delivery guy in the Miller High Life commercials.
And he’s giving back.
For the past few years, Middlebrooks has been making personal appearances at sporting events around the country on behalf of Miller High Life, in cooperation with partners, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and Operation Home Front to help vets and their families. More information about this, and about future events, can be found at millerhighlife.com.
Nothing Like It
Middlebrooks told me, “There’s nothing like standing down there with them (the vets), while they get a standing ovation and hundreds of thousands of people applauding them to show their appreciation. They get to enjoy life a little. After all, they sacrifice their lives for us.
“There’s nothing like seeing 2000 vets walk around the baseball field.”
Middlebrooks shared one of the most memorable experiences he has had with this event.
“I was standing next to a soldier with tears running down his face. He had his son on his shoulders, and we were standing there waiting to hear the National Anthem. And, he was like, ‘I do what I do from my heart.’ It’s been really good to see them appreciated like that. I just never imagined that I could get to take part in something like that.”
Keep an eye out for Middlebrooks’ personal appearances with Miller High Life this summer at millerhighlife.com, and watch him in Body of Proof on Tuesdays on ABC.
Cheryl has been a freelance TV/film writer for more than 10 years. Simultaneously, she has worked in PR for Bon Jovi Productions in NYC, PolyGram Records (also in NYC), and Rogers & Cowan Public Relations. Cheryl has published articles at suite101.com, “Sci-Fi Entertainment” magazine, and “Soap Opera Weekly.” She was also a credited researcher for English author Denis Meikle’s JOHNNY DEPP: A KIND OF ILLUSION. Cheryl enjoys writing for the entertainment industry and meeting new people. She is also an animal lover.