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That Airport Star
by Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2006 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
March 13, 2006.
Bret Harrison has been
working in Hollywood for less than a decade but already he is making quite
a name for himself. He has played significant roles in the series
Grounded For Life and movie
Orange County. Harrison was chosen by the producers of That 70s Show
to replace star Topher Grace when Grace left the series to pursue a movie
Harrison’s best friend and writing partner is Adam Brody of The OC.
Together they have been working on scripts for films while their TV
careers have taken off.
Harrison’s biggest break
yet is taking on the lead role of The Loop, a FOX-TV comedy about
Sam, a recent college graduate who has gotten an executive position with a
struggling airline based out of Chicago. Sam has a brother named Sully
(Eric Christian Olsen) who is constantly avoiding work but looking for
crazy ways to get rich. The two of them live with two women – Lizzy
(Sarah Mason), a beautiful bartender and Piper (Amanda Loncar), a sweet,
gorgeous, smart girl that Sam has been in love with since high school, but
who just sees him as a good friend. At work, Sam has to deal with a
bitter assistant (“I learned how to send an email at MIT, where I went,”
she explains to him), an over-the-top older company president (played by
Philip Baker Hall) and a sexually predatory vice president
“I work with Bret all
the time and I’m madly in love with him,” enthuses his co-star Rogers.
“Really Bret has to carry the show. They work him mercilessly. Bret
makes it look easy, but I’m really just impressed with how talented he
A few weeks before
The Loop was set to debut, Harrison called us up to tell us all about
the new show.
How did you first get
involved in acting?
I started doing plays
when I was living in Portland…
Oregon or Maine?
I just got really, really excited about acting. I started taking acting
class three times a week. My acting coach at the time, she kind of took
me under her wing and acted like a manager.
got to say I used to love
Undressed on MTV.
That was your first series work. How did you get into that?
I auditioned for it. It
was one of the first things I landed when I moved out to LA. It’s an
interesting show, because they would always constantly transition people
out and into it. You could only do a max of eight episodes. So it was
kind of like an actor’s unemployment out here. It was shot on video, but
the kids loved it. It lasted for a really long time. That’s where I met
a lot of my really good friends. I met Adam (Brody, of The OC) on
Undressed. I met one of my good friends, Marcus, on Undressed.
We’ve been friends ever since.
I know that you and Adam
did a short film together. What is that?
It was called Home
shot that in our condo. We wrote it and basically spent our own money.
The editor on Grounded for Life at the time, he ended up
directing it. It was really fun. Hopefully… we’ve written a few scripts
since then and we’re looking to do some more stuff in the future, too.
In your career has been
you have always mixed very dramatic roles on
The OC and Law and Order SVU with comedies like
and Grounded for Life. Do you prefer comedy or drama? Which
one is harder for you?
I think drama is more
intense for me. Comedy comes a little bit more naturally. I like
being on a lighter set. You know, constantly joking. For me it’s more
fun. But at the same time, I would never want to give up drama. If I can
do three comedies and a drama a year, I’d be excited. That’d be perfect.
Because drama is challenging and I think it makes your comedy better.
read that you
are involved in an upcoming remake of
Revenge of the Nerds. When is that coming and how are
you involved? Are you going to be acting in it as well?
Yeah. Well, maybe. We
might. It’s kind of up in the air right now. We’re
on our third draft. Basically, Adam and I went to McG (the director of
the Charlie’s Angels movies). We’d been writing at the time,
and we had written a script that was very similar. It was different, but
it was kind of like Revenge of the Nerds. Then we were talking
about maybe trying to write or produce a Revenge of the Nerds
remake. McG said,
“Alright, well do it.” We went into Fox Searchlight and pitched them the
idea and they liked it. Now we’re into our third draft. Hopefully we’ll
start shooting this next summer.
The Loop is actually not your first sitcom; you had recurring roles in
Grounded for Life
and That 70s Show. How did you get cast for those roles and what
were they like?
It was really fun. I
got cast, again I auditioned… You know, Grounded for Life just
started out as a guest star. Then over time it turned into a recurring
and in the last year I was finally a full regular. Because they were both Carsey-Werner shows, after Grounded for Life ended Tom Werner
called me up and asked me to be on That 70s Show, because Topher
(Grace) was leaving the series and they needed a full-time replacement.
So I took that in second position. Basically, if The Loop wasn’t
going to get picked up as a full series, then I would have been on That
70s Show for the whole year. Because The Loop got picked up,
they threw me off the water tower.
Those were more
traditional live-in-studio series. How is the making of a single camera
show like the
I prefer shooting
single camera. It’s shot like a movie. I just think the final product
looks better when you’re watching the TV. It looks like you’re watching a
movie. It looks like you’re watching Dodgeball or something.
There’s no laugh track. Even
though I think shooting a single camera show like The Loop is more
difficult, it turns out better product. That’s what I would
always want to do.
What attracted you to
The minute I read a
script I completely identified with it. You saw the pilot. It’s
completely parallel to my real life (laughs). Even today, I had an
interview at ten this morning and I went out really late last night – I
went to a Kanye West show, I had a couple of drinks and then all of the
sudden I’m back into the work world. I have four interviews today and an
audition tomorrow. I completely identify with that guy and I
think everybody else can identify with it, too. Everybody’s trying to
juggle working and hanging out.
spoke with Mimi last week and she said that you were the glue that really
holds the show together. How does it feel to have a show that depends on
your character as the focal point?
A lot of people say,
“Oh, are you stressed? Does it freak you out?” I like it. I really do.
I love being in every scene. In Grounded for Life, I had a couple
of scenes here and there, and then I’d go back to my trailer and take a
nap. Whereas this, I like being able to work all the time. I like being
What’s Mimi like to work
Mimi’s great. Mimi’s
hilarious. She’s one of the funniest ladies I know. She’s constantly
goofing off on set. She’s kind of like her character. (laughs)
You know, she’s always teasing me… But she’s fun. I’ve learned a lot
from her. She has a lot of history behind her. She’s been working with
different people, you know? Married to Tom Cruise…
Philip Baker Hall is so
is he like to work with?
He’s so good. He’s so
good. He’s a really laid back guy. He commits to everything. There’s
this scene where basically I go and the company has these company showers
and he’s taking a shower. He’s totally in it you know? (laughs)
He’ll do anything. Get in a cold ass pond. He’s seventy years old and
he’s still going balls to the wall. He doesn’t stop.
The airline industry is
so depressed these days. Why do you think that leads to comedy?
(laughs) Well I don’t know if it’ll make the airlines more comedic,
but Sam is so passionate about the airline that he’s working for. There’s
always, on every show, he kind of breaks into talking about the airline
and different ways he can make it better. I just think, constantly
hearing that, I think people will really get into it.
The show is about the
juggling of your business life and your private life. You said that the
character of Sam is very much like you. Do you have any Sullys in your
Oh, yeah. I’ve had many
Sullys in my life. (laughs) A couple of my best friends growing
up in Oregon
were constantly having these different ideas: okay, this is how I’m going
to make the big bucks. In one of the episodes, Sully starts a sandwich
company and thinks this is the next thing. The truth of the matter is, I
think Sully is going to be that guy that eventually hits it big one day.
seen Eric in a couple of movies and I’ve always liked him in those…
Yeah, he just did The
Last Kiss with Zach Braff.
know it’s a sitcom convention, but how is it possible that Piper doesn’t
know you’re totally in love with her?
I know, I know. But you
know; I’ve been there. I’ve had that girl where you’re constantly trying
to put out the vibes and they’re obviously not getting it. Either that or
they are getting it and they’re just playing dumb. Which, maybe Piper’s
doing. I don’t know.
Most of the cast is
relatively new to series TV. What are they like to work with?
The rest of the cast is
great. Everybody’s so cool. Sarah Mason is so funny. Eric is obviously
great. I think everybody has really gelled together. We’ve only shot
seven episodes. But the third episode in, everybody was just jiving
together. We were working off of each other and improving and it was a
lot of fun.
Do you have any ideas
for the show that you’d love to see them do – either about Sam’s character
or more generally for the show?
Just the more
they hit Sam over the head and completely tear him apart. You know, Sully
doing different things. I think that there’s no stopping.
can go beyond. What eventually needs to happen is I think it
would be real funny to meet Sam and Sully’s parents. Or I would love it
if Philip Baker Hall had to come to the apartment. Because in every show
it’s split; it’s Sam going between the work world and the apartment
hanging out with his friends. I think it would be pretty funny to either
bring Mimi back or maybe Mimi and Eric Christian Olsen end up having a
fling or something. I think that would make for pretty good TV.
The Loop is getting a
debut episode timeslot right after American Idol. Is it gratifying
that Fox apparently has big plans for the show?
Yeah, Fox has huge plans
for the show. We have a huge budget in terms of music. We’re starting to
do a lot of publicity. I think they truly believe in the show. The
executive producer, Will Gluck, got a call from all the Fox execs just
last week when I was doing ADR looping. Everybody was just calling back
on how great these last few episodes are. How we really just hit our
stride. Everybody’s just really passionate about the show.
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