Please introduce yourself to the readers:
I’m Daniel J. Parker, I was born in England, and raised in Switzerland. I’m an actor living in North Hollywood now, it’s a long way from the Swiss Alps, but it is where I am calling home for now.
How and when did you first get into performing?
I was six years old when I started performing in school plays. At first it was just another activity, but it quickly became my main focus as I grew up. I was in a small English speaking school in Switzerland and we would do a play every year involving the entire school, but there was also talent shows and class presentations so there was plenty to sink my teeth into. One of the earliest roles I remember was Balthazar in a nativity scene - we were more a choir in costume than a theatre troupe, but I still count it. Another fun one for me as a child was Willy Wonka - it was one of the first times I improvised on stage, at the ripe old age of 11, when we had a little technical glitch that caused our Great Glass Elevator (a cardboard box covered in aluminum) to not light up; I threw out a line that wasn’t in the script and it got a laugh, the glitch got fixed and the show went on. For me though, I got a momentary taste of unfiltered character flow, and it has stuck with me ever since.
Who were some of your biggest inspirations?
On a personal level, my parents are my two greatest inspirations, they have conquered their world together, and inspired a great many others to do the same, which is all we can hope to do. As an actor, my greatest inspirations are the consistent character actors, the guys whose faces you recognize but have no idea what their names are. Like Xander Berkeley, Željko Ivanek and Bruce Davison to name a few. Of course I am also inspired by the bigger name character actors too, the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman was a character actor turned lead, and what a lead he was! John Goodman has always been of interest to me as well as Timothy Olyphant.
What kind of training have you done?
My first official training, I suppose, was the International Baccalaureate (I.B.) Theatre Program, though I had had other performing arts classes before then, none of them were specialized programs. Within the I.B. program was the first time that I really had acting classes and an introduction to the world of the theatre outside of actually just doing a play. I also have a BA in Theatre Arts from the University of Exeter in England and an MFA in Acting for Film. For my BA I specialized in physical performer training and directing, wanting to understand both sides of the work as fully as possible. Aside from the official training side of things (where they give you a piece of paper to say you were there) I have also participated in a fair few unofficial theatre workshops around Europe before moving here to L.A., training with Augusto Boal, Phillip Zarilli, A Moveable Feast and pretty much any class or theatre based learning group that I could find throughout my travels.
What has been your favorite role to play so far?
I got to play this wonderfully charged barbarian king called Dylore in a great independent film called "It Pleases Aten” directed by my good friend Ty Greene. He was not a nice character, but was a great challenge for me to explore. He was the leader of people whose lands were losing their luster and was on a mission to find a new home, no matter what the cost. The film is in the submissions phase for festivals at the moment.
What projects do you have coming up?
I have been cast in a play at the L.A. Fringe Festival with Dusty Bums Productions - Angels and Whiskey. I have a horror project with the Cordero Brothers in it’s final days of shooting. Another horror with Edge of My Eye Productions shooting in September. A great character comedy feature about this guy obsessed with go karts, body-building and alternative energy. There's a supporting role in a drama about a veteran and his battle with PTSD. I have a recurring role in an upcoming web series with Urreola Films which I am very excited about. I am also part of a theatre troupe called the Miserable Brilliance Ensemble, throughout the year we put up weekend runs of various classic American playwrights and longer runs of original pieces written by our members.
Who would be your ideal co-star and why?
I would have loved to play Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s brother in something, I think I have the build, the skin tone and coloring to have pulled it off, and with a bit of aging, Brendan Gleeson could have played our father. I have no idea what the story would’ve been, but I think we would’ve made for a good cast. I must admit that I have always wanted to work with Jeff Bridges too, ever since I saw his film Fearless with my dad as a child, something about him stuck with me. I realize I am wearing a Big Lebowski t-shirt as I answer this question, so yeah, I’m going to say Jeff Bridges.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future depend on how far ahead we look. For the next five to ten years I will focus on my acting career, it is what I am best equipped to do right now. As I progress, I will continue to learn the other aspects of the film industry, looking to eventually producing and directing my own work. It isn’t that I want to write, direct and act in my own work, but I would like to eventually be writing and directing my stuff and continue to act for other directors in their projects. I see myself working in film and theatre throughout my career as they are both very different mediums, but both feed me in my discoveries as an actor.
What is your advice to aspiring performers?
In all honesty, don’t try and do this without some budget behind you. I saved money before coming out to Los Angeles and it facilitated me being available to audition. Auditions are never at convenient times, so you need to be available to get in front of people to show them what you can do. Also I have learned to live by this motto “You are only as good as the last job you did:” By that, I mean that whenever you are on set or on stage working with people, that is the impression they will get of you, and that is the one that will stick. And I don’t mean “good” as in good acting, I mean just good as in being a professional, being on time, being respectful of other people’s creative processes, taking care of others on set and just not having a Prima Donna attitude when you are getting an opportunity to work, whether it is a paid gig or not.