Dylan Walsh's perfect choice as detective in Unforgettable

American actor Dylan Walsh does not want to do anything even remotely close to his plastic surgeon role on the now-defunct series Nip/Tuck, even if the part propelled him to worldwide fame.

Speaking on the telephone from his home in Los Angeles, the 49-year-old actor says frankly: "After Nip/Tuck, I knew that for my career, I had to choose something very different. I would turn down plastic surgeon roles immediately and, at this point, even a regular doctor role, I would shy away from. I just wanted to pull a little distance."

The critically acclaimed Nip/Tuck series ran for seven seasons from 2003 to 2010 and won a Golden Globe in 2005 for Best TV Drama.

He says: "It's a funny thing for actors. I know that it was a very successful role for me but, at the same time, I also pride myself on playing different characters."

Which is why he says that his regular role in his TV series as detective Al Burns on crime drama Unforgettable was the "perfect" choice for a follow-up.

On the show, he works closely on homicide cases with detective Carrie Wells (played by Poppy Montgomery), someone who has the ability to visually remember everything.

He says: "Al is a man's man, a straight-talker, with a lower voice and a New York accent. All of that made me want to do the show even more because it's just so different from Sean McNamara."

Unforgettable's first season aired in 2011, but was cancelled shortly afterwards. Then, in June last year, network CBS made the surprise announcement to bring the show back for a second season, which started airing in the United States on Sunday.

Walsh is not at all surprised by the show's sudden revival.

"After many years in the business, I know how things are. CBS has so many hit shows, so not only do you have to beat the competition on the other networks, but also essentially compete against the shows on your own network.

"But at the same time, we did have a following and a good audience, and when they decided to bring the show back, I was thinking how you just can't take your fanbase for granted."

During its first season run, the police procedural drama had an average of 12.1 million viewers per episode, considered a strong following.

Popular police drama Criminal Minds, which has been running for eight seasons, draws an average of 12 to 14 million viewers per episode.

Walsh, who debuted in 1987 with the TV movie Soldier Boys, has acted in more than 50 TV series and films. These include the comedy drama flick Nobody's Fool (1994) alongside actors Paul Newman and Bruce Willis, as well as the 1995 action adventure Congo, in which he played a primatologist.

He is dating fitness trainer Leslie Bourque and has a two-year-old daughter with her. He also has three children from his previous two marriages to actresses Melora Walters (1996-2003) and Joanna Going (2004-2012).

On Unforgettable's return, the genial actor says: "I think with any show, we're always trying to find ourselves in the first year - even with Emmy-award winning shows such as Homeland.

"We're always trying to find the right buttons to push, whether it's to do more of the romance or the investigations and the murders.

"I'm glad we've been given another chance to rework and tweak the show to make it even better for Season 2."

8 questions with Dylan Walsh

1. Now that Unforgettable is back for a second season, what is it like working with Poppy Montgomery again?

Poppy and I have very good rapport, which helps between the characters of Al and Carrie. There has to be some energy and some sparks because I think that's the heart of the show and we have that. We are lucky that we have such good chemistry.

2. Would you be willing to do a TV show again for a long time, just like what you did with the seven-season Nip/Tuck?

Yes, I'm okay with that as long as there is something different throughout the seasons. I would love nothing more than for Unforgettable to go on for a long time, if people want to see the characters and the story develop.

3. Is there a moment in your life that you deem completely unforgettable?

My parents were in the Foreign Service, so I grew up in places such as India, Pakistan and Indonesia. One unforgettable time in my life was when I was around five and living in India, and my parents just took us out to the beach one day. It was exotic in south Madras and, as a family, we just went there and had so much fun. When you're five, a day like that is unforgettable.

4. Unforgettable is on a broadcast network, in contrast to Nip/Tuck, which was on cable channel HBO. What is the biggest difference about working on the two platforms?

There is a huge difference. You have so much more freedom on a cable show and, for them, it always starts with storytelling, not acting. They go to areas in the story where no broadcast network would ever dare to go to. But since I've already done that, I wanted to try something different. CBS doesn't get to have the crazy sex and the bad language, but I still admire it because it's the art of telling stories, but with limits.

5. Would you consider your role in Nip/Tuck the defining role of your career?

Nip/Tuck was the greatest thing that happened to me, and most people would definitely say that that was the show that defined my career because it made my career. But on a personal level, I would have to say it's the movie Nobody's Fool (1994) with Paul Newman.

It was the experience of being with someone who is an icon, and feeling like I've come a long way. I've watched his work and, to this day, I still try to emulate and copy how he works.

6. In Nip/Tuck, you played second fiddle to Julian McMahon's character and now in Unforgettable, you are secondary again to Poppy Montgomery's character. Do you feel constantly overshadowed?

That's a great question and you find your way in the business. It happens all the time and I'm comfortable with it. In Nip/Tuck, I was gratefully overshadowed by Julian, who was the taller, sexier and more handsome doctor. To this day, we remain close friends and that's just part of the business. Sometimes you are overshadowed and sometimes you overshadow others.

7. Many media outlets describe you as having a "nice guy" look. Do you agree?

That is true, you're so right. I think I do have a nice guy face, so I tend to have been given roles that fit that look. But that's why I'm so glad for doing the movie The Stepfather (2009) because my role as a serial killer was a good departure for me. At the end of the day, if I have a nice guy face and that's the go-to thing for Dylan Walsh, I'm okay with that, but I do still hope to play against type if I can.

8. How would you like to be remembered?

Rather than be remembered for just one role, I hope to be remembered as an actor. I came in the business wanting to do many different roles and I think I've done that, so I'm proud of that. If I walk on the street, most people will say they know me from Nip/Tuck, but if Unforgettable picks up energy, maybe they'll say they know me from that. The real point is that I'm proud to say I played different roles - I'm not a TV star, I'm an actor.

 

yipwy@sph.com.sg


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