Dan Amboyer may have played a jerk on Younger, but that was the furthest thing from typecasting as there is nothing unlikable about this up and coming actor. He is friendly, charming, engaging and as smart as he is good looking. He can be seen as Trevor on the highly anticipated spinoff Blacklist: Redemption on Thursday nights on NBC.
Raised as the youngest of four kids in Detroit, Michigan Amboyer broke the mold when he decided to become an actor. While he was still a child, he performed in the theater. He went on to study drama at Carnegie Mellon. He moved to New York City where he landed a role in Law & Order. He also took parts in Unforgettable, Body of Proof and other projects. He also landed the coveted role of Prince William of Wales in 2011 Hallmark Channel original film William & Catherine: A Royal Romance. He also maintained a strong presence in the theater having just wrapped up starring in hit play Squash.
Dan Amboyer spoke with TheCelebrityCafe.com about his professional journey, how he prepares for roles, what he does to celebrate landing a role, loving his pets, what he likes to do for fun, his upcoming personal and professional projects and more.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us.
Daniel Amboyer : Hey. Sure, sure. Happy holiday.
TCC: Yeah. Same to you. So I see it's a Michigan number.
DA: Yeah. I'm from Michigan. I see you're a New York number. You're in New York.
TCC: I am in New York. I'm originally from Sacramento.
DA: Oh, okay. That's unusual. Usually, the California people like to stay in California [laughter] sometimes. Yeah. I'm from Michigan.
TCC: So where in Michigan are you from?
DA: Just outside Detroit. Have you been there?
TCC: A couple times. Yes.
DA: Yeah. What do you think? Where have you visited in the state?
TCC: The Detroit area, for a business trip. Grand Rapids once. I spent kind of an afternoon by the lake with some friends once there. It was great.
DA: Oh, nice. Yeah. No, it's beautiful. Yeah. I'm from the Detroit area, just north of Detroit. But then I went to boarding school in northern Michigan so a little bit colder up there. But beautiful, very beautiful.
TCC: Can you please tell me a little bit about your background?
DA: Sure. I grew up in Michigan and — where to start? I mean, my dad was a doctor who worked at a jail. He was more like a jail administrator. My mom was a public school teacher. There's no artists in my family whatsoever. So I don't know how that got in my gene pool, but it did. And I just started doing arts and stuff when I was a kid and ended up going to an arts boarding high school called Interlochen in northern Michigan, and just kind of decided to pursue the old acting biz. But, you know, at that time, I just kind of imagined it would be theatre. So I did that and went to college at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. Got a degree in acting and actually double majored in musical theatre. And then I came straight to New York and started working.
TCC: Well, it seems like Carnegie Mellon drama has such a nice alumni association. It seems like they all do a lot of things together. I've actually interviewed two people in the last week who had a connection to your school.
DA: Oh, have you? Who? Who, who, who?
TCC: Carly Hughes from American Housewife, and she was really great. She mentioned going to events at Carnegie Mellon with Leslie Odom.
DA: Oh, yeah, Carly, okay. Have you interviewed Katy Mixon from American Housewife, too? She was there when I was there.
TCC: I haven't interviewed her, and that's probably what I've been thinking, because I know she's an alumnus from there as well, yes. So I'm looking forward to interviewing her one day. I just haven't yet.
DA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, no, it's funny because the classes there, like my graduating class in musical theatre was, I think there were seven of us? So it's kind of a tight-knit group. So my best friends are still from school and we see each other every other day [chuckles]. So it's exciting. I mean, one of my classmates is -- I don't know if you know Patina Miller from Madam Secretary, Mercy Street -- but she won a Tony, too. So it's great to see your classmates constantly succeeding. And we kind of push each other on and help each other along the way to get where we want to be going. So yeah, it's a cool program. I was lucky to have been there with some great people. I think I learned the most from the people around me. Just when you get talented people there, like the people who you talk to. And it spurs you on.
TCC: Well, please tell me about your theater experience.
DA: Yeah. I had my first job when I was eight, actually [laughter]. I was like the understudy for Tiny Tim in a production of A Christmas Carol, back in Michigan. But then I did -- did you ever hear of the Joseph tour-- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Donny Osmond? I did that when I was like a kid, too, on tour and -- but then, gosh, since coming to New York, I've done a lot of Shakespeare and that kind of thing. And I just did a new play off-Broadway. It was the premiere of A.R. Gurney, the playwright. You might know him. He had a play on Broadway last year with Matthew Broderick. But I did his new play in the fall...
TCC: What was it called?
DA: Yes. It was called Squash. Squash. It was kind of like a 1970s play. I was actually an English professor, and it's kind of a sexual-awakening play. So it was fun and a little bit racy [laughter]. Yeah. But I love theater though. It's so different than TV and film. And I feel like doing theatre helps my on-camera work and my on-camera work kind of helps my theatre work. So I love to be able to bounce through the mediums.
TCC: What was your first professional TV or film role?
DA: Oh gosh. That's funny. I was just talking about this with a friend this week. It was a Law & Order. I was a church arsonist. I burned down churches. And yeah, when I first got out of school, I had long surfer hair, which you could style to make me look like a crazy druggie [laughter]. So I kind of got pegged for a bad guy. But the thing of — that when you have your first job on like a Law & Order, it's such a machine. They've done so many seasons and they've done so many episodes, that when it's your first time doing a show, you don't really know what's happening around you on set, because you just never experienced it before. So it was a little bit intimidating because they move so quickly, and no one explains to you what is happening. And I remember my first scene shooting. I was doing an interrogation scene where they're grilling me, did I do this? And they were wanted me to cry so I kind of cried, and there's all this stuff, and I was like, "That's over." I could go back to my dressing room, so I took off my costume, and then I was getting ready to leave, and they're like, "Oh no, no, you're not done. The camera wasn't on you at all."
And I thought — I know, but I was like, "I have no idea —" I thought I gave my “award winning performance” and everything and thought I was done, but neither of the cameras were even on me, so that was my first job [laughter].
TCC: Tell me about your role on Younger?
DA: That was a really exciting thing, when it came my way, because I'd always loved Darren Star. I don't know if you're a fan of his shows, but I grew up in the time period where he was the biggest thing happening, and I'd always wanted to live in New York, and my sisters and my family were super-into it. You know at that time there where Sex in The City Sunday watching parties or something.
TCC: I went to those parties, too.
DA: Oh, did you [chuckles]? Did you have the specialty drinks and all that kind of thing?
TCC: There's a bar in midtown New York, I think it's called Catwalk, where they run repeats of the show and it was a lot of fun.
DA: Oh, yeah? [laughter] That's funny. I mean, that was like a golden age for New York. It just made the city come alive, but I was between it, so I didn't know what they were talking about, but it looked cool [chuckles]. So, I just knew his name forever, and I really thought his sense of humor was funny. So, when I had the opportunity to meet him for Younger and audition for him, I was really excited by it and I kind of went into it being like, "I want this job. I really want this job."
TCC: You could sing the song.
DA: Yeah. Yeah [laughter].
Both Singing: Please God, I need this job. [From A Chorus Line.]
DA: I know. Oh my God, I know [laughter]. I'm not sure that would have gotten sad, but [laughter]....
TCC: Might have gotten a laugh though.
DA: Yes, it could have-- I should have-- yes. But it was actually that, I mean, not to go too far into detail but I was-- that day it was just crazy, because it was pouring rain and I was doing a play at the time in the city. And I was coming from a dress rehearsal, and I was changing into a suit in the back of this cab, and I was late for my audition, and I was the last person of the day. And Darren Star, I was making him wait for me. And I just felt horrible and terrible and I had to run — I just got out of the cab and just ran because traffic was so bad and— and there he was waiting for me. But somehow he was very patient, and he's the kindest man, and we worked on the scene. And it just worked out and I was so happy about it. But that is such a completely different character from who I am. So I always thought it was a fun challenge kind of make them as douchey as possible, but still have a heart. The time working on them, the writers and I kind of found a groove to the writing for it to make the jokes not be too mean-spirited, but still have a sense of fun to them, so I really loved working on it.
TCC: How did you celebrate getting the role?
DA: Oh, gosh. How did I do that? I can't remember. You know what I always do? I always open a bottle of champagne, and I write with a Sharpie the date on it, the date that I got a job, and I kind of write the name of the show of it and set it aside. I don't think I've ever told anyone that before, but that's my little regular thing.
TCC: That's a happy ritual. It sounds good.
DA: Yeah, ritual. That's the word I'm looking for, yeah.
TCC: Now, you mentioned sisters. How many kids are in your family?
DA: I am one of four, so I have two sisters and a brother and I'm the youngest.
TCC: How did you prepare for the role of Prince William?
DA: Oh wow. That's one that I worked really hard. I just knew when I went to the very first audition for it that being an American actor, if I didn't make it if the accent wasn't pretty damn perfect, and if I didn't have a real sense of blending his mannerisms with still making it me, it wasn't going to happen. The odds are kind of stacked against me, being an American actor. So I spent a lot of time watching his stuff on YouTube and listening to his specific sound patterns. And so I worked pretty hard on that and then just competing with actors who are auditioning in London and LA. So I worked pretty hard just for the audition process, and then I worked with the coach for one of the accents. But she was kind of like, "I think you're good. Don’t stress about it too much." So you don't get in your head about it. So I kind of let some of that go away. And I think the thing that I most wanted to do was not making it me trying to entertain him, but more finding where we overlap, and who we are, and our mannerisms and try to make it seem organic. Did you watch the Britney Spears movie, by chance?
TCC: I did not [laughter].
DA: I just watched it for — around 15 minutes, but I have it on when I was cleaning. And just watching it, it's so hard, because I kind of felt for the actress playing her, because-- I was really lucky that my director didn't try to saddle me with like, "I want you to imitate this person, and try to—" to do that is not impersonation. It's not like they're starting a live feed. But I felt for this actress playing this role, because I felt some of the times that it wasn't her. She's trying to do something that somebody was telling her to do a little bit. So I felt lucky to have a supportive director helping me with that process too.
TCC: Well, there's a lot of controversy about that film, because so much of it people are saying was completely made up. There's the fictional dance sequence between Britney and Justin.
DA: Oh, really?
TCC: There are some things that just didn't happen. You know with these biopics, there's always a little bit of creative license. You don’t know exactly what was said in these private conversations, but—
DA: Right. That's the same thing with ours too, because she wrote it based on a couple of books that were published about Prince William's life from accounts from people close to him. But you never know what are the intimate details of the conversation between two very public people in very private moments. So [laughter] it's a little bit of guessing, but [laughter] we try to honor them.
TCC: So what was the name of that movie? The Prince William movie?
DA: It's called William and Catherine: A Royal Romance.
TCC: And where can that one be found?
DA: That one is, gosh, it was just on OnDemand actually, but it's a Hallmark movie. It's like one of the Hallmark Hall of Fame things. It was the Hallmark movie of the week. Yeah, but it's online, and iTunes, and Amazon, and all those kinds of things.
TCC: So what is Blacklist: Redemption?
DA: Oh, it is the spinoff from the people of Blacklist, and it's an eight-episode limited series. It's going to start this week and it's kind of taking the place of Blacklist while they're on hiatus. It's a little spinoff.
TCC: Who do you play?
DA: Well, I am Trevor. And it's funny because the thing about a show like Blacklist or the show to is that as the onion peels these people are somebody different than who you might think they are in the beginning. So the first time you meet me, I'm just there, and you might not give me a second thought, but there's more coming [laughter].
TCC: Now, is the show only a limited series or could it possibly be picked up again?
DA: I think they could. I think they could. Right now they kind of just want to make the best of the episode order that they have, but I think they're going to be open to more depending on the schedules of the people working on it. But I mean, that would be great. I'd love to see that.
TCC: Do you have any other upcoming projects that you want our readers to know about?
DA: Let's see. I just finished filming a web series with some of the Younger writers called Vicious Mannies. We shot it in LA, it’s a little comedy about three out of work guys who become nannies to support themselves while they're doing other things. I'm a Midwestern guy who always wanted to live someplace sunny and found myself in L.A. and gets swept up into the Hollywood biz without even trying. Do you know-- did you watch Entourage? Do you know Rex Lee?
TCC: Of course.
DA: He's one of the other mannies.
TCC: Oh, oh. Great.
DA: Yeah, he's hysterical. It was a really fun cast and we had so much fun together, we're working on it. That will be coming out in a little bit. I just did a prison film, a little something different, a little gritty prison film with Vince Vaughn. And that'll be coming out later this year or so. I don't have a date yet, but I kind of get to torture Vince Vaughn a little bit. I'm his warden and he's in jail, and I get to do a little bit of strip searching and torturing Vince Vaughn and doing all that kind of stuff [laughter].
TCC: What's the name of that project?
DA: That is called Brawl in Cell Block 99 [laughter]. Yeah. Something that you would not expect from Vince Vaughn, necessarily. But the director really had a unique style that's very understated and has some grit to it, so I'm excited about that.
TCC: What are some kinds of roles that you want to play but haven't gotten around to playing yet?
DA: I really loved doing the Prince William thing. I love the romantic comedy. So much of the time I'm cast as an asshole or a douchebag, or that kind of thing. I'd like to go back to just playing a guy with a good heart [laughter]. Usually so much of my stuff is ulterior motives or a dark thing to it. Maybe that's what other people see in me, but I feel like I have a warm side, too, humor and fun. I'd like to play a little bit more of that. Feel-good stuff. Why not?
TCC: Nice guy stuff.
DA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Mix it up a little bit, you know?
TCC: What are some of your favorite movies and TV shows?
DA: I've been watching The Crown. What are my favorite things, though? My all time favorite is Six Feet Under I think. But I don't know. Yeah, yeah. I love all that, and Dexter, and I kind of like the twisted humor kind of stories too, a little bit. What are you watching right now?
TCC: Oh boy. This is Us is one of my favorites. I can't wait to see Time After Time, the H.G. Wells/Jac the Ripper series that's starting up soon.
DA: Yeah, yeah. I heard he's a brat [laughter].
TCC: I finished The Crown, I'm doing Victoria right now. Actually, I think this year has been a very hard year for TV because there are so many options.
DA: I know, I know. I get overwhelmed. I get overwhelmed by it. It's a lot, right?
TCC: It is, it is. And the problem is, I'm liking most of the shows. Usually, I'll give a show one or two episodes. And then this time, there actually just aren't so many stinkers, so I don't have time to watch all of these.
DA: I know, I know, I know. I've been so busy, too. Have you seen The OA? I'm really curious if I've got to start that one.
TCC: No, I-- that one is actually third on my list of next-to-see shows.
DA: Oh, you have an official list. You could be like, "That one's number three" [chuckles].
TCC: Oh, well it's not really-- I have just an index card with stuff that I want to see. But a couple of the other ones have already came and gone. Like Luke Cage, finally got around to seeing that. I saw season one of Supergirl and really liked it but just didn't have time for the second season, and my sister told me that it's really fun. I really liked Frequency and am very sad that it looks like it got cancelled.
DA: Oh, no, really?
TCC: Yeah. It really is. It was a good -- they ended it kind of where it could technically end, but I think it could have had another season or two in in. It couldn't have gone on indefinitely because the time paradox wouldn't have lasted forever.
DA: Yeah, sometimes shows are hard. When you set up such a concept show, it's hard get a get six seasons out of them, or seven seasons, or whatever, yeah, tricky, yeah.
TCC: So who are some performers you admire?
DA: I mean, I said, Dexter and Six Feet Under, Michael C. Hall, to me, is such a great guy. I mean, he trained as a theater actor and kind of bounces back and forth between the mediums and I really love his work. And getting to live in New York, as you do, you get to see these people on stage too. And it's great to see someone do great work on-camera and then also be able to be equally or more impressive living in front of you. So I love watching those actors that can be kind of chameleons. Of course, there's other-- the big names like Judy Dench and stuff that does that too, so. I mean, I used to watch the Judy Dench behaves like she did in the 70s. When I was in school with her and like Midsummer Night's Dream, where I was shooting dimes, getting naked [laughter]. And like a crazy concept production of Midsummer Night's Dream, with [inaudible] company. So I love watching those actors. Those are the ones that inspire me the most, the ones who can just do a ton of different things and different styles.
TCC: Where do you live now?
DA: I live in Manhattan. I actually just bought my first place in Brooklyn. Where are you in the city?
TCC: On the west side.
DA: Oh okay. I'm waving north.
TCC: Ha! I can see you there. [laughter] What do you like to do for fun?
DA: For fun, well, I'm about to start a big remodel project. That should be fun. And I'm an animal lover. I have I have a pet, so I inherited a parrot eight years ago. I have cats.
TCC: How many?
DA: I have three. Three Maine coons.
TCC: Oh, those are huge cats.
DA: Yeah, two of them are 25 pounds, and they're like dogs without having to worry about them going for a run in the park somewhere.
TCC: What are their names?
DA: Oh Teddy Roosevelt, John Quincy Adams, and then my youngest is a red-headed kitten named Lucille. [laughter] An homage to a great comedienne [laughter].
TCC: How tall are you?
DA: I am 6’2”.
TCC: How would you like fans to connect with you?
DA: I am on Instagram, and Twitter and Facebook, all that. There are some mees that aren’t me, so just look for the little blue check, probably the best way. I love interacting the fans, though, and try to answer questions that people have. And I love when people are excited about projects, so. I am just a tweet away.
TCC: Is there any you wish to add?
DA: No. Yeah, just check out Blacklist: Redemption. It's coming. And yeah, look for us online, and that's pretty much it.
TCC: Well, you sound like a good guy. I wish you luck in your endeavors.
DA: Oh, thank you. Thank you.
Dan Amboyer can be seen as Trevor on the highly anticipated spin off Blacklist: Redemption on Thursday nights on NBC.