Sam Daly isn't just a hot ginger, he is part of an impressive and very loving family that is considered to be Hollywood royalty with mom Amy Van Nostrand, dad Tim Daly, star of Wings and Madam Secretary and Aunt Tyne Daly and even grandfather James Daly all being celebrated actors.
He is a rising star who is fun to watch on Madam Secretary and even better on the YouTube series he and his dad do, called The Daly Show. Their first video Episode 1 "The Daly Douche" is super funny. See it here:
Sam Daly is 6'3" and his original ambition was to be on the Lakers. He was captain of the basketball team at Middlebury College, but that dream didn't quite pan out. So, he turned to the family business of acting.
The sweet-natured, charming and talented Sam Daly spoke with Michelle Tompkins for TheCelebrityCafe.com about his career path, what his dad did that makes him the coolest dad ever, what is up with his character on Madam Secretary, his new Zombie project, what he loves to do with his wife, Marissa and baby son Owen and reacted to being named one of our hottest gingers in a terrific and appropriate way.
Michelle Tompkins: Sam, did you know that you were featured as one of the top 36 Hottest Gingers last week by The Celebrity Cafe?
Sam Daly: I did not know that. Where is that list? Come on, I want to check that out. That's my favorite achievement ever [laughter].
Michelle Tompkins: Yeah, I just posted it last week. I’ll send you the link.
Sam Daly: Oh my God. Will you please share that with me? I'm going to— I got to send it to my mom. My mom's going to cry, she'll be so happy.
I'm going to look that up as soon as I get back home and I'm going to push that out. That is so fun. Thank you for featuring me. I appreciate it.
Michelle Tompkins: You're welcome. You're one of the top guys…
Sam Daly: Oh. That is—if you could see the smile on my face right now…
Michelle Tompkins: That's great. I love that.
Sam Daly: And it's funny because I come from a long line of redheads; I should say. Both my mom and my sister are redheads. And my dad's mother is a redhead. And I am the proud father of a beautiful ginger-haired, blue-eyed baby boy. So it's wild to see. But no, we have a lot of ginger pride.
Michelle Tompkins: I think that's fabulous.
Sam Daly: Exactly.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, where are you from?
Sam Daly: Oh, I am sort of from all over, Michelle. I was born in Providence, Rhode Island. I was actually a home birth. I was born at home. And I moved like 15 times before high school. I primarily grew up in Los Angeles, first through eighth grade, but both my parents are actors, so we kind of went where the work was. And then I moved back to Rhode Island for high school. I went to college in Vermont, at the small college called Middlebury College, and I've been back in LA ever since. But my mom and my dad and sister all live in New York, on the Upper West Side, so I get back East fairly often. And my family's had a house in Vermont for 25 years. So I just consider myself bi-coastal. That's what I call it.
Michelle Tompkins: Oh, that's cool. I actually say the same thing, and I’m from California, but live on the Upper West Side too, so that's awesome [laughter].
Sam Daly: That's so small world, I love that. Now, are you freezing? Did you survive the bomb cyclone and all that stuff?
Michelle Tompkins: I still missed it because I'm in Sacramento right now. I'll be here another two weeks.
Sam Daly: Oh, that's nice. It's so funny. Whatever happened to calling it a blizzard?
Michelle Tompkins: People in the Midwest must call us New Yorkers extreme wusses because every day could possibly be a snow day.
Sam Daly: Exactly. Every single day. The weather gets a new headline, it's the cyclone bomb and the polar vortex. Of course, my friend just got back from New York this weekend and he said there's not even a single drop of snow on the ground anymore.
Michelle Tompkins: Lots of ice, unfortunately, so that's where a little of the danger does come in. But the joke is I love LA people because they say, ‘Oh, my gosh, it's 65 degrees outside. I am not going out today [laughter].’
Sam Daly: Oh, yeah, you've got to wear your Uggs and your polo crew, come on [laughter]. But it is funny how quickly you become adjusted. And it's always just surreal seeing people in big parkas and jackets at 65 degrees. I couldn't agree more.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, please tell me a little bit about your childhood.
Sam Daly: I had a great childhood. Like I said, I had these two wonderful parents that happened to be actors, my dad, Tim Daly and my mom, Amy Van Nostrand. I had zero interest in being an actor. I was sure that I was going to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. That was all my hopes and dreams and what I aspired to. And I used to tease them for making faces for a living. So that was sort of my thing. But, like I said, I moved around so many times.
I was born in Rhode Island, I lived the first three years of my life in New York. On the Upper East Side, actually, on East 88th and 1st. And then I went to preschool in New York, I came out for a year of preschool in LA and then finished in New York, and then I went to Rhode Island for kindergarten and then I finally was in LA for first through eighth grade.
So I was constantly, sort of moving around, and meeting new people, and adapting to new situations and making new friends. And at the time, it was challenging, it could be overwhelming, but it really sort of helped me become the person I am today, and be adaptable, and make friends easily, and sort of find enjoyment wherever I am and not feel uncomfortable. So that was really great. I will say I have a love for film, and for theater, and for television from a young age just because I was around it and surrounded by it so much.
Both of my father's parents were actors, my aunt, Tyne Daly, was a very well-known actress. But growing up in LA, I just thought everyone's parents were actors because that's sort of what it was. I can remember at my school, I was good friends with John Lithgow's son and I thought everyone was an actor. I thought this was what everyone did.
And it wasn't really until I moved back to Providence and - I'll never forget - I was touring the school while I was in eighth grade because, by the time I got to high school, my parents said, ‘We're moving you as far away from LA as possible.’ And I was like, ‘What do you mean? I finished my homework. I should get a BMW.’ And they replied, ‘No, we're going.’
So we went to Rhode Island would turn out to be the greatest thing that ever happened to me and I wouldn't have traded that for anything in the world. I was in a-- I think I was in a biology class for the kid who I was shadowing for the day. Well, I'll never forget. One of the students came in. I think it was a girl and she came in and she said, ‘Oh my God. The guy from Wings is here [laughter].’ And was like, ‘Oh my God.’ And of course, there was me, sort of sheepishly bowing my head in the corner, turning bright red like a redhead would do. And the teacher being like, ‘Yeah. I think that's his son he's touring.’ And then he went, ‘Oh. Oh, my God. Blah, blah, blah.’ And it just dawned on me that maybe it wasn't so common and you're just ‘normal’ because everyone has their own normal. You know what I mean?
But I had a very loving and fantastic childhood clearly. And I was lucky because my dad was on a hit sitcom so it wasn't like he was traveling around doing movies and away for six to nine months out of the year. He sat down and had family dinners every night of the week except for the one night they shot. So it clearly was a totally normal upbringing. My parents the coaches of my tee-ball team and came to all my sporting events and they supported me in whatever I wanted to pursue really.
And I'm sure if I told them I wanted to act, they would've said, ‘That's great.’ But that wasn't my primary concern. I wanted to hang out with friends, and play sports, and travel, and do stuff. And I will never forget when I finally did tell them that I wanted to— turned out I was going to be an actor in college. They had to check the phone to make sure that it was me and not one of my friends messing with them. But they quickly got on board and have been nothing but supportive and wonderful since.
Michelle Tompkins: Do you still play basketball?
Sam Daly: You know what? I do actually. I actually played basketball for four years in college which is sort of funny because when people see a big 6'3" ginger, the first thing is they don't assume is great basketball player [laughter].
But when I moved out to LA, I became part of this league called the NBA Entertainment League, the NBA E League. And the best way I can describe it is as the most glorified old man's league of all time. I mean, you were on the Lakers or the Nuggets or the Celtics. And you are just decked out in the coolest NBA-licensed schwag of all time [laughter]. So for me, it was funny because I would invite people or friends or girls. What I would say, ‘Go come to this game on Sunday afternoon.’ And they'd be like, ‘Why would I come to your game?’ And I'd be like, ‘Oh, well, we're playing Ice Cube, and Jamie Foxx, and Justin Timberlake this week.’ And they'd be like, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm available. I can go. I'm totally there. Yeah. I'd come [laughter].’ For me, the celebrities were fine. That was cool.
But I cared more about meeting the producers and directors and the managers. And I really was able to get, to this day, some of my greatest relationships and best friends in LA and in the industry have come from playing basketball with them which I never thought would happen.
And even smaller world story is that the third year of playing in that league, I met the woman who is now my wife and the mother of my child, my wife, Marissa. So it's all sort of crazy how it happened. She was transitioning from living in New York and working in finance and came out to get her MBA at UCLA and wanted to work in sports. And she came and did an internship to do some marketing for them. And I was like, ‘Oh my God. Who is this? Clearly, you're not a paid intern. And she was sort of sassy. And she was like, ‘No! I'm in business school.’ ‘Oh! My friend Tim goes to UCLA and is a first year.’ And she said, ‘There's no one named Tim in our entire business school [laughter].’ I said, ‘Okay.’ I found out that my buddy Tim was actually a fully employed business student so they never would have crossed paths. Come to six months later, I missed a pre-throw to seal a game in the semi-finals to get to the finals. But I had a really good game. I scored 30 points and I was playing out of my mind. And we ended up winning! And after the game she came up to me she said, ‘Hey! Really good game. You played really well.’ And I was like, ‘Thanks!’ And she was like, ‘You should really work on your free throws though.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my God, we got to hang out. You're the best.’ So it all came full circle.
But yeah, unfortunately, the league sort of pulled it a couple years ago. I played in it for about eight years and we had the championships. And I still have tons of sweatshirts and t-shirts. And I still wear it like a badge of honor. And I still have relationships with great people. But I don't play in it anymore because it doesn't exist. If it did, I certainly would.
The best dad ever…
Michelle Tompkins: Now, what are the sports teams that you follow?
Sam Daly: Oh, I am diehard LA sports. Lakers would be first and foremost. We have a golden retriever named Koby Bryant [laughter]. And then Lakers, Dodger, Kings. I mean, I'm sort of a bandwagon Kings fan. I grew up going to see them play in the '90s but it's not like I go all the time.
And then football, I am a Dallas Cowboys fan, much to the chagrin of my father. But that's kind of a cute story. When I was in fourth grade I got pulled out of class on a Friday by the principal for no reason. He just came in and pulled me out. I was like, ‘What's going on? What are you doing?’ He's like, ‘Follow me,’ and walked me in. We walked right past the principal's office and I said, ‘Where are we going? I didn't do anything! I promise I'll never do anything bad again!’ He said, ‘You follow me.’ And he walked me to the front of the school and opened the front gate. And who was standing there? The only person scarier than the principal was my father standing in front of the car and not that he was scary but it was scary to me in the moment. And he says, ‘Go speak to your father!’ I said, ‘Okay.’ And I walked up and my dad said, ‘Get in the car.’ And I said, ‘Okay.’ And I looked in the backseat and there was my bag. The one piece of luggage I had packed!
I said, ‘What are you doing? Don't ship me away! I'm fine! I don't want to go to another school! It'll be fine!’ And he says, ‘Son. We're going to the airport, we're flying to Atlanta, we're going to the Superbowl.’ To this day one of the coolest dad moves of all time. But it was the Superbowl between the Dallas Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills. And the Cowboys won and it was 28-10. And to this day I've just been a diehard Cowboys fan. My dad's a Giants fan. It kills him because they're in the same division. But no, I've loved them until this day. And my wife works in sports. She's a Senior Director of product marketing for Yahoo Sports. So it's something that we love to share together and it's really fun.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, have you done any theater work?
Sam Daly: Yes! I have. It's funny, my first, ‘real’ acting job I would say was when I was 13 years old. It was the summer between seventh and eighth grade for me. And I did a play at the Williams Town Theater Festival in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Which I had no idea what I was doing but it was such an incredible experience for me. I think that was the first time I really got infected with the love for acting, I want to say for the future me. And I did this play called Dead End. And both my little sister and I were thrown into it because they needed some street gang kids. And my mother was one of the leads in it. My mother played a syphilitic whore [laughter].
It had this incredible cast in it. It was Campbell Scott, and Robert Sean Leonard, and Hope Davis, and Scott Wolf. But this is the best part, was that it was about these street kids in New York that grew up on the docks. And it had a swimming pool on the set so that the actors would jump off of the stage and fly off. And you couldn't see where they went. And all of the sudden real live action water—the front three rows would get sprayed with water! Because there was water there and it looked so cool! But my big scene was me, and the other second avenue gang kids would go, and challenge Scott Wolf who was 30 years old playing a 15-year-old at the time. And I was 13 years old towering over him [laughter]. And my big line was— and I said it with my toughest Brooklyn accent. I said, ‘You want to fight our gang?’ And I would rehearse it for hours every night. ‘You want to fight our gang?’ Even in the mirror.
And then, I went through my parents? ‘Why if I say do you want to join our gang?’ Is it ruined? What do I do? But the kid who ended up being one of the two other guys from the second avenue gang ended up being Charlie Day who was like 18 years old at the time, and now, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and all his movies, it's just crazy. You never know these people you're going to work with. It's always wonderful to me at the time, even though I was just a little kid, he was just so cool, and I admired him and looked up to him, and. So that was my first real theater experience.
Since then, I've done a handful of plays in little theaters around LA. There was one summer where I did a fringe festival in New York. I did an original play there, which was fantastic. And honestly, I would love to come to New York and do some more theater. It's a little tough and tricky right now because I have a 10-month-old son, and we just bought a house and we have a mortgage to pay right now [laughter]. So that puts a little bit of a damper on it, unfortunately, but I mean, my heart is still in the theater and being on stage, and ideally, I'd have a gig where I was a series regular on a TV show, and that allowed me to go do theater in summers during the downtime.
Michelle Tompkins: I think you may like to know that that I actually saw your aunt in Master Class on Broadway.
Sam Daly: Oh, did you? Wasn't she wonderful?
Michelle Tompkins: Oh, she was amazing. She was so good. And so funny.
Sam Daly: That's so cool. My dad and my aunt did this play this summer. This new Theresa Rebeck play that I believe. If all goes well, it is going to come to New York off-Broadway by the end of this year, hopefully. So keep an eye out for that for sure.
Michelle Tompkins: Oh, wonderful. That's a great tip. Thank you. Now, tell me about your role in Madam Secretary.
Sam Daly: My role on Madam Secretary is really fun. I play Win Barrington, who is described as a lofty, medical marijuana lobbyist. And that really sums him up in a few words. He's just a very preppy, kind of douche with a heart of gold, I would say. But I play Daisy's, who's Patina Miller, her ex-fiance. And in the first season, there was sort of a love triangle because Matt, played by Geoffrey Arand, who was, and sort of still is and has always been in love with Daisy. And he was trying to swoop in even though we were engaged to be married, and that sort of all exploded.
And since then, I've come back and we've sort of had a one-night-stand over an election night, which was fun. And now, of course, Daisy has had a baby on the show with a character who was soon after they hooked up, he was killed, and poisoned because he was a CIA agent. So there's lots of talks, and hopefully, it will all come to fruition that Win Barrington will be coming back to come and potentially help out Daisy raise her kid, as I think he's always wanted to be in and be part of that.
Michelle Tompkins: How did you celebrate getting the part?
Sam Daly: Oh, man. Well, I remember when I auditioned, I was just excited because obviously, it was a show that I'd become a fan of and watched, not only because my dad was on it, but because it's great TV. And I went and auditioned for it, and it was funny. My wife was like, ‘Wow, you look really good,’ because I wore a nice, three-piece suit, and she was like, ‘I thought you played like a pot lobbyist.’ But what the people don't understand is that the marijuana lobbyists, they dress really nice. They're like the future politicians. They aren't like these schlumpy stoner guys.
And when we celebrated, I mean, I just think we celebrated, had a bottle of wine, and were excited, and called my family, like I usually do. You got to celebrate all the victories in this business because you never know if the next one's coming [laughter].
Michelle Tompkins: You have a zombie movie coming up, is that right?
Sam Daly: I do. Yes. It's called Office Uprising. And I believe Crackle just announced that it's going to be one of their first original feature films. It may still be coming on theaters as well, but it's coming out in the next month or two, and it's really fun. It all takes place in a weapon's manufacturing company and sort of focused that the weapons manufacturing company decides to test out their new weapon on their own employees. And the weapon is an energy drink called Volt, that once you drink it, you become sort of a crazed zombie killer [laughter].
If you drink enough Red Bull or Monster, I think you'd become a crazed zombie killer anyways [laughter]. But I play Marcus Gantt. And my character, he's another guy you sort love to hate him. He's the guy who says really horrible, offensive, things, but he says it really nicely [laughter], so you think he's being friendly and kind. And so, it was really fun for me to play just because— I mean, I consider myself one of the nice guys, which is not a bad thing. But to be able to go and sort of be inherently evil with a smile on your face, that character has always cracked me up before, so I had really fun time playing with it. And also, I also should say that it was fun doing this movie, the director, this guy, Lin Oeding, who came from a world of stunt coordinating, these huge action movies, Marvel and Dark Knight movies. The Insanity of people flying through walls, and flamethrowers, and explosions from this movie wasn't like anything I've seen before.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, when you're not working, what'd you like to do for fun?
Sam Daly: Oh, well, of course, that has all shifted in the last year or so. Now, I just like to roll around and play and makes a lot of baby faces at my son. But my wife and I, we love to eat delicious food because who doesn't love to eat delicious food? We love to travel, we love to go to the movies, go to Laker games, go to sporting events.
But also, we have a really great group of friends and a handful of them have new babies too, so our evening definitely shifted from partying to—this New Year's Eve, we celebrated East Coast's New Year's Eve and we were fast asleep at 9:30, that's my new celebration [laughter]. So yeah, we just enjoy spending time with each other and together as a family. It's been really great.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, have do you like your fans to connect with you?
Sam Daly: I am very active on Instagram. My name's Sam Daly on dot. And I'm not as active but I have been-- I do check a lot and have started to be more active on Twitter, where I'm thesamdaly. And I love when fans reach out. I'm very responsive and love to spread the word when I have new projects coming out, so that people can watch.
And I'm one of the few people that never joined the Facebook train. I never have. It became such a big thing, and then it became a thing because I hadn't joined. And I just feel like all I would do is get in trouble looking at— I'd just get in a Facebook hole and never come out of it, so [laughter].
Michelle Tompkins: Is there any charity work you'd like to mention?
Sam Daly: Yeah. Well, briefly I really am a big proponent and supporter of St. Jude. I donate every year. It's just something I feel is so important, especially now that I have a kid. Just doing anything to help raise, one, the awareness to fight cancer, especially cancer in children. It's just heartbreaking. You never want anything bad to happen to your kid.
And also Feeding America is another one. I love food, and even though I might not look like it because I get to work out a lot, I work out so I can eat more food. Hunger is a big problem in our country that is sort of brushed under the rug, but anything I can do to help put meals for people in need I try and do, so.
The other one I should say is the Creative Coalition too, which is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that—they've used money and awareness for arts and public school education, which is just really important, especially nowadays when they're trying to end National Endowments for the Arts. It's so important to realize the greatest mathematicians or the greatest scientists—they can use art to creatively improve on themselves, too. And everyone needs art in their life, you know? So that's something that's also close to my heart.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, what's next for you?
Sam Daly: What's next for me? This year I just finished making a movie in New Orleans. A really fun crime thriller called Cut Throat City directed by The RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan and stars Wesley Snipes, and T.I., and Eiza Gonzalez, and Demetrius Shipp who played Tupac, and Shameik Moore from Dope and The Get Down, and it was an incredible cast. And so that was an incredible— just being around those people was such a treat. And that's going to come out either later this year, the beginning of next year.
And my dad and I are actually going to shoot our first film together this spring in the Madam Secretary hiatus called Just Not Right. And it's about a dad that gets engaged to his son's ex-girlfriend, which is just not right, but it is so funny, Michelle. It is literally laugh-out-loud hilarious. And that's one we've been developing for a couple years.
We have this web series we do on YouTube called the Daly Show; the D-A-L-Y show. The real Daly Show. And it started off as just something fun and silly, and we ended up doing 18 episodes over five or six years. We have really cool guest stars. Everyone from Whoopi Goldberg to Nathan Fillion, and Steven Weber, a bunch of them. They're three minute quick hits, though, on YouTube, and you should check them out. I think you will like it.
Michelle Tompkins: Oh, I definitely will. I like all of those people [laughter]. I like that.
Sam Daly: Yeah. And we sort of play caricatures of ourselves. We play father and son in that, too, but my dad is sort of the more absurd one and I'm the straight character. And it's all about, ‘If I want to become a famous film and television star like my old man, then I need to be a little less douche.’ It's all about being a little less douche [laughter]. It's just so silly but we have a lot of fun making them and I think you'll get a laugh, so enjoy.
Sam Daly can be found here and see him in Office Uprising and the upcoming thriller Cut Throat City.