I’m from laguna beach and got my acting start singing in opera / broadway before switching over to tv and film. Did a show called The Good Wife while going to college for US History and now I’ve recaught the singing bug, one of the reasons I was excited to do the whole Little Mermaid Live show.
My brother and I also finished up our first feature film, a Neo-western love story thriller called The Bygone, which we wrote ＆ directed and I also starred in (not doing that again for a while…)
The film is about a Cowboy who falls for a Native girl who disappears after getting dragged into the world of trafficking in North Dakota. At it’s core its about the place of the Old West in the Modern World. It’s based on true events going on in Indian Country and the negative impact the oil fracking boom has had, particularly on Native women. It’s something I studied for my thesis and if you’re interested, here’s a short director’s statement that explains it better.
Director’s Statement: https://www.phillipspictures.com/bygone
Here’s a sneaky trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeloNMTaJZI
PS: I still type like yoda because I cheated in 2nd grade typing class so my answers may be short, but they will be potent ;]
I'm a massive Good Wife fan, and was so confused about how Zach was such a big part of the show early on, and the disappeared in later seasons: why had you left the Good Wife, what was it like working with Julianna, do you stay in touch with anyone from the cast, and were you #TeamWill or #TeamPeter?
Team PETER! But he's my pops. I went to college season 4 or 5, i forget which so they lightened the load. It looks like I might be doing a bit of the good fight at some point, so I'm looking forward to that.
Julliana was a dream, she wrote one of my letters of rec, and honestly getting to work with so many theatrically trained actors – since we were based in NYC – was a dream. Theres a boldness and a reluctance to play things safe that really resonated with me, and still does now! And we still run into each other at broadway shows and whatnot. It's a small world out there.
What are you working on next?
The next film that I'm working on is actually on the directing side. I'm doing my brother and it's called rumble through the dark. It's based on a novel called The Fighter (incredible book and quick read if you're in the market for something exciting about a crazy part of the US) written by Michael Farris Smith. It takes place in the Mississippi Delta and follows a bareknuckle fistfighter as he fights his way out of debt to the dangerous Big Momma Sweet. A bunch of other stuff happens, but that's the jist of it. We're going out to cast it this week so we're pretty excited and we're slated to shoot in April.
Hi Graham! what was the hardest part of doing the Little Mermaid live show?
I would say that's the hardest part of doing the show was dealing with nerves. I am not one to normally get nervous on stage but everyone gets opening night jitters. The problem was that on top of that you can't help but think about all the millions of eye balls on you. I tried to put it out of my head but every once in a while, you catch yourself thinking, 'hey graham you know you could randomly forget a lyric and get lost or the music could cut out in your in ear monitors and this could be the most embarrassing moment of your life' Those thoughts don't tend to be too productive And they kind of getting away of you having A fun time which is what that particular show was all about. You just try to put them out your mind. No one wants a nervous prince...
Through working as an actor and every aspect of it, research, getting into character, working with other people, acting, revising, and everything else each actor puts their all into, what have you discovered about the world around us and the people in it?
It doesn't happen as often as I'd like, but when a role comes around that feels truly authentic and born from a person's desire to tell a story rather than make money, and I commit to getting to the bottom of that person, I find, time and time again, that no matter how different these people are from me on the surface, it's never a matter of taking of the graham mask and slapping on another. It's a matter of getting to the place where you realize that a piece of you is in everyone you'll ever meet. You definitely have to let the ego go a bit for that work to really settle in, which can be hard as this industry can be fairly brutal. That's why you see these divas walking around with huge entitlement issues. It's often less that they feel they really deserve all their success or that they normally would be the kind of person to look down on everyone else, and more that its the only way they know how to insulate themselves from what can be a pretty judgmental and volatile industry. If that makes sense. You're welcome for the ramble.
Recently you acted in "The Little Mermaid" as Prince Eric and I was wondering: If you could play another character from that movie who would it be and why? I hope you have a nice rest of your day!
Sebastian. I like accents. And I would have worn claws ;]
I’ve been waiting for The Bygone to come out since you first started conceptualising and posting about it on your Instagram, so big congratulations on this!
I was wondering two things: you studied the topic deeply but was it different essentially living it on screen and really getting into that character? Were there difficulties emotionally and mentally with the really strong subject matter?
Also, you always say you love working with Parker and I was wondering what the ups and downs were of working with someone you’re related to and know so well.
Thanks! Yes it's a big accomplishment just to get it from our brains onto the screen so that feels quite good.
And while I studied the subject matter of violence against Native women and colonization in general pretty heavily, and while the film certainly touches on many of the related themes and issues, it is very much an outsider's take on it all. We could have made Waniya, our Native lead, the protagonist, but there was the issue of two white guys dictating the Native female experience, if that makes sense. Since we're not a part of that community, it felt more authentic to replicate how we felt as we first learned of our country's rather dark past and the shock we felt learning the truth of the old west.
So in answer to your question, it was very different putting it to screen, particularly because my character was such an outsider to all of this.
As far as working with Parker, of course there are lowpoints where we disagree, but we care more about getting along longterm ultimately than we do about any one creative decision. So we usually take out our frustrations on the tennis court or golf course and use that as a tie breaker.
Hey Graham! Been following you since 13 actually! Any plans to return to broadway? Also, Stick Around was a fun song to hear when it came to your pop music career. Any plans to go back and maybe release a pop album? Much love! So glad you’re doing so well ☺️
Thanks for sticking around that long ;] I'm really looking to get back of the stage, that's why I did the LML gig. But I'm thinking of moving out to NYC for a few months for that exact reason. I know they'll be doing hercules and Menken seems like a fan now after the show so maybe I can cash that in haha. But who knows, always open to more singing. And been thinking about an album the past few months now. Probably not pop just because there's other people who are mroe suited for that and it that turns into such a ball of hair so quickly if you end up getting super popular, and I'd always want to have time for acting / directing / hanging out...
I've heard that you embody what it means to be both cool and tough. Can you elaborate on what that means to you?
Certainly, but I think you mean cool and tuff? If so, the cool and tuff gentleman is a man whose conduct proceeds from goodwill and an acute sense of propriety, and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled when necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, fringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but with sincerity and sympathy always; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others rather than his own; and who appears well in any company, a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue is safe.
Hi! what would your most perfect date be??
I've been known to overdo my first dates, it's something my brother has tried to help me with... But my logic is, if the date isn't going great or we're not super compatible, I want to be doing something that's still fun for us both. The problem he argues is that if it's so fun and over the top, no one can tell if they actually like you. I think he has a point, but that said:
An afternoon sea plane to martha's vinyard for dinner at l'etoile, fly back at sunset for jazz at lincoln center, followed by Saturday Night Live. Too much?
Why did you try so hard to write a quirky title?
To hide how little I wanted to do this when I originally had to send reddit the title last week.
What is your favorite childhood memory? And if you could ask your 50 year old self one question, what would that be? ❤️
I remember hearing this stunning symphonic piece from Rachel Portman's the little prince called "sunsets" when I was 11. I was on stage in nyc and it was the first time I was able to hear it with the full orchestra. And it was just me and the pilot sitting on his plane's wing, looking at the back scrim which was cycling through these beautiful gradients of color, and our backs were to the audience, and I just remember it being the first time I cried in my life, not because I was sad or hurt, but because it was just so beautiful. I guess it was a little bit that it touched on the simplicity of life that lives between joy and sorrow, I don't really know. The song still gets me.
If I met 50 year old Graham, I'd probably ask for advice on how to stay emotionally open and committed to characters in this industry without feeling down every time you lose a role or the run of a show is over. That or stock tips.
I’ve been your fan since I saw you in Ben 10 movie! So proud of your progress and hard work! Do you miss that time? How was your experience in that film?
I honestly barely remember the acting part of it. I was just happy to be playing with all the cool props and gear.
Hi Graham! What would you say has been your most difficult role to date? Are there any roles you wish you could “redo,” so to speak?
I think my hardest roles have all been ones I worked on in class honestly.
I try not to dwell on what I would change, but sometimes I wish I'd made bolder choices on the good wife. I often times took pride on getting them a good usable take right out of the gate so they could move on, but I realize now that it was at the expense of my joy in playing the part. If you're playing it safe, then you'll never allow yourself to surprise yourself in the moment, which is the whole joy of acting and, honestly, life in general. So I'd say just feeling freer to fail would have helped me.
Hi Graham, big fan. Out of all of the LA party bus EDM shows, which would you say was your favorite and why?
Ya know neeks, I think I'd have to go with a vintage favorite, our old pal Skrillex. Not sure if me or my date made it in but the bus ride was the real party, as you know. Either that or whichever one we bailed on and crept around Nickelodeons set across the street for. Hard call.
Hi Graham! What would your dream role be? And what’s next?
I love you!
Probably a dramatic film with singing. I tested for West Side Story after doing a workshop with Spielberg which was an amazing experience but after a few months, the studio went another direction. So I'd say something like that or a period piece. My brother and I have always wanted to do a great Caesar film.
Hi, Graham! Your new movie Bygone discusses the topic of human trafficking. Do you think that human trafficking is still a problem? What is something that we as a country can do to stop this epidemic?
It's certainly still a problem. One of the biggest problems is the visibility of the issue and the victims. A lot of the time, what looks like a bad relationship, or someone involved in prostitution, is just trafficking, which is anyone using threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability to profit off of someone. It's not like how it is in Taken where some boogyman shows up out of nowhere and kidnaps you. Not that that never happens, but 99% of the time its preying on people who are already vulnerable or need a way out of their current situation. So there are a few things. Obviously, one of the problems victims face is fear of law enforcement, especially if they've been coerced into something illegal, like prostitution or drug dealing, so making sure that law enforcement and normal everyday citizens can spot the signs and nuances of trafficking is important otherwise victims feel like they have nowhere to go. A lot of people wonder, why don't they just go to the police, but it's obviously not that simple. Donating to organizations like the National Indigenous Women's Resource Center helps to make sure there are outlets for victims outside law enforcement. And just spreading the word so that people know it's happening is huge. It's easy to turn a blind eye when you don't see it, but when you learn to recognize the signs, you'll notice. And in that case, a smile, a bit of humanity and less alienation, a card to the local women's shelter or, if necessary, a tip to the cops, can go a long way. Thanks for the Q
Best beer to sip on while sitting on the beach?
Ice cold Pacifico, but only with a lime. That or Beachwood Citraholic IPA ;]
Did you like working for Disney?
Disney is great. They make you do a bit too much press, but other than that, they are total pro's and make you feel quite comfortable. 10/10 would recommend.
Hi Graham! Congratulations on The Bygone and LML! I hope to see you sing more! I wonder who your favorite disney princess is and what do you look for in a girl? Sending love all the way from the Philippines! 🙃💕
I generally like girls that talk more than ariel, but I do like her trailblazer attitude and fearlessness. I like to dive right into things even if it's before I've been able to plan it out properly so I like people that will similarly take the plunge. Sorry, still trying to shake off these oceanic puns. I've also always been a sucker for red hair ¯_(ツ)_/¯
Were you ever in genuine consideration for the live-action film version role of Prince Eric? And would you ever consider doing a '13: The Musical' in concert type of thing at a place like Feinsteins/54 Below?
I'd love to do something at 54 B or Birdland, it's been a minute since I have. I made it past the first couple rounds but I really think they wanted someone European. In the understatement of the morning, I'm not sure how much Rob Marshall loved that we were doing a live broadcast haha. Don't think it actually helped my chances...
You’ve done a lot of safaris and travel, do you think that influences or inspires your life (or your work) and do you think you’ll ever do something film-related around that subject area?
Oh yes. The next film my brother and I are writing, White Hunter, deals with the rhino horn trade and has a lot of Out of Africa influences. There is something magical about that continent. It always makes me forget anxieties about the future and regrets of the past and just listen and smell and touch and view the beauty thats right in front of me. Also, being surrounded by so many people that seem to have it figured out despite having so little helps put things in perspective. Seeing the stars is nice too. Highly recommend.
What is it like writing, directing and starring in your own movie? Whats the best part about it and whats the most important lesson you’ve learned from the experience?
It's a lot of work! Theres also a lot of room for doubt haha. Normally if you're just doing one or two of those things you still share the blame if things go wrong. But even though theres a million things that go wrong that are out of your control, you sort of have to own it and try that much harder to make up for it somehow. Thankfully I have my brother I can blame any faults on haha.
I've certainly learned a lot as far as shooting for the editing room. That just because a shot is stunning and you're getting great performances, unless you know where the shot will go, you probably should move on to the next shot you know you need.
If you could work with anyone in film who would it be and why? Also do you plan on doing any meet ups for your fans in the future?
I love Javier Bardem, Meryl and Daniel Day. They seem electric on screen. More than anyone, I feel they sign their signatures on their performances. For them, it's not just about how the character would act, it seems to be how could I make them act and tell this story or reveal their truth most effectively.
I bet I'll do fan meetups at some point. I've always been pretty trash at marketing myself and doing press, but I'm getting better and meeting fans feels like its a different sort of deal.
I’ve had Her Voice on repeat for the past week! What was your experience with recording the song like? :)
I loved recording that song! It had been 10 years since I recorded 13 (when my voice was literally changing) so I was anxious to see how it sounded in studio. Richard Kraft, legendary music guy who produced TLML, gave great notes. We really tried to put life into every line of that song.
what was it like working on the set of riverdale?
I loved it! Happy to be going back soon. It's fun working on a show that so heightened, I feel like you can get away with making bolder choices.
What is your favorite song of all time?
That's Life - Frank
But lately I've been loving the shins / broken bells and anything my latest crush has been sending me ;]
What are you watching on Disney+?
The mandalorian and Robin Hood (1973). Such a classic.
Hi Graham! Alexis here. Figured I’d ask a few questions you probably don’t get asked that much, just to mix it up! PS big fan :)
1) Who are you favorite sports teams? I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan...assuming you are a Dodgers fan.
2) How did you like majoring in History? That was my major as well.
3) Favorite type of shoe?
Dodgers, Lakers, OU, Cowboys.
I loved it. It totally depends on the professors, but most of my precepts were with like 8-12 people, so it was fun getting into the thick of it. There was a lot more interpretation of primary sources and drawing your own conclusions rather than being told what some quorum of old farts in the 30's decided happened
Love me a custom cowboy boot, but I'm wearing adidas slides right now and that feels pretty right too.
Also, did you know you have fans in Pakistan as well? Love from Pakistan! On that note, what are your views about Pakistan? would you ever visit if you were given a chance?
I had no idea! Thats rad. I've heard it's beautiful and I'm going to india next christmas so maybe I'll swing by!
Hi Graham! I loved your performance in the Little Mermaid! What was your favorite part about doing the show? Also, what is your favorite Disney movie and character?
It has to be just getting to sing with that amazing orchestra. Menken's music is so terrific and so easy to act with. It just coaxes the imagery right out of you mind. My favorite part was probably not slipping off that rock. It was super slippery and the night before I had a dream I fell off it into the audience so while I'm generally sad that I can't tell the future in my dreams, I'm glad I didn't this time.
Hi Graham! How has your time been after the little mermaid? Most importantly, how are you?! Big fan of you, and very proud! Sending love from the Netherlands! 💛
Well I took a month off of bread, pasta, fried foods, booze and dairy leading up to the show and my first meal after the show was pizza and beer at the afterparty and I kind of kept that rolling so definitely feeling a yoga juice cleanse week is in my future... But I've just been working with Parker on storyboarding our next film.