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Auditions. Tapings. Accolades. Rejections. An actor’s life is not easy, but when your life dream becomes a reality, it’s worth every struggle. Michael Hyland knows all about that. This talented actor whose credits include commercials, movies and theater is now one of the stars of the highly acclaimed six-part miniseries “Waco”. A story that impacted the lives of so many and had the country holding its breath for 51 days has now been turned into a miniseries on the Paramount Network. The Overhead Compartment went for a drive with Hyland to hear about how intense those scenes really were as an FBI Negotiator, and what life is like as an actor in LA.
“Waco” premieres January 24th, 2018 on the Paramount Network.
The Overhead Compartment with Michael Hyland begins now…
OC: You play the FBI agent who was in charge of the negotiations on the six-part television series “Waco”. How did you prepare for the role?
MH: I watched every single piece of video that I could find about Waco and about the FBI hostage negotiators who were trying to get those “cult” members out of that compound. I read up on hostage negotiation techniques. I read the book “Stalling For Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator” by Gary Noesner who was actually the lead negotiator at Waco (Michael Shannon portrays him in the series) and eventually I had the chance to get to know Mr. Noesner and I absolutely grilled him about his life and experience. Finally, I grew a stellar mustache, which we all know is an absolute MUST for anyone who plays an FBI hostage negotiator… ha ha.
OC: What is the atmosphere on the set like when you are filming such intense scenes?
MH: It is very, very quiet. All of my scenes are with Michael Shannon and working with him was an absolute dream come true. He is so extraordinary to watch and to learn from. He is 100% dedicated to being truthful on camera and I learned a ton from working with him. I aspire to be more like him in my work, but what actor doesn’t? Aside from being quiet, we did have quite a few laughs too. It was basically Michael Shannon, Shea Wigham, Glenn Fleshler and me working all day in this old army tent. All three of those guys are hilarious, as are John and Drew Dowdle (The Producer, Writer, Director brothers), so we found moments of levity in between the work. It was the time of my life, really.
OC: The series was shot in Santa Fe, what would you do in your downtime?
MH: It was a really introspective time for me in Santa Fe. I was on a personal “Spiritual Journey” (if that doesn’t sound too corny, actually I know it does), so I was meditating every day and I was walking 5 or 6 miles every day and seeing some of the national parks in and around Santa Fe, like Bandelier National Monument or cruising around the Plaza in downtown Santa Fe. There is also this really cool, interactive art installation in Santa Fe called “Meow Wolf” which I’d highly recommend to anyone traveling there. I also ate. And ate. And ate. The food in Santa Fe is stupendous.
OC: You are quite versatile going from the stage, to the small screen, to the big screen. What are the biggest challenges each medium provides?
MH: That is so nice of you to say. Um, the biggest challenge is getting the job at all! Ha! I mean the competition is stiff for each medium, so first getting in the door, then being right for the role and then being more right for the role than anyone else is such a challenge every time. When I actually win a role, the rest is all gravy. I love all aspects of this art form. The people I’ve had the chance to work with are by and large extremely interesting, generous and funny. The amount I’ve had the pleasure to learn about different eras and jobs and cultures has enriched my life so much and I feel so lucky to get the chance to grow my compassion for humanity through learning about so many different kinds of people.
OC: Living in LA means spending a lot of time in your car. How do you pass the time?
MH: I am a huge book on tape and podcast person. Recent favorites include: Podcasts; RadioLab, Hidden Brain, Heaven’s Gate and On Being. Books; ‘Song of Soloman”, A Tree grows in Brooklyn and Grapes of Wrath. Oh, I also honk and swear at bad drivers…
OC: Top three favorite restaurants in LA?
MH: Little Beast, Phillipe’s and Dough Box (best pizza in LA).
OC: What is the first thing you do when arriving in a hotel room?
MH: Open the window to check out my view.
OC: If you weren’t an actor, what would you be doing?
MH: I would work on a fishing boat. I love fishing very, very much.
OC: Complete the following sentence: I never leave home without:
MH: Gratitude, compassion and my keys.
Michael Hyland, please use care upon departure as items may have shifted in The Overhead Compartment during our journey. Thanks for choosing us for your travel tips! Have a wonderful day!
Photo credit: Odessy Barbu