On camera, he plays possibly the most unaccomplished college football quarterback ever. As Alex Moran, the second-string QB at the titular college of Spike TV’s Blue Mountain State, Darin Brooks gets to try and hold the raunchy campus comedy together. The former soap star (he won an Emmy in 2009 for his portrayal of Max Brady on Days of Our Lives) sat down with me on Friday to discuss the new season of Blue Mountain State, going from soaps to sitcoms, and our shared ties to Hawaii.
Your character, Alex, is the main protagonist of the show but he’s not the typical “straight man” we’d expect on a sitcom like this. In fact, he’s just about as flawed as everyone else. How do you still make him likeable?
That basically is it. Anybody who’s relatable has got to be likeable. You have to have some sort of thing people can relate to, a heart to it. Even though he’s lazy and he just wants to party, when any one of his brothers are in harm’s way, he’ll step up and try and save them. I just keep trying to put that underlying heart in there.
You had a pretty successful stint on Days of Our Lives. What was it about Blue Mountain State that made you want to leave that and approach this series?
I was on Days for four years. It was a great job. It was my first job and they were my first family. I just wanted to try something new. I went into my agent and my manager and said, “Why don’t we try some comedy?” Blue Mountain State was the first audition we went out on, and we got it.
Was it a difficult transition for you? Especially going from an hour-long soap that airs five days a week to a half-hour series that only had seven episodes in the first season?
It was a little bit of a change. It wasn’t too bad. Days was a harder job than Blue Mountain State is. Soap operas don’t get a lot of respect, but they’re some of the hardest-working actors in the business. We were shooting 80 to 100 pages a day. Now I’m shooting, at the most, maybe 8 pages a day. But I get to take more time to develop the character. There are still long hours and a lot more takes, but emotionally and creatively, I feel more fulfilled. I’d say it’s been more creatively fulfilling.
Did you have any concerns about it being the first scripted show on a network otherwise known for reality TV and reruns?
We were a little nervous, but we had such a good time shooting, and the stories were great. I knew that the show was going to push the envelope. There was nothing on TV like it. The fact that Spike picked us up for season one and then season two showed us that as long as we put effort into it, we could go a long way with it. There are so many stories we could tell.
You may be playing the most unproductive college athlete ever. Which leads me to ask after your personal football experience. Have you ever played at all?
I played football in high school for about a year and a half. Believe it or not, I was playing quarterback. I remember one of the last games I played. I went to high school in Hawaii, and the team we were playing had all these Tongans and Samoans. My offensive line just couldn’t keep up with this other team because they were huge. Me, personally, I got beaten up playing that last game, and I said I was done. I played a lot of sports. I played baseball for eight years, and soccer for six years. I was always like a sports player. It’s kind of funny that I quit playing football and now here I am.
Alex also isn’t off to the best start so far in season two. He’s already gotten shot in the first episode. How much trouble is he in this season?
He gets into a lot of trouble. He’s got to take care of Radon [Page Kennedy] all season. Radon gets into a couple of jams that I have to get him out of, and keeping Sammy [Chris Romano] out of trouble. We have some really crazy storylines this year.
He runs into his coach’s ex-wife, who’s played by Denise Richards.
There’s a whole episode devoted to that. And then the coach finds out.
Now that you have a second season, have you settled into the character more? Have you started to think about what you’d like to see for Alex in the rest of the season?
The first season was awesome. The second season went by so much faster for us. We were there for three or four months, but it felt like a couple of weeks. Last year we were searching to find out who these characters are. I’d love to see Alex first string and actually try harder, be a little more responsible.
The show is known for its adult humor, but have you ever gotten a script and found something too over the top or outrageous?
We actually had one of those this season, but it was only because Alan [Ritchson] kind of dragged me into it. We have an episode that has to do with eating a specific animal’s testicles. Alan said to the writers, “I dare you to write something that I wouldn’t do.” He saw the script and he was like “Oh, no.” I’m not gonna lie, it was pretty crazy, but I took one for the team.
What are you looking for in the future?
I love acting and I’m going to start getting into producing and hopefully directing down the road. I’d love to do a horror movie or an action movie or a thriller movie. I want to broaden my horizons and try everything at least once. I love learning new things. Comedy is one of my favorite genres.
Yet it’s also the most difficult because comedy is also so subjective.
For the comedy to be funny, it has to be based in a whole lot of truth. That’s what your audience wants to watch.
So what are you watching?
I am addicted to Boardwalk Empire and Californication. Oh, and I’m watching Hawaii Five-O, because I’m from Hawaii.
Does everyone think you’re Hawaiian? Because my father was born there and everyone thinks I am, and I’ve never even been to Hawaii.
That happens to me. People think I’m Hawaiian and I’m like, “I’m not Hawaiian. My parents are from Los Angeles. They just moved there before I was born.”
My thanks to Darin Brooks for taking the time to sit down with me. Blue Mountain State airs its second season Wednesdays at 11 PM ET/PT on Spike TV. Season one is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray from Lionsgate. You can catch coverage of each episode right here at TVOverMind.