Scott Hamm Duenas has been in TV shows, such as "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine", "Cobra Kai" and "General Hospital". He talks about his new movie "ReBroken".
Why did you get into acting?
I got into it because I always wanted to do what I loved to do. I never wanted to have a career where I woke up every day, and the alarm went off, and I hated my job. It had to be something that I loved. I wanted the alarm to go off and I wanted to be like, "Yes, I'm going to work today." And so, it really boiled down to two things. I wanted to be a part of sports because I played sports for a long time, or I wanted to be in the movies because I love the movies. I love TV and I love movies. I grew up, that's the two things I grew up doing; watching movies and TV shows and playing sports. So, it had to be one of those two. And when it turned out pro baseball wasn't in the cards for me, wasn't good enough, I said, "Then, it's got to be show business. It's got to be acting." And thankfully, I've carved out a living and I can pay my bill saying I'm a professional actor and I'm so grateful.
Do you find some aspects of acting particularly challenging and which aspects, if so?
The competition. It's stiff and it is tough. When you're out there just grinding it out, trying to get a job, that's tough. So, I would say, more than just so the competition, because I love to compete. Like I said, I'm a kind of sports background, but it's there's a lot of your career, especially at the beginning, that you are not completely in charge of. So, that's weird. So, like a job, if you want to do a certain job, you are like, "Okay, I go to college, I get my degree, and then put in my application. I work my way up." Or I want to be a lawyer, I go to college and I go to law school, then I become a lawyer.
Acting, there's no guarantee. You don't get to go to school and graduate and they automatically put you on a show. You have to fight and you have to grind. You have to have a thick skin, and you have to be able to leave stuff behind because a lot of the times the decision on you getting hired or not hired on something is totally out of your control. So, you have to be good with knowing those kind of things, not being able to control everything all the time because there's so many other factors that go into becoming a working actor.
Which actors that you've previously worked with have inspired you the most?
Great question. Great question. I try and take something away from anybody that I'm on set with that I can learn from. I did an episode of NYPD Blue with Dennis Franz, legendary actor Dennis Franz, and he was such a pro and so gracious and kind to everybody. So, I knew that that had to be a thing. He's treated everybody from top to bottom with so much respect. So, I said that had to be number one. And then, you get a guy like Tobin Bell who comes in and who was in our movie ReBroken. We're a little independent film, he's done these huge budget films, and he treated us with just the same amount of respect, I'm sure as he did with people on these big films. He was fantastic. He didn't look down at his nose, and I try and do that.
I did a small part in a little film called First Daughter that Michael Keaton was in, and Forest Whitaker directed it. Again, Forest Whitaker was so fantastic. I had a small little part, but he treated me like I might as well been Michael Keaton. He treated me with such respect and dignity. So, I try and do that same thing that these guys did. It's be prepared, be a good person, be on time, and respect everybody along the way. So, all those people were fantastic. I would say more people. Chuck Norris was fantastic. More people that we're great than were disappointing, that's for sure. So, it's been great.
Do you have a favorite genre to perform?
Ooh, that's good. I seem to do a lot of heavier things and lately, I've been playing a lot, both in TV and film, a lot of bad guys, or kind of jerky obnoxious guys. I have a lot of fun getting to do that. When I started out earlier and I was doing some sitcom stuff and getting to be kind of goofy and quirky, I really like that. I'm hoping for some more comedies down the road because I like being funny and I like the way the comedies are done in today's world, with that subtle, sharp sense of humor. I would like more opportunities to do that because I think that's something I'm good at, and I think it's something that I have a lot of fun playing.
Do you also like watching thrillers, and what do you like about watching them?
I love thrillers and what I love about watching them is that most of them, you have to hang in there to figure out exactly what happened at the end. There's usually some type of twist, or some type of mystery, or some type of puzzle solved, or some type of big reveal, and I love that. As a movie watcher, I love to get caught up in these characters, and I love not knowing when I can't figure it out. Because I'm kind of good at figuring out the endings of stuff, so when they get me in these thrillers and I can't figure out the ending, or who's the bad guy, or who's going to turn on who, I love that about thrillers. Yes, that's probably my favorite thing about the genre. There's so much of that mystery and reveal angle, and twists and turns that I really, really like in my film and TV.
What did you like about working on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine?
Oh, getting to wear the uniform. I loved it. When I went in for my wardrobe fitting and I see the uniforms hanging there, and they put it on me and I zipped that thing up, and I was just like, "Wow, look at me. I am Star Trek. I'm Ensign Parton. Look at this." And then, walking out onto the ship. Definitely, I mean, everyone was great to work with, don't get me wrong, but when you get to put on that legendary suit and be in it, on set, and be in a spaceship, I mean, come on, man, it gets no better than that. I loved it.
What has been your favorite TV role to play?
Oh, man. I've gotten some lucky TV... I'm going to cheat a little bit and say two. One that I'll never forget and that I love so much, that really kind of started me off onto... Was a big break for me was Walker, Texas Ranger. I got to play Tommy Landers, opposite Chuck Norris and opposite, excuse me, the legendary Sam Jones who played Flash Gordon, the original Flash Gordon, that my episode had. That part means so much to me because it was my first big starring part where I was basically in that from the beginning to end of that episode. So, that one always is near and dear to my heart.
Recently, the episode of Cobra Kai that I did. The part wasn't as big as that, but, for me, it was so fun and so nostalgic. Not only did I get to fight a little bit because I do train some MMA fighting. I'm a novice, but I'm pretty... I'm decent. And so, it was fun to get the fight and it was fun to be around the legendary characters from a movie I loved as a kid, Karate Kid. So, getting to do a fight scene with William Zabka, aka Johnny Lawrence, and my episode had the original Cobra Kai in it. I mean, that's right up there. It's right at the top of the list because of the nostalgia factor for me of movies and roles I would love to play. How great would it have been to get cast as the original Karate Kid? I mean, the Ralph Macchio part. But anyway, yeah, that Cobra Kai role was pretty fantastic for me. I have to say that I was on cloud nine with that.
If you had an unlimited budget, what kind of horror movie would you make?
Ooh, good question. I love me some good horror movies too, man. I'm a huge sucker for... I have an idea for one, but I'm not going to say. I can't give it away, but... That I've been writing around a little bit, that I like the angle of it. But I love horror movies, the original OG kind. I like Halloween. I like Friday 13th. I like the Christmas one that's not as popular, Silent Night, Deadly Night. I would like to do one where it was just... Because the ones that I've kind of been in now are more thriller-esque. I'd like to just be in one that was just ridiculous, hardcore, guts and blood, and flying stuff around, and stabbings and beheadings, and crazy stuff like that. I've never done one of those, like a really, really extreme horror movie, so I would love to get a chance to do one of those.
When writing films, what are the main things that you have to think about?
For me, one of the main things is I like the dialogue to be how people really talk. I like it to be easy and free-flowing dialogue and words that... I don't want mine to sound like a Shakespearean play. I mean that Shakespeare's obviously the best, but as far as just I'm talking about the cadence, I want it to be real. And like I said, as still someone that's learning the game, it's doing the things necessary to make it a good script.
I like you to get to know the main character, the protagonist, you got to get to know him right away. So, I'd love you to get to know the protagonist, get to know the person and what they're all about as you take this journey with them. And then, I like dialogue to be free-flowing, and clever, and witty like the Quentin Tarantino. It's probably one of my favorite. I love the dialogue in his movies. So, things like that are important to me. It's important to me to really identify with the main character, the protagonist in the story, and I really like some realistic dialogue.
What has been the biggest challenge in your career?
Oh, that's a good question. I did a stop and start in my career, and that was very challenging, to stop and start again. I thought that was going to be easy. Because when I very first started, I was extremely lucky. I mean, it happened so fast for me just to get to town, to take some acting classes. I got an agent, then I started booking parts. And I got a bigger agent, then I started booking bigger parts. And then, I went to this thing where I was going for auditioning for some really big films. I auditioned for one of the leads in American Pie. I auditioned for one of the leads in Varsity Blues, just came down to the wire, didn't get them. Then, I had a couple pilots I did that didn't get picked up, and then I kind of got down on myself and said, "Maybe I got to think of a different way to approach this."
And I took some time away, moved back to Orange County. Some years went by and I said, "What am I doing?" Again, I need to go back in full-fledged, and I thought it would be seamless to jump right back in. And it wasn't. Because I'm like, "I already have a resume. I already have a reel. I've already done a bunch of stuff. Why can't I just start working again where I was before? Sorry, I got bummed out that I didn't get the really big stuff, but I liked the jobs I was getting before." But it really was, I had to start all the way back over. I had to go get a much smaller agent. I had to start with doing little parts again, and start slowly working my way back into being a part of this business.
And I'm happy that I'm back in it now and also getting to create my own content and really starting to do some fun stuff and making my name as a producer, too. But, yeah, I would say the hardest thing for me was to deal with that first bit of things not going my way where I wasn't getting those big opportunities that I thought were just natural. I was just going to get them because I had already gotten the other stuff. And the rejection and not getting those, I took it way harder than I thought I ever would and almost knocked myself out. But I came back, and then coming back was tough. So, that part, the stop and start was really tough for me.
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