Exclusive Interview with Graceland’s Brandon Jay McLaren

MV5BMjAxNzEwMzc3MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODI3NzE3NA@@._V1._SX500_SY332_Brandon Jay McLaren stars as Customs Agent, Dale Jakes on USA Network’s, Graceland. He’s quick-tempered and territorial but beneath that rugged exterior he’s a hardworking agent who’s always willing to lend an extra hand to his team.

Audiences quickly learn about his regretful past of abandoning his son because of his line of work. Now, he faces the challenges of stepping back in order to reconnect with his family and redeem himself. We caught up with the Graceland star and here’s what he had to say.

At the end of last season, it was really hush-hush about if Mike/Aaron would be back. When did you guys, as a cast know that he wasn’t dead?

“We kind of always knew, to be honest with you. I think they just wanted to ensure a really, really good cliffhanger to keep people coming back, and it was shocking. The show really revolves around Briggs and Mike, and their dynamic. To kill somebody off like that, it would have really changed the face of the show in a major way. I don’t think they were really prepared to do that. We all kind of had a feeling that it was just a tease.”

Because you guys are Federal Agents, and in that world, your life is in danger daily. Do you ever panic and say, “Is this is going to be my last season?”, or “Is this is going to be my last episode?”

“Well you know what? That’s a really great point! Having one of the characters die would definitely give the story that we’re trying to tell some real credibility and give the world that we live in, some real credibility. We have those conversations on set, believe it or not about the possibility of killing someone off, for the sake of the story. Like I said, to give that world extra credibility. Everybody’s kind of aware that anything can happen at any time, it’s nothing personal. I think it would be great, as long as it’s not me. [Laughs].”

If you had to pick a roommate that did get killed off, who would it be?

“I can’t answer that. You’re trying to get me in trouble! I’m not going to answer that. [Laughs].”

In what ways are you similar to Jakes and in what ways are you different?

“Similar in that I try to be as authentic as I can. I think Jakes is pretty authentic. I don’t think Jakes tries to be anything else for anybody else. I care about people’s feelings I think, a little more than Jakes does. [Laughs]. I don’t think he’s usually concerned with how other people feel. I think that’s where we differ. Those are the main similarities and differences.”

Season 3 has been following a long story/case arc, instead of a new case each week. As an actor, do you prefer those long story arcs, or do you miss the week by week cases?

” No, no. I’ve always loved the long story arc. It always serves the character better. With the long arc, you have more places to go. You have greater heights to fall from. As an actor, you always want the long arc, I think.”

We know from Twitter, that everybody wants more Jakes and Paige scenes.

“Yeah, this came out of no where. I didn’t know that was a thing.”

It is!  What team name do you think they should have?

“Which name do I want? I like Jaige.”

I like Jaige too! Besides Paige, is there anybody that you want Jakes to have more scenes with?

“Jakes and Mike don’t really have a lot of scenes together, ever. I think the first two seasons, we might have had maybe four scenes together. Two in each season, or something like that.

I feel like me and Charlie work a lot together, that’s always a lot of fun. Obviously they put Jakes and Johnny together all the time. Jakes and Paul had a good break. Jakes is always trying to help Briggs when he gets in a jam.

Jakes doesn’t really work with Mike a lot. I do think that Mike and Jakes have a very unique relationship. They don’t really bicker, I think they have a mutual respect for one another. I think, in terms of the way they view their work, they have a similar world view. I think that’d be good to see.”

You and Manny get to be the comical relief at times, do you ever improvise any of your lines?

“We improvise a lot! Especially me and Manny. A lot of it is improvised.”

Do you have a favorite line that Jakes has said?

“I think maybe, “I’m like a chocolate Jesus .” I think was my favorite one. That was a total improved line. I think I did that in one take. People seem to like it, so I think that’s my favorite, so far.”

Is there a story behind the chocolate Jesus?

“One of our writer’s in the first season, Steven Godchaux, came up to me one day on set, he’s like, “Hey, I wrote you a great line in the next script. I want you to read and let me know which line you think it is.” I went home and I read the episode. I was like, “Is it chocolate Jesus?” He’s like, “Yeah.”

That’s been really cool, because it’s a thing that’s stayed on, now. We’re in the third season and chocolate Jesus is still alive and well! I’ve got to thank Steven Godchaux for giving me that little jem.

It’s like a Graceland thing now. It’s really, really cool. It was something that just sort of take on a life of it’s own. It’s really cool.”

Jakes is kind of the only one who really hasn’t gone off the deep end. Do you think Jakes will?

“I feel like Jakes is a day away from completely losing it any moment. [Laughs]. You saw a little bit of that last year. He kind of pulled himself up out of it, just in the nick of time. This season I think Jakes is going to reach a breaking point. You’re going to see that. The decisions that come from that are pretty irreversible.”

Will we see more of Jakes’s son in season three?

“You’re not going to see him, really, but the idea and the thought of his son will never leave him, because it’s such an important part of his life. It informs so many of his decisions. I don’t think you’re going to see him in the physical. I think season three, Jakes is resigned to the fact that he’s not going to be able to have the life with his son that he wanted to.”

Is the dynamic between Briggs and Jakes going to change because of what happened to Colby?

“You know, the dynamics between Briggs and Jakes, isn’t really going to change until the very end of the season. You’re going to see why and what leads to that. There are certain things that as a result, are going to change Briggs and Jakes relationship, probably for a long time. That’s not going to happen until the very very end. For now, it’s going to be pretty much the same.”

What else is coming up for Jakes in season three?

“Yeah, Jakes is going to go with Charlie out to Miami, to help her with her case. To help her find Jermaine. From that, a whole new world is going to open up to Jakes, while he’s down there.

That new world is going to inform the choices that he makes for the remainder of the season. It’s going to be great! We have a lot of really cool stuff coming. A couple really, really tremendous cliffhangers. I urge people to continue watching and stick with us to the end.”

Are you going to get to cut your dreads?

“That’s been an ongoing discussion. I had the idea in the second season. It’s not going to happen this season, per say, but it’s an ongoing discussion. If we can find a place in the story where it seems to work and isn’t forced. It needs to be motivated by some real things, then maybe we’ll do it. That is an ongoing discussion.”

Do you have a favorite episode that you’ve filmed?

“I love episode four (of season three), with the flash backs, I thought that was a great, I thought that was one of our best episodes in the whole series. Kudos to the writer’s on that one. They really raised the bar.”

What other show on USA, would you like Jakes to cross over onto?

“I’ve been hearing amazing things about Mr. Robot. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ve just heard tremendous, tremendous things. Maybe we can get Jakes to do an undercover thing with the hackers and the boarder, I don’t know. Let’s start pitching it now! 

[Laughs]. I’d love to see that crossover!

What would Jakes theme song be?

“His theme song, oh man. Probably, I would say Paranoid Android, by Radio head. That song has so many different levels in it. It goes from hard hitting to slow and soft. It’s sad, it’s sort of up beat. That’s kind of Jakes, he’s kind of all over the place. He goes through these wide range of emotions, just like that song does.”

What TV show do you nerd out about?

“Lost. I’ve seen the entire series, probably about seven times over. I loved it. Lost has a special place in my heart and nobody can tell me otherwise. [Laughs].”

I have to ask, how do you think it ended?

“I still am unsure about that. Everybody was disappointed about the ending, I thought it was fine. If you give me six years, a quarter of my life, you can end it any way you want, I’m not going to be mad. Thanks for the ride, you know what I mean?”

Exactly. Lost was incredible. Besides Graceland, do you have any other projects coming up?

“I do have one I’m actually working on right now, but I can’t say what it is. They haven’t announced the cast yet. They haven’t done the official cast announcement. As soon as they do that, I will be able to talk about it.

We just finished our first week last week, we’re starting our second week today. I’m very excited about it. It’s something that I haven’t really done before.

I keep asking my Executive Producer if I can talk about it. I’m like, “I’m doing all these interviews for Graceland, I want to talk about the new show.” Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to until the network releases their casting info.”

One of my favorite movies is She’s the Man. Is there any chance that there’s going to be a She’s the Man two?

“You know what, that’s so funny, somebody tweeted that to me the other day. Yesterday or the day before. I think that would be amazing. That didn’t even enter the realm of my consciousness, until somebody tweeted it, as a suggestion. I was like, “Oh, that would actually be really cool.”

Maybe we can call Andy Fickman and get a petition going out on Twitter for a sequel. I don’t know what it would be about though, because everybody would be long since graduated and not in high school anymore, but I’m sure that we could work it out. I would love to get together with the gang again.”

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