I spoke with the incredibly talented Andrew Bowen from the new hit show on Starz, Magic City. Andrew plays the resident swimsuit wearing bad boy, Divin’ Dave Donahue. If you have been keeping up with the show you know exactly who he is and the mischief he is responsible for. Will he make it to the end of the season? You will have to keep on watching to find out. It was an absolute pleasure to speak with Andrew about his roles in Magic City, What About Bob?, Evolution, and so much more. We also spoke about autism, a subject near and dear to his heart, and it was definitely an enlightening conversation. There is a bit of something for everyone in the interview below. We touch on some serious topics but Andrew also shows off his sense of humor. We discuss what’s coming up in his future and so many other things. I always try to make sure that I share the person that I’m interviewing’s personality with you, whether it be by making notes for you or leaving in the little quirks in the interview that others may not have left in, that being said, you can tell that Andrew is a blast. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season of Magic City and his other projects.
Lena: What About Bob? was the first film that you worked on?
Andrew Bowen: Yes that was my first film. I was lucky enough to get an agent and my dad had a lot to do with that because a crew came to my grandmother’s house in New Jersey. They happened to pick her house to shoot at and my dad went up to the director and told them that I wanted to act professionally and asked if he could point me in the right direction. I ended up meeting with a casting director and that’s how I got my agent. That was my first job right out of high school. I had been auditioning sporadically in high school and my hat said, “NYC or Bust.” I literally graduated and the next day my car was packed and I moved to New York with two of my best friends and started acting full-time. My parents were pretty adamant about me going to college and at the time I didn’t know that I wanted to write or direct or the things that I’m doing now. I told my parents to give me until the end of summer and they let me do that even though I don’t think they could have stopped me anyways. What About Bob? was the first job that I got and it was awesome. It was amazing I mean, Bill Murray, Richard Dreyfuss, and Frank Oz. It was about five weeks of filming and then a month before it came out I got a letter from Frank Oz saying that he just wanted to let me know that unfortunately he had to cut all of my scenes out of the movie. That’s an auspicious start.
Lena: Oh no! (I’m so glad Andrew said this because I saw that film a bunch of times and for the life of me, I couldn’t remember him and now I know why.)
Andrew Bowen: I actually have a VHS tape with all my cut scenes. I have proof. It was funny because I ended up becoming the extra that just won’t go away. If you watch the movie I’m mentioned about a half a dozen times. I kind of consider it my Kevin Costner story. There is that famous story about Kevin Costner in The Big Chill, he was the guy that died. He shot for the entire production, tons of scenes and flashbacks with the group and the director at the end said it would be better if the person that died was a mystery. He ended up cutting all his scenes out of it. He ended up doing pretty good in his career, so I’ll take that.
Lena: Did you get to meet Bill Murray at all?
Andrew Bowen: Oh yeah, I got to meet everyone. He’s a great guy, super cool. The same thing with Richard Dreyfuss, two completely different individuals with very different work ethics, you have the seasoned pro prepped mentality that Dreyfuss brought to the picture and then you had Bill who would do the same thing but he was an improv guy. I would go down to the set on days that I wasn’t working and watch them just roll. I would laugh all day long. It was actually a really great first experience as sort of a first outing of actually being paid and becoming a professional actor and realizing how much I really enjoyed comedy. It’s been a big part of my career so far.
Lena: I’ve heard that Bill Murray is pretty wacky in person.
Andrew Bowen: He is and he’s a really good guy. Everybody was generous and kind. I had a really great first experience and at the time it was top tier, huge Hollywood budget thing. That was my first avenue and it just went downhill from there…(laughing)…no, I’m kidding. The food has never been the same. Actually, when you shoot commercials they have pretty stellar catering.
Lena: A lot of bacon?
Andrew Bowen: Yes a lot of bacon, come on its bacon. Who doesn’t love bacon? I want to have a bacon shirt so I can nibble on it all the time.
Lena: One of my actor friends (Patrick G. Keenan) always talks about the amount of bacon on big commercials and films.
Andrew Bowen: Yes they usually have lots of bacon. When we were doing What About Bob? they had steak and lobster. It was ridiculous.
Lena: You were also in Evolution; I loved that movie.
Andrew Bowen: That was fun, and I loved it too. It’s one of those little unsung Ivan Reitman gifts that is out there. I actually knew Jason, we did a couple of short films together and went to Sundance together for the first time in ’98 for Operation. I got to meet Ivan through that and they were shooting and I got a call from the producers and I got offered a small part. I got to go out and spend the day with Ivan; it was fun.
Lena: I loved Orlando Jones in it.
Andrew Bowen: Orlando was also on MadTV. There were actually three of us from there because Pat Kilbane plays the cop.
Lena: Speaking of MadTV, I love the impressions that you can do. Do you have a favorite that you enjoy crank calling people with?
Andrew Bowen: Oh gosh crank calling no, but I actually had someone the other day that wanted to give her husband a surprise for his birthday. She wanted me to call him as Christopher Walken. I like to have a little bit of prep on it so she told me a little bit about him and I ended up recording this message to him from Christopher Walken. Apparently it was a huge hit. It was a lot of fun. Walken is definitely fun. I did Nicolas Cage recently and there is a YouTube clip that I, and a couple of friends, produced about two weeks ago and Nic is great cause he’s just crazy. I would say I definitely have a lot of fun with him. It’s very rare that I don’t have someone bump into me and go, “Do Keanu.” I think they are all fun in their own way and some are more challenging than others. There are some that I just can’t do. I remember when I was doing MadTV years ago and they wanted me to do Tom Hanks. You try but there are just certain tonalities and certain ways that people move that are just impossible, so I couldn’t do it.
Lena: Have you ever gotten feedback from the person that you were impersonating?
Andrew Bowen: Not yet but the only thing that I ever heard was that years ago, when they were doing The Matrix, I heard from someone that they pulled up my Keanu and they watched it with him. Apparently, Keanu thought it was pretty good. Keanu was somewhat impressed by it. That is the only one that I know about. I can imagine that some of these people have seen them but that is probably good because I don’t need to get punched in the face. It’s all in good spirits.
Lena: They should be happy that people are impersonating them.
Andrew Bowen: Absolutely, that means that you have established yourself in a subculture in some kind of way.
Lena: In Magic City, all those dance lessons that you took as a kid must help you especially when you are filming all those underwater scenes.
Andrew Bowen: Yeah, you know the dancing has definitely played a solid part in my entire life. It’s really great to be the one white boy that can dance. The work that I had to do in the pool, on that set, was tricky. You don’t realize, you think that you’re just going to go down and as soon as you get underneath the water you get completely disorientated. Even with your eyes open and with the window, you can’t see anything. You are basically just going I hope this works and I hope it doesn’t look like I’m dying underneath here. Water ballet dancers, I have a whole new respect level for them after that. That is some hard stuff.
Lena: I can imagine, especially when you are underwater you have to be aware of what you are doing with your body and face.
Andrew Bowen: Yes it’s crazy. You also have to set your equilibrium too. You have to pressurize yourself when you are down there or else you will float up. With some of the stuff they had to put weights on me so I would stay buoyant. The thing is that the weights, when you are out of the pool, weigh ten times more than they do in the water because the water balances it out so you are sitting there before you are about to go in the tank loaded down with weights. You are basically thinking that you are going to drown because you are throwing yourself into a pool with weights on. Thankfully, I didn’t.
Lena: I’m assuming that you are a pretty good swimmer to be able to do that?
Andrew Bowen: Well I’m no Michael Phelps but I can definitely move through the water. All the years of playing in the pool and doing flips on the diving board finally paid off.
Lena: Everyone in the show gets to wear such beautiful costumes and they have to stick you in that striped onesie swimsuit.
Andrew Bowen: Yeah, that striped onesie was something. I wanted to take that home. Literally whenever I got into it that sort of became the center of my Divin’ Dave staple mark visual. Every time I put it on people would be like, “Divin’ Dave is back.” It was great, people were like you should just go to South Beach and you would be very popular. Carol Ramsey is the costume designer. The team is phenomenal and beyond talented. Half of the soundstage is just for the costume department. If you can just imagine trying to match Miami in 1959, there isn’t a lot that you can go and just buy. They literally built everything for it or got it from places that still had actual vintage clothing.
Lena: I love the clothing on that show. Vera’s (Olga Kurylenko) wardrobe is gorgeous.
Andrew Bowen: Oh my god, it’s insane. It’s great too because I saw a lot of them when I was down there and then when you watch the show, time has past so you are reintroduced to these stories that we a portraying. They look even better onscreen. Gabriel Beristain is the phenomenal cinematographer and I don’t think there is a show on television that looks this good. And it’s not like Olga is hard to look at, so you know they had good bodies to be able to sculpt to.
Lena: Yes that red lace dress that she wore a couple of weeks ago was beautiful.
Andrew Bowen: Everything was and that was really the fun part because as an actor it’s so great to do period pieces. You don’t get to do them that often and for me as an actor, I always find my wardrobe is the last piece of the puzzle. They were so great about sitting with me and talking about ideas of how we should look but when you go in and put on that costume, you are like, “Oh my gosh, I’m him, I’m Dave.” I did a period piece playing Brigham Young and that was early 1800s and you have a musket and a trench coat and then you are on a horse so you don’t have to act anymore. It puts you right there so it’s very cool.
Lena: It helps tie everything together.
Andrew Bowen: It does, it puts the finishing touches on it. It really is an art form that people don’t necessarily get because not that people are not looking at what people are wearing, but the choice of a color of a shirt, what logo might be on it, or if it’s a tie if it is tight up at the top or loose, those are pieces that help the performance and help tell who this character is. If you look at the crew on Magic City it is just A-list across the board. It was just a gift.
Lena: The cast is pretty much made up of supermodels, so of course they look good in everything.
Andrew Bowen: Yeah, there are a few of those in there but at the same time they also hired really good actors. They are definitely at the top of their game.
Lena: I had to laugh because when I put it out there that I would be speaking with you, so people could send in questions, most of the people that wrote in just wanted me to tell you how hot you are. What am I supposed to do, “Hey you are really hot; I’m all set.” (Interview complete.) (laughing)
Andrew Bowen: (Laughing) Oh my gosh, that is too funny. I’ll just say thank you for that.
Lena: You have a whole group of rabid fans.
Andrew Bowen: Wow, here we go. Hopefully they will still like me as the show progresses.
Lena: Speaking of that, in the last episode that just aired we found out that Dave isn’t a good guy at all.
Andrew Bowen: Yes, he’s a bit of a villain I’d say. He definitely has a dark side. I’m not going to say much because you have to watch the show but one of my friends tweeted something the other day that I thought was a perfect explanation for his introduction, “Divin’ Dave just stole a whole lot of trouble.” I thought that was a great line. There is some shit that will be hitting the fan coming up and not just how Dave is involved. It all ties in and at this point, from this Friday on, the show is just pedal to the metal. It’s phenomenal television. Dave’s definitely got a dark side.
Lena: One of your fans wanted me to ask you that since you seem like a nice guy in real life is it harder or easier to play someone so unlike yourself?
Andrew Bowen: It’s part of the job and it’s not so much hard as it is that’s what you do as an actor. If you are lucky enough to get something that is well written your job is to mold to that and create that individual in a believable way. If anything it was actually kind of fun. I don’t know about you but some of the greatest roles out there are the villains. You get to do more than other people get to do. Dave’s definitely got quite a personality and man, he’s got some balls…I don’t mean literally but yeah…balls.
Lena: Well, it could be true both ways because your suit doesn’t leave much to the imagination (laughing).
Andrew Bowen: It certainly doesn’t, does it? Yes, well…(laughing). The skin factor is definitely part of the show, that’s for sure. The first scene I shot with Willa Ford, she plays my girlfriend, and she was actually in the pilot episode giving Stevie (Steven Strait) head, but anyways we are dating now and our first scene is us more or less naked together. There was nothing to be uncomfortable about after that. This is it; let’s go. That motivates you to get in shape, that’s for sure.
Lena: That’s the good and bad thing about being on a network like Starz. Have you ever seen Spartacus? I just found out that some of the actors wear penis cozies (prosthetics) over their business. (I could not remember what they called them (prosthetics) so it turned into a hilariously odd Cable Guy porno password game of trying to figure out what the falsies were called. We both lost the game.)
Andrew Bowen: Codpieces? I didn’t know that either.
Lena: Yes, there are a few of them on there that go au naturel but they are mixed in there.
Andrew Bowen: Well for girls they call it a merkin. I don’t know what they call it for guys. I’ve never had to use one. I’m okay, it’s all me. I don’t know what it’s called. That’s research now…what is the fake penis called?
Lena: I know, the things I have to look up for interviews (laughing).
Andrew Bowen: Take notes (laughing).
Lena: Can you talk about Dave and what you think is going to happen to him when people find out what he has been up to in his spare time?
Andrew Bowen: He definitely has a secret side that no one knew about. He’s about to walk a very tight wire. He’s the type of guy that will walk into a pool full of sharks and be like they aren’t going to bite me. He’s pretty cocky. He might get away with stuff and he might not. He definitely just jumped into a pit with some serious wolves. One of the things that I love about the character is that here’s a guy that’s more or less stealing from the people he works for and he’s still working with them and talking to them face-to-face like nothing is going on. It’s like wow, that’s impressive.
Lena: I hope you make it to the end of the season because they don’t seem to mess around on the show. Especially since you injured someone, that isn’t going to be too good for you.
Andrew Bowen: Yes they don’t. I injured someone and I’m about to do something else that will put some pressure on someone else. Yes Dave has definitely got some…yeah.
Lena: And you have the photos so I’m sure that is going to be written into a blackmail thing.
Andrew Bowen: Yeah, I would say that’s going to be a part of what is happening.
Lena: People never learn with the naked (and incriminating) photos, do they?
Andrew Bowen: They don’t, they just don’t but it is really great to because it puts what is happening, it puts a very serious situation on these characters that’s going to force them to make some very serious choices. It’s what I call great TV.
Lena: I hope we will be seeing more of you in future episodes because we really haven’t seen a lot of you.
Andrew Bowen: It’s always been a slow burn while we were shooting it, we were there and we didn’t really know why. In the last episode you finally got to go, “Oh, he’s the guy.” You are about to see a lot more of Dave.
Lena: Can you talk about working with the cast?
Andrew Bowen: Professional, fun, and ego free which is so rare. They are just really great folks. I came down there on my first day and my first day was when I had to go and moon the Miss Universe pageant girls. Literally, my first take was when I had to flash my ass to the entire cast and crew. That was my introduction but everybody was very welcoming and open.
Lena: Are you a fan of Supernatural because I’m hoping that Jared (Padalecki) and Jensen (Ackles) guest star on season two. (In case you have not seen Supernatural, Jeffrey Dean Morgan played the dad of Sam (Padalecki) and Dean (Ackles) on the show.)
Andrew Bowen: You never know. I actually do watch the show but not as much as I should. My son is the huge fan. My son thinks Dean is the coolest character. My son wants a car like that. My friend, that I just did a movie with, Felicia Day guest starred on the last episodes.
Lena: Have you been renewed for a second season?
Andrew Bowen: Magic City got renewed three days before the pilot episode premiered. Which really never happens but it’s a testament to Chris Albrecht, who runs Starz and used to run HBO, a guy who goes from his gut and it’s just a great show. Magic City will definitely be back next year.
Lena: Starz has some nice hit shows with Spartacus and your show.
Andrew Bowen: Yes and Boss, and I think that what’s happening now is that HBO and Showtime I think had the mantra of having really great television series and I think with Spartacus and Magic City, that everyone is starting to go, whoa I got a new show and a new channel I have to watch right now.
Lena: I also know that you have an autistic son, so what are some of the resources that have helped you the most in connecting with your son? Can you recommend some websites or books?
Andrew Bowen: I think with any child, whether they have special needs or not, love them unconditionally. You are your child’s biggest advocate, especially when they are young and love them to death and fight for them. You need to take the time to research things because there are a lot more things out there than what the doctors will tell you. They don’t know all that much on this either. There are tons of resources and foundations out there like Generation Rescue. The Thinking Moms’ Revolution is always a really great resource and they support awareness acceptance and biomedical intervention, which is stuff that we have done that has been very successful with our son.
Lena: You’re dealing with it so I figured that you might know some things that could help other parents in the same situation.
Andrew Bowen: It’s not a death sentence. Any parent out there that has discovered that their child is in the spectrum there are things that you can do. You have to motivate and look outside of the box. No kid with autism is the same as another. The symptoms are so wide ranged which is why they call it ASD because it is Autism Spectrum Disorders. Asperger is super hyper social, in the fact that they just will not stop talking, to severe autism where people are completely nonverbal. I have a very good friend of our whose daughter is eleven and she’s nonverbal and has never spoken, and a lot of times people will think that these kids that can’t communicate are stupid or that there is nothing going on but that is the biggest thing that I can tell parents is that is not the case, they are completely there. They are completely inside and their heads and their brains are just a little trapped but they can hear everything that you say and see everything that you can see. That’s why it’s important to not treat them like they don’t hear you because they do. Our friend started doing facilitated communication with their daughter, basically you help with touch and using an iPad and she can type. About a year ago she started typing back to her parents. She was totally there and she writes amazing poetry. These kids are there, they are not lost and you want to be really careful about what you say around them because they hear everything. If I could give anything out there it would be to just stay motivated and keep looking. It’s frightening when you look at the statistics, it’s like 1 in 88 kids, it was 1 in 110 but now the rates are rising. It’s close to a 17% growth rate. It’s basically the fastest growing developmental disorder that we have seen in a long time.
Lena: That is not good.
Andrew Bowen: It’s not and that’s why we all need to get on board and keep on searching for answers. You’re talking about neurological damage, and there is never going to be a pill for that. I think what we can do is at least the research to find out what these spontaneous mutations are and what is causing them to at least give the parents the opportunity at a young age to be able to keep their children away from whatever the trigger may be to try to keep their children from not developing it. Again love goes a long, long way, a long way. As parents part of what you say and your voice is more powerful than you know, if you tell your kids that they are really smart and that you are proud of them then they will be able to move mountains.
Lena: I know the rates are rising but do you think that is partly because of them being able to diagnose it better?
Andrew Bowen: Personally, I don’t think that is one of the reasons because you just can’t look at these numbers and this many kids, you can say they are diagnosing stuff better but, they are diagnosing them better for sure but they are diagnosing thousands and hundreds of thousands of kids. How can you say when they are diagnosing this many kids that there isn’t anything going on? Something is definitely going on and I think that is a conversation that needs to take a step back because this isn’t going to go away, not worrying because they are over diagnosing them but this is the biggest human epidemic that our species has ever faced. We are talking about the mutation of our human genome. This is not child’s play, this is extremely serious and it’s not going away. If anything it is getting bigger on a daily basis and we need to make it a priority to figure out what this is and try to stop it because it will change the face of this entire planet and they way that our entire society as human beings communicate. It’s terrifying and it should scare people because it is really happening and we need to do something about it.
Andrew Bowen: Again with all this stuff, everybody has an opinion and a thought and I do too but at the same point I’ve done tons of research and there is a lot of information out there and if you are willing the research it, it is all right there. I personally think it’s an environmentally triggered mutation of the human genome, that’s what I think autism is.
Lena: We are destroying our environment so there are certainly going to be some consequences.
Andrew Bowen: If you take any species on this planet and take their environment and you change it or corrupt it, any species on the planet, from the smallest microorganism to humans, they adapt, they mutate. It has happened forever and if you look at the levels of mercury on this planet and the fact that there are so many chemicals being used, there are like over 3,000 chemicals that are used in basic everyday products, of which 30% of them have been tested. Only 30% of their affects on human beings, and they’ve already proven that lead, methyl mercury, PCBs, arsenics, are all highly sensitive to the growth of fetal brains especially in the first three months. Mercury levels in the ocean have risen 30% in the last 20 years and it’s everywhere. People are talking about cleaning up the environment for global warming so the planet doesn’t get too hot but no we need to clean it up so we can save our species from not changing indefinitely. We are putting ourselves at risk and it’s showing up now. The way that I think it is finally showing up and what I think the autism spectrum is doing is that we, as humans, are just as susceptible as anybody else. If you toxify your environment obviously your body is going to react and this is how I think it’s reacting. We need to clean stuff up.
Lena: Yes we do.
Lena: I saw on twitter that you are a Coldplay fan. What other bands, TV shows, and films are you into?
Andrew Bowen: I have rather eclectic taste, I’ve always been a Black Crowes fan and I love Led Zed Zeppelin. Maybe that’s old school stuff but I’m also a fan of Tonic. As far as TV shows go, I’m loving a show called Magic City. I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan. Supernatural is in my wheelhouse and Parenthood is another fantastic show. Those are the main TV shows that I watch. As far as movies go, I’m a pretty big sci-fi and comic book superhero geek. I’m pretty much shitting my pants for Friday because of The Avengers. That is pretty cool for me. My dad started getting us comic books when I was three and once a month we would just sit around and read Marvel comic books. That was my youth so I’m a huge superhero fan. I love what Marvel studios is doing right now. Hopefully they will come around and realize that I’m the perfect person to cast as Dr. Strange. I’m a big sci-fi fan. If you put Back to the Future, Alien, Blade Runner, and the new Prometheus looks amazing, all that kind of stuff. To put it this way, I would fit in pretty comfortably at Comic-Con. I’m also watching Dr. Who. For those of you that haven’t discovered it yet, it is worth checking out.
Lena: Are you going to Comic-Con?
Andrew Bowen: I think so. There is a good chance that we might be doing the world premiere of Rock Jocks there. It’s the movie I starred in last year with Felicia Day and Doug Jones.
Lena: You’ll have to keep me posted because I just got my press stuff this week and I’m going.
Andrew Bowen: Oh absolutely. I will keep you in the loop. I would love to do a face-to-face and a follow up. I think I might be there this year and we had a little party last year right after we stopped shooting but hopefully we are going to start releasing it in select cities in August. It’s what I think is one of the funniest sci-fi comedies ever. It’s awesome.
Lena: You’ve never been to Comic-Con?
Andrew Bowen: I’ve never been, if you can believe that. As much as I am into all this shit I’ve never been. I know it is lunacy. Hopefully if things go well and we end up getting our screening there I will be devirginized. I will totally wear my fucking striped bathing suit. I’ll just roll in like that. Then everybody can know my religion (laughing).
Lena: (Laughing) Starz may have a panel for Magic City.
Andrew Bowen: If they do I’ll have to stop by and I don’t know if I’ll get cheers or jeers.
Lena: Well if half of the people there are like my readers that wrote in about you, they will be very happy to see you in a swimsuit, trust me.
Andrew Bowen: Well believe me there is a lot less of the swimsuit coming up, for sure. Yeah, so anyways…
Lena: What else do you have coming up?
Andrew Bowen: I’m working on supporting the release of Rock Jocks. I have a web series that I’m working on right now called The Division. It has had a tremendous response and you can watch that online at http://www.whatisthedivision.com. I have a production company that I’m doing with a friend of mine and we are closing a deal on making a television series based on the Italian graphic novel, John Doe. We are working on an untitled comedy. I’ve got another video game in my video game timeline that is coming up but I can’t talk about it yet. It was pretty much a super geek moment and it’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had recording in my life. I got to play one of the greatest classic sci-fi characters in sci-fi movie history. That’s all I can say about that.
Lena: You are keeping very busy.
Andrew Bowen: The life of an actor is like a roller coaster and it is definitely a blessing when you get to work.
Andrew Bowen Interview
“Divin’ Dave Donahue”
Magic City, Friday Nights at 10 EST on Starz
Rock Jocks Coming Soon
For More on Andrew Visit: http://www.theandrewbowen.com
Follow Andrew on Twitter: @AndrewSBowen
May 5, 2012
By Lena Lamoray