Interview: The Killing’s Eric Ladin “You have to find representation that really understands who you are and how to sell you”

The Killing's Eric Ladin talks about going from day player roles to series-regular, how he found a manger who believed in him and his most embarrassing audition!

If you’re a fan of seriously great TV shows like Mad Men, Big Love and Generation Kill, then you definitely know Eric Ladin.

In all 3 shows, his versatility is on full display because each part could not be further away from each other. He’s a great character actor who is adding another great part to his resume in AMC’s new show, The Killing. He play’s Jamie Wright, an opportunistic campaign manager, in the story about the murder of a young girl in Seattle.

Eric is also a highly sought after voice over actor currently working on the video game, Infamous 2. He not only does the voice work, but he’s also working with motion capture for the game.

So, he’s a busy guy! When I talked to him, he had just landed in Vegas for his friend’s bachelor party but I quickly reminded him not to take any drinks from the Bride’s Zack Galifianakis-like brother.

We talked about how he went from day player roles to where he is today, how he found a manger who believed in him and his most embarrassing audition.

The Killing airs on AMC on Sundays at 10pm/9c

For the full interview, click the audio link above or download it from iTunes

Can you tell me about that and your character?

Eric Ladin: Yeah, The Killing is a who-done-it crime thriller.  It follows 3 storylines as they follow the murder of a young teenage girl.  It follows the investigators that are solving the crime, it follows the parent and family of that girl and follows the political storyline that is kind of run throughout the city and how it affects all 3 storylines.

You’re from Houston, right? Do you always wanna be an actor?

Eric Ladin: I am. I am from Houston, Texas and…

I can’t hear the accent.

Eric Ladin: I lost the action when moved out to California.  I went to USC and studied theater and I moved out there in ’97 and then stayed out there to pursue my career. I always wanted to entertain.  I probably started that in the classroom as a class clown.  And then, it kind of boiled down to being a lawyer or an actor but I realized the only real part of being lawyer I like was being in front of people.  Really the entertainment part was what I liked the most.  So, I got in front people and I got on stage and I just loved it.

Did you go to college specifically for theater?
Eric Ladin: I did, yeah. And I chose USC because it was in LA and I knew there was this chance I can really start my career while I was there.  Kind of lay the ground work in LA.  Maybe, get an agent or manager and try to start working while I was there and I did just that.  So, that way when I graduated I had a little bit of a start on things as opposed to moving from somewhere else in the country.

Did you get your SAG card and your first agent while you were still college?

Eric Ladin: I did.  I stayed one summer and I was working as a waiter at the Cheese Cake Factory and I did big mail out and I got a couple of commercials and got my SAG card and got an agent and I got a little role on a show that was going on back on then called Boston public.  I don’t know if you remember that show.

Yeah, and so I got my SAG card and I got an agent.  It was nice ‘cause then when I graduated, I kind of felt like, “Okay, I’m already one step, maybe one step or maybe half a step ahead of the game.”

So, how did you go from those day-player roles to where you are now?  I know it’s been a ton of work but was there any where you like, “Okay, the ball is really rolling now.”

Eric Ladin: I think the moment the ball started really rolling was Generation Kill.  When I got the job on Generation Kill as one of the main characters on that, ever since then, I kind of came back and not only been working consistently but also been able to work on good television shows that I wanted to work on.

I think that that has to do with – not only great representation and people that believed in me, but also the relationships which I’ve made with casting directors and executives during my time in LA since 2001.  Just constantly getting in rooms and meeting people and spending time on set’s with them, working as a guest star on their show’s.

Have you always had the same agent?

Eric Ladin: I haven’t.  No I bounced around a little bit.  For somebody like me, I think that it’s important for- it’s harder, I should say, for somebody like me because I think as a kind of character actor, you have to find representation that really understands who you are and how to sell you. And that’s easy for somebody who’s 6’3” and tall, dark, and handsome and tan and gorgeous.

That’s easy to sell that person.  But unfortunately, it’s not as easy to sell me.  I finally found a manager who I have been with for 8 years and then we eventually found some agents who I have been with since 2008, three years now and it’s a good mix. But it takes some time and it’s a little bit harder because you really have to or be on the same page.

How did you find that manager, the find who finally believed in you?

Eric Ladin: Yeah, it’s interesting.  I met her through a mutual friend of mine.  We all were out at an event and we were talking she told me she was a manager and I happened to be looking. I went and I met with her and her company and I actually didn’t end up going and working with her.  I went with someone else.

And then I called her back about a year later, she was at another company with another manager and I went and met them again and I loved her new partner. And they were just starting their company called Main Title Entertainment, her name is Tracy Steinsapir, her partner is Stewart Strunk and I loved them both and they just – they really understood who I was and the with the kind of work I wanted to do and really believed in me and it’s been a great marriage ever since.

I wanna go back to Generation Kill, I love David Simon, he‘s awesome. How did you get that role? Just a regular audition?

Eric Ladin: That was a really crazy process.  I went in and I auditioned for the role of Person who PJ played, his name is James Ransone, I call him PJ. And then they gave me another role to play; the role of Stafford who Wilson Bethel played. And then they give me a role of Jason who I played, all in the same day and then they called me back and have me read for Jason again with producers and then they called me back and have me for Stafford for producers and then they called me back and have me read for Person for producers and this went on for about 2 months. This went on for about 2 months and I read maybe 7 or 8 times. And they basically finally said, “Look, we want you to be part of our movie, we just don’t know where to put you yet.”  And after about 2 months kind of shuffling me around, I ended up with the role I did and was thrilled to be a part of such a great project. And it was not only an amazing experience but what a great piece of work.

You guys filmed for 7 months, how long was it until you left?

Eric Ladin: I was one of the lucky ones.  I had about 3 weeks.  I was living by myself at that time, I’m married now, but I was living by myself at that time and I got rid of my apartment.  I put everything I owned in storage.  I sold my car.  I said screw it and I left and paid a storage bill and got rid everything else and just said this is golden opportunity for me just kind of get out of town when I come back, I’ll find somewhere near to live and it worked out great.

So, it was an amazing experience one that I think would be tough to touch, just because of not only the time that happened in my life, in my career but to be travelling the country with so many guys who I’m still in touch with and some of them who are at my wedding and who I still really admire is something I think is really special.

You also do a lot of voiceover work.  How did you get into that?

Eric Ladin: Well, it was kind of just on a fluke. I mentioned to my agents that I was interested in it and they started kind of throwing me out there. And then I did a job called Left 4 Dead 2 which turned out to be just a huge video game and very, very popular and my character in particular was extremely popular. And I think now more than ever, the video game market has become in need of television and film actors because they are really trying to push the strong character story line.  And now with motion capture available to them and all the technology that they have, they can grab such character features on their animation.

We go into the motion capture studios and they grab all our facial animations and so they want television and film actors who are used to going in and memorizing scenes and breaking them down and doing the text work.  So, when I read for Infamous 2, it wasn’t like voice over audition, it was more like going in and reading for a TV and film audition. Then that came along and I’ve been working on that for the last year and hopefully that’ll be successful and I can continue on with my voiceover career, it’s been great.

Do you have any nightmare audition stories?

Eric Ladin: God, I mean I’ve been to so many auditions that I’ve probably said that, I’m just trying to pick a good one.  One time, I was in an audition and I can’t remember what it was for but I remember in the audition, I laughed.  As part of my character, I laughed but I kind of snored at it and, wow, this is really embarrassing.  I snorted and a booger like shot out of my nose onto my script that I was holding. And no one said a word but it was so clear that they saw and they saw that I knew… it was just bad. And I walked out and say, “Oh my God, I cannot believe that happened.”

Did you get the part?

Eric Ladin: I think not I get the part.  After all that, they should give it to me, right?

Damn right! That was hilarious.  What’s your advice to actors?

Eric Ladin: Besides that? One of the best pieces of advice that I’ve gotten and I guess, the advice that I think that I kind of give to actors is, it’s an inconsistent business and as an actor, I think you consistently have to just believe in yourself. If this is something you really do wanna do and if this is something that deep down you know that you’re gonna do, there’s gonna be down times and there’s gonna times when you’re riding high in the momentums great and there’s gonna be times when it slow and it’s inconsistent. And you just have to know that if an audition doesn’t go in your way or job doesn’t go your way, chances are something else will and it’s just right around the corner and you just kind of try to stay positive. Because if you don’t keep that confidence and you don’t keep that strong personality or whatever it is that you usually bring into a room then it’s gonna be tough to get that job.

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