Brian Caspe Actor: Jojo Rabbit, Carnival Row

Reading Time: 26 minutes
Photo Credit: Stanislav Callas

Brian Caspe is an American-born actor who lives and works out of Prague, Czech Republic. You can see Brian on the screen in movies such as Jojo Rabbit and Unlocked and shows from Carnival Row to Knightfall. We had a great conversation about his life in California, his career, his move to Europe working with John Malkovich and Jared Harris, podcasts, hobbies and much more.

Read on to find out lots more about Brian Caspe, actor.


DB: You are in Prague now but you weren’t born in Europe, you were born in California. How long did you live there?

BC: I was in Santa Cruz until I was 18 and then I went to school at UC San Diego, I was there for four years and after that, I went to Los Angeles for five years and then moved here. I’ve been here for almost 19 years now. It’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere. It’s very interesting the idea of what “home” is, for me.

DB: If you cast your mind back to your earliest days in Santa Cruz what is your earliest memory?

BC: My earliest memory, the most vivid… one of those things that you do that you think are a good idea as a kid, but when you think back on them, you’re like, “Oh my God, I could have been killed!”. I knew that one of my best friend’s parents were driving him to play date at my house. We have this long driveway, that goes to my parents’ house (where they still live actually) and I thought it would be really fun if I hid behind this bush and as they drove up the driveway, I’d jump out from behind the bush and scare them. I did that and they slammed on the brakes and didn’t hit me at all. I was like, “Okay, great,” got in the car and I was like, “Isn’t that a fun joke!” I do remember seeing my friend’s mom and how white in the face she was from fright. I just didn’t put it together until years later when I realised I could have been killed, just for this silly joke. I went and apologised to her. 

My mom was a music and movement teacher at a Montessori school and I remember that she was in charge of doing the talent shows and the end of the year shows at a theatre that was downtown Santa Cruz. I was probably younger than when I jumped out in front of the car and I had to go to the bathroom but I didn’t know where the bathroom was in that theatre complex. So, instead of asking someone there I left the community centre, crossed two main streets and knocked on a stranger’s door and said, “I’m sorry, I have to go to the bathroom, can I use your bathroom?” It was a very nice couple and they said yes but when I left my parents were outside looking for me and they said, “You know, you can’t just wander off across the streets like that!”

DB: Have you any siblings?

BC: I have a brother, he’s six years older than me so he was around until I was 12 when he went away to school and then it was me and my parents at home until I went to school. We are still close.

DB: Does he still live in the States?

BC: He lives in Seattle now. We’re all West Coast, our whole family, my parents, their brothers and sisters are all in California.

DB: What are your abiding memories of the town in which you grew up?

BC: It’s a surf, beach town. So, summers at the beach, going body surfing or bodyboarding. I never became a surfer. Even though it’s known for its surf I was never a surfer kid but was definitely a beach kid. I remember riding my bike everywhere. My parents weren’t driving me everywhere so I would ride my bike to school and then downtown. I did ballet classes downtown when I was in high school, so I’d ride my bike there. It’s a very liberal town in a very liberal state, very progressive. My parents were Berkeley hippies, pretty much, who wanted to live in a town that was by the beach and in a similar vein. They saw the University of California, Santa Cruz, looked at the campus and that’s why they moved to Santa Cruz after their studies. 

For me the town, there’s basically what you’d call the high street in Santa Cruz. It’s this great collection of eclectic shops, kind of strange people and people expressing themselves. I don’t know what it’s like now, I haven’t been back for three years or so, I don’t know what the pandemic has done to it. It’s a little bit more corporate now but still retains that being free-spirited.

DB: So quite artistic? 

BC: Quite artistic and a health food store. When I was growing up, it was very tie-dye and those Andean ponchos. 

DB: There was a hippie vibe?

BC: Exactly and I liked the vibe. It’s quite individualistic you could be your own person, have your own “thing” going on, and let your weirdo flag fly. In high school, I think that was very affirming that it wasn’t just football. Now, when I go back you know what hits me (because obviously, we don’t have a coastline here)? How much you can smell the ocean. Yeah, there because it’s so fresh and I love that smell.

Brian Caspe in a monochrome photo as Antonin in Anthropoid.
Brian as Antonin in Anthropoid (2016)

DB: You said your mom taught in Montessori School, what did your dad do?

BC: My dad was a lawyer, he’s retired now, family law not a big corporate lawyer. A lot of divorces, child custody which is heavy but I think it’s helping the right people.

DB: What schools did you go to?

BC: I went to the Montessori school until 6th grade and then to Del Mar Middle School for 7th and 8thgrade, then I went to Harbor High School and then to UC San Diego.

DB: What were school days like for you? Montessori has its own style.

BC: I think there was a hard adjustment to go from a Montessori school to a public school system. You had one class with three grades, very small classes and individualised groups. And a kind of “let’s talk out how you feel about that?”, “how do you want to approach this work?” and “let’s figure out the best way to approach the work for you” and learning on your own. Montessori has that very individualised approach, versus the kind of box form of high school or middle school.

I’ll tell this story… the first junior high dance I didn’t know what to expect because I’ve never been to a dance before and thinking that nobody would go because I didn’t think it was a “thing”. I remember showing up and everyone was there, and I didn’t have any friends so I just sat in a corner and cried because I didn’t want to deal with it, you know. That was also a very formative memory for me, which I think is kind of a recurring theme for the way I operate.  that I’m an adult it’s changed to a certain extent and it’s weird for what I do but it’s like wanting to be an individual, but also not really wanting to compete, if that makes any sense. It felt like that at the dance: I don’t want to have to compete to ask someone to dance with me, I don’t want to have that feeling of rejection. And to be my own person but also wanting to fit in It makes sense when you look at it but inside it’s these two warring parts of wanting to be me and wanting to fit in. All the way through high school that was quite difficult to find that balance.

DB: Do you think that might also have been because you had been to Montessori and didn’t go to a place where you knew anyone. 

BC: I think so and coming into a dance I didn’t feel like I had anyone and I was the new kid. Nobody there was like, “Hey, come with us!” I wasn’t a cool kid, I was the new “weird” kid. 

But then also in middle school, I played the drums. From the time I was three I was taking drum lessons and playing the drums – I don’t play anymore. My house was right across the fence from the middle school so I could just hop the fence and be at school. The band teacher was the school grounds’ caretaker, and he had a trailer and could hear me practising the drums [at home] so as soon as I got to middle school he told me I was in the top band. Have you seen Whiplash? The band teacher at my school was very nice but there were other people there that had worked their way up and they’re like, “Who’s this guy that just comes in middle school? He’s an RD in this band?” But band became more of my social place in middle school. 

From the beginning of high school, it was theatre, doing the plays, doing musicals and I wasn’t really in the band. I loved doing musicals, the plays so that was where I really fit in. My sense of belonging was in the theatre class productions in high school.

Brian Caspe in full Roman costume on the set of The Lost Legion.
Brian in The Lost Legion

DB: I guess that was then mixing with people that were of similar minds because they were also doing the productions in whatever capacity.

BC: Exactly. Do you know the actor Adam Scott? He’s in Parks and Rec and Big Little Lies, he’s a famous actor now, he was at that high school two years ahead of me, so we did productions together at high school. It was a very, very strong group. 

DB: Of the subjects that you had to do at school did you have any particular favourites or any standout teachers?

BC: Not really, I liked the math; I still like doing math. There wasn’t a subject that I was like, “Oh, this is my subject.” It was always the drama Cathy Warner, the theatre, the musicals that I gravitated to, and I liked doing math. But when I got to university, it all kind of collapsed because it was just on such a different level. And you know, that freshman year of university, when I was so free to do what I wanted and there wasn’t anyone pushing me to do stuff… There were lecture courses in physics because I was signed up to be an engineering major; I also really liked aviation and wanted to be an aerospace engineer. I thought, “I don’t want to do all this math.” I wasn’t paying attention, I was wanting to hang out. At university that’s where I found my lifelong friends. Our group with all of our kids now and our partners is like 30 people and as much as life has taken us in different directions we’re still really close friends. That freshman year was when we all met. 

DB: How did that work out?

BC: Well, I almost failed out the third quarter of my freshman year but then my parents said, “You cannot fail! We don’t care what you do but you cannot fail!” And so I switched to music which is something that was much more me. I didn’t have to do the math or physics and I could do the fun stuff like music theory, singing classes, music history, world music. I thrived on that. I took theatre classes and I was in the theatre productions at UCSD and did music. I thought I was going to be a film composer because I liked writing music and the film aspect but I didn’t study composition. But then, in my junior year, I did a production and someone from the San Diego Rep came to see it, Darla Jacobs, and said, “I think you’re really good. I’d like you to be in this professional production that we’re doing at San Diego Rep.” I wasn’t thinking that acting would be something that I would be doing for my job, I thought I would be doing music. I loved being in musicals and things like that but thought that wasn’t really viable. When she said that and I did that production, she said I could do this for my job. 

When I then went to LA I was studying acting in a professional way at evening courses, not the conservatory. But that has its own set of challenges, as I’m sure you’ve heard people talk about. The next time Darla touched my life was after I’d been in LA for four years and it wasn’t going as I wanted, I wasn’t successful, I wasn’t feeling like I was doing what I wanted to do, there was a kind of malaise. Because we had Doug Roberts on the show who lived in LA and who I kept in touch with she was over and we had this music night playing blues and bluegrass music together. 

She asked what I was doing and I started saying, “I’m not really happy.” I was a temporary worker at a Sony Pictures Studio and was going to Playhouse West but I wasn’t having any success in this business. I was studying singing and Meisner technique and I felt like the two disciplines were similarly talking to each other. It was this idea of being in “the moment” and telling the story and that it must fit together somehow. I said that I’d like to study a way to join those two things. I felt like a lot of times, musical theatre acting is not as deep as the Meisner style and I wanted to find that connection. She told me there was a book called Stanislavski on Opera which I had never heard of before. I read the book and the first chapter is describing how he applies his method to working on arias and opera productions. I read it and just started weeping because I realised “this is the thing”. That led me to think, where can I go that teaches this? There’s a school in St. Petersburg, Russia that still teaches that method and I wanted to go there. So making that connection for me led me to move away from LA and ending up, not in Russia, but in what I thought at the time was somewhere in between, which is Prague. Subsequently, I haven’t spent that much energy, working on that method because now I’m straight acting, although I have done musicals here. 

Scene from Underworld: Blood Wars Brian Caspe with James Faulkner, Jan Nemejovsky, Zuzana Stivínová and Lara Pulver.
Brian with James Faulkner, Jan Nemejovsky, Zuzana Stivínová and Lara Pulver in Underworld: Blood Wars

DB: You would never be in Prague had you not had that conversation with her. And you’ve had a lot more success since you’ve been based in Europe.

BC: Pretty much all my visible success, and right away.

DB: You mentioned that you have been on stage and have done musical theatre. I watched a couple of YouTube clips of you in Sweeney Todd.

BC: That was the third time I’ve been in Sweeney Todd. I think if there was a role that I would want to do for my whole life it would be that. I don’t know if I have exactly the chops to be playing it on the West End but I love the music, it’s just so gorgeous; that and Into the Woods are my two favourite musicals and scores. 

There is this pace that you have to move at in LA to keep up with everything, so I was moving at that pace but then in Prague people don’t move at that pace. A lot of people who move to a smaller market like Prague from the larger market such as London or LA or New York will move with a certain rhythm, a pace to get stuff done and you’re all go go go! 

I moved and was looking for a theatre company to join but there wasn’t anything established at that time. I met some people in Prague and they introduced me to some others – it’s a very small community – and said I want to do something. We were thinking about what could we do that would be somewhat simple but something that we could get an audience to because there’s not a habit of English speakers going and seeing theatre. We started a Dinner Theatre, a kind of review. We did Gershwin songs, Christmas songs and built a show connecting the songs with a little story and then arranged with a restaurant that they would do dinner and we would do the show, charge some money for it and everyone would be happy. And that’s how I started the Prague Playhouse. 

Flash forward a few years and we’re producing a big musical in a real theatre with a band and singers and trying to pay people. I don’t think that professional English language theatre is viable in a place like Prague, there’s just not enough people that feel like they’re English speakers to pay for it – it’s a labour of love.

We did a production of You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, six actors, canned music and we could sell it as a children’s show and that was successful. Then we did a production of A Christmas Carol, where we had one guy playing Scrooge, and six people as the chorus, and they would also play all the other roles. They would sing a capella Christmas carols as transitions and it was really nice. So with the director, we adapted the Dickens’ text, added in the carols when it was appropriate and did it in a basement theatre. It was very successful. 

Brian Caspe as Santa in an Audi commercial with Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya)
In an Audi Santa commercial with Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya)

The guy who ended up directing Sweeney Todd came and saw that, Steve Josephson who had run Gallimaufry in Laguna Beach in Southern California. He was over here working with a famous Czech who does musicals in Czech, Daniel Landa. From that production, he and the musical director of the Christmas Carol and decided to do Sweeney Todd. Steve had the concept that everyone in the production is dead already and are retelling the tale of how everyone dies. Only Joanna and Anthony are alive in the production and everyone else is a ghost. We all pulled together and had a team that built the rotating set and we had a band. That was the zenith of the theatre company. Subsequently, we did other shows such as The Glass Menagerie but it’s not a tentpole like Sweeney Todd might be and because I was running the theatre company I started to lose money. Also at the time when you’re a parent, do you want to spend all of your hobby time working for the theatre and not have it to spend with your family?

The other factor was that I had started to feel like I was spending all of this energy on the company, dealing with stuff that I don’t enjoy dealing with such as the logistics. Not fun. I was doing all this other work but not focusing on my own career. I was feeling very depressed about it and I went to see a therapist. I started talking to her about my feeling guilty and procrastinating and how I’d like to learn how to not procrastinate and she said, “Why do you need to do that in the first place?” I thought, “Oh, I don’t have to do this. I’m choosing to do this and I don’t have to.” So I promptly laid off the company as a production entity. I don’t have any plans to produce any other theatre. 

I then started focusing on my career and that’s blossomed and you probably could tell from the way that my resume goes that now there are more, larger roles in 2019. I switched to London agents and started to shoot all over Europe, not just in the Czech Republic, and in 2019 (obviously, 2020 was a weird year) I started to book larger roles not just local hire roles, more supporting and some lead roles in smaller projects.

Head shot of Brian Caspe. Photo Credit: Nicholas Dawkes.
Photo Credit: Nicholas Dawkes

I enjoy performing more than I enjoy all of the minutiae of producing. I like the idea of producing, but I don’t like the actuality of producing. The other part of it is sometimes because you are the person that’s responsible ultimately for things happening, when things don’t happen or there are mistakes other people involved are like, “Well, why didn’t you do this?” or “What you should do is this.” And you’re thinking, “You know what? Please tell me what I should have done!” Hopefully, that’s a lesson that I took for when I’m an actor and things aren’t going well. I’m not going to just bitch to the producer about how they should have done it differently because I know that it’s a difficult job. That’s a hard lesson to learn because we are also self-centred but I think that’s a really important lesson too as much as you can just go with the flow and be cool. I’m just happy to be there and trying to not complain. I have worked with people who immediately start to complain about the conditions. Any day of work, man I just love it. I found when I started focusing on acting in front of the camera I love it and I want to be able to do more. Of course, when if most of what you’re doing during the day is sitting around that can get tiring, but the actual on-set part, when you’re actually doing it, I could do forever.

Brian Caspe in Wanted with James McAvoy.
In Wanted with James McAvoy

DB: Some people would give their right arm to get any part in front of camera because it’s a really hard business.

BC: It is hard. One of the things that I try to tell myself, and I have to say it over and over again because it’s such a hard thing to keep in your mind, is to try to take fulfilment from each step of the process, because it’s so easy to be unhappy with the current stuff. After all, you feel like you should be getting to the next step. Obviously, when things are going well it’s easier to do that but if you can, for example, take fulfilment from the audition, not that it is only valid if you book the job, that’s a much healthier place to be. 

I did a movie Unlocked where mostly I was with John Malkovich. Michael Apted was the director and that movie if it had been bigger could have really done something for my career. If you don’t take fulfilment from the step you are on, if you don’t enjoy the shooting of it, because you’re putting it off until it comes out, then you’re screwing yourself. You can go forwards or you can go backwards to “If I audition and don’t book it,” or “These acting classes are only valid if I’m getting auditions,” that’s a bad place to be.

DB: Because you might be sleeping in the past or always living in the future. 

BC: That’s my mantra and like I said it takes you having to say it over and over because it’s so easy to put that psychic pressure on the past or the future, so easy, so tempting. It may not be the right paradigm for everyone but for me, it takes so much pressure off.

This is a very pandemic-related kind of thinking, but if you fast forward 1000 years, does any of this matter anyway? Nobody’s going to remember me in 1000 years. 

DB: Yes, why not just hang on for the ride and enjoy it while you’re here?
You mentioned Unlocked so perhaps we could dip into some other films such as Jojo Rabbit.

BC: Again, that’s one of those jobs, not to sell myself short, but I feel like I was on set mostly as a spectator. I mean, it was doing my thing but it was mostly about loving watching Taika, Stephen Merchant and Sam Rockwell just riff. It was so much fun to watch their process for those four days that we were shooting. I loved being there for that.

DB: What did you gain from watching them?

BC: The sense of play that they have and just throwing ideas out there and being like, “Let’s just try it and see if it works.” They would just let the cameras roll and Merchant would say joke after joke after joke, line after line after line. He did 20 other things in the same take and Taika would yell out, “Hey, say this!” and they would just riff. Some of it would be quite over the line in terms of how appropriate it was! I’ve heard from other people that were working on the film that with Rebel Wilson there were very long takes where she would just riff for 40 minutes or so. Taking all of that raw material and making sure that the tone and the journey the audience was going on was right, I think that was really well done. You could have used different jokes, and it wouldn’t have hit the same way. 

Brian Caspe behind the scenes of Jojo Rabbit with Stephen Merchant.

Being able to talk to Stephen Merchant and he was so sweet, unassuming and very tall and welcoming and chill, incredibly down to earth and incredibly funny. He’s not funny all the time, you know, he’s reading his book and chilling, sitting there but then, when he needs to turn it on, he’s just “Go, go for it!” Not that we’re friends or anything but getting to hang out with him for those few days, I loved that.

There are some actors that I’ve been around, who are very concerned about properties that they’ve bought and their riches, it feels like they’re living in a completely different world. Angelina Jolie was like that when I was in Wanted, it felt like she was in a different world headspace from everyone, dealing with her private army that she had to hire to protect her 14,000-acre Cambodian forest sanctuary. And you tried to be a part of that conversation but she looks at you like you’re a bug. 

DB: And having that relaxed atmosphere completely where everything can go and can be tried is very liberating.

BC: Taika’s frame was tightly controlled actually. You can kind of feel it’s not exactly like a Wes Anderson kind of framing, that’s very strict, but… for example that initial shot when Jojo opens the door it’s like a picture frame and Taika asked you to move a centimetre this way or that and it was very composed. But I think that the cool part is, within that frame, there’s a sense of you can do whatever you like, with it.

DB: That is such a hilarious and also very sad film.

BC: It was a real honour to be a part of it. I have to say because I’ve played so many Nazis, I’m kind of done playing Nazis. I’m Jewish, I don’t really want to play any more Nazis but for that one, I was like, “I think that’s acceptable.”

You just have to trust that he’s funny enough and I mean, it’s Taika, he is brilliant. I just had to do my job. And the kid [Roman Griffin Davis] was so good and it’s crazy how much pressure he could have been under but he was cool on set. 

DB: The young Thomasin McKenzie is good as well.

BC: She’s great. She’s older though so she was more able to handle it. And they also had to be up there with heavy hitters like Sam Rockwell and Scarlett Johansson although they were very giving.

DB: Scarlett started young, so you would hope that she would be empathetic. Moving on from films, you are in the Amazon Prime show Carnival Row as Nigel Winetrout. 

BC: That is one of my bigger roles, not that I was there a ton in terms of the actual screen time but all the scenes that I was in I was really in those scenes. I was so happy to have such a great amount of time and working relationship with Jared Harris and Indira Varma. They were, from the start, incredibly welcoming. There’s this thing where there’s a difference between whether you’ve been flown in to do something and whether you are a local hire. Sometimes as local hire you are just not included because you go home at the end of the day, versus the people at the hotel where they’re going to dinners. But with Jared and Indira there was none of that, no feeling of separation, it was like “you’re part of our team, we’re going to hang out.” I am incredibly grateful for that. The acting is one thing but the feeling on-set is sometimes more important. They were lovely and we would hang out, go to dinner and Jared would regale us with stories of times past and his dad. I liked him very much. 

There were times when we were filming because they are both so good that it felt like… talking about surfing there’s a thing where the wave is coming and you have got to get up to speed up to try and catch that because if you’re not fast enough it’ll pass you by and that feels terrible. That was a lesson that I was learning doing those shoots, I had to be ready to go. 

Brian Caspe as Nigel Winetrout in Carnival Row (monitor photo)
Brian as Nigel Winetrout on the set of Carnival Row

When you’re mostly a day player you’re not responsible for connecting dots between episodes or scenes, you show up, do your scene but don’t need to know how it fits in with the larger whole. With Carnival Row, Jared would be very hands-on when it came to working through his lines and his character and if he didn’t like how something is written or didn’t feel how it should go he would be in touch with the writers, the producers, the director saying, “I want to change this” He thinks about it a lot and spends a lot of energy analyzing and working on it. He would ask me and I would be like… “I’m just here to show up and say what they told me to say.” It was a good learning experience, that I need to look at this and know exactly what the arc is not just what I need to do the scene, but what’s happening, what’s the new information that’s come to light, how much time has passed. That was a big lesson for me: how do you chart the course through an episode or how do you chart the course through a season. 

In one scene that we did where they’re trying to get some information from their political rival and Indira’s character, Piety Breakspear, is turning the screws for information, she comes out to me and Jared in a room together. And, just an example of how he thinks about stuff, he turns to me and he says, “What do you think we were doing in this room while she was in there?” Again, because I’m like the newbie I’m, “I don’t know. What do you think?” He said that I was the person who is “giving me a massage because I’ve been working myself up and been exerting physically.” And then I was massaging him, digging in with my elbow. He’s meticulous in the backstory and the events in between, and, therefore, being in the moment of what the character actually is. You can see how he’s approaching other little moments and making an interesting choice, it’s a little bit edgy but because it’s Jared, and he has some weight behind him, he’s just “I’m going to do this.” 

DB: If you are trying to perform a particular role it doesn’t help if your mind is in another place.

BC: I think it’s more that it doesn’t help you if you are approaching it like a supplicant and saying, “Is this okay? Am I doing it right? Am I doing what you want? Please like me.” Whereas someone who is more of a lead is going to say, “No, this is the way I’m doing it.” I think for where I am in my career, I need more of that. 

DB: Likewise, the thing with auditioning sometimes that can be so desperate and needy. 

BC: Exactly. And I’m going to give the casting directors something unique and maybe it won’t work, but it is going to be unique. If not you do it like everyone else is doing, because you’re trying to do it, quote-unquote, “right”.

Brian Caspe dressed in full costume on the set of Knightfall
Brian in costume on the set of Knightfall

DB: I always like to talk about costume. If we take Knightfall as an example, how does costuming when you’re wearing the chainmail, surcoats, the wig help you in creating a character? What was it like wearing that?

BC: Well, it’s not as heavy as chainmail, it’s costume chainmail so it’s aluminium and not 30 pounds. If you look at the difference between Carnival Row and Knightfall, those stiff collars that they have in Carnival Row make you stand up in a certain way give you that kind of posture. Whereas in Knightfall there’s a kind of grittiness to it, and especially the way that season 2 was versus the first season, much more grainy in terms of the way that they did that with the costume. I think there’s a toughness when you’re wearing the mail and the wool padded coat, the tunic, the boots and everything like that. Everyone’s got these big swords and I think that provides a lot of great energy. And the wig as well. It’s funny because I’ve never had hair like that like – my hair tends to just go out it never actually lays down – so that wig, it did change how I felt. 

Usually, I don’t think about a character so much as an abstract, what does this mean for my character? It’s much more about how does that make me feel? And then that feeling will manifest in some kind of external behaviour so the external wig or costume makes me feel something and that manifests somehow. The way that I approach acting is much more like a Meisner-based way of thinking which is much more about being in the moment and behaviour than it is about some kind of intellectual understanding of the character. I don’t try to be intellectual. 

Brian Caspe on the set of Knightfall with Mark Hamill
Brian (right) with Mark Hamill (left) in Knightfall S2

DB: As you say, not intellectualize so much as emotionalize. 

BC: That’s right. When we were shooting on Unlocked there was a moment where I was watching it on the monitors because Malkovich was doing a scene on his own and he did this thing where he was flipping someone off. He came back after shooting and I said, “Did you think that you might do that when you were like reading the script?” He goes, “No, I just thought in the moment I would do that, so I did it.” 

Brian Caspe (left) with John Malkovich (right)
Brian with John Malkovich on the set of Unlocked

DB: If you had any advice for somebody who is considering acting as a career what would your advice be? 

BC: I would say to act as much as you can. You might not book a role that’s going to pay you but nothing prevents you from acting. You can find a friend, you can do that scene. You can get into a local theatre club or start your own. Now with smartphones, you could even shoot something on your own, if you want to. Successful people are the people that do it all the time. Don’t feel like because you want to be an actor and nobody’s casting you that’s an excuse as to why you shouldn’t be an actor or not “allowed” to be acting. No. Do it. Find some way to do it, get into an acting class and just keep doing it. Nothing is owed to anyone so it may end up that you’re not going to be a professional actor but that doesn’t mean that that you can’t act. 

DB: Who has been the most influential person or people in your life and how have they been influential?

BC: I think that my family is pretty influential, my parents, my wife and my kids. There have been some teachers that I’ve had, so the teacher at high school, Cathy Warner was her name, she was influential at that stage of pushing and encouraging me. 

DB: What are your interests, your passions, your hobbies and how do you spend your time?

BC: I love programming web applications. I created for the Prague Playhouse a customer contact retention database and for Sweeney Todd, I added a whole project management module to it. I programmed that from scratch, from a web scripting language called PHP. So that someone could sign up for a ticket on the website and it would add them to a list and it would automate the email. I use that for the classes that I teach.

I’m doing a podcast on acting called The Vagabond Actors. We have about 40 or so episodes at this point. It’s myself and two other actors Gary Condes in London and Andrea Helene in Mallorca and we talk. Every week we take a topic that might come up in class or my company, comment and break it down from our perspective. Sometimes it’s just a question, sometimes it’s an interview with people. 

Because of the format, we’re talking about it from a classroom perspective, it’s not so many tips for actors who are already working, although there are some episodes where we’ve talked to casting directors. The last interview that we did was with a filmmaker called Daniel Johnson, who is a director, and he shoots and records showreels for people.

You can also download it on Spotify, Itunes or anywhere you get your podcasts!

DB: Showreels are important.

BC: Incredibly important. It’s interesting because of the way that you get cast in certain types of roles I don’t have that many vulnerable moments in my showreel. I have that side of me… 

DB: When you travel how do you occupy your time? 

BC: A lot of podcasts, so that could be something like an interview podcast where people are talking to comedians or actors or artists, that kind of thing. I usually like the longer form interviews an hour and a half- two-hour interview is good for me. I don’t know if you can get it now but the actor Kevin Pollak’s chat show had some amazing interviews with other actors. I love listening to that and screenwriting podcasts. I like listening to comedy podcasts. 

When I travel for work my usual deal is that the first day I’m in a city I will try to walk around and see the sights. But then, if I’m there for multiple days I’ll probably just find a local grocery store and buy the food there. I don’t really like it unless someone’s taking me out, going to a restaurant and trying to figure it out. I’d just rather go to the grocery store, get myself and some bread and cheese, yoghurt or something like that, sit in my hotel room, turn on Netflix and just sit in the hotel room.

In June, I’m supposed to be doing a film that was due to shoot in March last year but got postponed and now I’m going to be in Moscow for two weeks shooting, and I don’t know what’s going to happen as it’s a longer time there than I am used to.

DB: Would you listen to music at all when you’re travelling?

BC: Not really. I do sometimes listen to classical music or musicals. Although now that we have Amazon Alexa and we have Spotify connected if I think of something I can just ask it to play something if I think of it, so I am listening to more music than I generally do. 

DB: Are you reading a book of any kind, right now?

BC: I have a few books that I have started. There is a Neil Stevenson book that I started, that I got for Christmas, called Fall. I have been rereading some Jennifer Roberts and fantasy; I like fantasy and science fiction. My wife and I take turns as close as we can get to alternate nights reading to our kids for them to go to sleep so I’m reading Moby Dick to my kids. It’s the first time I’ve read it. And we just finished Great Expectations. I’m thinking, actually that I’m going to start reading Shakespeare to them. I’m thinking that’s what I want to do because we’re trying to find the appropriate level that it’s interesting while they’re listening to it but also, if it’s complex enough, that they fall asleep fairly quickly… I don’t want it to be too engaging. [Both laugh]

DB: What could you not live without?

BC: Honestly, probably my smartphone at the moment, I mean I probably could live without it but I feel very addicted to it. I just started learning Mandarin on Duolingo so I’m all in with Duolingo for the past three days. So I will see… talk to me next month. Avocados! I love avocados and Mexican food.

DB: Are you fluent in Czech now?

BC: Pretty close. I still have an accent, which I’m working on getting rid of. There are a few film projects where there are directors that are talking to me about doing something in Czech and if I have as small an accent as I can… In English I think people are much more used to hearing different accents and but we’re not so sensitive about it but because they are such a small country it separates the foreigners from the Czechs, you know. 

DB: If you could have one wish right now, what would it be?

BC: Okay, I would say, let’s get the climate under control. I think that’s probably the biggest issue facing us. So, if I had a wish to solve the climate crisis, let’s do that. Fix the climate. Can you do that?

Head shot of Brian Caspe. Photo credit: Stanislav Callas
Photo Credit: Stanislav Callas

Find Brian on:




Brian’s Podcast Link:

Brian’s Acting Classes Link:

Brian’s Website Link:

Link to 10 Insights from this interview with Brian Caspe:

10 Insights From Brian Caspe ~ Actor

Other Links:

Derek Roberts Actor: The Punisher, One Night in Miami

Dan Bradford Actor, Producer: The Alienist, Carnival Row

Alex Ziwak Actor, Martial Artist: Blue Bloods

Sera-Lys McArthur Actress, Producer: Outlander, Burden of Truth

Alistair Findlay Actor: Outlander, Highlander

Abraham Martínez Director of Photography

Daniel Thomas Actor, Writer, Director

Tamara Austin Actress: The Walking Dead


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