Actor Derek Magyar has bounced back and forth from film to television over the years. Many will remember him starring as the lead character X in Boy Culture. He was in the fourth season of Star Trek Enterprise playing Commander Kelby with more television in Boston Legal, Charmed, Medium, and CSI: NY, to name a few.
He directed and produced the year-end release of Flying Lessons, starring Academy Award winner Christine Lahti and nominee Hal Holbrook. It's the story of a woman returning home after her father's suicide. We talked to him about it and other endeavors for the New Year.
Windy City Times: Hi, Derek.
Derek Magyar: Hi, I apologize for being a little late. I was up in the mountains where I had no phone reception.
WCT: I wish I were up there with you. It's cold here in Chicago. Do you hike?
Derek Magyar: Yes. I enjoy hiking. There is also swimming with a lake on my family's property. It is heaven up here.
WCT: You grew up in Santa Monica?
Derek Magyar: Yes, I grew up on the West Side. I had the quintessential private school education. I didn't graduate from Crossroads but that is where I spent most of my high school education.
WCT: Did you always want to be an actor?
Derek Magyar: I did. I started learning to be an actor at a really young age. The Santa Monica Playhouse was a very well known place to start. It was great for kids. My classmates were Kate Hudson, Jason Ritter and Zoey Deschannel. We would go up the street do this after school program. We all obviously fell in love with it and that never stopped.
WCT: [Nice] classmates to have!
Derek Magyar: They have definitely achieved a high level of successthat's for sure.
WCT: After that you went to the Actor's Studio?
Derek Magyar: I was part of the Actor's Studio but I graduated from California Institute of the Arts. I got my BFA in theater there. It was an amazing experimental theater program. It was very attentive and rigorous. It was really amazing. I started my own theater company upon graduating. It is still up and running. It is really a place for artists to play and to have some fun.
I then started to make a living and work as an actor and push from there.
WCT: I read you are directing Romeo and Juliet.
Derek Magyar: I directed the workshop already. This is in association with Cal Arts and will be at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica to bring awareness to the community there. I'm very excited about it. This will happen sometime in 2013.
WCT: Did you always want to direct?
Derek Magyar: I think I wanted to direct as a real passion after Flying Lessons, which is the film I directed, came out December 7. I just loved it. It felt very natural. My father is a filmmaker and a teacher as well. I couldn't have gotten a better education. I'm definitely an actor's director.
WCT: Did you learn from watching him?
Derek Magyar: I learned from watching and listening to my father. He's a very smart man when it comes to filmmaking. I learned on Flying Lessons from trial and error. It is a good film but its something that was a real learning tool for me. I stand behind it but I know my second film will be ten times stronger than my first film.
WCT: It sounds a bit heavy. It's about a father's suicide, right?
Derek Magyar: That's the broad stroke. It's about a young woman, played by Maggie Grace, who has to move back home because she's at her wit's end. She has to confront the suicide of her father after fleeing the relationship with her mother. While she is there she gets a job working for an elderly man with Alzheimer's disease played by Hal Holbrook. While he's trying to hold onto every memory he can, she's trying to push all of her memories away. They end up forming a very special friendship and bond. Through that, she accepts who she is and what she is meant to be. She is then able to move on.
WCT: What drew you to the project?
Derek Magyar: One of my best friends wrote it. His name is Thomas Kuehl. He worked for Ryan Murphy over at Glee and Nip/Tuck. He's my dear friend and a wonderful writer. I read it and fell immediately in love with the script. I fell in love with one of the male lead roles played by Jonathan Tucker. I was originally going to play that role but became so attached to the project that I really needed to direct this and express myself. That's what I did.
WCT: So you really wanted to play the role in it?
Derek Magyar: I definitely did. I am actor in my core but I made this my choice by not doing that.
WCT: You have some new movies coming out soon.
Derek Magyar: I did a film called No One Live that was just announced that it is picked up by Anchor Bay for national distribution. It's going to go very wide so I am very excited for that. That will be early in 2013.
There is a film called Phantom with Ed Harris and David Duchovny. That will be out in the middle of 2013. A submarine captain played by Ed Harris is losing his mind all the while dealing with David Duchovny and myself, who are sent on board to take over the ship.
WCT: That sounds good. It must have been interesting to see how Ed works.
Derek Magyar: It was amazing and very daunting. He's one of the best.
WCT: What did you learn from the experience of being in the gay movie Boy Culture?
Derek Magyar: I continue to learn from that experience. It is amazing that Boy Culture has grown in popularity as time has gone on. It is clearly a special film to a lot of people. As recent as today I get lots of people wanting to talk about it just now and it's been out for five years almost. It is really making a stamp in people's minds. We are developing a television show off of Boy Culture. We are excited to see where that goes. I think the public will respond to that.
For me that was an amazing opportunity and a really challenging role. I'm straight and I work from a very old school Stanislavski standpoint. I believe in inhabiting the character so I did everything I could to put myself in these situations. I think the character of X is somebody that anyone can relate to straight or gay. It doesn't matter. I hope that is what resonated.
WCT: Did I see you have a baby from a photo on Twitter?
Derek Magyar: [Laughs] No, that was a cute little baby I took a photo of.
WCT: More tattoos on the way?
Derek Magyar: Yes, I have a couple more tattoos. My grandfather, who I named my production company after, Skinny Lee Productions. I just finished making a tattoo on my arm, which included date of birth (Jan. 31, 1913) and when he passed at Feb. 20, 2012. He lived 99 years. He's my hero.
WCT: He should be after living 99 years.
Derek Magyar: It was more than that. He had the most positive outlook on life. He was always so happy and brave, a true gentleman.
WCT: Well, it seems you are a good guy, loyal to the family and all.
Derek Magyar: Trust me. I have my flaws! We will have to talk about that another time.
WCT: Have you been to Chicago?
Derek Magyar: I have not. I'm really anxious to go. Steppenwolf Theatre Company is a company I'm very familiar with. There is a great theater world out there. I hope to be there sometime in 2013!