Waukesha's Brad Beyer has just finished his first season as Stanley Richmond on CBS' "Jericho," a serial drama about life after a nuclear war in a fictional Kansas town.
The show, the season finale of which aired Wednesday, started with strong ratings, but tapered off a bit after it went on a mid-season hiatus. The future of the show is up in the air, but "Jericho" has developed a cult following -- and central to the cast is Beyer, whose tough but sensitive character is among the show's most popular.
Beyer has worked extensively in Hollywood, most notably on "Law and Order," "Sex and the City" and "CSI Miami," but "Jericho" is certainly the biggest role of the 33-year-old actor's career.
We spoke to Beyer by phone the day before the season finale of "Jericho" and discussed the show, what he misses about Milwaukee, and living the "Entourage" lifestyle in Los Angeles. Enjoy this latest edition of Milwaukee Talks.
OMC: How's the show going?
Brad Beyer: It's going great, man. This past year, this past season, has been a really great experience for me. I mean, I had a couple of years where it was rough finding work. Then this job came about, and it's been one of the most positive experiences I've had as an actor so far.
OMC: You've got an impressive Hollywood resume, but is "Jericho" the show that's making people recognize you at the grocery store?
BB: Yeah, for sure. I think it's probably one of the more mainstream things I've done in my career thus far. I seem to get noticed when I'm outside of Los Angeles more than when I'm in Los Angeles. When I was back in Milwaukee over Christmas, I had a couple of people in the airport recognize me. My girlfriend lives in Colorado, and I was in Denver and got noticed a couple of times.
OMC: Maybe it's just because there are so many people in L.A. who've done something on TV?
BB: Yeah, everyone's in the business here, so I don't think anyone really cares that much.
OMC: Do you get back to Waukesha or Milwaukee often?
BB: I try to get back as much as possible. I was home over Christmas and I had a wedding in January, and I was home over Easter, as well. This past year, I've been able to get home more often than I usually do, which is great. Because I miss it. I really like coming home. I like Waukesha, but I really love Milwaukee. It's a great city.
OMC: Did you live in Milwaukee in addition to Waukesha?
BB: I grew up in Waukesha, but I'm pretty familiar with the Milwaukee area. When we'd go out, we'd always go out in Milwaukee. When I turned 21, we went out on Water Street. It's a great old city. My sister just moved to the South Side, right across from Palomino.
OMC: That's my neighborhood, Bay View.
BB: It's a great neighborhood. I love it. It's an old, working-class, blue-collar neighborhood. The houses and apartments are beautiful. I think it's a great, up-and-coming neighborhood. I loved spending time there.
OMC: What is the talk around the set about "Jericho" being renewed for another season?
BB: We're all keeping our fingers crossed. I mean, it depends on what CBS wants to do. Our show this season was one of the only new shows that made it the full season. We started off really strong, but they put us on a 10-week hiatus, and when we came back, our numbers took a little bit of a hit. We were going up against, for a few weeks, "American Idol," which is like a steamroller. I feel pretty positive about coming back; I think there are a lot of stories to be told, and I think the show keeps getting better and better. Hopefully, they'll realize that and there's talk about putting us on a different night. Which would be fine, as long as they keep us going, because I think we have a really good thing going.
OMC: I compare "Jericho" to "Lost" a little -- how much do you know about what's coming up, the big picture, etc?
BB: We're pretty much on a need-to-know, week-by-week basis. We film four weeks ahead of what you guys see, so in that sense, we do know more than what the viewer knows at the time. But as we're shooting it, we really don't know what is coming next. We sort of go script to script, so writers pretty much keep their ideas and the future of the show close to the vest because they don't want to give too much away. The fact is that if we know too much, it'll affect the storytelling.
OMC: Is it ironic that they made they guy from Wisconsin the farmer?
BB: You know, yeah, I guess it is kind of ironic. When they shot the pilot for this show, they didn't know what that character was going to be, and they just took a chance on it, sort of. They wrote me a few things in episode three, and the chemistry between me and the girl who plays Mimi (Alicia Coppola) ended up really working, and they had something really interesting there. They kept writing for us, and the characters just kept getting better and better. It was just a really great stroke of luck.
OMC: I was talking to the Milwaukee Mile's Craig Stoehr today and he's making an upcoming trip to L.A. to visit you, and it sounds a little like an episode of "Entourage." Would you say that's an accurate depiction of your social life?
BB: Ha. When you're hanging out with Craig, it's like "Entourage," but not when he's hanging out with me. But when I go to Milwaukee and hang out with him, I feel like I'm around a big star now.
OMC: Anything else interesting going on in your life?
BB: Not really, I'm just auditioning for some stuff, trying to get a job during our hiatus. If we come back, we'll come back in July. Hopefully, I can get something going before then. Otherwise, just keeping my fingers crossed that the show comes back.
OMC: Is this the most fun acting experience you've had?
BB: Definitely. I think it's one of those experiences I've had where everybody in the cast and crew, across the board, has been really great. There hasn't been a bad apple in the bunch. There haven't been any divas or attitudes. Everyone's been totally on board with making the best show possible. Everyone's had such a great attitude, from top to bottom. It's really been great.
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.