Exclusive Interview: AGAINST THE WALL’s Brandon Quinn – A Cop, A Brother, A Family Man and a “Big Wolf On Campus”

Brandon Quinn

You may remember Brandon Quinn as Tom, boyfriend of Rex Lee on the HBO series Entourage or you may even remember him as Lee on The Vampire Diaries but Sandie and I remember Brandon as fun and hilarious Tommy Dawkins on the totally awesome Fox Family’s Big Wolf on Campus where he played a werewolf on, you guessed it, a campus.

Fans of Brandon will be happy to know that he is stepping into a new role in the new Lifetime series AGAINST THE WALL. Brandon will play a cop named Richie Kowalski whose sister Abby (Rachael Carpani) is bucking the family tradition of being cops by joining Internal Affairs as a detective.

Brandon was kind of enough to spare time away from his family to talk to us about playing Richie, working with Rachael Carpani and the status update on where the heck we can find DVDs of “Big Wolf On Campus“. Check out what he had to say below and don’t forget to tune in for the premiere episode of Against The Wall this Sunday July 31 at 10 pm/9c on Lifetime.

_________________________________________________________________

I got to watch the pilot of ‘Against the Wall’. It’s really good. How would you describe the show to someone who’s unfamiliar with it?

Brandon Quinn: First and foremost it’s a family drama. I always tell people that it’s a family cop drama about a family of Chicago police officers, third generation police officers. The youngest sibling, Abby Kowalski, who’s the only girl in the family ends up joining the department’s internal affairs and creates a huge rift in the family. You have four street cops and then someone joining internal affairs, that creates quite a problem.

And you play Richie?

Brandon Quinn: Yeah. I play Richie Kowalski. I’m the youngest brother, the second youngest in the family, and Richie is this really good guy. He’s a really good cop. He takes what he does really seriously. He has an extremely good relationship with every one of his family members, especially Abby. I think that him and Abby have the closest relationship. I’m kind of her shoulder to cry on, her confidant. I’m the only one other than mom who doesn’t get mad at her for joining IA.

But there’s still boundaries as you’ve seen in the pilot episode when she kind of tests the waters to what I will and won’t do for her. I lay down the law. I say, ‘Listen, I love you. I support you in what you do, but do not ask me to cross that line.’ So he’s got a lot of integrity. He’s got a great relationship with his wife. He’s a really good friend to people. He’s kind of a guy’s guy.

How did you work with Rachael Carpani who plays Abby to create that bond these characters have onscreen?

Brandon Quinn: Well, first of all she’s a dream. Not only as you’ve seen, but she’s ridiculously talented. She’s equally as impressive as a person and to work with. She’s in 98.9 percent of every scene. So, the girl literally lives at work and has a tremendous amount of pressure on her shoulders even though it’s an ensemble cast. Clearly, she’s carrying the show. I was just having this conversation with Kathy Baker last week. We were both like, ‘That girl just takes things in stride. She just rolls with the punches.’ She’s always pleasant. She’s always happy and has a smile on her face. She’s a dream. Her and I have a lot of chemistry.

Even when I was testing for the show there was this real genuine connection between the two of us during our read. Later she told me that I was the only one…I don’t know if I’m allowed to tell this. It’s kind of confidential. I always do this. I end up opening my mouth. Whatever. She can get mad at me. She told me that I was the only one that really connected with her, that took the time to not worry about, like, ‘What am I doing?’ It’s about this brother and this sister, and what makes that scene work is the connection that those two have because there are so many scenes even outside of the pilot where the selling factor and the believability of the scenes is that bond and that relationship that both Abby and Richie have. So it’s important, and for her and I it was just seamless, natural. We get along so well and it’s so nice because you hear horror stories of actors, actresses, leads of shows and people not getting along. I can’t imagine working in that environment.

You think Richie’s ambivalence to her career choice will subside as the episodes go on?

Brandon Quinn: I don’t think that it’s not so much that I’m uncomfortable with her career choice. I can’t remember because it’s been so long since I’ve seen the pilot episode, but it’s either the pilot or later episodes where you get to see mom and Abby really talking about the decision that she made. Mom goes into, like, ‘Listen, I raised you to be your own person and to make your own choices.’ I think that Richie really falls into suit with that.

I think he’s really supportive and is like, ‘Hey, sis, I’m proud of you. You’re doing your own thing. You’re really talented and good for you. But at the same time I’m a street cop and I’ll defend you to the ends of the earth. But don’t ask me to cross that line. I’m not going to be a snitch for you because you are still working for “the bad guys”.’ So, I don’t think it’s as much that I disagree with what she does because I think he’s all supportive, but more, like, ‘Don’t ask me to join forces with you.’

What initially attracted you to this role?

Brandon Quinn: Well, first of all I’ve always wanted to play a cop. What kid growing up doesn’t get carried away with cops and robbers, at least at some point in their life. I’ve always wanted to play a cop. So, that right there, when I first got the script and before I read it I was like, ‘Sweet. It’s definitely a genre that I’m interested in.’ Just reading the script; Annie [Brunner], the creator of the show, is just incredible. She’s so good at developing character and writing these real genuine situations. She did such a good job. Treat [Williams] said, ‘You watch so many pilots and you’re like, “Ooh, gosh. That’s a pilot.”‘ And he was like, ‘You watch our pilot and you really get a sense that it’s a show that’s been on the air for years and that’s a testament to the writing.’

They did such a good job of creating this, and I really felt that when I read Richie, there was so much of it that I related to. He’s a blue collar guy. He’s a guy’s guy. He loves football. He loves hanging out with his friends. He loves his family. These are all traits that I believe I possess. So, it wasn’t really much of a reach. I’m obsessed almost to a fault, as my wife would attest to, to football. The creator of the show is from Chicago and the show takes place in Chicago, and so we reference the Chicago Bears a bunch and Brian Urlacher. So, I love that aspect of it. I love the fact that he’s a cop and I get to do all the stuff that goes along with that, shooting and fighting. But there’s that emotional side. I’ve gotten to do some incredible stuff thus far with the range that I’ve been able to play and everything in that. I feel like that’s stuff that hits close to home with who I am.

Brandon Quinn

I know there’s an important scene towards the end of the episode that involves you. Will that story arc develop over multiple episodes?

Brandon Quinn: It’s a multiple episode storyline. Obviously, for many reasons, I love that scene. I’m extremely proud of the show. I’ll be the first to admit, and again, maybe I shouldn’t say this, but I’ll be the first to admit that when I’m a part of projects that don’t turn out great, you just kind of go to work and do your job and you don’t really talk about it much.

But this show, I’m so proud of it. I love the people that I work with. I love the content. I love the work that we’re doing and I love the finished product. You watch that show, and pilot episodes have to introduce all the characters and all the while trying to slam story in there. You really get a sense with that last scene, you step back and go, ‘This is the potential of the show. Now I see where this show can go.’ It’s such a great ending. It really holds true to where the show goes. I love the pilot episode, but I’ve seen it through episode five and for me they just keep getting better and better and you get more and more attached to the family and the characters and the situations that are going on. Richie, he goes through the ringer for quite a few episodes. It was really fun to play that, letting that all unfold.

Is there a question that you’ve been dying to give an answer to that no one ever asks you? It can be about the show, the character, your career, life in general. Whatever you want.

Brandon Quinn: Just off the top of my head, I think something that a lot of people don’t know about me is that I’m a huge family man. I’ve been married for nine years, eight years and when I tell people that they’re like, ‘How old are you?’ I have three kids. So, that to me, when I’m working I’m working and when I’m not working I’m with the family. They’re my number one priority.

I don’t know if that’s something. That’s a huge part of me. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a family guy. I’m in upstate New York right where my in-laws have a cottage on the lake, this picturesque, beautiful lake where I actually proposed to my wife. We’re really big water skiers. I just got in from bare-footing and water skiing ten minutes ago. I’m soaking wet. It’s paradise. The family is here and it’s amazing.

If you could guest star on any TV show you wanted which one would it be?

Brandon Quinn: All the shows that I used to watch, most of them are finished now, but right now, currently, ‘Mad Men‘ for sure.

That’s the popular choice.

Brandon Quinn: I love it. It’s such an amazing show, so well done. I love period pieces. I would love to go into a time warp and do something from ’40’s years ago, something like that, the time that it takes place in. It’s an incredible show and it seems like it’d be really fun to work on.

I was a big fan of yours when you were on ‘Big Wolf On Campus’.

Brandon Quinn: That’s awesome. A blast from the past. I love it.

I’ve been looking for the DVDs everywhere, but they’re not available.

Brandon Quinn: Tell me about it. It’s weird. What happened was that the show was FOX Family and right after we started airing, Michael Eisner, the then CEO of Disney, bought out FOX Family which made ABC Family and he pretty much just squandered all the FOX Family shows and put all Disney stuff on there. There for a while there were some petitions out there. I literally just got an email yesterday from some girl, and I have no idea how she found my email address, about bringing ‘Big Wolf on Campus’ to DVD. ‘Sign the petition.’ Maybe I should forward that to you.

Trust me, it’s all this legal stuff. Peter [Knight], the creator of the show, and I still keep in touch and are actually pretty good friends. For a while we were fighting the good fight, trying to get that. There’s a lot of legalities with Disney and the rights to the show and FOX and this and that. I would love it because my kids, they’re still young, they’re five, three and one, but my five year old has seen some of the clips and they’re getting to the age where they would start kind of enjoying it. They’ve seen it before and are like, ‘Oh, wow.’ I would love to have all that for them, and plus, for my own records. It was my first job pretty much. That show, we had so much fun on that show.

It was funny as hell.

Brandon Quinn: It was great. Peter, the writer, again, the content was obviously very youthful, but some of the writing was very aged up. I would get fan letters, like, this one college professor. He said, ‘You might think I’m strange. I’m watching your show, but it always falls in my two off periods when I’m grading papers and I like having a TV on. One day I flipped through and I saw your show and started watching it. I was like, “You know, the writing in this is really funny.”

It’s stuff that a lot of kids wouldn’t understand and I love that.’ You had the content that’s youth oriented like the werewolf, but some of the writing and terminology and things we had were really aged up. For what it was it was a fantastic show. I owe everything to that show. I met my wife on that show.
________________________________________________________________

In case you are curious about Against The Wall, check out a sneak peek below: