Born in Ottawa, Canada, Dan Beirne has made a name for himself as an actor and a writer. He has been involved in a variety of projects, including The Bitter End, The Trotsky, Dad Drives, Space Riders: Division Earth and On the Road. In addition, he’s the recipient of several awards, including the Canadian Comedy Award for Best Multimedia/Best Writing in a TV or Web Series and the Canadian Screen Award for Best Original Program or Series Produced by Digital Media. He was also nominated for the Canadian Comedy Award for Best Male Performance in a Web Series. Recently, Dan joined the cast of FX’s Fargo. In the following interview, we chatted about the upcoming season of his award-winning web series Space Riders, how he prepared for his role in Fargo and his love for the show Veep. Check it out below!
You’ve been involved in a variety of projects over the years. What has been your favorite experience so far, and why?
I look back very fondly on making the Bitter End. That was a great time because that was us sort of discovering that we knew how to do it. And it took like a year and you really couldn’t do much else except for that show and seeing it through to completion was like the most satisfying thing I’d done up until that point. So, I look fondly back on that experience for that reason.
In addition to being an actor, you’re also a writer. What do you find challenging about working on a project in which you are both a writer and an actor?
I think it’s hard to keep perspective. I think sometimes that you just get so up to your eyeballs with a project that you can’t really see the best part, and you sort of need someone on the outside to look at what you’re doing and say this is what’s working and this is what’s not. So, writing and acting and stuff are actually not a challenge so long as you have people there to fertilize you in regard to what’s good. Otherwise, you can lose sight of that pretty easily, I think.
What inspired you to write Space Riders?
Mark was kind of the inspiration behind starting the show. There’s a fund up here in Canada that you can access to make web series pretty much exclusively. So, when we were trying to decide on what to pitch to that fund, Mark was saying how we wanted to make a Power Rangers musical—originally, it was supposed to be a Power Rangers musical—but that kind of got left by the wayside. We just made a Power Rangers type show. But it was his idea and it wasn’t too hard to get it funded after that. I think he kinda watched [Power Rangers] when he was younger. I was a bit too old for it, so I didn’t really have the extreme fandom phase. But it wasn’t hard to get behind it.
Do you feel like the series has played out differently as a web series as opposed to if it had been a television series?
Yeah. I think we have more control than if it had been a TV show. I think that when you’re dealing with that much money, people are a lot more scared about what exactly is in the show and how it gets made, and so when there wasn’t that much money at risk, we were able to do much more of what we wanted in terms of both choosing crew and making it with our friends but also getting the content in that was actually in the scripts.
I love the dynamic between the two lead characters, Ken and Philip. How did you develop that dynamic?
We sort of write shows that have that dynamic built-in because that’s kind of our natural go to dynamic: The stick-in-the-mud guy and the guy that just wants to have fun. That’s kind of our real personalities. I think it was the easiest and also the funniest to translate directly into the show. Also, it’s kind of the classic dynamic of an odd couple: one person wants to follow the rules, and one person just can’t.
I saw that Space Riders begins shooting in spring 2015. What can we expect from the new season?
It’s actually a lot crazier. There’s a lot more—I guess edgy places that we go this season. We actually had our first discussion with people about if this was ok to put in and they wanted us to take some stuff out and change some things but we came to a place that we’re all happy with. It’s got more action than the first season. It’s got a new Space Rider, which is fun, and we go to all sorts of different planets.
You also recently joined the cast of Fargo season 2. What appealed to you about the show?
I mean, the movie kind of changed my life, because that was right when I was a kid, just realizing that I liked movies. So that was really formative for me and is one of my all-time favorites. And then the show came out and I was sort of skeptical about if the show could be as good. But it really is its own thing. The first season is really great and they really have their own voice entirely. I was just sort of drawn to the project more than most other things that I audition for. It was the only audition that I ever asked to get. Usually I just do whatever my agent says, but this one I was like, “Please, try to get this one!” So, it’s really an honor to be involved.
Have you noticed any differences between the movie and the show?
The accents are actually slightly different, I find. I think in the movie they’re very heavy and thick, and in the show, I think they’re trying to do it a little less so. I think the movie is firmly rooted in comedy, and I think the show is straddling drama and comedy. I think the second season—at least from the trailer that I saw—they’re going more toward comedy now.
How would you describe your character?
He’s a dumb mechanic. A regular citizen. Generally, there’s the cop stories and the citizen stories, and I’m definitely one of the citizens, for sure. It takes place in the 70s, so my character is a Vietnam vet, as are a bunch of male characters on the show, and so that’s playing into the story. It’s post-Vietnam and Reagan is on the campaign trail, and things are just generally tense.
How did you prepare for the role?
So much work on the accent! I’ve never had to do an accent on a show, ever, and I was scared. But I had a dialect coach and he was super great, and I just worked for a month on that. Once that was sort of nailed down, I could actually focus on the personal stuff. Beyond the accent, it was sort of the regular preparation for anything. But it was nice to have three-weeks of shooting. It was nice to feel like you can get in the rhythm of it. Often with Canadian shows and the TV that I’ve done, you’re there for a day or two days, and it’s good. It’s great. I definitely do the work and love it. But, it’s like you get one shot at it. With this, I had a longer time to really get it right
What are you excited about the most in regard to Fargo season 2?
I’m excited to see it. Like I said, I wasn’t so involved that I could see everything, so I don’t even know how it looks. I don’t know even how it’s going to turn out. I’m just hoping that I didn’t get cut out.
If you could play any character in a movie or on a TV show, who would it be and why?
I don’t know if I want to take someone’s job, but I would do anything on Veep. That’s like my favorite show in the last three years. I would do just about anything they wanted—not necessarily take someone’s role because everyone is so great on that show—but that’s a dream job for me.
Fargo season 2 begins October 2015! You can follow Dan Beirne on Twitter at @DanBeirne, and you can follow Space Riders at @spaceriderstv!