Even at his young age Alex Neustaedter has years of acting experience under his belt. Starting out at the tender young age of five doing theater in his home town of Kansas City, Kansas. Recently I talked to Alex about his role on USA Network’s Colony and his background in sports and ballet.
You’re in the new show The Colony. Can you tell our readers what it’s about?
Colony takes place in an occupied Los Angeles. There are no cell phones. There are no cars or anything like that. It’s about the struggle of a family in this occupied world. Where we don’t know who’s occupying it or why they’re occupying it. It’s the struggle of trying to resist or trying to collaborate or trying to survive in this unknown world.
What appealed to you about working on The Colony?
I originally read this as a 16-year-old and the character is 16 as well. I was just very interested in exploring what it would feel like to be 16 and have all your freedoms taken away from you. Since when you’re 16 most people are rebellious and doing their own thing. Their off with their friends and driving and all that, but in the Colony world you have to really stay close with your family. You have to aslo have very few friends who you can trust, because it is such a dangerous world. So, I wanted to explore what that felt like. And the character itself is very interesting and intriguing. He’s so adventurous and he wants so much for his family. He’s trying to figure out the best way he can take action too. To prevent the occupation and he’s trying to figure out a way to get out of it. So that is what really intrigued me most. He’s not sitting back and letting things play out. He’s trying his best to take action. As much as he can for a 16-year-old. That was what really got me.
How much of yourself did you add to your portrayal as Bram?
I think we’re both pretty adventurous guys. We’re both pretty independent. That was something that I could definitely relate to, in that sense. I don’t have brothers or sisters. Bram has a younger sister and a younger brother. For him, when his brother went missing I think he put a lot of blame on himself. Since he is the oldest child. If something happens to a younger child, I know from talking to other people, that it really places a burden on the oldest, because they’re kind of the head of the sheep. That was something I had to try to figure out. I had to try to understand that relationship because I don’t have any brothers and sisters. In terms of this character we’re both very adventurous and family oriented. I think with Bram everything is about his family situation. So he does everything his family needs even though he doesn’t always agree with them.
What would you say is your favorite and least favorite characteristic of Bram?
My favorite characteristic of Bram is how he wants to take action and do it himself, in that sense, and figure out a way at 16 to be able to understand the occupation. Which is a big role. Most kids that are living in this occupied world are just trying to get through every day and not get caught. Bram is trying to act. What is going on, what are his parents doing, where his brother is, making sure his sister is ok, etc. He has a lot of things going on, which is what I really like about it. However, in the long run it’s very dangerous what he’s doing. The more he does this, the more rebellious he gets, the more fights he has with his parents, the more questions he has. It’s almost like an adrenaline rush for him trying to figure out what’s going on. It could potentially get him in trouble I think.
In the premiere episode, we saw Bram becoming involved in the black market barter system at school. Will we see more of than in future episodes and how will it affect him?
Yeah you’ll see a little bit more. In terms of Bram there’s not a ton of other trading going on in that sense. It’s always something going on because the value in money is completely gone and the value of goods and food is the ultimate exchange.
I think what’s going to change is you’ll see Bram gets on his own track with another plot, and another thing that’s going on in his own mind. I can’t talk about it but you’ll be able to see. It’s very interesting to see how that correlates with the main plot of his dad and his mom. So they kind of go hand in hand, but in terms of the black market it’s all something that’s kind of in the backs of their minds. It’s kind of happening in the back of the scenes. We just wanted to establish that it’s something that’s always just going on.
What is your impression of schooling under the Occupation?
Well it’s very different. The occupation essentially scratched all of what you normally learn in school. They took all that away and they instituted their own text books and their own knowledge of what they want the young future to have. Which is understanding metals, understanding advanced math and physics and chemistry because there are hints of that’s what the occupation is here for. Whatever they are. There’s a lot of things that are based very much on the rocks and advanced metals that these people are trying to use from our planet. So it’s even more boring than regular school and it’s even more strict than regular school. There’s bodyguards constantly. More than there are now in normal schools. Like military guards around schools and it’s a very kind of hostile place. Everybody is hush, hush and you never really want to upset the teachers. Some of the teachers don’t even like doing the job because they’re forced to do it themselves. Just imagine school being worse than it already is sometimes (laughs) and that’s kind of what school is like under the occupation.
How did you get into acting?
I started acting when I was five. I don’t really remember going into acting. It was something that I’ve always done. Whether it be theater, which is really what I started at in Kansas City. There’s only one casting director and there wasn’t much in terms of films and TV that you can audition for. It’s mostly commercials. So I did a lot of theater. I just kept coming back to it because it was something that was completely different from what other people are doing in Kansas City. It was a feeling that never really got with anything else in terms of totally escaping your own life and kind of morphing into this character. Everything in your own personal life kind of goes away and it’s almost an escape in that sense. I think that hooked me onto it.
Do you think your background in ballet and sports has helped you as an actor?
100%. I’ve kind of done sports as long as I’ve done acting. I started at five years old. Sports was kind of my number one thing for my entire life up until four years ago. I think the experiences you get from sports and the competitiveness and the toughness – that mental toughness that you need to have to succeed in sports – helped me so much with acting. The same with ballet. There’s something really hard about getting into acting out here and being able to not take rejection personally. I think sports and ballet also helped me learn how to brush it off and understand that even if it doesn’t work out there’s always another opportunity. There’s always another way for me to improve and get better. I think ballet is always something you can get better at. I think sports is always something you can get better at. I think the same with acting. I think that’s something that I’ve always been a part of and wanting to do. So when I switched completely to acting, I just wanted to keep following the same path and trying to get better. I think it’s instilled in me, my values in terms of what I want to be as an actor.
Everyone at TNWU has something nerdy/geeky about them. What is something nerdy/geeky about you?
I love video games. I don’t like video games, I love video games. (laughs). I don’t get to play them as much as I used to, but when I wasn’t booking any jobs or anything it was kind of my way to escape. I’m a first person shooter junkie. So like Call of Duty: Battlefield, GTA, all those I’m a big fan of and I still try to play them often. That’s something that I’ll always enjoy.
You can catch Alex on Thursdays at 10pm on USA Networks’s Colony.