Bill Kelly is an actor best known for his role as Clay Grunwald in Netflix’s Bloodline. In addition to this role, however, he has also starred in hit television shows such as Ballers (HBO), Graceland (USA) and Burn Notice (USA). Bill recently spoke to us about his start in radio, his stint on Bloodline and even talked about what The Rock is like in person. Check out our interview with Bill below, and tune in for season three of Bloodline in 2017.
You got your start in radio- which is a transition you don’t hear about that often. What made you want to get out from behind the mic and in front of the camera?
“I got out from behind the mic in 2000, having been a DJ for thirty years and decided that it was time to go into sales and start making some real money! It was a ton of fun, and I met some awesome stars!”
You’re a local actor to Florida. What are some advantages to being a local actor as opposed to being an actor out of Los Angeles?
“It’s a lot easier when you get a callback in the Southeast to jump in the car and go. Even stuff that comes up at the last minute. People ask all the time how in the world I get parts being located in Tallahassee. It’s actually been a great place to be, since it puts in pretty much in the middle of where most of the shootings are taking place. I can get to New Orleans, Atlanta, Wilmington, Orlando or Miami in a relatively quick pace.”
What are you working on now?
“Right now, I’ve got a great project in the works that I can’t really talk about. I just got done with an episode of Halt & Catch Fire on AMC, which was episode one of season three. It was a thrill for me because I love the show.
I’m doing a lot of auditioning, and trying to help younger actors. I get a lot of people that send me requests either through Facebook message or Twitter, and they’re like ‘how do I start?’ I tell them to be smart about it. Develop the skills, and then work at finding an agent….not the other way around. I hear it all the time where someone has gotten an agent without ever having appeared in front of a camera. Not advisable. A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine said she was trying to get her child into acting and that they had found a great agent who “wasn’t charging them as much” as the other agents and were going to ‘sign’ with him. The child had never done any acting…ever. This agent wants the parents to pay them to represent this kid. Then, of course, you’ve got to buy the headshots through them and the acting classes. I hate seeing that type of stuff happen. “
What would you say is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
“Best career advice in general? Help anybody you can on the way up because you never know who you’re going to need on the way down. I think that applies to life in general.
Career-wise, I pretty much stumbled my way through it and got to where I’m at by taking a few steps that happened to be in the right direction. I get career advice all the time just from watching great actors that I’ve worked with. I look at the way they handle themselves when we’re not shooting…how they deal with the crew and other cast members. They have respect for everybody on that set, and some of these people just amaze me with how genuinely nice they are.”
What was it about Bloodline that drew you to that project?
“It’s an amazing storyline with amazing writers. Just when you think you’ve got things figured out, it’s like ‘whoa! Didn’t see that one coming!’ My Twitter was filled with that comment. “What a finale- didn’t see that coming!” “What a twist!” I think it’s an amazing project with an amazing cast. I never dreamed I’d get to work with an Academy Award winner, an Emmy winner, a Tony winner, a Golden Globe winner and another Emmy nominee with Ben Mendehlson up this year, as well. Owen Teague is amazing as Nolan. To watch him bring that character to life and emulate Danny so much- he really did his homework, and I think he’s gonna go to the top.”
What was it like to work with the veterans like Sissy Spacek, Kyle Chandler and Ben Mendehlson?
“Intimidating! (laughs) With all the credit in the world to them, they make you feel so relaxed and draw you into their acting skills and that realism. You’re living that scene because of them and their skills. It’s amazing to work with those guys, and you can look at them and say ‘I completely understand why you’re an Emmy winner, I completely understand why you’ve won an Oscar.’ Not to mention, the bodies of work that they carry with them are amazing. I’m blessed beyond my wildest dreams. If it all ended tomorrow, put me in the ground with a smile on my face! (laughs)”
Is there anything you know about season three that you might be able to tease?
I actually, honestly know absolutely nothing about season three. Nothing. I don’t even know if I’m in it! They’re very, very secretive about where the plot is going. I’m not the caliber up there at the very top where they look at me and say ‘well, what do you think of this?’ I have no earthly idea.”
You just know that it’s happening.
“Fans ask me all the time, ‘is season three this? Is season three that?’ I tell them, you’re going to find out before I will. And that’s the honest truth! The fans will find out before I will. I found out about the season three announcement through fans. I found out on Twitter and Facebook through other people who had found out before me. So, if you’re thinking this boy has any inside scoop, you’re dead wrong. You may as well ask the trash man! (laughs)”
Are you a TV fan yourself? What are the things that you’re currently binging?
“Bloodline, to me, I watched that as a fan. Totally love the show as a fan. “The Walking Dead” is ALWAYS binge-worthy! There are so many great shows out there that it’s hard to keep up.
I’m a huge fan of Ballers- it’s a great show. I’m acquainted with some of the crew on that set. This is the second time I’ve worked with Dwayne Johnson. I’ve got people asking if I ever washed my hands after touching Dwayne Johnson’s head! (laughs)”
Is he as likable as he seems?
“Yes! He’s down to earth; he’s funny, so personable and so nice. Again, he makes everybody feel good about working with him. He’s very cordial. I actually got script changes right before I got to set. I had to crash course in the lines, and they had somebody come and work with me while they were setting up the shot. He got up, and we ran it through, and he was like ‘I understand- just take your time!’ He’s a fantastic guy to work with.
I haven’t met anybody that hasn’t been top notch. Mackenzie Davis from Halt and Catch Fire is a great lady. She’s a great actress- we sat outside and ran lines before we shot. Jeffery Donovan of “Burn Notice,” Kyle Chandler from “Bloodline” is as good a person as it gets… all of them were very, very nice.
I was a fan of Burn Notice, then I got the part, so that wasn’t a hard one to play. We shot it at 11:30 at night, and it was the last shot of the day. Jeffrey [Donovan] came up to me and was just exhausted. I said ‘I’ll do my best to get you out of here as quick as we can do it,’ and we shot it in five takes. It flowed really well, and again, great guy, very complimentary, super to work with.
That kind of stuff makes it so much easier to do this. What an incredible experience for anyone- I’m just crazy blessed.”
If you could craft it, what would be your dream role?
“My dream project would be The Walking Dead. That’s the show that I love. I love Fear the Walking Dead; I love the writers. I’ve got eight of my friends that have been on that show. I would love to be part of that show. It’s one of those that will go down in history as one of the iconic shows of this decade; it’s that incredible.
I would love to do a film where I get to play someone nasty. Someone who is just the most despicable person in the world. Something that just stretches me and gives me a chance to do something. I love television. I love watching TV. Stranger Things is an excellent new show. There are so many good shows out there.
House of Cards- what a great show. I worked a little itty bit with Kevin Spacey a long time ago. It was my first professional gig. I was John Hurt’s stand-in for Recount when they shot in Tallahassee. He’s just a cool, cool guy.
The quality of television right now, to me, is top notch. They’re finding fantastic writers and fantastic themes to go with. It’s really, really creative.”
What about a dream costar?
“There’s a list of them! Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland. 24 was one of my favorite series of all time. That was when I first professionally got into acting, and that was the one. I was like, ‘I wanna be on 24!’ Of course, it canceled, so that stunk, but they’ve got a new series, “24: Legacy” that looks fantastic, if the trailer is any indication! Let’s hope!
Reese Witherspoon or Julia Roberts would be fantastic. There are so many very talented people out there that I admire.”
It’s kind of hard to top Sissy Spacek, isn’t it?
“Yeah! Oh, Sweet Jesus! She’s the top! Sadly, we haven’t had a scene together, but she is such a sweetheart. I’ve met her a few times. She is just the sweetest lady in the world. Surreal. I think to myself, ‘wow- that’s Sissy Spacek!’ She’s amazing.”
We know about you as an actor, but not you as a person. What are you doing when you’re not acting?
“Working. When I’m not acting, I’m trying to find acting jobs. Doing a lot of auditioning. A lot of people think actors of my caliber in recurring roles are making millions of dollars, and that’s not quite true. Most of the actors I know who are on my level have real jobs. I still work at a radio station; I’m still selling advertising. That’s not the glamor part that people want to hear about, but that’s the real me.
Outside of that part, spending time at the beach. I haven’t taken the time to enjoy the peace and quiet the beaches of Florida have to offer, and it really refuels my batteries like nothing else. I love toys! I have a drone with a camera that I am trying to learn how to fly…my fiancé, and I love hitting antique shops and thrift stores…I love to race go-karts! I had one that goes about 90mph, which was a blast! Going to do that again someday!
When you leave this world, possessions don’t matter. You need to check out with great memories and great experiences, so that’s where I’m trying to strengthen things. I’m downsizing, getting rid of a lot of stuff I don’t need or use. I’m just taking advantage of what these United States has to offer.”