Born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan, actor Bret Green has had experience working on a variety of different shows, including How to Get Away with Murder, Bones, and The Goldbergs. In addition to this, he created his own production company BG Productions and, with help from his best friends, makes parody rap videos that are intended to entertain and make people laugh.
He is best known, however, for his work on the CBS crime drama The Inspectors, in which he plays Preston Wainwright, a college freshman who is confined to a wheelchair and is a brilliant intern at the USPIS crime lab. The show is about to commence its second season, slated to premiere on October 1 on CBS. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Green about his experience playing Preston, upcoming storylines and his love for the series Empire. Check it out below!
What can fans expect from season two of “The Inspectors”?
Season 2, we’ve all kind of discussed that it’s going to be more relevant in terms of the crimes that we have to deal with and the issues that come up on campus. I think the writers and the producers weren’t afraid to take some more chances this season. So, altogether, it’s going to be more relevant, and the stakes are going to be raised. Preston and the gang, they’re all a year older and starting to figure out what exactly they want to do with their lives and what they want them to look like, so it’s going to be pretty fun to see where they end up.
Definitely! So how would you say Preston has changed since the end of season one and going into season two?
Season one ended with some feeling in his leg, so in season two, you’re going to see—and I can’t believe I’m saying this because he’s already so optimistic in season one—a much more optimistic Preston (laughs). Throughout this whole process of going through physical therapy and going to see doctors, the fact that he might walk again makes him yearn for that normal life again, which can also set him up for failure if that doesn’t happen. I think he’s trying to limit his expectations but still, maintain a positive attitude at the same time. As he gets a little more comfortable with his internship and starts to feel out his relationship with Veronica a bit more, I think we’ll start to see Preston grow into a young man.
How would you say playing Preston has challenged you as an actor?
Physically, it’s probably been the most challenging role that I’ve ever done. The ability to not only keep your legs still and maneuver around in a wheelchair is extremely difficult. I’ve gotten used to it when I’m on set there, but it’s hard when I go to another set or film a flashback scene where I am able-bodied because I’m constantly thinking about trying not to use my legs even when I can. So, I’ve grown really comfortable doing that, but I think the big challenge has been the psychological toll that being in a wheelchair takes on somebody.
I have fantastic advisers that taught me how to use the wheelchair, and told me their experiences and what helped them overcome the depression that comes from getting an injury like that. So that was probably the most difficult part: learning how to relate to someone who I might have previously overlooked. That’s where the research and consultants came in. I would never dream of going into this blind with the assumption that I knew what a person in a wheelchair went through, so this entire experience has made me so much more compassionate for people who in real life have to deal with these things. I would say that it’s definitely changed my life not only as an actor but as a person in general.
As the only show on network television that features a lead character that is handicapped, do you feel a responsibility to be a positive representative of that subset of the population?
Absolutely. I think that it’s very important to provide representation for that community. I know there’s a new show coming out, I think on NBC, that is going to address some of those issues too, which is fantastic, but, yeah, people in wheelchairs and with handicaps are completely underrepresented in film and TV, and I’m not really sure why that is, so I love the fact that they’ve chosen to use that as a theme throughout the series.
I have people contact me all the time on Facebook and Twitter who are in wheelchairs and say, “Hey, I really appreciate what you guys are doing. It means a lot to me, and it’s inspirational.” And then I’ve had people reach out to me and say, “Hey, in that one scene, I saw your leg move!” I’ve had some people ask me to take off the wheels on the back, which are essentially like safety wheels that prevent you from tipping over, because they say that it’s not 100% realistic. And I tried to, but the producers wouldn’t let me because it was a safety liability, so I’ve still got those on for season two (laughs). But I definitely want to make sure that, as a non-disabled actor, I’m portraying Preston in a way that is believable.
Besides Preston’s handicap, in what ways would you say that you’re similar to him and how are you different?
I think that I’ve got the same “Don’t give up, can’t tell me no” attitude that Preston has and the same sense of responsibility when it comes to social injustices and that sort of thing. Preston is always looking out for the underdog or the kid who is getting picked on and is super against bullying, and I couldn’t agree more with Preston on those sorts of issues. I’m always looking up for the little guy or, when it comes to people who might not have a voice, I try to give those people a voice. I think he’s a lot more scholarly than I am (laughs). He’s the straight-A, never-got-a-B-in-his-life guy whereas when I was in school, I was okay with B’s with a few A’s sprinkled in here and there, but I think he got a higher score on his SATs than I did (laughs).
What storyline are you most excited about for season two?
One of the storylines that goes throughout the season is Noah’s involvement. He’s at a crossroads when season two starts regarding whether or not he’s going to continue going to film school or follow his parents’ wishes and go to medical school. I think it’s really interesting because I think it starts to tie Preston, Veronica, and Noah together. It allows them to be together in way more scenes this year. Noah’s out with his camera trying to document everything that is going on, and Preston is kind of leading the charge and Veronica is interviewing everybody so it’s really cool that the writers have tied that in so that the three of us are almost always together now. It’s a really fun dynamic when you get those three big personalities together in one room.
And, you get to see more of the history between them. I would say that I’m most excited to see the three of them—the squad, as we call them—to see that relationship grow. Preston and Veronica start having more serious feelings toward one another and then the question that arises is “Where does that leave Noah? Is he now the odd-man out or the third wheel?” I think they both do an excellent job of not making him feel that way so it’ll be fun to see the three of them play together.
I know that the show draws on real-life cases for inspiration, so what is the most memorable case that has been featured on the show so far?
There was a case that the USPIS partially handled, but Preston mostly handled of his own accord. It involved somebody on the wrestling team purchasing steroids, and he is buying them from a website so that he can get an edge and do well in the tournament, and Preston has to have a sit-down with his friend and say, “This is really, really dangerous; you could hurt yourself.” Then Amanda and Georgia take the pills to test them out to discover where they are coming from and who’s targeting these students. I think that was one of my favorite storylines because of its relevance to my life. I grew up an athlete, so I understand the desire to get the edge over other athletes, but steroids are so dangerous, so it’s good to show young people that, if you want to get ahead, you’ve got to do it the right way. There are no short-cuts in life.
Have you found yourself doing research on the USPIS because of this show? I confess that I didn’t even know that they existed before watching this show, so I’ve found myself looking into them because of it. Is that something that you’ve done, too?
Yeah, yeah. I didn’t know about them before this show either (laughs). And it’s funny because I’ve had a real-life encounter with them since the show started because there was a mail theft issue at my apartment complex! But they’re the real deal; they’re like FBI agents. And with being on the show, we’ve had advisors come on set to help us, so I’ve really enjoyed talking to them and learning more about the crimes that they have to deal with.
What shows, books, movies, etc. bring out the nerd in you?
I would say, and maybe this isn’t nerdy because it’s a really cool show, but right now, I love “Empire.” And while all the characters on that show are the complete opposite of nerdy, I get really, really excited because the music on that show is unbelievable, so I kind of nerd out or geek out over that show. Anytime they start playing music, I’m like in awe.
Definitely that show…and in my personal life, I love to do photography. I do a lot of headshots from friends and actors. I get really inspired by photography; I love to take photos and then go home and sit on my computer for three hours and edit pictures, so I would say those are the biggest nerd-like things that I do (laughs).
I also love space. I love the solar system and looking at the stars and thinking about how big this whole universe is, so if I was going to be a nerd for one topic, I would say I am a big, big nerd for the solar system (laughs).
Make sure to watch the season two premiere of The Inspectors on Saturday, October 1 at 8:30 am ET/PT.