Check out our interview with talented Freeform series “Siren” actor Ian Verdun.
Ian can be seen in the Freeform series “Siren” as series regular ‘Xander McClure.’ The series takes us inside Bristol Cove, a coastal town known for its legend of once being home to mermaids. When the arrival of a mysterious girl proves this folklore all too true, the battle between man and sea takes a very vicious turn as these predatory beings return to reclaim their right to the ocean. ‘Xander’ is a deep sea fisherman who gets embroiled in the bizarre events of the town which put him on a dangerous path as he hunts for the truth.
Before landing “Siren,” Ian’s first acting job was a passion project titled “Life’s A Drag” which he completed with money earned from sweeping and bussing in New York restaurants. It went on to win a number of awards in the burgeoning web festival circuit, including a special award for recognition in diversity, presented by the El Rey Network.
Ian Verdun is a graduate of the California Institute of the Arts and the British American Drama Academy. He has written and produced several plays himself, and appeared on shows such as, “Last Resort” (ABC), “Hawthorne” (TNT), “Lucifer” (FOX), and “Hawaii Five-O” (CBS). Most recently he wrapped production on a feature film “Death of a Telemarketer” which followed a smooth-talking telemarketer who finds himself at the mercy of the man he tried to swindle. The film also stars Haley Joel Osment, Jackie Earle Haley, and Alisha Wainwright.
Follow Ian at @ianverdun
Hi Ian, please tell us a little about you?
One thing anyone will tell you is I’m a total goofball. I love to laugh, I love wit and humor and overall silliness. You’d be hard-pressed to find me sulking…I mean it can happen, but it’s rare. I’m also a huge theatre geek and a nerd for comics and sketch art. I’m constantly singing and dancing to songs in my head, and I regularly stub my toes. I’m slowly getting better at this whole adult thing, though at thirty four one thing I’ve realized is that nobody ever really gets a hang on it. I’m honestly like everyone else, just trying to do the best with my circumstances and god-given talents and hopefully be able to pay the rent every month.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Driven. Creative. Nerd.
Who was your role model as a child?
I grew up in a single parent home, so as a child my mother was my only real role model. As a kid she was so larger than life, and she still is! She’s fiercely intelligent, insanely talented and one of the most gracious and giving people you will ever meet. But I never really had any male role models in my immediate sphere, nor did I think I needed one. A lot of the people I looked up to were female and for the most part, that’s still the case today! As for acting, I started looking up to Jeffrey Wright after I saw him in Basquiat, then in Angels in America when I was in Highschool. It was the first time I got a glimpse of the kind of actor I wanted to be.
How did you get started into acting?
I was always an artsy kid and I gravitated toward anything creative, like a moth to a flame. Originally I wanted to be a comic book artist, but when I was in junior high I did a school play and that was it; I had made up my mind that acting was what I wanted to do with my life. I spent all of Highschool trying to get involved in any theatrical production I could find, and then went to college for acting. I decided at a young age that this is what I was going to do and I really didn’t care how long it would take. I was always of the mind that if you dedicate your life to something it means just that, your life. There’s no time-table for a passion. I knew it would be hard and that I’d likely struggle for some time; but being young and determined, I simply didn’t care.
How has this changed your life?
Recently it’s meant that I have the ability to pay my rent in a timely manner and trust me, that was nota part of my reality for the longest time. Over the course of my life, the theatre and acting in general, really allowed me an avenue to discover myself. As a kid I was always artistic, but I was pretty shy; it took me a while to warm up to people and I really wasn’t the best in large groups. Theatre training allowed me to find like-minded people and feel accepted for everything that was without pretense. Before that I had felt a bit like an outcast, like I didn’t necessarily fit in anywhere. Theater was the place I discovered that I fit, and ironically it was a place where I felt like I didn’t have to pretend to be anyone but myself.
Tell us about your work in Freeform series “Siren?”
Siren is a modern fantasy about what would happen if we discovered that mermaids were indeed real, but here they’re predators; apex hunters. Their arrival represents a clear and present danger to humanity and where they go, chaos shortly follows. It is a fun, dark show with unexpected emotional depth. We all have so much fun on the show and working with each other, the whole experience is nothing short of a blessing…albeit a very, very wet one.
And about your role as Xander McClure?
Xander starts off as a local fisherman, working on his father’s trawler with no real direction in life and the mermaid discovery throws his whole world into disarray. He’s such a human character in this fantasy world and his reactions are messy and flawed. He’s impulsive, but fiercely loyal. Caring, but thick-headed. He’s rough around the edges and his three dimensionality makes him a real joy to play.
What we can expect for Season 3?
It’s definitely a wild ride of a season and I don’t want to give anything away since we’re known for our whiplash-inducing twists and turns. But it’s a very action-packed season. With the mer-baby arriving on the scene, it’s really turned the stakes up a notch and things were already life or death in Bristol Cove. I’m just super proud of the work we did, I hope everyone has as much fun watching as we did making it.
Now tell us about the “Life’s A Drag” project?
I had an awful year in 2014, like…the worst. While I was in the thick of it, writing was the only thing that allowed me to hold onto some semblance of sanity. Life’s a Drag was what came of it, and I was lucky enough to have some incredibly talented friends who were just as taken with the story as I was. The show is really about struggle; struggle with money, expectations, and the various pressures of getting older; all while exploring the world of drag. I love the concept, the characters and the world. I wrote 8 full episodes, so there’s definitely a future for it. To date we’ve only filmed two!
What other projects have you been part of?
I’m like most other actors in that I’ve done a few guest spots on various shows; Lucifer, NCIS and Hawaii 5-0, to name a few. But just look up Life’s a Drag The Series on YouTube, it’s what I’m most proud of…for now.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Honestly, just having the opportunity to do it at all! When you spend so many years dreaming about something, working toward it, fighting and sacrificing; just having the opportunity to step onto a set (or stage) as a professional is utterly rewarding. The feeling of gratitude is completely overwhelming, it floors me to this day.
How would you explain your fashion style?
Definitely evolving. I’m a California kid and am usually happy in shorts/sweats, a simple shirt and a pair of flip-flops. But recently I’ve taken more interest in artistic expression through fashion. I’m really starting to pay attention to brands in a way I never really did before. I love a good suit, but I haven’t had too many opportunities to wear one, hopefully that changes in the near future. Other than that I’m really getting into athleisure and streetwear. I still want to be comfortable, but the older I get the more I want to look good as well.
What would be a deal breaker on a first date?
Noisy eating. I literally have a negative physical reaction to sloppy eating noises. It’s like fingers running down a chalkboard to me; ASMR is my worst nightmare. If you’re slurping or chewing with your mouth open, I’m sooooo out the door.
How would your best friend describe you?
“Maaaaah!” It’s weird, I know, but it’s exactly what she’d say.
What’s next for Ian Verdun in 2020?
You mean after the quarantine? I think the first thing I’m gonna do is lie on the beach for a solid 24 hours. But career-wise? Hopefully there’s a 4th season of Siren to look forward to, so fingers crossed on that. But otherwise I’m really putting a lot of effort into my writing efforts, I have a few projects in development other than “Life’s a Drag”. Just keep an eye out for me, you’ll see some “created by Ian Verdun” titles coming across your screens soon…
What is your own definition of happiness?
Self-fulfillment, self-acceptance, and self love. I’m a big believer that happiness all starts from within, starting from the thoughts that reverberate in our heads on a daily basis. No matter what’s happening externally, loving yourself in the face of all your beauty, your flaws, mistakes and successes is true happiness. It’s mental, spiritual and emotional freedom, that’s the cornerstone of happiness to me.
How is a normal day in your life?
Not that interesting actually. I like to get up early; clean then work out. It’s kind of my morning ritual. Then it all depends on what’s gotta get taken care of for the day. Life is very different when you’re filming than when you’re out auditioning and on the grind. I guess the answer to that question is, there isn’t a “normal” for me. Everything is always in some sort of flux other than the structure you create for yourself. I guess it’s the artist’s life.
What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Give me an engrossing video game and a pizza and I’m in heaven on a Sunday…like the whole Sunday…all day. I’m super simple in that regard.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
My goodness, living or dead? That’s SO many people! I guess I’ll stick with someone who’s alive so it can at least be something I can still aspire to do. I’d love to meet Barack Obama. I mean the man is a living, breathing historical figure. I actually went to one of his first rallies way back in 07 and shook his hand, but if I were given the opportunity to sit down with him and pick his brain? What a treat that would be.
What is your favorite healthy food?
My mom could tell you that I’ve had a thing for tomatoes since I was little. It’s so random, but they were always my favorite. I can eat a tomato like an apple, like one right after the other.
And your favorite cheat food?
More often than not its pizza, but I prefer the thin crust. So even my cheat foods are on the healthier side…at least that’s what I tell myself. It helps me sleep at night.
Best advice ever given?
My mother always told me not to be married to a specific path on your way to your goals. That stuck with me. The ground easily shifts beneath your feet when you’re working your way toward your dreams, so you have to remain flexible yet remain focused on where you’re going.
Do you support any charity?
There are a few charitable organizations that I’ve supported over the years, from GLAAD to Trevor Project, to the LA Mission which works to support the homeless population in LA, which is growing and a community I was a part of until pretty recently. As my platform broadens, I think it’s incredibly important to take an interest in giving back in any way I can. Especially when you know first-hand the experiences of the marginalized.
Name 3 things you can’t live without?
Video games. My iPad (or at least a sketchbook and pencils). And….food?
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
Hey, let’s aim for the stars and say I’ll be winning an Oscar. I have no idea how, but it’s the goal right? We’ll see what the path turns out to be. 🙂
Favorite song? Why?
I honestly don’t have a favorite song. I know it sounds like a cop out, but I really don’t. I appreciate so many songs and genres for so many different reasons, that they’re all so incomparable. I could never just pick one.
What music do you like?
I like all kinds of music, almost everything. I really love music from the 90s specifically, but that could be a product of my age, lol. But in general, most people who know me would tell you that if you turn on the radio I’ll most likely start singing along to whatever comes on. I also tend to remember the lyrics to almost everything I’ve heard after listening to it a few times. I can’t explain it, I’m a total freak of nature.
What do you think of Social Media?
I think it’s got an amazing potential for social engagement and it could be an incredible tool for mobilization around worthy causes, but I think the power of social media has been mostly squandered. It has had this fascinating capacity to expose human nature and all its boils, particularly how when people feel disconnected from the consequences of their words they reveal themselves to be total jerks. Right now, it feels like the Wild West. Everything is permitted, nothing is sacred, certainly not the truth. It’s setting horrible precedents around the world and glorifies vapidity over substance. I actually think social media is ironically pretty deleterious culturally. Hopefully we get better at it as a society, because currently it’s just exacerbating our cultural fissures and it’s been politically weaponized to an unprecedented degree. I don’t have any of the answers for these issues of course, I don’t think anyone really does as it’s not social media that’s the problem…it’s us.
Where can we follow you?
I’m only on Instagram @ianverdun. I’m not a fan of Twitter, if you see my name there it’s a fake.
Quote: Just do it.
Favorite Singer/Artist: Don’t particularly have any favorites.
Movie: Same as before.
Travel Destination: Greece has been on my bucket list since I was a child. I swear I’m going before I turn 40, lol.
Sports Team: Is it bad that I don’t care about sports? Like…at all. I played football for ten years of my life, too. My father and brother were both pros. I just have no interest.
Tv Show: Ugh, too many to name. Let’s go with Siren.
Book: Again, too many to name. But at the moment I’m reading “Gods Behaving Badly”, and it’s thoroughly entertaining.
Photo Credit: Ryan West Photo