Dallas actor who plays LBJ likes a challenge, not a kale smoothie
Brandon Potter wasn’t originally cast as our 36th president in All the Way, a co-production between Dallas Theater Center and Houston’s Alley Theatre. But when the first actor had to step down for medical reasons, Potter found himself in the spotlight.
For the Brierley Resident Acting Company member, who has been consistently earning good notices for his supporting roles, it’s a chance to make his mark as a leading man. Potter recently played Richard III for Shakespeare in the Bar, and he more than proved his star quality then.
Before All The Way opens in Dallas on March 3 at the Wyly Theatre, after previously playing Houston, Potter took the time to fill out our survey of serious, fun, and sometimes ridiculous questions.
Name: Brandon Potter
Role in All The Way: Lyndon Baines Johnson
Previous work in the Dallas-Forth Worth area:King Lear, A Christmas Carol, The Book Club Play, Sense and Sensibility at Dallas Theater Center
Hometown: Weatherford, Texas
Where you currently reside: Knox-Henderson in a super-cute apartment with my amazing wife, Ardis Campbell, and my stupid cat, Toots.
First theater role: Harmony Rhodes in Weatherford High School’s production of Daddy’s Dyin’ Who’s got the Will? The whole show was double cast except for my role, which meant I got to kiss two different casts of girls.
As a 14-year-old boy, I thought I had beat the system. Little did I know I was just working twice as hard.
First stage show you ever saw: One of the King Johns or maybe one of the Henrys. It was Shakespeare Dallas, and it was bloody!
Moment you decided to pursue a career in theater: It was in high school. I realized I could fulfill my elective by either sharing a shower with a bunch of football players, or by sharing a dressing room with a bunch of theater chicks. I chose wisely, I think!
Most challenging role you’ve played: LBJ
Special skills: Oh, I don’t know if I have any skills that are truly special. I can, however, get super interested in one thing and pursue it doggedly no matter how bad I am at it. I think this is something most creative people do. It leads to being able to do neat party tricks like juggling and handstands, and being able to play a few tunes on the piano or standup bass.
There was a while a year or two ago when I was able to a back handspring. It always weirded people out to see a pudgy bald guy bust out some gymnastics.
Something you’re REALLY bad at: REALLY bad at, huh? The all-caps REALLY puts the pressure on to find the thing that I’m on record for being the worst at.
Ooooh, I know! There was this one time I talked my way into being a copywriter at this super hip Internet startup in SoHo back in New York. I was TERRIBLE at it. ALL CAPS TERRIBLE. About a week into the job I realized that I was out of my league. It took them another week to come to the same conclusion.
Current pop culture obsession: The Expanse. Best sci-fi TV show in years.
Last book you read:Indomitable Will by Mark K. Updegrove
Favorite movie(s): I like too many of ’em. Last one I watched that I really loved was The Witch. Saw that tonight with my wife. Had to scoop my jaw up off the floor when we left the theater. Before that, Holy Mountain or maybe Badlands. Geez, I like too many of ’em.
Favorite musician(s): Been listening to a lot of Disco Doom and Ghost these days. I always come back to Tom Waits, though. Who doesn’t?
Favorite song: I can almost always to listen to “Angel of Death” by Slayer.
Dream role: Hickey in The Iceman Cometh
Favorite play(s): Most of Shakespeare. I wish I had some new cutting-edge play to plug here, but, dang, Billy Shakes is the best.
Favorite musical(s): Maybe a Disney thing? Robin Hood? That whistling chicken is pretty cool!
Favorite actors/actresses: I saw Brian Cox in Super Troopers, then in a Stoppard play, then in 25th Hour. That dude is a stone cold master. Yep, I’m going with Brian Cox.
Favorite food: Cows. I wish that something with a soul didn’t have to die in order for me to have satisfying meal. But that’s just not true. Not now.
Maybe one day I’ll grow to love kale smoothies and couscous. But that day is not today.
Must-see TV show(s):Deadwood and Game of Thrones are probably my favorites. Love me some genre drama!
Something most people don’t know about you: I had my own Taekwondo studio when I was 14. I was a black belt and everything!
Place in the world you’d most like to visit: Gotta go to rural Japan sometime. Not robot-’splosion-future-Japan, but cherry-blossom-silent-shrine-Japan.
Pre-show warm-up: I gotta stretch. Especially my spine. Then I do text from the play. I do jumping jacks and push-ups. And I gotta walk onstage and speak before the play, before the house is open. Oh! And coffee. Gotta have some coffee before the show.
Favorite part about your current role: I like playing characters who own the world; they’re always at home. I also like playing characters who are backed into a corner; they’ll do anything to survive. LBJ is all of that stuff — and he’s funny to boot.
Most challenging part about your current project: Doing the makeup before every show. I’m an actor, not a painter!
Most embarrassing onstage mishap: This one time I was singing a song out in the house, and the crotch of my costume caught on the set. I turned to walk away and the entire front of my pants ripped away. I was both singing and flashing my underwear to audience members who were less than a foot away.
I tried to run offstage singing with a smile on my face, but the fabric was still stuck to the set, so I was trapped. I had to sing and unsnag myself while the audience averted their eyes from my freshly exposed boxer briefs.
Career you’d have if you weren’t in theater: Carpenter. I like working with my hands.
Favorite post-show spot:Old Monk or up in that bed with my lady and my cat.
Favorite thing about Dallas-Forth Worth: DFW is big enough and cosmopolitan enough that it competes on the national or global level in a variety of fields. But it’s not so huge that it feels anonymous or impersonal. That’s a tough balance.
I’ve lived a few places, and DFW passes my Goldilocks test.
Most memorable theater moment: I got to see James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, and Marsha Gay Harden do God of Carnage. It was one of those unintentional master-class moments. That was when I realized that every actor has their own style, and that’s okay.
All the Way plays March 3-April 3 at the Wyly Theatre.