Interview with Daniel Gonzalez for NCISLA Magazine
by Diane (@Phillydi)
Daniel Gonzalez loves being a firefighter but this real life hero now wants to get back to the profession that he fell in love with when he was still a young boy. Being a paramedic and firefighter for the city of Los Angeles can be a rewarding job and never a dull moment according to Gonzalez. Although it’s an interesting and fun job, it can also be very scary at times and very physically demanding. Having gotten the bug as a child actor, Danny decided to return to acting in the past two years, and loves getting to play different characters for a living now. While continuing his day job as a firefighter and paramedic, he has landed guest star roles in popular shows like Castle, Touch, Parenthood and now NCIS Los Angeles. We invited Danny to talk to NCISLA Magazine about his return to acting and what it was like to work on the set of NCIS Los Angeles. Welcome Danny to the NCISLA Familia!
When did you develop the desire to become an actor? Your brother is also a performer…is it in the family genes?
I started acting when I was ten years old. I did a bunch of projects when I was a kid. I joined a theatre troop called The Santa Monica Playhouse. Through that I was introduced to an agent and started working in a few television shows and made for television movies. Then I got into high school and it was decision time at that point because I played baseball and football and I had to decide if I become a normal high school kid that plays sports or do I continue on with acting and go on auditions afterschool. So I decided to become a normal high school kid and stop pursuing acting. My father is a fire fighter here in LA so when I got out of school I decided to go down that route to be a fire fighter. It wasn’t until a year and half ago, after being a firefighter for 10 years that I would decide to try acting again.
My brother is kind of going the same route with the fire department, he’s a paramedic as well. We’ve always known him as a funny guy but he’s actually an introvert. About the same time I decided to go back into acting, he kind of blindsided us and said he was going to try an open mike for standup comedy. I have a younger brother too and we have always been full blown hams and it kind of manifested itself with me and acting and Ben with his standup comedy.
So far you have done television and theater….what’s your experience been so far?
Theater, television and film all have their good and bad points. I really enjoy the energy of being in front of an audience and I did that a lot when I was a kid. But with my job at the fire department and having to go to rehearsals, theater is out of the picture right now for me but I enjoy it. With television I have had small co-star parts and a few lines and it’s nice to be able to come on a show where there is already camaraderie with the staff and the actors and get to meet so many interesting people. I haven’t done much film, only one 7-8 years ago called Body Shots; I had a small part in that. I like the idea of having a project to work on for a couple of months and then moving on to something new. I definitely want to get into film but I like television as well. It’s a lot of fun.
You attended your first table read for your guest star role on NCISLA. Can you tell me what that was like?
I never really know what to expect with that since I never done one before. It was actually kind of funny because our scene we actually did before the table read. We started to shoot the scene early in the morning and then the table read was after lunch. I didn’t get the full effect because I had read the script at home but it was a totally different experience with the actors there reading each part around the table. It was a cool experience. Everyone was there, from the people who had smaller parts like mine to LL Cool J! I can see how going through the script can be very beneficial like that especially for someone who is on the show regularly to see how the whole thing plays out. It was a great experience for me and I always enjoy learning more about the business and with each job I do I learn a little bit more.
The pictures you posted on Twitter showed that you were having a great time with the cast! Who did you work with and what was that experience like?
My direct interaction in the scene was with Eric and Daniela. The way the scene plays out, Miguel Ferrer is also in the scene along with LL Cool J but my character was working with Deeks and Kensi. They were all great. You can tell that everyone on that set are good friends. Some sets you get on and there is a certain amount of tension on the set or one of the actors is known as a diva. But here everyone was just welcoming and talkative and warm. Eric and Daniela were really nice and talkative. When I met Daniela I walked up to her and said “Hey I’m Danny” and she said “Whoa, I’m Dani too!” It was a really light, fun time with them.
It seems art was imitating life since you played a paramedic on the show and you are also one in real life! That must have been fun!?
It’s kind of funny because this may be the first paramedic role I’ve gone out on and you would think my being a paramedic would be a benefit but in reality the way I would do stuff on scene for the fire department, especially somebody who had been tortured like Deeks is a lot different than how a writer writes it for the show and how it plays out on television. So what I would normally do might not play well on screen. The order of things is different and how I would treat a patient is different. So they asked me a few times what would you do if you actually had a patient like this, and the director told me this is not really going to work. It was nice because I’m really comfortable taking a blood pressure cuff on and off and those kinds of things come natural for me but the scenes are definitely Hollywoodized for sure.
How about some fun stories you can share either on or off the set regarding your experience working with this cast and crew?
Hanging around with them was great and anyone I stopped and chatted with like the director or assistant director were all nice. I’m kind of new to the business and it’s still exciting for me to meet all these actors. So I walk a fine line between being a fan and colleague when I’m on set now. I want to act like I’ve been there before. But I want to squeeze in a picture. I am a LL Cool J fan and wanted to get a picture with him. I’m also a huge fan of Miguel Ferrer too. I think he’s a wonderful actor. In between takes Eric (Olsen) was sitting in the chair where he was being tortured and Daniela is squatting down in front of him in our scene so I asked if I could take a picture with them and instead of having them pose I kind of laid down on the floor between them both and held my phone up to take the picture and we were giggling about that. With LL he had a very dramatic scene and he did an amazing job and I was trying to figure out a way to go up to him and ask for a picture without pulling him away. So I kind of meandered over and he happens to catch my eye and I asked for a picture and he was super cool. I told him what a fan I am and he really appreciated that. Miguel is so talkative and so friendly with everybody and when we wrapped our scene I caught him walking off to his trailer and I called out: “Mr. Ferrer?” and he said “My name is Miguel, call me Miguel.” He was great and I got my shot. Everybody was super nice. It was really a good vibe on that set.
What projects are up next for Daniel Gonzalez?
Every day I go out on auditions and I had an audition today for a new HBO show (ed. update: Danny was booked as a guest star on the Sarah Silverman HBO Special, Sleepy Hollow and a role on Intelligence as of this posting! He also has a recurring role on the Bold and the Beautiful.). I would say I go out at least 2-3 times a week for different auditions. For every one part you get there are at least 30 auditions, which is the way Hollywood is. Or you go out on an audition and they call you back and the next day you read for the producers. On NCISLA they called me back a few days later to tell me I had the part. But when you don’t get the part you don’t get called back at all. You just move on to the next one. But I feel like now things will get rolling again and it’s going to be a good year!
Thanks go out to Danny and we wish him a lot of luck as he pursues his acting career and future projects. We look forward to seeing Danny on the small and large screen soon! You can follow Danny on his Twitter account @dannygonzo34.