Before he landed his first TV roles on “The Newsroom” and “True Blood,” Shaun Brown was performing in a failing musical adaptation of DreamWorks’ “Madagascar.” When the show closed after a short four-month tour, he decided to buy a one-way ticket to Los Angeles and “never looked back.” Now he’s starring in the lead role of Mason on CBS’ “The Great Indoors” opposite Joel McHale and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.
I’ve read you started performing at a relatively young age.
When I was 16, I performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. As a part of that, they let us go and see a Broadway musical, which was “Hairspray.” I had grown up wanting to be a heart surgeon because my parents said, “You’re going to be a heart surgeon.” And then I saw “Hairspray,” and I thought, “I’ve got to do this for the rest of my life.” But then I had my big heartbreak when my tour flopped terribly — it was a mess how bad we flopped.
What happened with “Madagascar”?
I don’t really know why it flopped so bad. I think it had to do with marketing. We’d be in a particular town a day or two and the commercials would come up just before we left. So we would sing to almost empty theaters.
Was it hard to transition into film and TV roles?
It’s hard to start over and change your base. I bought a ticket to L.A. and crashed on a friend’s couch. I emailed 116 agents and managers in my first two months. I met with a commercial agent, and he invited me to come to a standup comedian’s showcase he was sponsoring. I was sitting in the front row, and the host pointed me out and told me to stand. He said I looked like a sexy cartoon and somebody should sign me. The next day my agent emailed me and said, “I guess I gotta sign you.” I’ve worked with him ever since.
So after all the emails and hard work, it came down to a comedian picking you out at an event?
Yeah. I probably owe that guy 10% of everything I’ve made.
How does it feel to be playing in “The Great Indoors”?
I went in having all these guest-star credits, so I always thought you just come in, you say your line, and you’re out. But when you’re a series regular, you can say to the writers that you really liked a joke that got cut, and they’ll bring it back. There are some times when we’ll improv something and then watch the episode when it comes out — and they kept that line. It’s been a really cool lesson in trusting your instincts.
What you didn’t know about Shaun Brown
AGE: 30 BORN: Riverside, Calif. FAVORITE APP: Instagram FILTER OR NO FILTER: No filter FAVORITE TV SHOW: “Mr. Robot” MUSICAL OF CHOICE: “Hairspray”
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