Necessary Watching: David Anders Reflects on ALIAS, ONCE UPON A TIME and His Newest Role on NECESSARY ROUGHNESS

Despite the fact much of USA Network’s marketing efforts have been primarily focused on alerting viewers to the fact that when NECESSARY ROUGHNESS returns for its third season tonight, it will do so with special guest star John Stamos in tow, we here at will be tuning in for one reason and one reason only. David Anders.

Since bursting onto our radar as the delightfully devious Julian Sark on [one of our all-time favorite shows] ALIAS, Anders has simply been one of those actors we can’t get enough of. Neither, it would appear, can Showrunners, who have transformed him into one of Hollywood’s hottest guest stars thanks to high profile roles in HEROES, 24, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, ONCE UPON A TIME and now NECESSARY ROUGHNESS. The latter of which is why we were recently afforded the opportunity to chat one-on-one with the actor, who was only too happy to reflect on his fascinating journey from a small town in Oregon to Hollywood. See for yourself after the jump.

The first thing I want to mention having just hopped on the phone with you is that much to my surprise, you’re not actually British!
David Anders: I am not!

Let me just say, as someone who was insanely addicted to ALIAS, this comes as quite the surprise. Do you get that a lot?
Yeah. Very often, But I guess it means I did my job well. But sometimes it can be frustrating. Directors are convinced that I can’t be American and I’m like, “I’m from Oregon,” I’m pretty sure I can be American.

Not to dwell too much on ALIAS, but did you ever imagine a one-off guest spot would jump start your career in the way in which it did?
It took playing a 30 year old Englishman when I was 21 to get my SAG card and start my career. I’m super super lucky for that to have happened.

Not being from the UK yourself, what was the story behind Sark being a Brit?
I auditioned four times for ALIAS and every time I went in with a different accent. Originally, the character [of Sark] was German, then J.J. [Abrams] said it’s going to be English and well, I’m not going to say no to JJ. It was his idea and I went for it and I hope I did it pretty well.

I suppose that’s some really good career advice, never say no to J.J. Abrams!
Exactly! I owe my career to that guy.

You’re currently shooting NECESSARY ROUGHNESS after a string of shows like HEROES, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES and ONCE UPON A TIME. Was the decision to depart from genre television a deliberate one?
Yeah it was kind of a no brainer. There’s no accent, costume, I’m not Frankenstein, I’m just a normal guy. I’m kind of a prick, but it’s a bit lighter fare… on USA… where characters are welcome!

What can you tell me about your role on the show this season?
The show kind of flips on its head this year. In the first two seasons Dani [Callie Thorne] was working with a football team where as this year John Stamos and I lure her to work at our agency with all of our athletes and all the people we represent. He’s [Stamos] the CEO and I’m the CFO. So there are episodes filled with baseball, basketball and intrigue. Much of what I can’t reveal, except to say things get hairy.

Have you ever stopped and reflected on the fact that writers love too cast you as somewhat of an evil guy?
It’s fun to play the bad guy, to have the secrets. I’ve always wanted to do comedy but at this point they’re not letting me so I’ll keep riding the villain train as long as it goes. Hollywood can be somewhat myopic but it pays my bills.

What’s it like working with John Stamos?
He’s a delight. Fantastic, funny and a good actor. I’ve only heard good things about him so that was part of the draw for me and everything that has been said about him has come true. Plus he’s nice to look at!

So many athlete are aspiring actors, were you, or are you still an aspiring athlete growing up?
Sure! I would give up being the highest paid actor in the world to be the lowest paid football player in the NFL in a second. Growing up I played football, basketball and tennis, I love sports. Sports and music are my loves.

According to your IMDB resume, you played Philip the Apostle in a regional theater production of Jesus Christ Superstar when you were 17. Is Broadway an aspiration?
Yes. I miss theatre a lot. My first paying gig was My Fair Lady. I miss being on stage. Broadway is always on my mind.

Was it on your mind between shots on ALIAS with noted Broadway vet Victor Garber?
Sure, absolutely… and Ron Rifkin. We always talked about doing a musical episode on ALIAS. We’re seriously talking about it on ONCE UPON A TIME too, which could actually happen.

Speaking of which, will you be back on ONCE when it returns next season?
We’ll be wrapping NECESSARY ROUGHNESS in mid-July when ONCE is back up. I plan to return. Dr. Whale is still around so if they need me to come back and be a womanizing letch, I’m there.

Has there been any talk of visiting the new WONDERLAND spin-off?
I can’t speak to that, but anything is possible.

And finally, as someone who has lives in the same city his entire life I always like to ask, what was the impetus to move from Oregon to Los Angeles to pursue your dreams?
An actor who saw me work said I was ready. My mom was in the room and he said you can always go to school, but you can only be 18 once and you’re ready to start so that’s what I did and it worked out. Years later, I remember going back to my hometown once, to this pizza joint I love and a couple of guys I knew from high school came up to me and said “You did it you f*cking did it! You got out, you did well.” And I was like, you can do it to, It’s just a small town, get in the car. You’re not trapped here!

You didn’t grow up in Storybrooke!
Yeah exactly!

So had this whole acting thing not worked out as it has, what was your “Plan B?”
I don’t know. I guess when it first all started I was thinking of going to school and studying, perhaps becoming a teacher or something. But really at this point I don’ know what I’d be doing. But I’ll tell you, I love what I do. It’s a privilege and pleasure and getting paid to play dress up and pretend is a pretty sweet life.

NECESSARY ROUGHNESS airs Wednesdays at 8PM on USA Network. Photo Credits Benny Haddad (Boat photo), NECESSARY ROUGHNESS character photo: USA Network.