It’s not every day that a small-town actor finds himself on the big screen, and for Brandon Stewart of Cooper, his time in front of the camera is only just beginning. Stewart recently landed a role in an Amazon original movie, “The Vast of Night” which is quickly gaining top reviews.
“I truly believe if you have faith in God, have humility, and follow what you’re passionate about – incredible things can happen,” said Stewart.
Stewart’s said he had been interested in acting for as long as he can remember and, from a young age, quickly became obsessed with films.
“I used to run around with my parents’ camcorder and act like I was directing movies. They had removed the tapes, but I didn’t know. I just loved creating stories,” he fondly remembered.
As he headed into high school in Cooper, Stewart tried out for “One Act Play,” and was successful. He recalled being hesitant because he hadn’t been exposed to the theater but soon fell in love with it.
“The coach at the time, Mrs. Bunch, had a lot to do with that. She was incredible,” he said.
In 2008, Stewart started a YouTube channel after his parents gave him his own video camera. Slowly working on his craft, he said he made tons of content, primarily “off the wall” videos with friends and mostly improv, but filmed as they went, making the whole experience a memorable event. Adding that during that time held some of his most treasured memories.
“It was around sophomore/junior year when I knew I’d decide to pursue acting as a career,” he said. “When everyone around me was looking at and getting accepted to colleges, it was terrifying to me. I don’t know; I didn’t connect with it. The schools and programs I wanted to go to that were based around the arts were just out of the question, not just financially but grades wise as well.”
Stewart said that having “skated” through high school and not taking the craft or want for it seriously enough at the time, hindered some further educational options. For many, one of the best ways to pursue an acting career outside of an acting school was to go where it all happens. So, he packed up and moved to Los Angeles.
“Honestly that was a mix of some of the most inspired and uninspired I’ve ever been, I had some decent highs and crushing lows out there,” he said of his experience in Hollywood. “It was encouraging to be around so many artistic people. I joined the local Playhouse West theatre where a lot of actors have trained and gone on to do great things, some classmates I had there are in movies and TV shows as we speak.”
While there, he studied the Meisner technique, which he still uses as his favorite method of training and preparing. The Meisner technique is an approach to acting developed by the American theatre practitioner Sanford Meisner. The focus of the Meisner approach is for the actor to “get out of their head,” such that the actor is behaving instinctively to the surrounding environment.
“It completely changed how I see acting,” he said.
Although his short time in LA, which was approximately a year, boasted some great experiences, Stewart will be the first to tell you it is a hard slog to make it in Hollywood.
He’s been back in Texas now since late 2014, basing himself in the Dallas area and said it became a blessing in disguise for him.
“I scheduled some new headshots with a photographer in Dallas, and as soon as we met, you could just feel a sort of shift. I still go to him as much as possible for headshots, he makes it fun, and the pictures are outstanding. Sergio Garcia is mostly based in LA now, but he comes to Dallas occasionally. So he sent my headshots to several agencies, and within days I had meetings with four agencies, with three that wanted to sign me,” he said.
His latest, ney first real blockbuster film is “The Vast of Night” an Amazon Original movie that was filmed back in 2017.
“It had long post-production, but they clearly did it right. It was a great experience to shoot,” said Stewart.
When it comes to the plot, switchboard operator Fay and radio DJ Everett are two teenagers from a small town set back in 1950s Cayuga, New Mexico. They begin investigating a strange sound coming through the radio and switchboard, while almost everyone else is at the local high school basketball game. After hearing the noise interrupt her friend Everett’s radio broadcast of the game at WTOW, they set out to investigate.
When it comes to Stewart’s character, Sam, he said it wasn’t a part he had initially been auditioned for but soon fell in love with the character.
“My character is Sam, he’s an announcer at the basketball game and a friend of Everett’s who is recording the game for Everett to broadcast,” said Stewart. “I had stopped hearing back from other roles I had auditioned for within the film, then they called and asked me if I’d play Sam, I didn’t even audition for Sam! I said yes, of course.”
He said his favorite part of filming was a long night hanging out in the gym with the basketball kids. Adding it was an excellent experience to see the period uniforms and cars parked outside.
“I think this is my biggest project to date. Being in an Amazon Original, they have a lot of muscle to flex, so I hope it reaches as many people as possible,” he added.
Though it isn’t his first film or first time working with Amazon Studios, Stewart did say the “The Sand Dune” was another great project, though not an Original, he did enjoy the opportunity.
“I have a supporting role in that movie. It was the first movie I ever booked. It’s a teen drama/romance but does delve into adult life,” he said.
Another role Stewart said was a good experience was when he portrayed Billy Wayne Smith, the first husband of Anna Nicole Smith, in the docu-drama series “Scandal Made Me Famous” on Reelz channel.
And just like a plethora of other actors, Stewart had auditions lined up until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. But as studio execs shut down productions on many projects, he said he is now patiently waiting for the hiatus to end so he can get back to doing what he loves.
“If I could say anything to local actors, or any small-town kid that wants to do anything, anything at all – don’t give up. Sometimes you just end up right where you’re supposed to be,” said Stewart.