Shawn Pyfrom Talks About 'Housewives,' The Writers' Strike, Playing Danny Bonaduce & More
We heard that you just turned 21 in August. Happy Birthday!
Thank you. It's very exciting to be 21.
I would be lying if I said that I hadn't had a few drinks before then, but every time you go to a place that features alcohol, like a bar, club, or restaurant, it's nice to be able to get a drink and not have someone say your ID is fake. Although I will say that because I look awfully young, I know people are going to ask me if it is real.
There has been only one time when someone thought that it was fake. I was in Rhode Island about a week ago and a guy looked at my ID and asked to go check it out. The manager pulled out some sort of "ID book." Because I got it before I was 21, my picture was on the wrong side. So no beer with my pizza that day. (laugh)
You get to vote for president. Do you have a favorite candidate?
No, honestly I don't. I want to look into it more.
The show is on hiatus, but I did just finish shooting a film in Rhode Island. That's why I was there. It's called "Tanner Hall." I am hoping to get in another movie while the strike is on.
It basically follows four girls at a prep school. It's a story where they come into their own, realizing some things about themselves as the movie goes on. It's not one of those "Die Hard" action flicks where there's a mission that needs to be accomplished. I was watching them shoot some of the other scenes and it looks absolutely beautiful with the surrounding area and all the leaves turning.
Is your character one of the boyfriends?
Yeah. I play a best friend, but it's more complicated than that. He is in love with her, but she is realizing things about herself that confuses her. She's just not into him.
So it is more of a drama?
It has its funny moments, too. We have Chris Kattan and Amy Ferguson in it and that adds comedic bits.
Do you know when it will be released?
Not really. Next year, I think.
Tell us about your work on "Desperate Housewives"? Do you work with divas or do you all get along?
We've worked together for four years now, so we all get along fine. I've been on sets where I don't get along with one of the other actors and it seems different. You can feel that there is no chemistry. It's good to get along. (laughs)
We think it is really interesting that, considering how "straight" Bree (Marcia Cross) is, they decided to make Andrew gay.
I think the Van de Camps are loosely based on producer Marc Cherry's family life, although I don't know if his real mother was a strict as Bree. I can't imagine that there are too many people in the world like that. It is always interesting to watch Andrew and Bree go at each other's throats. She believes something so different and he does everything to make sure to cause her stress.
Where do you see that character going? Do you think she will accept him?
It seems like they are already on that path. Andrew and Bree have resolved their issues, as when he apologized for the way he used to act. He is beginning to mature now and has forgiven his mother for leaving him on the side of the road.
That was wicked.
It was, but it was so awesome to shoot. But I think he is now on a path towards becoming an adult. I think it's necessary because the character is 20 now. Andrew still has his manipulating ways, he just approaches it more maturely.
I think you have made him a very positive role model.
Thank you. The good thing about Andrew is that in Season 1 and 2 as a gay character, he was very strong and confident as to who he was. I think that could be encouraging for other young homosexuals to become more confident and comfortable with who they are.
A lot of times gay characters can be portrayed as the flamboyant and weak stereotype. Andrew is sociopathic and narcissistic and doesn't get along with his mother, and he is also gay. Your sexual preferences doesn't define you as a person. I'm heterosexual but that doesn't define me as a person. No one would say, "Oh, he likes to have sex with girls," so why should it be the other way around?
You are very wise for your age! Do you know when the show will be back on?
I don't. At least as long as the strike is going on. We shot one last show after the tornado episode, but that's it. I wish the studios would just cave already. They make so much money. I understand that they are a corporation, that they are a money making machine; that's what they do. At the same time you have to be fair. How are you going to have a success on your hands if you have disgruntled employees? Maybe you will have more hits if you have happier writers and your company will make more money anyway.
It's sad for people who want to work and sad for viewers who are tired of nighttime game shows.
That's true. It's also sad for the workers like grips, make-up people, and lighting people, as well as the writers. Sometimes I have to wait 2 or 3 hours before a shoot, and then I think, 'Wait a minute. These people have been here since 5 in the morning and come in 5 days this week, and I only have to come in two.' And they won't be able to leave until late. It takes a group effort to make a show a hit and they barely get recognition for it. Sometimes they sleep in their cars because they have a 6 hour turnaround.
Are you afraid of being stereotyped with the character of Andrew?
I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little worried, but honestly I think we are at a point now with television and movies where people can watch something and not stereotype the actor playing that character. I think if I had played a gay character 10 years ago then I would probably have something to worry about. I think people are a little bit more open-minded now.
I think that the only time people stereotype is when the actor acts out in public. They go around parading things out to the media and then that is all people see when they are watching them on the screen. That's one reason that I don't do that. It's not like there's this huge interest in what I am doing in the public right now which is okay with me. I want people to forget that they are watching me and are seeing a real person. I'm glad that I can still go out to eat and not have to worry about photographers taking pictures of what I just ate.
Occasionally, I will get the random fan that may create a small scene, but almost everyone that I encounter seems to be respectful and appreciative of the work I do and therefore I'm grateful for their praise.
Tell us about your first gig.
My first was a Holiday Inn commercial as I remember it. I was an extra. They were doing a brunch scene and the camera barely showed me sitting at a table in the back. They had all these fake families eating and I had to sit alone. I started to cry because no one wanted to sit with me. I was 4 or 5 years old.
When I was in Florida there were a lot of other commercials here and there, but my first real part was this Disney kids show "Sing Me A Story." It was live action and had Belle from "Beauty and the Beast." She would always read us stories. It's hard for me to remember because I was only 7 or 8 at the time, but we had animatronic puppets. It was a good show.
Did you get to sing? Can you sing?
I did not. It was all her. I can, but I do mostly in private unless somebody is carrying a karaoke machine around. My favorite artist is D'Angelo so I always try to do some of him.
Who else is on your playlist?
Right now, Björk is because I am going to see her in concert and then I am going to Vegas to see her again. She puts on an amazing show. I really like her and Radiohead.
You have done other Disney stuff as well.
They like me to be in the family, whether is Disney or ABC. I guess "The Mouse" likes me. (laughs)
You were in "The Shaggy Dog," right?
Yes, but I try to forget that one. (laugh)
You were also in the "C'mon Get Happy: The Partridge Family Story."
I was Danny Bonaduce. I met him as part of the process of preparing. Before I started, I sat down with him to take notes and watch how he spoke. I also listened to some of his stories to know what he was like. I watched all the episodes.
Families really didn't exist like that back then.
I think it was what families wanted to strive for, but it was only a pipe dream. But that was just boring. Who wants a family that gets a band together to sing about how well they get along?
Are you close with your own family?
I have a brother (Christopher) and a sister (Amber.) I see my sister a lot more than my brother. My brother is going to school in Louisiana and is probably one of the most hard-working people I have ever met. He's going for a double major and a minor in four years. He has two jobs including being involved in local theatre, and is also in two bands. I don't know where he gets all that time.
Do they act as well?
They did when they were younger, but both decided to get out of it. I am the last remaining actor in the family.
It was true, because when you are younger you always have ideas of what profession you want to be in. I did want to be a doctor for quite some time, then a lawyer, and even thought about having my own business. But now I paint as I have always wanted to be involved in art.
We understand you were a voice in "Family Guy."
I did it twice, actually. They were very brief moments. I played Charlie Brown and Cousin Oliver from "The Brady Bunch" in another episode. It was in those moments when they break away.
That's one of our fave animated shows. Have you ever seen "Aqua Teen Hunger Force?"
I haven't seen that one. I don't watch TV much, but "Family Guy" and "The Simpsons" are two of my favorites. Most of the shows I liked were cancelled so I watch DVDs.
Were you also in "Reba" and "Nip/Tuck?"
Actually, I wasn't in "Nip/Tuck." That is the one thing on my IMDB Page that's false.
You had a part in "Pay it Forward."
Yes. It was really nice acting with the likes of Haley Joel Osment, Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt. It was a very good cast.
What's your favorite genre to work in?
I enjoy drama because I like acting out real life situations and whatnot, but comedy is harder for me to do. I'm funny when I have my own words to say, sometimes I can be a little crazy. When you are saying other people's lines you are not sure what their intention was when they wrote that. The delivery will be different than when they wrote it on the page.
What medium do you prefer?
I would say movies. I like being able to play different characters. That's the fun of acting. But at the same time, the great thing about TV is that you get to develop a character, to really figure out how he ticks.
What has been your favorite role so far?
I really enjoyed playing Danny Bonaduce in "The Partridge Family Movie" because that was the first time that I had gotten to play a character that was so much the opposite of me, like his personality and the way he ticked. I would love to do more playing of real people because I like to figure out their intentions and reactions and emulate their personalities and quirks. Sometimes you can make a most eccentric character on the screen but still make them believable.
Ben Foster ("3:10 to Yuma," "Alpha Dog") is one of the best actors out there now around my age. I've never seen him play the same character more than once. When he creates characters, they are so specific you feel you are watching that person. That's the kind of actor I want to be. I want to be like Ben Foster. I want to be like William H. Macy. I have an awful lot of respect for those people.
We agree with you about Mr. Macy.
He is incredible and he is such a cool guy. I've gotten the opportunity to meet him a few times. He has been my favorite actor for a long time. When I found out he was married to Felicity (Huffman,) I flipped out. He is such an awesome guy, down-to-earth and interesting. He and Felicity are both incredible. I love watching Felicity act, the way she prepares and delivers.
Everyone is really talented in the cast of "Desperate Housewives."
Yes, they are. They all have their own ways and methods, and I have learned so much just from watching how they go about getting into their characters. Working on the show has helped me grow substantially in the last four years. I hope I can continue to do so.
It's like being in an acting school.
Oh, yeah! It feels like being in an acting class every week. It's an amazing learning experience. Being able to do a scene with them and feeding off of their energy, you have to give it your all, or the scene will fall flat on your end. You really care about your craft, how you are doing, and what you portray on the screen, especially when you are working with the likes of Felicity and Marcia. I'm not slighting the others, but I work with those two most of the time.
How can your fans get in touch with you?
My official web page has not been updated in a long time. The best way would be through my IMDB page, or my agent, manager, or publicist, Mike Liotta at True Public Relations.
We've been having a great conversation here, but I just realized what time it is and I "gotta get to gettin."
It has been fun. Take care and don't get in too many situations where you have to get carded.
(laugh) I'll be good.
Interview by Sheila Franklin
Starpulse contributing writer
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