The Almighty Thor star offers a birds-eye-view into the world of a struggling actor with this new reality series
After landing small parts in both The Hangover and Get Him to the Greek, new to Hollywood actor Cody Deal took the lead in The Asylum's Almighty Thor, which was released earlier this year in conjunction with Marvel Studio's own Thor adventure. It was a big break for this young man from Kansas, but it in no way insured his foothold in an industry that is notorious for sucking in and spitting out Los Angeles hopefuls from all across America.
After Almighty Thor hit the Syfy channel and video store shelves across the country, Cody didn't find Hollywood knocking down his door. The film served its purpose as a calling card of sorts, but the eager actor was soon pounding the pavement, heading to one failed audition after another.
Before long, broke and out of work, Cody Deal became homeless, living out of the back of his broken down car. It's a story we've heard many times in the annals of Hollywood history. From Johnny Depp, to Keanu Reeves, to one of the world's biggest stars, Brad Pitt. They all have their personal tales of those hardships that face any struggling artist.
What they don't have is documented proof of this lifestyle, which seems to attract so many, yet seems to be survived by so few. That's where Cody Deal is different. In this age of instant celebrity via viral videos and the internet, Cody has decided to turn his daily pursuit of this very relatable Hollywood dream into a reality show. Cody Deal: The Real Hollywood Story chronicles the ups and downs all actors must face when trying to break into this industry. It is raw, real, and very honest in its low-to-the-ground, intimate view of a working class thespian.
More than that, it's endearing. Cody Deal proves to be someone to root for. He opens up this life, and more than anything, in watching him do so, you want to see him succeed on some level. He has the likeability of a genuine star, and as he goes from one audition to the next, using what little money he has for acting classes, you get the true sense that he's not in this so much for the fame as he is for the true love of his craft. Being a working in actor in Hollywood is hard business, and Cody Deal: The Real Hollywood Story sets out to show every moment of that process in gruesome, gory detail.
Episode 4 premiered earlier this week. To watch it, and subscribe to all future episodes:CLICK HERE We also have your exclusive look at Episode 3 below, followed by our exclusive interview with Cody Deal. Check it out.
This show struck me as compelling on a lot of different levels. We're now entering an era in Hollywood, where we are going to see more and more people doing what you are doing. You are one of the first working actors to actually step up and show this side of the business...
Cody Deal: As far as I know, that is correct. In the past hundred years of cinemas, there are thousands and thousands of actors who've gone through these steps. But I don't think they have ever documented that. Not when they were going through it.
Knowing the back stories on a lot of the famous people of today, we always hear these same stories of how they were broke, living out of their car, hustling from job to job. Now, with The Real Hollywood Story, we, as an audience, get to see this play out in real time. How do you think what you are doing now is going to be looked upon in the future, in terms of your own career?
Cody Deal: I remember picking up this photography book of people who they thought might make it in the future. One was Johnny Depp. One was Keanu Reeves. There were a lot of people in that book that ended up becoming quite successful. I remember reading these interviews that they did when they were 22 or 23, right around my age, especially when I read them a few years ago, it was interesting to get into their headspace. Like, was Brad Pitt always Brad Pitt? What was he thinking when he was my age? Did he struggle with this? It planted the seed of what I wanted, when I came to pursue this business. It was like a road map of what I might expect. Is it okay to doubt yourself? Am I a wuss because I do? I think this show, honestly, will give strength to a lot of people if I do turn out to be somewhat of a success in this industry.
As we watch the show, we do see a lot of emotion pouring out of you. In the trailer, we see you crying in your car. A lot of people have said that this is fake. That you were doing it for attention. Once I sat down and watched the entire episode through, I didn't get that's where you were coming from, at all. What's it been like to open yourself up, and put yourself out there like that? Especially when a good chunk of people will only see that one snippet, or read the comments made in regards to that moment in the show?
Cody Deal: The comments can get pretty horrible. I used to go onto the Almighty Thor Youtube trailer, and see the countless amounts of great stuff those people put out there. You get used to criticism. Its tow fold. One: I wasn't doing anything different than I am currently doing, except this is on a larger audience, because its visual, and more people see it than they would my blog, where they have to read about my trials and tribulations. I have been exposing myself, really, since day one. I have also gotten the comment, "This guy is an action star. Is it right to show his vulnerability like his? And his sensitivity? Did you see Sylvester Stallone walking around, balling his eyes out?" I think there is such a myth between real life and acting, and entertainment. I wanted to shatter some paradigms. Like, its okay to be vulnerable. Its okay to show these emotions that you feel. I think it's doing a lot. I was taught a lot of things growing up, what was right for a man, what was right for a woman...My idea is to show people that there are no labels. I feel like I was given this body, and this physique...Obviously I work to maintain it...But, I feel like people in life mimic what they look like. Attractive people act a certain way. There are a lot of patterns that people follow in terms of the way they look. On the outside. I am showing, on a different level, that you don't have to look and mimic the people who look your part. I feel that I am this trapped kid in this body. I can be whoever I want to be. And that is called freedom. That is what I want to give. The overall message is freedom. Just being okay and comfortable with achieving in life.
Even though you are experiencing some hardships right now, as seen on the show, I have a feeling...And maybe I am wrong about this...That you will look back at this time in your life, no matter what happens to you in the industry, as one of the funnest experiences that you will ever have. Are you able to see through the struggles enough, at this point, to sense that?
Cody Deal: Absolutely. Regardless if I make it or not, this was bold to do. I think I will always look back on this, and remember how happy I was. Although, the world was destroyed around me, and there was so much going on with this and that...The bottom line is...It obviously breaks me down...You see that. But, where I am typically at? I don't let that overcome me and consume me. When you go through this type of thing, and you get rid of all your material possessions, and you go down to the bare minimum...It's easy to feel sorry for yourself. It's easy to go the other way, to take the other route, and so many of us do. That's why I am such an advocate for homelessness. I know how easy it is to go down that road. Probably, if I didn't have a vehicle to stay in...Probably, if I was sleeping on the sidewalk every night...I don't know how I would get through that without escaping that reality every night. That's why you go down the road of drugs, and alcohol, and all of these other things. That's why I support that organization Path, which is people assisting the homeless. Simply because they have outreach programs that empower people, to basically remember who they are. To remember that they are worthy. I was recently exiting off the Barham exit off the 101 two days ago. I handed this guy a dollar bill. Then, the guy behind me handed him a dollar bill, too. I hollered at the homeless guy, "Isn't it funny how one person gives, and then the other person gives? Its like the natural response." He looks at me and says, "You just never know. One minute I have people throwing stuff at me. The next minute, I have people who are just as nice as you are." It's a reflection of where our consciousness is. Who each of us are. I feel like, my whole message is to unify. There should be no separation between a movie star and a real life person. People think there is a difference. They think there is a higher standard. I want to bridge this. There is no difference between a homeless person and me. Its just circumstance, and this is where life has taken us. My whole idea is to show and bridge these gaps. That there is no separation between any of us. My whole thing is, there are things out there, like Jersey Shore, that are getting so popular, and so much attention. That show has broken records for viewership. That gives me an idea of what people think is important in their lives. Drugs? Alcohol? Sex? Partying? This is stuff that is entertaining for people. My idea, I don't think it's going to catch on very quickly...I don't know how much of a crowd I am going to have watching this. I know the people who are watching it are becoming inspired. That they are seeing a story about Hollywood that is never told, though it is about 90% of what Hollywood really is. As a struggling actor, as an actor that is trying to make it, as an actor who goes to auditions and gets rejection more than he ever gets acceptance...I think that is doing a lot more for people than the superficial nonsense of starring in another movie. Although, that is what I am documenting, and that is what is important to a lot of people, I am going beyond that superficial bullshit. Even though, it's that success that I am wanting to show that I can create, that these possibilities are creations in your mind, if you will.
That circles back to this moment, where you are crying inside your car. You are clearly upset in that moment. But the next day, you are back on your feet with a smile on your face, and you are getting your business done. It is clear that you are genuinely driven, and despite a set back, you don't let anything stop you. That is inspiring to people, and its what's inspiring about the show.
Cody Deal: That is one of the reasons I don't like my own trailer. Simply because it gives an impression that this is a difficult time. Although it is, the majority of that time, when you watch these episodes, they are witty, they are funny, they are full of life. At the same time, this is real life. There are going to be moments where I break down. Like, "Fuck, look at me! Look where I'm at. I need to feel sorry for myself." In the end, I prevail in the next scene. Everything is okay. Even though I am down on my luck, everything is okay. It's a message that, no matter how bad it gets, you always see me being okay. Again, I can't predict the future. There might be a deep depression that lasts a month. Who knows? But knowing my character, and how I view life, it's really hard to get me down for an extended period of time.
You also use this show to really go in and show what the auditioning process is like, which is something we haven't seen before. It's very eye opening for those people who are interested in pursuing this career path. In terms of what we're seeing in the first episode, do they ever allow you to take a camera into the audition process? Or is that something you aren't doing purely for the professionalism of it?
Cody Deal: As you will see in a lot of the footage, I am unable to capture the actual process. I usually have to tell the story before and after. So there is a gap in-between, and I have to tell my interpretation of what happened. There is a professional boundary. Simply because I am not Kathy Griffin, and I do not have a Network backing my production to the point where I can come onto the set of a huge TV show, and we can record segments on it. Now, when I shoot a movie...I have a new movie coming out, and we will start production in October. It's a werewolf movie called Hallow Pointe. I haven't talked with director Thomas J. Churchill or producer Bobby Ray Akers Jr. about how much I can record. Or what I can record on set. But when I get to the actual filming of that production, it is going to be just as interesting as the audition process. Now, again, they may only let me record in my trailer, before and after. They may let me go on the set. We have to talk about those stipulations, and what they will allow. But it is an eye-opening process. Also, this will not be Hollywood-ified. This is not me going onto the Warner Bros. lot, and there are all these things going on, and it looks grand. No! This is the backlot stuff that really happens. Me walking down a real backlot? It's not that attractive. But, at the same time, the casting directors, agents, and directors have seen this show. They are all, like, "Wow! I forget about this stuff!" Even people in the industry are blown away by the fact that it's still very interesting, even after they have been on the lot a billion times. You are going to get some stuff that you are not going to see normally. That is pretty cool.
I didn't know you were in Hallow Pointe. That has a great cast. Was this a role you landed before you even started down this road of shooting The True Hollywood Story?
Cody Deal: Yes. How my whole career has happened...You have your typical agent, you have your typical manager, and you go in and audition. Most of my stuff has been self-submissions. Me going onto Actor's Access and then submitting myself for the auditions. The only thing my agent got me was this Cinemax television series coming out this fall called A Girl's Guide to Depravity. Its part of their five original shows that Cinemax is doing to spice up their programming, being the sister to HBO. I play a reoccurring character that is in three episodes in the first season. That will be Cinemax's first-ever half-hour comedy. It will have your spicy Cinemax stuff, but then again, Cinemax is also trying to get away from that. So they aren't doing a three to four minute soft-core scene. They are doing a couple seconds scene like you'd see on Californication. With Hallow Pointe, how I got on that...Its really about going out there and doing a great job. Like Almighty Thor? That wouldn't have been much of anything if it weren't for the gung-ho approach I take to everything I do. I ended up booking this Sci-Fi convention in St. Louis. I ended up meeting the director of Hallow Pointe there, Thomas J. Churchill. He said, "I would love you to do this." He gave me the script right then and there. He said, "Read it over and let me know what you think." This project has been really interesting, because everyone from the writer, to the director, to the producer, has contacted me. They have told me how enthusiastic they are to do this project. I love how enthusiastic they are. The producer of Predator is executive producing it. It's cool, because when I did The Asylum's project, it was so rushed. They do 13 to 15 films a year. They didn't have the passion for it. Now I am coming into this movie where everyone has such enthusiasm for it. I just think that only makes a night and day difference for any project. They have a lot of iconic horror genre people involved, that are all coming together. They are all really excited about the project. They have brought a lot of great people together to make an interesting horror movie. Producer Bobby Ray Akers Jr. is really hoping to make this as great as An American Werewolf in London and The Howling.
For people who've only watched the first episode on Youtube, and haven't yet made the decision to pay for the rest of the episodes, what are we going to see to entice us in?
Cody Deal: Episode 2 really gets involved with my auditioning process for Ringer. We will show what I do when I break down a scene. And the rehearsing. It's funny, because all of this stuff is blending together now. Episode 3 gets involved with the homelessness environment a little bit. There have been a lot of questions about my living situation. So we get more involved in that. We show you where I park at night. Some of the diaries I do late at night. We get more involved in the relationship with my ex-girlfriend. We show that dynamic. We were broken up in the first episode, but in the second episode, there are a lot of scenes of her and I just hanging out. There have been a lot of questions about what type of relationship this is. Because we are so involved in each other's lives, we take you through that. Episode 3 is also about the struggle to find work, and having to turn stuff down because you don't think it's the best thing for your career. Going on a talk show in your Speedo. These are the gigs that a guy who is in great shape can sometimes get. But you have to think, "Are you a serious actor? Or are you just trying to play this body?" There are choices that have to be made. There are a lot of these conversations between my manager and I, so you will see that. You will see the living situation, where I found temporary assistance for a couple of weeks. Then, after that, my girlfriend and I may have to live in our car together, because she doesn't have enough money to pay for her place. Episode 4, you will see some different things. We contact an organization to see if there is any assistance that they can give. You will understand why I went to outreach with this organization, and the choices behind it. It's hard to explain, because there is only so much I can say without giving it all away.
Are you still living in your car?
Cody Deal: No. I haven't been living in my car now for about four days.
How soon is this show shot to when we see it?
Cody Deal: That is what's so cool about this production, more than anything out there. You are literally getting the week prior. The whole thing is...This is not a thing where the Network is backing me. This isn't Survivor. I am not someone that has to pretend that there isn't food around me. There is a camera crew filming them. They are Union. They have craft services close by. This is not like that. You are literally seeing what it is like. I don't have a fund to pull from, if, say, my vehicle breaks down. I literally have to take to the street. There is no bullshit. This is literally what is happening every single week of my life. That is what makes it so unpredictable. Kristine and I are deciding to get an apartment together. We feel that is the best idea. But we won't have the finances to do that until next month. So, what is going to happen this month? We don't know. We are having a meeting that we are setting up this week with an organization to see if we can get into an apartment before the end of this month, so that we can have a place to stay. One of the things I have figured out through all of this is that, even though Kristine and I aren't together, we do still care for one another. It would be selfish of me not to get an apartment with her, because we both need that support right now. I stumbled across another man who was going homeless, and he had a blog site. It was very depressing. It gave me an outside perspective. I realized that there isn't that many people commenting on my Facebook page now. I used to have fifty to sixty comments, at least forty. Now I am having a hard time getting five people commenting on my posts. This homeless thing makes people feel so uncomfortable. It's not even funny. The first time I realized that was when I saw someone else that was homeless, and the struggles they were going through. It made me feel uncomfortable. I realized what Kristine might be going through emotionally. She is not letting me in, and I come to realize how hard this can be for people. How easy it is to feel worthless, and afraid, and inadequate. I never wanted that. So now I have been saying, "We need to get a place to stay at the end of the month." I couldn't have her stay in my car, because that is what she was going to do until she got a full-time job. Now, we have reversed that situation. Now, I am trying to get into a place, so that she will never be put in that situation.
Watching the show as it goes on, you have such a genuine, likable personality, people are going to grow concerned about you...
Cody Deal: Well, in episode 2, you will learn how I eat. I have to keep it practical. I have to stay mobile, so I have to stay on a budget. You find that out in episode 2.
Let me ask one last question. Why are the acting classes so important to you?
Cody Deal: Its funny. In episode 3, I go back to the studio with finally enough money to do it. Through this reality series, people paid for it. They allowed me to get back in so quickly. But, I was rejected again. I was rejected for another reason. I get emotional. I have asked myself why these classes are so important. The bottom line is, I have always had a coach in everything I have ever done. From being a dual sport colligate athlete, I trained very hard in that, and I take my craft just as serious, putting in an effort every single day to become great at my craft. I have never wanted to rely on my looks, or my personality. I have never wanted to rely on just one thing. I wanted to have an understanding of the concept in bringing something to life. Cameron makes me so inspired as to want to do this. Every other coach had this idea, where you had to go into the human pain in creating a character. I never found that worthwhile or meaningful. I was always trying to find that construct in myself. I have only audited Cameron's classes for a month. He has changed my whole perspective on what this craft is. He has become this certain role model. Being where I was at, I literally went to live in my car to afford acting classes. When I wasn't able to take my acting classes, I felt like I was worthless. That is why they became important. The second time around, I can't take them again, and I have to ask myself, "Why am I living out of my car?" There is a whole shift there, where I wake up, and I get a different perspective. It changes from week to week. We all change our minds about what is, and what is not important. Thing is, you go through this every single week with me. Case by case. My mind changes. For example, mine and Kristine's relationship. In episode 3, we decided to take a break, but we are hanging out that week. People do change their minds. Things happen. That's life. It's not a script. So it's not going to be your typical storyline. Things are always going to be involving.