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The Inside Track: An Interview With Adam Harrington

BY Jennifer Griffin

Published 11 years ago

A corrupt vice cop, a dark and manipulative horse dealer with extortion on his agenda and a father haunted by the secrets of his past, Adam J. Harrington admits he is attracted to characters that have their own version of morality.

“Those characters I find quite interesting because there’s just a ton of stuff to explore and play with and that personally excites me.” Adam tells me in a Chevron One exclusive interview.

Those who know Adam Harrington as bad boy Roy Earle from Rockstar’s L.A. Noire will be pleased to learn he is appearing in two big new shows this Fall.

The first is Luck, a HBO production set in the world of horse racing and starring Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte.  With such big names attached, it’s unsurprising to learn that Deadwood’s David Milch and Michael Mann (of Miami Vice and Heat fame) are co creators.

Promising to divulge what he can get away with, but remaining tight-lipped about Luck’s cliffhanger season finale, Adam tells me about the show and the role he plays.

“I play Bowman, a dark and manipulative Kentucky horse man. I come in during the show’s first season as a man from The Old Man’s (played by Nick Nolte) past with a secret that threatens his chance at success and a shot at the top. I’m there to cause trouble!”

Dustin Hoffman and Michael Mann on the 'Luck' set

Adam has high praise for the cast, and in particular Nick Nolte, with whom he shared most screen time.

“It’s just an amazing cast. It was a real pleasure to be part of an amazing ensemble and to work with the unbelievably talented Nick Nolte.  He was was just phenomenal – so generous, so kind and such an extraordinary talent to work with, it really was a lot of fun.

“They shot it out at Santa Anita out past Pasadena.  It was so easy to do.  What you’re surrounded by is all these amazing horses and the jockeys and of course the track was available to us.  It really was an amazing experience.”

Filming on Luck finished about a month ago.  Can fans expect to see extortionist Bowman make a return in season two? “My story cliff hangs at the end of the first season, so we’ll see what happens in the second,” he teases.

Meanwhile Adam can also be seen on the CW occult drama The Secret Circle, which premiers on Thursday, September 15, 2011. (See our series preview here.)

“I play Ethan Conant,” he tells me of his role in the upcoming occult drama.  “I’m the father of Adam who is played by Thomas Dekker.  The series picks up when Cassie Blake  returns to town to live with her grandmother after her mother has died in mysterious circumstances.  I was actually in love with her mother.  We were supposed to be together.  We were meant to be together and yet we weren’t.

“Cassie’s return sparks my memories of her mother, Amelia.  When the season starts and you meet me, I’m basically a very haunted, very tortured man who has turned to drink in an attempt to deal with the loss.  Oh yeah, and we’re all witches.

“It’s definitely the first time I played a witch,” muses Adam. “We’ve been told that the term Warlock isn’t something that’s used. Regardless of whether you’re a guy or a girl, you’re a witch.”

The Secret Circle cast

I ask Adam to tell me a little about the cast and his experience working on a genre show like The Secret Circle.

“The pilot was great,” he says. “The cast is phenomenal. I’m very excited to be involved with it. I haven’t been involved with something like this before. It’s a combination of drama and mystery and … I don’t know if you’d call it science fiction or not but definitely the Occult.  I get to work with the wonderfully talented Gale Harold who plays my arch nemesis, Charles Meade.  Our history goes back to when we were teenagers in the series so it’s quite fun to play off of him.  As the series rolls on you’ll see what has happened that’s given us so much history and why we’re so at odds with each other.”

It’s clear Adam Harrington enjoys the diverse complexities of the characters he plays.  I am somewhat surprised to learn he has a masters degree in Marine Biology and might easily have pursued a very different career. Was there a sense of having gone down the wrong path?

“No, I really did love both things,” he tells me.  “I was a huge fan of the outdoors.  I became a scuba diver when I was 17.  The late and great Jacques Cousteau was one of my idols, and I got to meet him once. Where I grew up, people didn’t go into acting.  It was something fun you did.  You did the odd play in high school and it was fun but then you smartened up and did something practical. I grew up around the great lakes so there was always tons of opportunity to be in the water and around the water.  There were jobs available that allowed me to do stuff like that. So that was where I went naturally first.

“I had a lot of friends that were very very smart and they all went on to become professors and scientists, but that really wasn’t my passion. I loved doing collections, I loved doing scuba diving, I loved the class room environment of it and once I finished school I realized I could just keep doing it.  I could just keep scuba diving.  I could keep doing all that stuff on my own time.  And I thought alright, I’ve done that.  I can see what the future of that job in the real world looks like.  Is it really what I want to do?  And if not, now is probably a good time to try something else. So I thought, well, I’ve always wanted to try acting but I just thought it was something you could never really do.  I thought it’s kind of now or never.  So I decided to go for it. I thought I’d rather try and fail than not try. And so far so good. I’m keeping away from failing.  Let’s see how long it works out.  Someday you might see me back at Seaworld talking about seals.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed that I don’t!”

Adam Harrington

As much as he loved the water, Adam can vividly recall the defining moment he knew he wanted to act.  And it came, not after University, but at a much earlier age.

“I remember our third grade class did a ten minute version of Hansel and Gretel for Open House Night,” he recalls.  “In order to audition you had to sing a song.

“Years later I looked back and thought this may have been an indication I wanted to become an actor because I decided to sing a cappella Elton John’s Someone Saved My Life Tonight which I’m not sure if you’re familiar with it but it’s a long song. And it’s kind of a dark song.

“You can imagine this third grader standing up in front of his class singing this song, which I think took 6 or 7 minutes, about suicide.  But I was bound and determined to sing that whole puppy!

“I remember having to wait outside the class while the class made a mutual decision.   I remember pacing back and forth, and I look back years later and think ok that was definitely the moment.  Kids who aren’t interested in acting don’t do that.  They might sing ‘row row row your boat’ while they’re kicking their sneakers into the floor, something like that.”

While it’s unlikely we’ll be catching Adam Harrington in SeaWorld anytime soon, The Secret Circle debuts on the CW onThursday, September 15, 2011.  Luck premiers on HBO this fall.

Look out for our second interview later today with Adam Harrington in which we get under the skin of LA Noire’s bad boy Roy Earle, discuss the joys and occasional awkwardness of working on a games project and ask Adam to answer some questions from Chevron One forum members.


Adam J. Harrington Talks LA Noire, Roy Earle and That Suit


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