Late August is an exciting time for actor and singer-songwriter Brendan Hines. Not only is he starring as Superian in the highly-anticipated Amazon superhero comedy series The Tick, but he is also dropping his newest single “Average Is” from his upcoming album Qualms at the same time. Hines may be most known from his portrayal of Eli Loker in Lie to Me, his recurring guest star spot as Andy Goode in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and his present work playing Logan Sanders in Suits. Fans of his music love his endearing drinking tunes such as “Miss New York.”
Hines grew up in Maryland and got his start in the theater. He moved to New York and continued to perform in plays and some short films. Soon after, he moved to Los Angeles. He had guest starring roles in Angel, Without a Trace, Castle, and more. His first recurring role was in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and he became a series regular in Lie to Me in 2009.
Hines always had an interest in music, and he and his band, The Brendan Hines, released an album in 2008 titled Good For You Know Who, and in 2012 they released Small Mistakes, a six-song EP. His funny, intelligent, and charming rock ‘n roll music can be heard here and his newest album, Qualms, will be out soon.
Brendan Hines spoke with Michelle Tompkins for the Inquisitr about the courtship of his parents — a former priest and nun who fell in love and left their orders to get married, start a family and become philosophy professors — his early career, what’s great about The Tick, his music, what Lena Headey (his former co-star from The Sarah Connor Chronicles) is really like, working with Shonda Rhimes, who he fan-boyed out for while at San Diego Comic-Con, his new album Qualms, what he likes to do for fun, and more.
Inquisitr: Well, first, tell me about yourself. Let’s start with where are you from?
Brendan Hines: I grew up in Baltimore, and yeah. I grew up in Baltimore and moved to New York when I was about 24 I think and was in New York for — I was doing a lot of off off Broadway theater and a lot of odd jobs for about five years until I moved out to Los Angeles in 2003. Well, you asked where I’m from. That’s the answer [laughter].
IQ: And you live in L.A. now?
BH: I do. Yeah.
IQ: Okay. So I’ve read this. Your parents were a former nun and a former priest? There’s got to be a story there.
BH: There is. Yeah. They’re both from Brooklyn. They grew up in Brooklyn, and they both went into the church after high school. My dad went into the seminary and my mom the convent, and they had known each other in high school. My mom has a twin brother, and he and my dad were very good friends in high school. But then after they went through all of their training and had already had been stationed in the various schools that they were stationed in, they got back in touch and sort of developed this correspondence, writing each other letters. My dad was on the Upper East Side, and my mom was in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and they would just write each other letters and meet for coffee once or twice a month. And then sort of developed into a romance and they had to — they had to go and tell their superiors, and then eventually write to Rome to be released from their vows because they wanted to go get married, and that’s what they did. They moved down to D.C. and then to Baltimore and had four kids and became philosophy professors [laughter].
IQ: Okay. How did you decide to become an actor?
BH: It wasn’t a decision really. It more came down to the things that I was limited by and things — the fact that it was really the only thing that I ever enjoyed doing that ostensibly you could get paid to do. It took a really long time for that to actually come true, but, yeah. I just was never happy doing anything except — except acting. And the thing that sort of got me thinking in that direction was my father was a big movie buff and also a big poetry buff and a fan of really good music and lyrics, and when I was a kid he would charge me with challenge. He would challenge me with memorizing a lot of poetry and song lyrics and lines from movies, and I already had a facility, I think, for memorization but then that was combined sort of with my ability to mimic people as well. And that led me to perform for my family quite a bit and to entertain them. And then it was really the only way I could make friends at school as well, trying to make people laugh so they wouldn’t smack me upside the head. And that, I think, is basically where the impulse came from. The idea of performing was always just sort of an incredibly satisfying one for me, whether it was musically, or acting, doing impressions of people, making fun of the way people talked [laughter].
IQ: Well, please tell me about your educational background.
BH: I went to a Catholic school in Baltimore called Loyola High School, and it was an all-boys Catholic school run by the Jesuits, taught by Jesuits, and my dad had actually been a Jesuit as well. So he liked the Jesuit form of education and wanted me to get that sort of educational grounding. And I was a lousy student, mostly just because of the — I was lazy and I didn’t really care for deadlines and I didn’t really care for reading on other peoples’ schedules. I loved reading, but I didn’t want to do it on anybody else’s schedule. It was a good school. I met some of my best friends there, three or four people I’m still very much connected with. And everybody else was, well, everybody else, I just kind of moved on [laughter]. But the three or four that I kept are the best. Anyway, so then I briefly went to college for about a year after high school, but I didn’t enjoy it really. I didn’t enjoy it and I actually went up to New York to do a play that a friend was directing in a playwriting festival and I ended up getting a manager out of that. And so I just stayed in New York and dropped out of college and just hustled in New York for the next five years.
IQ: What was your first paid professional gig?
BH: The first time I got paid to act was doing dinner theater in Silverspring, Maryland, at a place called the Blair Mansion Inn. And it was murder mystery dinner theater. And we traded characters, it was 90 percent improv, we swapped characters every performance, we went and hung out with the audience at their table, in character, and I got paid — I think I got 100 bucks a show, which was just stunning, a stunning amount of money for an hour-and-a-half of just goofing around. And that was, yeah, that was the first time — in fact, I had no way of getting to — from Baltimore to Silverspring, it’s not too close. It’s about an hour away. And I didn’t have a car and I had to borrow a friend’s car every time I would drive out and he had a stick. And that was a manual transmission. And I learned to drive stick just from driving to my first show at the Blair Mansion Inn.
I had to get there by 6:30 or seven o’clock. And he said, “You can borrow my car, but it’s manual.” So I was like, “All right. I guess I’m going to learn how to drive a manual.”
IQ: How was the transmission by the end of the trip?
BH: Oh, I tore through that thing. I never saw that [laughter] car again [laughter]. No, it was a steep learning curve at first, but then, within about 20 minutes I had it down. Yeah, and that got me my first job. I did that for about — I think I did that job for almost a year. It was daunting, it was intimidating, to just basically go in and you have to hit certain points in the story, but you’re just making everything up along the way, you’re creating your own dialogue along the way, which ended up being a really useful bit of experience for, really, the rest of my career. Just becoming an expert in bullsh***ing, I guess, is kind of the ungenerous way to put it.
IQ: And tell me about your work on the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
BH: Did you see that show? Did you watch that show?
IQ: I did. I did.
BH: Yeah, that was exciting. That was actually the first recurring gig I ever got on TV, which was incredibly novel for me, to be able to not just do one quick episode but to be asked back a couple of times. And then, even asked back again once you were killed. I was killed in the second episode that I did, and then I got a call from Josh, the creator of the show, a few weeks later and he said, “We’re bringing you back.” And I said, “How are you bringing me back?” And he said, “Flash forward to the future.” And I had no idea what he was talking about, but I was really excited about it. They also gave me — I remember speaking of memorization. The first episode of that I did, I played a sort of computer geek. He essentially builds what becomes Skynet. He is constantly spouting a lot of technical jargon. And they threw me in. I think I was cast and then two days later they said, “Yeah. You shoot in two days.” And I had a huge introductory paragraph, where essentially I was planning with Lena Headey, about cell phones, or chess programs, and stuff like that. And so I was thrown into the deep end again as far as memorizing all of the technical dialogue, which then served me pretty well, actually, when I did Lie to Me about a year or so later, where I was doing a lot of the same sort of technical exposition, and vomiting forth lots of words.
IQ: Well, what was it like working with Lena Headey?
BH: It was great. She was great. We had a lot of fun. She’s incredibly funny and she had a good sense of humor. I know that because she found me funny, and that means that she’s got an exceptional sense of humor. She was, yeah. It was great. She had a lot to do — she had a ton of work to do on that show. I did not envy her schedule at all, but she was incredibly gracious and welcoming and, yeah, really, really delightful.
IQ: Are you a Game of Thrones fan?
BH: I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan. I honestly don’t really recognize her in that character which is how good she is. You know what I mean? I really don’t see her when I’m watching that show. It’s not the way she is. So that’s a very impressive performance.
IQ: Well, I’d hope no one is quite like Cersei.
BH: Yeah. I don’t imagine she’s killed as many people as Cersei. I think maybe she’s probably killed about half as many people as Cersei [laughter].
IQ: Good. Now, Lie to Me was really a daring show. Can you please tell me about that and your role in it?
BH: Well, I played Eli Loker, who was one of a group of scientists who studied faces and body language in an attempt to get at the truth that people were trying to hide. And it was really — that show was really fun because before we started the show, I read all of the books that Paul Ekman wrote, and it got in my head in an odd way because I really started to find it difficult to not notice things, even if I was imagining them. I felt that I was noticing tells on people’s faces that [laughter] may or may not have been there. And so eventually I had to sort of just — it was tough. I had to sort of drop that and not take the — not take some of the science as seriously just so I could get on with the performance and just so I could get on with the business of doing the show and moving the story forward. But, yeah, that show was a lot of — it was incredibly — that was the show that I really just learned everything on that show, just about the day to day functioning of a television show, just to be able to do something for that many episodes is very rare nowadays. And to be able to work with people who are just as professional as everybody that I worked with and on — also kind. It was the best possible way to learn. That was cool for me. That was my higher education as far as being a professional actor was concerned.
IQ: And what about your part on Scandal? What was it like to work with Shonda Rhimes?
BH: It was great. One thing that I love about Shonda that I noticed immediately when we were doing the table read for Episode 2 of Scandal was everybody, every single one of the actors, was really well served by moments in the script that gave them a chance to step up and shine; it was such a huge cast. You couldn’t do that — you couldn’t give everybody three or four scenes but she would give them one scene, and then those actors are so incredible that they stepped up to that challenge and just destroyed it every single time. And that’s what I noticed immediately. I was just thinking to myself watching all of these actors nail these moments as we were going around the table, and I was thinking that we had no idea what kind of success that — or I didn’t. Nobody could, I think, see what was coming exactly. But I got the impression that the show had everything that it needed to be enormous because everybody was operating on such a high level of quality and professionalism, and the show was just the most perfect mixture of high and sort of trashy in the most lovely way [laughter]. Story telling that was being served by incredibly beautiful writing and great actors who could give each one of those lines their best. So, I had a feeling that the show was going to resonate really strongly with people. And, yeah. So working with Shonda and that whole cast was lovely. Ask me about somebody who is awful. I keep just talking about how great everybody is [laughter].
IQ: All right. List someone who was awful.
BH: I don’t know if I should tell you — I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and I said — and we were actually complaining about somebody that we had both worked with. But the interesting thing was how few of those experiences we had both had in our time as working actors. I think a lot of people get the idea that actors, particularly people who are the leads of shows or the leads of movies are the sort of stereotypes diva or monster. And I’m just always amazed at how few of those people I’ve worked with. I’ve heard all the stories about the people who are like that. But I’ve been lucky enough then; I’d say I’ve run into maybe two of those people. But, I’m not going to say who they are.
IQ: Okay, tell me about your character in The Tick.
BH: So now I’m playing a superhero, sort of almost — he’s an alien that comes down to earth 100 years ago and becomes sort of — well, not sort of, actually becomes a savior to humanity. And we don’t know very much about him as the show starts. And we’re starting to learn — we’re starting to learn more about him as the episodes go on. His name is Superian.
BH: Superian. Yeah. And years ago, 15, 16 years ago, he defeated his archnemesis who was the world’s greatest super villain. And he defeated him 15 or 16 years ago and killed him. And that was a big moment for him and for the world that he has been rightly hailed as humanity’s savior and ever since — but there is suspicion. Arthur, who is the lead in the show, has some suspicions about that widely accepted narrative. And we learn a little bit more about that as the show progresses and as Arthur comes into his own as a superhero. And I mean, as far as Superian is concerned, he’s sort of the George Clooney, Gary Cooper, Neil Armstrong, local fireman, most famous quarterback all rolled up into one and very much removed from the lives of the day-to-day people in the show. He’s just always at a distance in this sphere of fame and the cool thing about the first season of the show is the fact that the writers have to find a way to bring these two worlds together, the underdog superhero world with the famous movie star-type superheroes.
IQ: When does it start streaming on Amazon?
BH: August 25 is when the first six episodes start being streamed.
IQ: So what do fans have to look forward to?
BH: Well, the fact that it’s a completely new imagining of a world that they are familiar with, to me, that’s exciting. It’s exciting to see what Ben Edlund, who created The Tick, it’s really interesting to see him take these well-loved and well-known characters that he created, the Tick and Arthur, so long ago and then reimagine them in a different context with a different tone, but still very much maintaining the integrity of the characters. It’s still a very wry commentary on the state of superhero culture, while also telling great stories about superheroes. And it’s just a very sweet show. It’s a show that’s very kind to its audience, which I think is incredibly rare these days. And that’s one of the things that I love about reading the script and then seeing the final product. I just think it’s a very generous show and a very good-natured show.
IQ: Now tell me about your experience at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.
BH: It was a blur. It was quite a blur. It was basically the whole cast of The Tick in two or three different SUVs, just being driven from event to event, within the space of about 10 city blocks, just going back and forth to have photos taken, sign autographs, do and talk about the show. So it was a bit of a blur, but it was really fun. The best part was just finally being able to sit down and do the autograph signing and getting to talk to people, even if a little bit briefly, about how they’re looking forward to the show. That’s the whole point of doing the show, is so people watch it and get excited about it. And that is not going to happen unless the people who already love these characters are invested in the show. And so to meet the fans of The Tick was the best part for me, and once we showed them the second episode, to see that they really liked it. That was a big relief.
IQ: Did you fanboy out for anyone that you saw there?
BH: Yeah, Liam Cunningham [laughter] from Game of Thrones was in our hotel, and we were both waiting for cars at the same time. And Scott Speiser who plays Overkill in The Tick, he and I were standing by and I just said, “Let’s just go talk to Liam Cunningham. Come on. I’ve heard he’s very nice. Let’s just go.” And so we just went over and introduced ourselves. And it turns out, he’s a big fan of The Tick, and he’s really looking forward to seeing the show. So that was a surprise, and yeah, he’s hilarious and an absolute delight to talk to. He really is one of my favorite characters, and also actors, on Game of Thrones. I mean, his performance is very — what he’s doing is very hard, and he makes it look incredibly effortless and easy. He’s got just so much humanity and yet, he serves a very underappreciated role, I think, on that show.
IQ: Now, please tell me about your music.
BH: What do you want to know about it?
IQ: I don’t know anything about it. So what kind of music do you play? You’re coming out with an album soon, correct?
BH: Yeah. On Friday the 13th of October, I’m releasing my third album. It’s called Qualms. And yeah, it’s got nine songs that we recorded, that my band and I recorded in Joshua Tree in the desert two days after the election last year. We retreated from Los Angeles, and ate and slept songs for four days, and made a record. I wanted to release it very soon after we recorded it, but the scheduling limitations of Indie music are notoriously uncertain and difficult to navigate. So we’re releasing it finally on October 13, and it’s a rock-and-roll record. It’s a record that has a lot of songs of anger and, hopefully, some hope. And songs about death [laughter]. But every song is either about sex or death.
IQ: What do you like to do for fun?
BH: The music for me is my creative outlet when I’m not acting and most of the time I find it very fun. But when I’m not doing that basically if I’m reading or cooking or going to see movies — I don’t love watching movies at home, but going to the theater and seeing movies is probably, combined with reading, the two things that I do the most. I like to sit in silence and relative darkness by myself, I guess. You could just say that’s my idea of fun [laughter].
IQ: Okay. Are you involved in charities you’d like to mention?
BH: No. I’m not currently, but I’m going through an entire sort of process of trying to figure out some things I can do to help. I’m a big supporter of the Special Olympics. My brother has Down syndrome and so growing up that was always a really big deal in our house. But I’m not formally associated with them though right now.
IQ: How do you like fans to connect with you?
BH: On Facebook, probably. Yeah, they can find me on Facebook under Brendan Hines. All the music stuff is up there and there’s a link to my website, brendanhinesmusic.com, and that’s a pretty good way to keep in touch.
IQ: What’s next for you?
BH: Just putting the finishing touches on getting this record out and doing more press for The Tick. And hopefully we’ll go back and do another season of it. People like it.
IQ: Now is there a kind of role that you wish to play but haven’t done yet?
BH: I thought that I was kind of aging out of ever being able to play a superhero. I always wanted to play Spider-Man when I was a kid and then I definitely aged out of that a long time ago. And I had sort of become resigned to the idea that I wasn’t going to get to play a superhero and this role came along just in time. I think I got in just under the wire of being able to play a superhero who’s hundreds of years old but still looks 30-something [laughter]. So I lucked out there, but as far as roles that I still want to play — I was watching Seven the other day and those roles have already been played, but — and this isn’t exactly a role so much as an action that I want to do — the scene in the rain where Brad Pitt is just running over the cars chasing Kevin Spacey through the streets and he’s just running across the cars with his gun out. I’m still a 13-year-old boy deep down inside and I really want to do that [laughter].
IQ: So, the action-adventure parts of movie-making?
BH: Yeah. That’s the short answer, yeah.
IQ: Okay, well, good luck to you on everything and The Tick starts August 25, is that correct?
BH: Yeah, available streaming on Amazon Prime August 25, the first six episodes.
IQ: Perfect. Well, thank you very much. Good luck to you on everything.
Check out Brendan Hines on The Tick with the first six episodes on Amazon and follow him on Instagram @brendanhines and learn more about his music here.
[Featured image by Devin Pedde]