Ian Anthony Dale is more than just Mr. Dreamy – he’s a passionate actor and player in the new TNT summer crime drama Murder in the First. Here, this handsome hunk gives us the lowdown on the making of this suspenseful series, his own rise to stardom and yes, even a bit about his love for furniture making!
Tell me a bit about your background – how did you get into acting?
I discovered acting when I was a junior in high school. Some of my friends were auditioning for a one-act play that was casting at the time, and they encouraged me
to audition as well. Prior to that, I’d had no acting experience. I was a shy kid, I didn’t talk very much, so the idea of going up on stage and auditioning and putting myself out there in such a vulnerable way – I was terrified. My instinct was to say “No! Absolutely not,” but they were very encouraging so I begrudgingly agreed.
I was terrified, but somehow what I did up on that stage earned the attention of my drama teacher and I was casted in the play. That led to my discovery of the theatre and I quickly fell in love with this different, exciting, creative world. The ability to make someone laugh or make someone cry is something that’s moving and powerful. It’s a pretty cool world.
Was there a certain moment when you realized, “Hey, I could actually do this for a living.”?
Sometimes I still wonder if I can do this for a living. I feel fortunate any time I’m able to get a job and continue to make a living as an actor because it’s rare. I think only about 2 percent of all actors make over $5,000 a year. I feel really blessed that I’ve been able to make a living for the past 12 years, but I’ll never feel completely secure. As long as I can make a living, though, I’m living my dream.
So tell me a bit about Murder in the First – what’s the premise?
It’s a complex murder mystery that intimately dissects a single case over the course of 10 episodes. The two main detectives working the case are played by Taye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson, and in the center of this investigation is a Silicon Valley whiz kid played by Tom Felton. He’s very much like a Mark Zuckerberg: Young and powerful with a lot of influence. We asked, “What would happen if someone like that were thrown into a double homicide investigation?”
What’s your character Lieutenant Jim Koto like?
He’s a young, very ambitious Lieutenant of the San Francisco Police Department. He’s someone who wakes up in the morning, looks at himself in the mirror and says, “I’m going to be the mayor of San Francisco.” He floats between the world of cops and detectives and the world of the politicians. As the plot unfolds, you’ll see how his ambition clouds his judgment.
Would you say your character is anything like you in real life?
We’re definitely both ambitious. When you’re really ambitious, you have a hard time recognizing the successes along the way. In my own career, I’ve had some really wonderful people remind me, “Hey, stop and smell the roses every once in a while.” So yeah, I’d say that Koto is very ambitious and I can relate to that.
What’s something that you think Murder in the First does really well?
It balances the murder mystery with the character drama really well. You’ve got a very complex, well-written murder mystery that keeps you guessing and wanting more after every episode. At the same time, it gives you these really rich, developed characters who you become invested in. Their lives, journeys, struggles – you begin to care for them deeply.
Apart from crime drama, what’s a genre you’d be interested in exploring?
I haven’t done a whole lot of comedy. I tend to play characters that are a little more on the serious side, but I love to make people laugh. I can’t imagine a better feeling than to make others laugh.
What’s next for you?
I just bought my first house, and I’m so excited about working on it. I have a background in furniture making and I’ve got several remodeling projects planned. I have the tendency to fall off the map whenever I’m working on a piece of furniture or a different project. I imagine I’ll be difficult to get ahold of over the next few weeks [laughs].
Any last thoughts on Murder in the First?
I had such a great time working on it. There are good experiences and bad ones, but Murder in the First was all good. I can’t wait for people to see it and I hope they love it.
Be sure to tune in to TNT’s Murder in the First premiering Mondays.