Media Q&A with Derek Theler of ABC Family’s “Baby Daddy” (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)
June 1, 2013 by Dennis Amith
For the cast of ABC Family’s comedy series “Baby Daddy”, a few of the cast members have grown up on television.
Actor Jean-Luc Bilodeau got his big break as the younger brother on the sci-fi drama series “Kyle XY”. Tahj Mowry had appeared on television at a very young age, starring in series such as “Full House” and “Out All Night”. While actress Chelsea Kane grew up on series such as “Cracking Up” and “Jonas”.
But for actor Derek Theler, he graduated from Colorado State with a degree in pre-medicine while modeling for a variety of commercials.
But with a dream of wanting to become an actor, Derek eventually got roles in TV series for “Conan” and “90210”, leading to a big role “Baby Daddy” and a lead role in the web series “Project: SERA”.
Derek Theler plays the role of Danny Wheeler in “Baby Daddy”.
A series which stars Jean-Luc Bilodeau as Ben, a man who’s ex-girlfriend left a baby girl on his door step. Now Ben, the surprised and inexperienced new father, must raise the baby with the help of his mother Bonnie (as portrayed by Melissa Peterman), his brother Danny (as portrayed by Derek Theler), his best friend Tucker (as portrayed by Tahj Mowry) and his close female friend Riley (as portrayed by Chelsea Kane), who happens to have a secret crush on him.
With the summer premiere of “Baby Daddy” having aired on ABC Family on May 29th, Derek Theler recently took part in a media Q&A to promote the series.
Here is a transcript from the Q&A with Derek Theler!
Moderator It’s great to see Baby Daddy back. Can you talk a little bit about what the trials and tribulations Danny will be going through this season?
D. Theler This is a great season for Danny. There’s a lot of great storylines happening with him. He’s trying to figure out what he wants to do with his love life. He’s experimenting going out with different girls on dates, and he eventually finds a girl that’s more of a steady girlfriend for him, and there’s more hockey stuff.
It’s really great to work on a sitcom where they actually bring big sets in and try to make it look like Madison Square Garden. So, that’s really fun. You get to experience the boys trying to figure out how to raise a baby together. It’s pretty fun just to see the three boys together. Since we have the first season out of the way, now you get to understand them a lot more and we even get to go through an episode—a flashback episode where you get to see all the boys in high school and Riley in high school and their mom throwing a birthday party. It was actually one of the most fun episodes to shoot.
Moderator Was there anything about Danny that wasn’t originally scripted for you that you’ve added to this character?
D. Theler I’ve heard from the writers and producers that my character off the bat wasn’t supposed to be very sweet. He was supposed to be kind of a womanizer, kind of like a professional athlete that didn’t have as much of a heart I guess, and so, I really like the way that he’s changed and the way I’ve been able to try to bring him to life because he’s really likable. You feel for the guy. He’s a sweetheart and he never means to do any wrong. He just accidentally kind of makes the wrong choices sometimes and it takes a little bit longer for him to get it.
Moderator How does it feel to have the show be such a hit that it gets renewed for season three before the second season even airs?
D. Theler I feel so blessed. It’s really an amazing feeling because I wasn’t working consistently going into all this. So, it’s still great to be able to work at a pilot, have the pilot picked up, which is a first season and have people really respond to it and then work on the second season which we just finished which was absolutely amazing because everyone’s so close with the cast and the crew and then to get re-upped for the third before we were done filming, it was the very last day of our second season shoot, the day where everyone was like oh, we’re really upset and sad and we don’t know if we’re ever going to be able to work with each other again, the cast and the crew, and we get the word that we have a full season three pickup, it changes that day and the rest of our hiatus dramatically. We’re not waiting by the phone to know if we’re going to go back to work with our family. So, it was an amazing experience, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to know that I get to go back to work with my best friends.
Moderator What originally attracted you to the role of Danny?
D. Theler Originally, I really wanted to work on a sitcom. It’s fun. The hours are great. You get to stand up and tell jokes all day, and Danny specifically because he’s a professional athlete. I consider myself an athlete. I played sports my whole life and I try to keep myself in really good shape, and I thought it would be so cool to play an athlete and be able to tell jokes all day and also, to play a character who’s kind of pining for his best friend. I don’t really have any way to relate to that. I didn’t really have a crush on my best friend growing up or anything, but I thought that it was cool and I like to see the stages and how we was developed throughout.
Moderator Are you guys going to have any guest stars next season?
D. Theler We have a great lineup of guest stars. We have Matt Dallas coming with Jean-Luc from Kyle XY and Lacey Chabert from Party of Five who plays one of my love interests. Greg Gunberg comes back. It’s going to be a really exciting season with all the guest stars that get to come, we were pretty excited.
Moderator Which guest star was the best on a set, who you had the most fun on set with?
D. Theler That’s a tough question because I don’t want anyone’s feelings to get hurt. I’m going to have to go with Lacey because she played my love interest and she was just a sweetheart with everybody on the set.
Moderator When did you decide to go into acting?
D. Theler My story’s a lot different than a lot of actors out there. I’m born in Alaska, grew up in Colorado, went to college in Colorado, went to Colorado State and I actually finished my degree. I got my degree in pre-medicine because the plan was to actually go to med school but that did not happen obviously.
So, I just didn’t want to have any regrets. I didn’t want to not take a chance on something I wanted to do because midway through college—my whole life I wanted to act, but through college, I decided that this was the thing that I really wanted—my dream was to work in LA as an actor. So, I started saving up money through college and my parents were helping me through college. So, I finished my degree for them, and as soon as I saved up enough money, I moved to LA and just kind of went for it and moved here without knowing anybody, and I got very lucky with a couple of commercials and then found great representation and fell into this and I couldn’t be happier.
Moderator You did mention that you played sports growing up and being that you’re a professional hockey player on the show, did you actually play hockey?
D. Theler Hockey wasn’t one of my sports. I’m not a good skater, believe it or not. Everything we do on set is with inline skates, and I’m not a great skater. I kind of fake it honestly, but I did play floor hockey, and my sports growing up were football and basketball, basketball especially. So, that’s the answer to that.
Moderator Has Danny really taken a step back in going after Riley and letting Ben go after her. Is Ben not even going to go after her this season? What’s going to happen with that?
D. Theler That’s a good question. There’s a lot happening with the whole love triangle this season. Riley’s never, ever out of the picture for Danny. He does get a real girlfriend and he does go on several dates with other women, but I think it’s just him kind of trying to defend himself and take his mind off something that he doesn’t think he’s going to be able to obtain and he’s always there. He’s always there for Riley if she need anything and the whole Ben question, it is a couple of very interesting episodes where Danny needs to decide if he’s going to help his brother out because he may have some feelings for his dream girl or if he’s going to hold him back. So, you’re going to have to tune in for that.
Moderator Could talk about your relationship with Melissa and Tahj on and off screen?
D. Theler It’s great. I just saw them two days ago. I just went on a trip to San Francisco with Tahj. We did a little bit of work for the show and then we had some fun together, but I see Tahj about once a week probably. We’ll go grab a drink together and catch up.
Melissa has a family and she’s working on 18 shows right now it seems like, but we keep in contact, all of us do, the whole cast does. We’re very close. We have emails and mass text and we always know what each other is up to and we really care about each other and we can’t wait to go back to work with each other. Specifically, Melissa and Tahj, I would say that I keep up with them via e-mail, text and I do see Tahj quite frequently.
Moderator Did you guys play pranks on each other?
D. Theler Pranks, everybody asks these prank questions because we were such a close cast and it’s funny. There are several things that we like to do. I don’t know if it’s specifically towards the rest of the cast, but one thing that we always like to do on our Friday night tape night is steal the golf carts from Hot in Cleveland together. We park them all over the lot and just kind of leave them. It’s pretty hilarious.
We have golf cart races and we mess with each other’s dressing rooms sometimes, steal things out of—especially the three boys. We steal things out of each other’s dressing rooms and it’s fun. It’s a really fun set to be on because it’s not only the cast, it’s the crew too. They really mess with us.
When we have props and things, they always try to throw us off during our scene by writing funny things that only the cast would know about like on all of our props, and it’s great. I promise you this next season since we’ve had so many prank questions, we’re going to come up with a lot more for you.
Moderator For Danny and Tucker’s characters together, are there any kind of funny, comedy stuff that the two of you guys will get into, some hijinks or anything?
D. Theler The bromance is still definitely there. These two characters are pretty much the only ones who didn’t know each other going into this pilot episode, but yes, they’re buds. They have a cool like bromance connection and I try to set up in the—especially the first episode coming out in the second season, I’m forced to set up Tahj’s character with a supermodel friend of mine and he gets pretty excited about that. So, we go out on a double date, and of course, supermodels are pretty tall usually and Tahj is not. So, that’s pretty funny.
Then, another episode coming up soon, we lose one of Emma’s favorite toys and Tucker and Danny have to find a way—it’s pretty much like a Mission Impossible episode to find a way to get this toy back and we think that the neighbor above us stole it, so we actually break into her apartment to try to steal it back for Baby Emma.
Moderator Are there any other big things with just your character and Emma’s character, and how much did you work with kids at all before this?
D. Theler Before this, I actually—I have quite a bit of experience with kids. I worked at a daycare for a couple of years going through high school and college. I did youth sports camps. I ran all the camps through my college.
I was pretty much a camp counselor. I made all my money working with kids while I went through college and tried to put myself through college. So, I have experience. I was very comfortable with kids.
As far as storyline with Emma, Danny’s always kind of there. I had several really nice scenes with Baby Emma and just everybody always gets a couple of big scenes with Emma every couple episodes and it’s pretty much the same as far as evening it out, the baby time, with all the rest of the storyline. So, I don’t think I have any real stories I can remember right now with Emma, but I just know I was holding her at least once almost every episode.
Moderator Do you have any additional pleas for your fans for the live tweet off next week. We love your campaign video. It’s hilarious.
D. Theler I’m so proud of my campaign video. They begged me for followers with my shirt off. I do though; I’ve taken it as a competition and I’m expecting to win this.
If you guys don’t know, we’re having this Baby Daddy tweet off campaign and we want to see who can gain the most followers by the time the premiere is over, and I think I have a real shot at this. I think I do. I made my campaign video. I have some strong points, but I want to win. I want to gain as many followers as I can and I want to see the rest of the cast humiliated because that’s just the way I am.
Moderator This morning you were talking about the tweet off. Will you guys all actually be getting together while you’re doing that?
D. Theler To my knowledge, yes. We’re going to be at the studio together during the tweet off, the whole cast I think, as the show premieres.
Moderator Can you let us know where were you when you found out you got the role of Danny?
D. Theler I did the test like a lot of actors do going through the network test, which is a pretty tough experience, and I was hungry. I went to KFC, I think. I was in KFC drive through and I got the call from our executive producer, Dan, that I got the role, and that was very exciting, so I basically just squealed tires out of the drive thru and got home and I live in a house with all my buds, a bunch of boys and I took them all to a steak dinner to celebrate. That’s the story of me getting the Danny role. I think dinner was at Sizzler. I didn’t go that big, but it was still exciting.
Moderator What do you think has made this show such a huge success so quickly?
D. Theler I think I know exactly what it is, and I think it’s honestly the chemistry between the cast and the crew and how much we like each other. We truly, truly care about each other, the entire cast, and I’m sure everyone’s said this before, but we’re very close. I actually live with Jean-Luc, my TV brother. I live in a house with him. I see him every single day and we know a lot about each other, almost everything about each other.
I see Chelsea very, very often and we catch up, and it’s just an amazing thing to have. It’s such a close-knit cast because we know so much about other and we care about each other and there’s nobody that’s on the outskirts of the crew. We all really love to come to work and get to see all of our best friends. We’re really that close, and it’s just amazing that we get to keep doing it and I hope we do it for a lot longer because up until this point, there hasn’t been a single day where not everybody got along like a family. It’s amazing.
Moderator How do you think Danny has grown since Baby Emma came into their lives?
D. Theler Well, he’s grown a lot. Danny has grown a lot because he, as a character, didn’t really know much about babies especially. He’s always kind of been a team player. He’s on a hockey team, but it really is the baby coming into the equation really brought the whole cast together. It brought all the characters together because they needed to come together for this one human being, and nobody really knew how to handle it and all of them just converging as a family learning the important parts of raising a baby, and I think that also helped him learn how to express his feelings especially with the whole Riley situation like he’s maturing. He’s becoming more of an adult even though he has a long way to go, but he’s starting to take some chances and realize what he wants in life as well just because his little brother had to grow up so fast.
Moderator Could you tell us how Danny is similar or different from yourself?
D. Theler That’s a good question. Danny is very similar to me as far as his intentions, and like I said before, he’s such a team player. He’s always there. He’s the guy that you can really rely on. He’s always the guy that if you’re in a jam, he’s going to come through for you if he possibly can, and I think that’s pretty similar to me.
One of the differences is definitely how long it takes him to get the joke. He’s the slow one of the crew when it comes to understanding the plan, but he always eventually gets it together, but it’s funny. He has a lot of great moments throughout this next season about everybody else understanding what’s happening, understanding the plan and he gets it a scene later. I’m glad to say that that’s not one of my personality traits.
Moderator Is there anything you’re working on during the hiatus, other projects that have come about after the success of Baby Daddy?
D. Theler The funny thing about this hiatus is it was very short because we’re going back to work here in like a month and a half and I feel like we just got done, so I didn’t have quite enough time to really do something that I wanted to do. One of my goals is definitely break into film and I want to do action movies as well. I want to do thrillers and action, like a superhero movie would be exactly the kind of thing that I really want to work on eventually, but at this time, it’s basically just a lot of promo work for the show and interviews and a lot of photo shoots.
I have a photo in UsWeekly coming out today, which is cool and traveling too. Time off is good. It’s good to see your family, and I’ve traveled a lot in the last few weeks just gearing up to go back to work for a long time for the third season.
Moderator Do you have a favorite behind-the-scenes moment or memory or something that you could share with our readers?
D. Theler What I love about our show is if you come to the live tapings, we are there for the fans, and a really cool thing that we almost try to do for every episode is just completely blow a scene, and we’ll throw a character that’s not supposed to be in that scene until the very last take, we’ll throw a character that’s not supposed to be in the scene in there and we’ll just improvise throughout the rest of it and that’s probably one of my favorite things about our show is you never know when that’s going to happen. So, you have guest stars or main characters even popping out of the closets or coming out of the bathrooms and just blowing the scene and then we just work through it and keep playing it up for the audience. That’s my favorite thing that we do on our live tape nights for sure.
There was a moment when I have a date at the house, at the apartment, and I have a very intense emotional scene with Riley, and then, my date is supposed to reveal herself, and during the last take, it turned out to be Matt Dallas and he pretended to be my lover and we just played it up to the audience and we went through the scene way longer than we should have, but that was a pretty fun moment.
Moderator If you had to be one of the Avengers, which one would you be and why?
D. Theler Tough question. I’m a huge, huge comic book fan. I love the superhero movies so much. If I had to be one of the Avengers, I would go with Thor. I would have to. I just think I look the part too much and I’m a fan of all of them, but Thor would be something that I think I could put on. I think I could make it happen.
Baby Daddy is seen on Wednesdays at 8:30/7:30c on ABC Family
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