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Greg In Hollywood chats up Bryce Johnson: from cult fave “Popular” to new FOX drama “Lone Star”

Bryce Johnson as Drew Thatcher on   Lone Star  .

photoFans of the classic WB series Popular (from Glee creator Ryan Murphy) know that many cast members from that show, including Christopher Gorham, Sara Rue, Lesley Bibb and Leslie Grossman, have gone on to other successful shows.Now its Bryce Johnson’s turn with the promising Fox oil drama Lone Star which premieres next month.

Bryce, who played sweet high school quarterback Josh Ford on Popular and most recently had a recurring role as a detective on Pretty Little Liars, talked to me about his new role on the juicy family drama that also includes Jon Voight in his first series role.

“I play Drew Thatcher, he’s the youngest of the Thatchers and he’s a little bit naive,” Bryce says. “I think he’ll have a hard time trying to find a voice in his dad’s billion dollar oil company. I don’t think he’s taken very seriously which makes him an easy target for [older brother] Bob (James Wolk). It will be fun to see if he goes bad or stays good or who knows where he can go so that’s fun for me.”

Oscar winner Voight plays the family patriarch: “He’s amazing to work with, oh my God,” Bryce says. “It’s like a breath of fresh air. You can get caught watching someone in a scene and that’s what happens with Jon. You’re just like, ‘Oh shoot I forgot I’m in this scene, I’m just watching Jon work! [laughs]. That’s a tricky thing, I gotta stay alert and present.”

Since Popular went off the air in 2001, Bryce has worked steadily over the years in television and film.

One of his movies, Harry + Max, screened at Outfest back in 2004 and was notable (and controversial!)  because he played a young guy involved in an affair with his younger brother! His character was straight in another Outfest entry, 2006′s Freshman Orientation and was a gay cheerleader in Bring it On Again.

Glee creator Murphy, who also created Popular and Nip/Tuck, cast the actor for a guest spot on the FX series as a corporal wounded in combat who is seduced by Bruno Campos’s plastic surgeon character.

Bryce has also done scores of other guest spots on such series as House M.D., Without a Trace, NCIS, Drop Dead Diva, The Mentalist and CSI and had starring roles in the films The Skulls III, Sleeping Dogs Lie, and The Blue Toothed Virgin.

“I’ve been looking to do a series,” he says. “It’s been a long time. I think the best writing is in television right now and it’s something I want to be a part of. There’s a feeling being a series regular that you can’t get anywhere else doing guest stars or independent films, it’s like your chips are on the table and it’s exciting. It’s fun to see where it could go, where it could lead. It’s awesome. I’m so happy to be back on a series.” what about Ryan Murphy who Bryce knew way before the Glee phenomenon: “I always knew. I literally always knew that he was a genius and I had no doubt of his talent. When the original WB didn’t get it or didn’t want to cultivate [Popular] further, I knew it was a matter of time before he exploded out of the box and went on to do Nip/Tuck and of course Glee which doesn’t shock me a bit. I think the guy is uber uber talented and he’s going to be around in this business doing great, great things for a long time. He’s unstoppable.”

I wondered if Bryce was hoping for a guest spot on Glee. He’s not holding his breath explaining: “I can’t sing!”

FILE UNDER: Interviews


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