Canadian actor Diego Klattenhoff got his first big break for his role as Shane Oman (“above the projection room!”) in Mean Girls. Fast-forward 10 years, and the handsome star from Nova Scotia is commanding the screen in some of television’s most critically acclaimed series.
Starring alongside Damian Lew is in Homeland and currently playing the lead role in The Blacklist opposite James Spader, Diego chats to HELLO! Online about working with stellar casts, remembering where he’s come from and how to survive in Hollywood.
After Homeland, you went to work on The Blacklist. How did you feel landing the part?
“I couldn’t be happier. It was exactly what I wanted coming off of Homeland. It’s been great and really fun. There’s a killer cast on there and a lot of physical activity. You’re running around getting shot at and beating people up, so what’s not to love?”
Is there any actor whose career you'd like to emulate?
“I mean, Robert Pattinson. No, I’m kidding, I shouldn’t say that. He’s actually really nice. My neighbour works with him and said he was a great guy. I don’t know to be honest, I don’t really model myself after anybody. You’re always just trying to create opportunities and be ready when those opportunities present themselves. I can’t look at anybody and think ‘I want to be Damian Lewis’ – I’d be setting myself up for failure.”
What was it like working with Damien on Homeland?
“Damien is a class act all the way. He’s incredibly talented, a gentleman all the way and extremely smart. It was a delight. He’s somebody I admire and look up to. Working with all of those guys, it was a top notch cast.”
Have you met Claire Danes or Morena Baccarin's baby yet?
“I haven't seen Morena’s yet but I met Claire’s son last year and he's huge. It’s surprising how such a large baby can come from such small people. Maybe it's all the talent.”
Damian Lewis and Diego Klattenhoff
Has it been a difficult transition, moving from Nova Scotia to the world of Hollywood?
“Things are so busy and so quick, and there’s so much going on, you have to realise the time when you have to take a step back, take a breath and really think back to where you come from. I’m from a very, very rural place. There’s really nobody out there, just roads and farms. I had a long transition to get to where I am now. I moved away when I was young, when I was about 19. I’d literally come from an area with dirt roads and stuff like that, right to the centre of a city of about five million people. It’s been great. I’m based in New York and every day it's amazing.”
Did you always want to be an actor?
“No. It was just something that came up when I was around 19. It was something that I wanted to try and thought maybe I could do it. It was just some crazy idea that I had. I ran away to drama and here I am. It’s working out, it's work in progress.”
Do you have any tips for budding actors?
“It’s all about learning your craft and honing it in and really paying attention to people who are doing it and what their advice is. It’s like anything, it takes years and years and years. A lot of it comes down to work ethic. I’ve been working since Mean Girls for ten years and I’d worked before that, and I see people working now that were working back then. They were all the hardest workers and that has a lot to do it with it. A lot of people are attracted to the acting profession because they think it's a cheap, easy free ride. It really isn't.”
Diego playing Mike Faber in Homeland
Have you kept in touch with your Mean Girls co-stars - Lindsay Lohan, Tina Fey, Rachel McAdams?
“I haven’t seen in Lindsay in years – she actually used to go to the bar around the corner from my house in LA. Tina, I think those days are over for her. I haven’t seen Rachel in years. People I know love to say to her, ‘Hey, Diego says hello’ and I say, ‘Don’t say that, you’re going to make me look like a crazy person.’ I ran into Amy Poehler a few times at awards shows and saw Amanda Seyfried at the Golden Globes last year. She’s very sweet and talented.”