You have that carefree attitude when you’re that young and you think everything is just gonna work out the way you want it to, which is never the case, ever.
It becomes clear within a few minutes of shooting the shit with Casey Deidrick that he possesses both the charm and laidback attitude for us to spark a more open conversation that a lot of actors reflexively slam the doors on. The 31-year-old heartthrob speaks as candidly about his unconventional, yet no less fulfilling, road to where he is now and his early days hustling in Los Angeles waiting tables at Saddle Ranch—good god, all those drunken college nightmares—as he does about his many accomplishments in an unforgiving industry. Deidrick is the antithesis of actorly pretension with much more simmering beneath a handsome veneer, and he evinces that slam-dunk combination of agreeableness and exactitude that appears to be his determining ethos.
Deidrick is no stranger to the world of television, having first entered the cultural conversation with his four-year stint on Days of Our Lives. Like many before him, there was a chance that he could fall into the “soap trap” and become the face of his on-screen character for much longer, but this was not his dream. He soldiered on and tapped into what we’ll lovingly call his “MTV chunk” with roles on Teen Wolf and Eye Candy, appealing to a whole new demographic of swooning fans.
Now comes In the Dark, which has the kind of effective logline they try to hammer into your brain in film school: a blind woman tries to solve her friend’s murder with her guide dog, Pretzel. The show follows Murphy (Perry Mattfeld)—a hard-living, disaffected twentysomething who’s, again, blind—and Deidrick plays Max, who helps her solve the crime that no one will acknowledge ever happened. This month also sees the TV mainstay in Gregg Araki’s new series Now Apocalypse.
In the Dark airs every Thursday on The CW at 9PM ET/PT.
So you’re originally from California, Casey?
Yeah, I was born and raised in Northern California.
I was born in Santa Clara, which is near San Jose. The Bay Area.
I know it well. I went to both middle and high school out there. What were you like as a kid?
I was a very confused child, as most kids are I’d say. [Laughs] But I think I was like one of those wallflower kids, you know? I didn’t really have that many friends until I started skateboarding. I think skateboarding opened up so many doors for me as a kid and just taught me a lot about persistence and dedication. That’s what I remember about being a kid: skateboarding. That was one of the most important things for me growing up.
Did you ever consider going pro with it?
My dream was to become a professional skateboarder. That’s what I wanted to do. I kind of went the opposite direction here, but I think about skateboarding a lot. I still skate today, but obviously not as heavily as I once used to.
So when did acting come into focus for you?
When I was 14, I ended up moving to Colorado to live with my mom. I finished high school there and did a year of college, really, with no direction. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I just went to a community college in Denver and dropped out after the first year and decided to join the military. I was going to join the Marine Corps. But my mom always noticed something about me as far as me being a performer. I never did plays in high school or took classes or anything like that. I was just always performing at home. I was a huge Jim Carrey fan growing up and I would always imitate him around the house. I think my mom just really—as all moms do—worried about me and cared about me at the time, and didn’t want me to go in the military. She said, “Look, there’s this AMTC Convention (which is like a beauty pageant for actors and models that was going on in Denver) and I want you to at least try this.” I ended up doing this thing and we all went down to Florida for the event and I ended up getting the most callbacks in my group from managers and agents. They would say, “Let me know when you’re in L.A.” I actually ended up visiting L.A. for a couple weeks and got five auditions within a few days of being out here. So that’s kind of how it all came into place. A few months later, I ended up packing everything up and moving out to L.A. by myself, which was crazy in retrospect.
That’s so cool that your mom was so supportive of you from the very beginning. She also planted the idea it sounds like.
Yeah, and my dad, too. They’ve both been very, very supportive. My entire family has been very supportive of me being out here and following my dream of doing this. It’s always a plus when you have your family on your side for something like this.
Your first credit was a guest spot on the 90210 reboot. What was going on at the time for you?
Oh, we’re going way back? We’re going back to that era? [Laughs] Dude, that was like 13 years ago! I just remember being so young. I was like 19, 20. I don’t know where it came from or where it stemmed from, but I just had this drive: “I gotta do this. I gotta do it.” I had no money. I didn’t have any cares in the world, really. It’s the stuff of being young, you know? You have that carefree attitude when you’re that young and you think everything is just gonna work out the way you want it to, which is never the case, ever. I think I just got really lucky. I have cousins in the Redondo Beach area and they let me stay at their place. I basically slept and lived on their couch for about seven months. I was working at Saddle Ranch at Universal Studios waiting tables. I was driving back and forth from here to Redondo Beach every day commuting and then doing auditions in-between that. Then I remember getting connected with just a cool group of people through my acting class at the time and we all ended up getting a place together when I had finally saved up enough money. I think that’s how it all started clicking. I booked 90210. I was really focused at the time, too, more focused than any 19-year-old or 20-year-old should’ve ever been. I remember getting 90210–that was my first job. I think it was [Wizards of] Waverly Place that I did right after and then I got the soap opera shortly after that. I was on Days of Our Lives for four years.
I remember having this chat with Justin Hartley, who had a long stint on a soap before This Is Us, where he seemed very appreciative about his time on The Young and the Restless but ready to move onto something real. Did you feel that same way when you left the soap?
Well, you’re just so used to working on the same set every day. It’s so dramatic in soap operas, which is what they’re known for. It’s nice to kind of breakaway from that and, like Justin said, do something real and honest and something that’s refreshing. As much as I did enjoy my time on the soap—that was my foundation where I learned everything and I appreciate my time there so much—I’m also thankful that I got to have the opportunities that I’ve had and work with people that I’ve gotten to work with.
Now you’re on this new show In the Dark. You play Max. Who is he?
Max is not your typical guy, you know? He’s not your typical toxic masculinity-type of guy. I think the roles are very much reversed in this show and that’s what I love about it. That’s what drew me to this character. He’s this fun, kind of dodgy, mysterious guy. He runs his own food truck company, which is a money laundering front for a drug enterprise that he’s working with his business partner Darnell. There’s so much mystery behind this kind of guy that you don’t really know, but what I do know is that this character Max taught me a lot about myself and who I am, and who I’m not. Max is ultimately there in this show to crack Murphy’s guarded vulnerability, and Murphy brings Max out just as much as Max brings Murphy out. I think it’s a very special dynamic that the writers created for us.
You’re also appearing in an episode of another new series, Now Apocalypse, airing this month. Gregg Araki, its creator, is awesome. Were you aware of his stuff going into it?
Yeah, I was. He’s a very abstract director. He’s a very out-there, very sexual director. I love that about him. Working with him, he had such a good, playful energy on set. Once I got offered the role, I absolutely wanted to work with Gregg because I think he’s just so talented and he has a different way of thinking about things. I really, really enjoyed Mysterious Skin with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. That was one of his films that put him on the map. In doing so with that film, Gregg brought so much awareness to male sexual trauma—something that we don’t really talk about on social media or online. I think it’s really great when a director can come on the scene and bring an awareness to something as important as that.
I promise I’m being totally sincere with this next question. When male actors get asked, “What actors do you like? What movies do you like?” it’s so common to get David Fincher, Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight, Tom Hardy—things that I read you love—or a rendition of those answers. It’s not that it’s unoriginal to say. It just surprises me that the parameter is so often small. I also read that you want to play a Navy SEAL, which is another one.
I’m trying to think how to answer that question correctly. For me, it’s because I have so much respect for the military and especially Navy SEALs for what they put themselves through, both physically and mentally. I’m attracted to roles that are physically and emotionally draining. That’s what I’m interested in and want to play because that’s the way I was raised and also the emotional trauma I experienced as a kid. I think that’s something I would like to explore more of. As for Tom Hardy, yeah, it’s a pretty obvious answer, but I don’t like Tom Hardy just because he’s an action star or because he’s doing the biggest film. I like him because he’s one of the only actors where he doesn’t have to say shit and you know exactly what he’s feeling. He has so much emotion in his eyes alone that that’s all you need to see with him. I find that that’s the kind of acting I identify with and something that I relate to. It’s the same thing with Shia LaBeouf. I love Shia LaBeouf so much. I don’t know much about him personally, but I do know that when he’s on screen I can’t take my eyes off him. I think he’s just a very, very powerful actor. That’s why I like acting so much. I love those kinds of roles—those dark, gritty roles.
Do you get recognized on the street for something like starring in The Chainsmokers music video? That video has 50 million views on YouTube. It’s insane the kind of numbers music videos clock these days.
I mean, I had a shaved head and I didn’t have a beard so I looked a lot more different than I do now. But, you know, sometimes it happens. Sometimes it’s like, “I had no idea you were in that video.” I was really glad to be a part of that project. I think that was a really cool passion project between me and the director. I felt so, so excited that I got to do something like that, especially for The Chainsmokers and considering all of their success right now. I wish them all the success in the world because they’re killing it right now. They’re doing really good.
How does an opportunity like that present itself for an actor?
I was really good friends with the director, Rory Kramer. He’s an influencer, and the videographer for The Chainsmokers and Justin Bieber. He just came to me with this idea and said, “I want to shoot this video where you’re gonna be wearing a rig with this camera looking at you.” He wrote a treatment for it. I was like, “Yeah dude, I’m in. Sign me up. Let me know what I gotta do.” I just kind of jumped in without really asking too many questions because I trust him.
Do you have ambitions to also write or direct something? Maybe you already do it.
I’m not much of a writer. I even try to write my journal sometimes and I have the hardest time writing. But I think directing is something that I can definitely foresee in my future. I do know that if In the Dark gets picked up for another season that I would love to take some time and shadow some of our directors on the show. I would love to expand on my experiences in this industry.