"Animal Kingdom" Lead Shawn Hatosy Details Transition From Acting To Directing

"Animal Kingdom" lead Shawn Hatosy details his transition from actor to director

Ferrall On The Bench
October 30, 2018 - 9:15 am

Ranging from the likes of Clint Eastwood, Sydney Pollack, Rob Reiner, Mel Gibson, Ron Howard, Jon Favreau and George Clooney, many famous actors have transferred their on-screen talents to the director’s chair. While becoming an established director in Hollywood might seem like a glamorous lifestyle, the job itself is certainly not an easy one, and, just like in every profession, every young filmmaker must start somewhere.

Shawn Hatosy, an actor most recently known for his breakout performance as Andrew “Pope” Cody in the popular TNT television series Animal Kingdom, finally got his first opportunity behind the camera lens in Season 3, which continues Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET. 

In an interview on CBS Sports Radio, Hatosy detailed how he was able to persuade executive producer John Wells, who’s known the 42-year-old actor since working together on “Southland,” to give him the chance to make his directorial debut.

“I remember telling (John Wells) back then that I wanted to direct, and he would just look at me like I was crazy because I’m sure these guys here it all the time,” Hatosy said on Ferrall on the Bench. “People want to know how to make that transition from actor to director, and actors don’t necessarily have the best reputations in this business (as directors). I literally had to prove it by shadowing him, and the next guy, and just keep proving that I wanted it that badly — showing up on my days off, not getting paid, until they finally relented and gave me my first director’s job.”

The transition from actor to director wasn't easy, especially considering that Hatosy’s character was heavily incorporated throughout the whole episode — similar to Clint Eastwood in many of his directed films. Hatosy admitted that it took a little while to find the right balance with both roles.

“What’s a bit of a challenge is in this episode, Pope (Hatosy’s character) is all over it,” Hatosy said. “Clint Eastwood — he’s a guy that directs and he’s also in the things he directs. Pope is a challenging character, so there was a little bit of learning curve trying to wear both hats.”

Hatosy believes that one of his strengths as a director lies in the fact that he’s been an actor for almost 30 years, so he and his fellow actors have a mutual understanding that’s both collaborative and beneficial for the final product.

“It’s going to sound a little cheesy, but actors kind of have their own language when they’re talking,” Hatosy said. “It’s not a technical way of speaking. It’s this sort of a creative communication. Of course, having been an actor for 30 years, that’s where I excel as a director. I’m very tuned into the performance. To me, this process is a collaborative process, and I feel like if people feel uninhibited and want to contribute some thoughts, it keeps a looser set and people feel that they have ownership of the project at the end of that. I found that you get people to deliver their best work that way. I just enjoy the collaborative process. It just feels good working together and producing something that you’re proud of.”