Honing her craft onscreen in the searing Amazon legal drama GOLIATH, Diana Hopper has proven to be a strong performer and an actor to keep an eye on. In GOLIATH, Diana portrays Denise McBride, the daughter of Billy Bob Thornton’s character and his character’s ex-wife portrayed by Maria Bello, who are lawyers that engage in legal warfare as if it were high-stakes poker. Diana’s nuanced performance brings out the tender side of these battle-hardened characters. In an exclusive interview, Diana talks about her cool role in GOLIATH and reflects a bit about her career and what it is like as a young actor working in Hollywood.
What was the initial appeal for you about portraying Denise McBride and working on Amazon’s GOLIATH?
DIANA: Between the quality of the scenes and the opportunity to play Billy Bob Thornton’s daughter — it was a no brainer.
How would you describe who Denise is in the series?
DIANA: Denise is intuitive, sensitive, and bright. Her dad in many ways is her hero, despite the fact that he is an absent alcoholic most of the time. She’s always fighting to get him back.
What do you most admire about her?
DIANA: Her level of loyalty to her father. And her sense of humor.
What is it like working alongside the talented ensemble on GOLIATH?
DIANA: I find everyone on the show to be very natural. The nuances in everyone’s work I find myself very intrigued and inspired by. It makes my job very easy and extremely fun.
Portraying the daughter of Billy McBride, you get to work with Billy Bob Thornton. What is that experience like?
DIANA: Billy always brings energy and life into any scene you do with him. He’s one of the best actors in the business.
Then what is the best part about working with Maria Bello, who portrays your character’s mom?
DIANA: She is lovely! We had a ton of fun just finding our characters’ dynamics with one another.
Any favorite scenes that you can share from working on the show?
DIANA: My favorite scene is in Season 2. It’s a story Billy tells, but I can’t say more than that!
What challenges did you face working on the show and how did you overcome them?
DIANA: I wish that I had a better answer to this question. My only challenge was wanting to be on set more.
Has GOLIATH left an impression on you in your life? If so, in what way?
DIANA: Absolutely. Working on this show has been life changing. I have learned so much about myself as an actor but also as a person. It’s really helped me to grow and become better.
Then as an actor, what has been the one thing you have taken away from the experience of working on GOLIATH?
DIANA: I’ve always done my best to relax in a scene, never force anything, and be open to whatever comes. This show has taken that to the next level. Billy is always truthful — moment to moment. He has really heightened my ability to do so.
What have you learned about the legal profession as a result from working on the show?
DIANA: I’ve learned that our legal system is extremely complex — with a lot of loopholes.
What has surprised you most about your career so far?
DIANA: That I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and work with so many talented individuals.
At this stage of your career, what do you think you have learned from the roles and projects you have worked on?
DIANA: They all give you something different. Some teach you what to do, some teach you what not to do. Sometimes you meet someone who becomes a good friend. I guess what I’ve learned is to go in to every project with an open heart and see what comes.
Then what are the perks of where you are in your career right now.
DIANA: I get to do what I love for a living!
Has there been any great advice you have gotten about working as an actor?
DIANA: I get nervous before going on stage or camera just like anyone else, maybe more sometimes. But a great acting teacher I had once told me: nerves are free energy. It’s just your body preparing you for something great. And you can either use that energy, or let it sit in your stomach like a rock and weigh you down. When you learn how to take nervous energy and make it work for you, it’s life-changing.
What advice would you offer to other upcoming and aspiring actors?
DIANA: Focus on the work. Don’t worry about what others around you are doing. It’s very important.
At a time when women’s voices are rising to be heard and respected around the country and world, what do you recommend your fans do to lend support in that endeavor?
DIANA: Watch movies and television starring and directed/written by women! I just saw “Book Club” which was an absolute trip.
Do you have any other upcoming projects that you can share that fans should keep an eye out for?
DIANA: I have a film “Shooting In Vain” premiering at the Dances With Films Festival on June 14 that is very close to my heart. That one is about loss and shines a light on a widespread heroin epidemic happening in the United States.
To see how more embroiled Denise becomes in her father’s tumultuous life and law practice, be sure to look for the GOLIATH Season 2 premiere on Friday, June 15th when the entire second season will be available for binge-watching exclusively on Amazon Prime Video. For more information about the show, you can follow it on Twitter @GoliathTV. Then to find out where Diana’s adventures take her as her career grows, you can also follow her on Twitter @dhopxo.
GOLIATH Season 2 trailer:
“Shooting In Vain” trailer: