TakeFiveGal Chats With Daren Kagasoff From Secret Life of the American Teenager

Daren Kagasoff Photo

If you don’t know who Daren Kagasoff is now, trust me, you will soon.  In his first role, and a starring one at that, on ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager (TSLOTAT), he shows that bad boys, even the ones that get you knocked up at band camp, have problems, too.  I got the chance to chat with Daren after the premiere of TSLOTAT and here’s what he had to say about his role as Ricky, and why he thinks people should be tuning into the show.  

I watched the premiere last night.  I thought it was great.  I thought it was a really important show and your character cracked me up, the “typical” bad boy.  What do viewers need to know about your character before watching?

He’s just like every other guy in high school.  He wants to be the bad boy, I play the bad boy.  He puts on this front, but really inside he’s a good guy.  He wants to do the right thing it’s just from his troubled past, he doesn’t know how to.  He doesn’t know how to express it.  Hopefully, throughout the next episodes you get to see some changes in Ricky.

This is one of your first roles, kind of plucked from obscurity for this plum part.  Why did you want to play this character?
You know, it’s actually my first gig I’ve ever had.  I wanted to play it, I’d play anything for my first gig, haha.  When I first got the script, it was just magnetic.  I knew it could be me.  Right when I got the role, started reading the sides, I just worked on it day in and day out and just really tried to study the character and get the bad boy image down.  I think I’m a pretty hard guy, I guess, but not as forward and bad boy as Ricky, so it’s just a fun character to play.  You can be so forward and you’re just like the cool guy, so it’s fun!

How much of you know, the back story, you find out that he was abused, how much of that was in the first thing you read about the character?
They told everybody the character’s back story because they give you a full view of who you’re going to be playing and they give you way more of a bigger understanding, so once they gave me that information, I knew exactly what I was going to do with him and where I can make him vulnerable, where I can make him cocky or arrogant or whatever.  It’s just the funnest character, I think because he’s got so many different levels to him.  Either he’s a bullshitter, excuse my language.  It’s so much fun, I have a ball with this.

I think it’s funny that they’re finally showing that people in marching band do really do stuff like this.  They do have sex, they do get in trouble.
[laughs] Right!

Were you a part of that in high school?
I was always a baseball player my whole life, I was the jock type baseball player in high school.  I never got into marching band, I don’t think we even had that at our school.

I think it’s an interesting setting and I was cheering because people really do that stuff, ha!
Right, right.  Definitely, at other schools, I’ve definitely heard some things!

What’s coming up for your character?  
Like I said before, I guess you’re going to see the true colors of Ricky come out in the next episodes.  You get to see all these different colors of him.  I just don’t want to say anything. 

I ask that question and then I feel bad if someone gives something away and then I got them in trouble ha!
I know, yeah!  You get to see, because that first episode I’m like the jerk bad guy and you feel bad because of the sexual abuse from my father.  During the coming episodes, you really get to see my true colors and see who Ricky really is outside of like the school atmosphere.  I think when he’s inside his psychiatrists, with Ernie Hudson, he’s a different person.  You get to see a bunch of different levels from Ricky.

Why do you think it’s important that a show like this is on TV now?  Why should people watch?
I think with our show, there is a lot skepticism about this show because of the teen pregnancy and what’s going on, but our show, actually, I think it’s great.  With the writing, it’s absolutely unbelievable because I think it shows you the consequences of what could happen if something like this were to happen, as far as getting pregnant, or sleeping around, or doing whatever details in the show.  I think it’s great because it shows the consequences, and at the end of the show they had that whole speech with Shai and the teen pregnancy program.  It’s a lesson.  People tune in and it’s an educational thing as well.  They look at it, and see what not do, ha, or what to be careful of doing.

You said this is your first gig.  How lucky for you to get to work with someone like Ernie Hudson.  I think he’s so great.
That was literally my third day on set doing that scene with him.  I was extremely intimidated and I just wanted to bring it and do the best that I could.  I’m honored to be working with these types of actors. Josie Bissett, Ernie Hudson, John Schneider, Molly Ringwald, Mark Derwin.  These veterans are unbelievable and every day I’m on set, I learn something new from them.  

You also get lucky with someone like Brenda Hampton, who has her whole great track record with 7th Heaven behind her.
Brenda is absolutely the sweetest woman I’ve ever met.  She actually pushed for me, the hardest, for me to book this role.  I owe her so much.  She started my career and she is amazing.  An amazing woman, she’s so talented with what she comes up with.

What actors and actresses would you love to work with if you had the opportunity?
Who would I love to work with?  Wow, ha.  Several people.  I’d like to work with Sean Penn.  Julia Roberts.  Meryl Streep, you know, all the greats!  Everybody, anybody.  I’d like to work with everybody I can.

You said you played baseball – what got you into acting?  Was it always something you were interested in??
No, I was up at San Francisco State studying business management and I kind of couldn’t find my niche in anything.  My heart wasn’t into baseball anymore, and that’s the reason I went up there, so it was the time to really find out what I wanted to do.  I kept going back and forth with myself, thinking, oh do you want to act, because I didn’t know what my parents would think, and finally just called them and said listen, I want to go back home and start acting, and they were like “okay, do your thing” so I came back, jumped into a class for 8 months, and this project was like the 5th or 6th audition I’ve ever been out on, and it came my way.  I just feel really lucky.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
To be quite honest, when I’m not working, I’m either studying like new material or just trying to be the best actor I can whatever it is.  I like being around people, like alone, I like being alone and just doing my own thing.  Whatever I’m thinking at that moment trying to figure out different characters, and really study people.  Other than that, I like to golf with my family, with my dad and my brother.  That’s kind of my time off.  I’m never really not studying to be an actor.

Do you watch any other TV?
To be quite honest, I don’t watch TV.

I ask people who are on TV, and they always say “no I don’t watch TV”!
It’s crazy, right?  I used to watch when I was younger, like way younger.  I watch that show Californication with David Duchovny.  That’s the one show that I watch religiously.  Entourage once in a while when it’s back on.  Other than that, not really, I don’t watch too much TV.

Is there anything else you would want people to know?
Yeah, sure, the character I play on TV is not who I am in person.  Hopefully, those of you out there that I get to meet, you’ll see that I’m not as big of a jerk as I come off to be.

That is a great disclaimer to throw at the end!
Yeah, right?

It was such a pleasure to talk to you.  It’s always nice to hear someone who has a good head on their shoulders, and it sounds like you have a great plan for yourself.
Yeah, like all these interviews I’ve been doing they’re all just like, so are you excited about the glam, and this, and girls?  The guy that I play on the show is so not like me in person.  I just don’t even care.  It’s just too materialistic for me. I got into the business to tell stories through someone else’s eyes.  When I get on screen as Ricky, it’s full throttle.  If I gotta cry, I gotta cry.  It’s always about the material.  So if the material is good and it hits me in a certain way, I’m going do that project.

Tune into the latest episode of TSLOTAT, Tuesday on ABC Family, and see Daren in action!