David Lambert from ABC Family’s “The Fosters” visited with us, and other media outlets, during a conference call/interview on Tuesday (June 11, 2013).
David talked about working on his new ABC Family Original Series, music, working with the cast of “The Fosters,” and so much more!
Take a look:
Q: Congratulations on The Fosters. How did you get started in acting?
D. Lambert: Acting goes back a little ways for me. I supposed I started with theater growing up. It was mainly a social outlet and it was just kind of something I did for fun. I met a lot of good friends through it so it really kept me involved. Then as I got older, I’d say probably when I got to like seventh or eighth grade, I was living in Atlanta, Georgia at the time and I went for an open call for an agent, a local agent out there, a woman named Joy Purvis and she ended up picking me up.
I sort of was just going with it. I wasn’t really taking it seriously at this point. I just wanted to see what would happen. I guess one thing led to the next and I ended up going out to L.A. with my mom and seeing what would happen. I was fortunate enough to see good things happen to me, I ended up working and things just grew from there.
Q: What celebrities, past or present, do you look up to or may inspire you in your career?
D. Lambert: I’d say from the present Leonardo DiCaprio was always one that I really respected and looked up to. His work is amazing. I really like the roles he picks. He’s got some of my dream roles. If I could pick any role to play he’s got a few. So he would probably be on the top.
I actually really like Christopher Walken. I find him a really interesting actor. He’s such a character that I love everything he’s in. And you know, I love some of the greats as well, like De Niro and going back to like Marlon Brando and James Dean as well. I’m kind of a sucker for classic movies and kind of the old-timey feel. I watch a lot of that stuff.
Q: I’m wondering if you can tell us a little bit about Brandon and Callie’s relationship?
D. Lambert: They have a really interesting sort of connection right of the bat. In the pilot he’s really drawn to her and feels the need to help her. It is sort of reciprocated by her, but it’s one of those things where neither really knows what’s happening there. They just understand that there’s this connection.
Whether it’ll grow or not it’s kind of up in the air at this point, but they do understand there’s this mutual feeling between the two of them and it’s definitely a special connection. So yes, I guess it’s just one of those things that has to develop over time, but it’s not necessarily set in stone that they are in love or whatever. It’s just one of those odd connections, I would say.
Q: What is it like working with Maia Mitchell and the rest of the cast?
D. Lambert: They’re great. This cast is honestly one of the best casts I’ve ever worked with. It’s one of those things where I go to set and I think that’s the biggest thing that I’m looking forward to is getting to work with these people because everyone—with me, I have such a different connection with all of them and neither is better than the next but it’s such a unique connection with every single person. So every scene is very fun. It’s a really fun experience to work with everyone.
Maia’s great. Maia’s really, really awesome. She gives it her all just like everyone else does really. Everyone goes above and beyond to make this show as real as possible. It’s a respect thing. I admire my cast. I really respect them and I think everyone’s super talented.
Q: I’m curious; what was the audition process like for The Fosters?
D. Lambert: The audition process was—honestly, it started like any other audition for me in L.A. I just went to the first meeting and it was just for casting. From there I got a callback and that was a pretty regular feeling. I just kept coming back and then it was after the third meeting that I was really like, “Okay, this could go somewhere. This is interesting.”
But it felt normal and then it kind of just came out of nowhere for me and then before I knew it I was testing. I feel like that tends to happen. Whenever you book a job you don’t even realize how close you’re getting until you almost have it pretty much. So it was definitely one of those things for me. It almost blindsided me how fast everything moved.
Q: How would you describe the character of Brandon if you had to tell somebody who maybe hasn’t watched the show yet? How would you describe him?
D. Lambert: He’s the oldest in his family and he’s the biological son of one of the mothers, Stef, who’s played by Teri Polo. He’s a gifted musician overall, but his instrument of choice is piano. He’s classically trained in piano. He’s always playing really beautiful pieces from Rachmaninoff and all of those guys.
He’s brilliant and he’s a very smart kid and a little mature for his age just due to this unique setup that he has with his mothers and with his dad. He’s essentially raised by three parents so it makes for very interesting situations that he just has to deal with very normally because that’s just how it is for him. It kind of gives him an edge over other kids who don’t necessarily have to deal with that.
He’s a very fun character for me to play. He’s a really good kid though. He means well and he has a really big heart. Family is everything for him. He loves his family and he would do anything for any of them. So it’s a very special character to be playing.
Q: I was wondering if you, in your words, could explain why you think people should tune into this show? Why it’s different from other family dramas?
D. Lambert: In this day and age we’re kind of lacking in family dramas overall. I feel like we could use more and sort of step away a little bit from the big explosions and all of this visual eye candy that seems to be in everything these days. This show really sort of slows down and focuses on just the characters really.
Besides just the fact that there’s a same sex couple and we do have all of these relevant and current topics, the show really is a classic show. It has very classic vibes to it, in terms of a family drama, and we hope it’s very relatable.
The show has a way of just introducing these topics and these issues and being very blunt about it, which I sort of love. We don’t beat around the bush. We just say it how it is and we expect audiences to just be able to handle it and see how these characters deal with it, which I think makes for really good TV.
I think it’s a really great show to be a part of. It’s something that excites me whenever I read the new scripts. I think that people will be surprised at just how interesting these people are. And they’re not necessarily doing anything out of the ordinary. The kids go to school and they just deal with whatever it is that’s happening that day.
But it just makes for really interesting stuff because they don’t always do the right thing. They sometimes make mistakes just like kids do in high school but they learn they lesson as well. They always redeem themselves. It’s a very relatable thing to watch, as a person. So for me, I love that about the show. I love that everyone gets his or her chance to make a mistake but then learn from it.
Q: Do you have any good stories from set so far, since there are so many of you especially in the house, in the Foster house and everything?
D. Lambert: It’s really funny. We honestly have a really good time on set. Everyone does. From the adults to the kids, everyone is on the same page and we all have the same amount of fun. There’s no real line drawn in the sand or anything like that, which is great because sometimes you run into that on sets, which is really unfortunate. But on this set everyone is very tight knit, very close. I could go up to any of the cast members and have a full-on conversation with them and it’s very comfortable for me.
I’m trying to think of good stories in particular. I know Cierra Ramirez and Jake T. Austin, who play Jesus and Mariana Foster, the twins, had to dress up at one point to take these Halloween pictures, these sort of family Halloween pictures. So Jake had to dress up in this really great jester costume and I actually ended up getting a picture of it just as he was standing right in front of me. I don’t know, that stuck with me so much because it was so hilarious to watch him walk around in this jester costume for the hour or however long he had to wear it for.
But besides that, really, we’re always fooling around. There are so many jokes made. We try to keep it light because there are a lot of dramatic scenes that we’re filming and we think it’s important to not drive ourselves insane. So we try to lighten up the mood whenever possible.
Q: What attracted you to the role of Brandon Foster?
D. Lambert: I think he’s definitely the most similar to me from any character I’ve played. I think that’s really interesting for me. I haven’t really experienced that much with a character. So for me to be able to relate with him the way I can and sort of very easily imagine how he must feel in a lot of these situations. It’s very interesting for me. It’s not a stretch.
It’s one of those things where I don’t have to, in my preparation, work so hard to make it relatable in some way for me because I’m already mentally there. So it’s a cool role for me in my life because I get to play Brandon but also incorporate a lot of David into Brandon. That makes for really an interesting experience for me I guess.
I play piano in my life. I wouldn’t say I’m anywhere as good as Brandon is, but I’ve been playing for almost seven years now. I’m self-taught so I’m kind of on the other side of the spectrum from Brandon. He’s very precise and classically trained and whatnot, but we do share a love for music. That’s something that’s really cool to sort of portray on camera in the way that I get to with Brandon.
I don’t know; he’s a really interesting guy. I love that I get to have him and get to play him because he’s definitely a really close one to me.
Q: How is filming The Fosters different from filming Aaron Stone and other shows you’ve done in the past?
D. Lambert: Well it’s my first hour drama, in terms of TV. That’s interesting just in terms of pacing and the hours we’re working and how we do it. So that was a first for me. Aaron Stone was a half hour so we were getting two episodes done in like eight or nine days, whereas with this we’re getting one episode done in the same time. It’s interesting. We’re filming like little movies almost is what it feels more like.
It’s awesome though. It’s a really good, demanding, challenging experience and as an actor you can ask for nothing more. You want the challenge. You want to be kept on your toes. This is definitely doing that for me and I’m learning so much. I know even after this first season I’ll walk away feeling twice as much of an actor as I did walking in. I’ll just be that much better and that’s really great to know that this job is doing that for me.
Q: You talked some about the similarities between you and Brandon. Can you tell us some about the differences between you and your character?
D. Lambert: Yes. We definitely have differences as well. Brandon is very headstrong and a little impulsive when it comes to his emotions. He doesn’t necessarily always think things through and I feel like I’m a very analytical person. I’m a little in my head. That’s just kind of how I work. I’m very internal and I think a lot. I play things out in my head, whereas Brandon I would say is more external with dealing with things.
That’s an interesting change for me. Having to vocalize and externalize what I might be feeling inside. That’s something that Brandon would do. That’s a cool difference. As an actor, you obviously want differences. Its just Brandon is such a blend for me with similarities and differences.
I guess just his situation is obviously different from mine. The things that he has to deal with I’ve never had to deal with but I definitely had my share of—just like anyone else—troubles in my family. Things I’ve had to go through with my family. So I can relate with him still even though it’s not the exact situation. I can still relate to how it must feel as an older brother and son. So yes, I guess it’s a tradeoff.
Q: Do you have any other future plans other than The Fosters in the works?
D. Lambert: No, not entirely. There’s a smaller little indie movie called The Lifeguard that went to Sundance earlier this year. I think it’ll be coming out this summer. I wish I had exact dates, but I heard June.
I’m really proud of that project. It stars Kristen Bell and Martin Starr and Mamie Gummer. That was just a nice little project that I got to work on and I learned so much from that. It was a more mature role for me. So yes, as an actor I’m always so excited about those things that I get to stretch my legs and really get to do something that’s hard to do.
But besides that, no, I’m looking forward to taking a little bit of a break after filming and then I’ll be crossing my fingers and hoping for more of The Fosters. I would love to get to play Brandon some more and get to see where this family goes. So I guess we’ll just have to see what the future holds.
Q: So Talya and Brandon’s relationship, how does that change now that Callie’s in the picture?
D. Lambert: I think it’s one of those things for Brandon, at least, that he doesn’t even realize. He’s only now just beginning to realize what it means to have Callie around. That’s an interesting thing for him. I think Talya was much more quick to notice what this may do and to notice that Brandon may be interested or at least care for Callie, which is enough for Talya to lose her mind. It is only going to make for more interesting situations down the road, especially between the girls.
I think Brandon’s a little slower, in terms of picking up on things that are right under the surface. So for him he’s almost innocent in the way that he wants to make sure Callie’s good in this new environment, in this new world that she’s kind of been thrust into, but at the same time he does have a girlfriend. He’s not linking the two yet, whereas maybe Talya is seeing [it] a little differently.
So it’s a fun thing that he has to sort of slowly realize. Like, “Oh, oh, I see that this might look this way and I guess now it’s sort of a little triangle here.” That’s just a fun little situation, one of the many that he is faced with, and I’m looking forward to seeing how that develops.
Q: What episode are you guys filming now or are you done?
D. Lambert: We are actually almost done. We are on episode eight now, finishing up episode eight and then moving to nine. We will be done soon I believe. I’m sort of getting information on and off. I kind of just show up to set and work and they will tell me what I need to know.
Q: You mentioned earlier about playing music, especially piano. Do you see maybe pursuing music in your career?
D. Lambert: That’s an interesting question because I sort of go back and forth. I love music so much. It’s really something that I hold dear, but I think as of right now I would much rather be an actor who just happens to play music than someone who’s trying to do both. I know acting has been just my number one passion. I don’t want to steal focus and put it other places. I’d rather commit 100% to one area and sort of develop that part in my career.
As of right now, just as a young person and where I’m at in my career, I think it’d be much smarter to try my hand at many, many different types of projects with acting and be all over the place with acting. Music will always be there. I own a piano. I have it in my apartment. I play it every day and I have a lot of musician friends who I play with.
It’ll always be there so I can always change my mind down the road, but I think it would be smarter for me to focus on acting. Acting truly is a love of mine. So yes, I think music will always be there but I’m definitely more of an actor.
Q: How much of the actual playing of the piano and stuff do you actually do on the show?
D. Lambert: I actually am pretty adamant about meeting with the composer on off days and rehearsing pieces that are coming up and from there we’ll discuss what I feel like I can handle and what I can’t. Usually what it’s worked out to so far is with more of the classical pieces, that is stuff that we use more playback on and whatnot, the more intricate, elaborate pieces.
But any original compositions that Brandon is playing or coming up with is me. So yes, usually the original stuff that Brandon is writing and all that stuff is usually me playing it live on the day and then the more classical pieces are things that I kind of need help with, just due to the difficulty of the piece.
Q: You mentioned earlier that you’re self-taught in piano. So I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about what inspired you to start playing?
D. Lambert: Honestly, it started one New Year now almost seven years ago. It was my resolution to learn an instrument. It was my New Year’s resolution. So I went into the attic of my house and we happened to have this really old, beat up keyboard. It was about like half a piano. It wasn’t even a full size and I ended up just plugging that thing in and playing that for the next year.
The way I started was I took some lessons in the beginning but I ended up not having the patience for it, to be honest. So what I ended up doing was just listening to the music that I wanted to mimic and try my best to sound like it and figure it out on the keys. So now, flashing forward seven years later, that’s still essentially what I do. It’s worked for me.
It was definitely a lot of work at the beginning. It was a very clunky experience, but now it’s really cool because I’m getting to a point now where I can really explore with styles and different types of music and all that stuff. The piano’s a great instrument. It’s a really cool place to start musically because from here I could learn another instrument and still have an idea for just the general theory of music and the basis.
So yes, it was just one of those things that I loved. I’ve always loved music and now I just love it more now that I can sort of give more to it by playing an instrument.
Q: How is your role as Brandon affected your outlook on foster families?
D. Lambert: It’s an interesting thing because the show is all about how do you define family. That’s something that we say a lot with the show. What they mean by that, I think, is that it’s a same sex couple; it is adopted kids; there are foster kids, but it doesn’t really change the fact that we’re still a family.
It doesn’t matter if you have two moms or two dads or whatever, adopted siblings, foster siblings, at the end of the day you’re still going to go through the same problems that any ordinary or more generally accepted family would go through, and that’s the thing when you watch the show. You don’t feel like you’re watching this gay couple. You don’t think that when you watch it. You just see these two women raising these kids and they just happen to be together.
That’s the beauty of the whole thing. We’re not preaching it. We’re not trying to jam it down your throat, this image of these two women. We’re just saying that they can still be a family. There’s no difference, and it makes for really interesting situations, I supposed.
I learned a lot by playing Brandon. I learned a lot just more along those lines, just realizing in myself. I was like, “Wow, these two women can do this. There’s really no difference.” I watched the show and you don’t even think that it’s weird. It feels right. It looks right and they’re a family. That was something I realized only after filming it and watching it was how subtle it is. It’s a great thing. It’s really, really cool.
Q: Are you looking forward to the instant feedback that you’ve been getting from fans about The Fosters?
D. Lambert: I am. It’s really amazing. That’s like another kind of first for me. Having something like Twitter so integrated with the show is a really cool thing. I think it’s one of the beautiful things about living in 2013, that we have these means of connecting all around the world. It’s crazy.
But all the feedback has been amazing. It’s really, really cool to be able to—the episode has aired and now you can go on Twitter and see how people are responding because they really do, they add up. There are hundreds, thousands of people just talking about it and it’s really great to see people just enjoying it.
We’re only two episodes in and people are already saying things like it’s their favorite show and the characters are their favorites. It’s good to hear because we put a lot of work into the show. It’s a little bit of payoff, which is nice.
Q: Was there anything about Brandon that wasn’t originally scripted for you that you added to the character?
D. Lambert: I think like with most shows after a couple episodes the writers tend to cater to the actors and they start pulling little bits and pieces and mixing them. Brandon has definitely become more like me over time and I’ve probably become a little like Brandon, but that’s one of the beautiful things with acting.
You sort of—it’s a give and take scenario with any character you play. You do give a little bit of yourself but you also end up walking away with a little bit of that character, which is always a really cool thing for me. So yes, I’d say all the kids in the show really evolve. They do a lot of growth because they have so many things that they end up dealing with just overall.
So I would say—I know just for me, as an actor, every new episode it’s almost like I have to relearn my character because I have to take into consideration, “What have you learned in the past episode? What does that do to him in this next episode? And then what mistakes or lessons does he learn in this upcoming episode and what will that then do to him?”
So it’s a constant arc and it’s a constant stepping up with these characters, which is really fun for me and it’s yet another challenge that I get to constantly face. So yes, it’s a really cool thing. I think Brandon’s an ever-changing character. They’re all ever-changing characters, especially the kids.
Q: We’ve seen Brandon kind of lashing out at his dad right now and I wondered if you could describe how Brandon feels about his dad?
D. Lambert: That’s one of the most interesting relationships that Brandon has, I feel, is with his dad. You’ve got Mike, played by Danny Nucci, who’s a brilliant actor, awesome guy, who he hasn’t really been around. Like Brandon said, he calls every couple days, five-minute phone calls and that sort of gives you an idea of the relationship that they’ve had for some time probably.
Mike’s at a point now where he’s realizing Brandon’s only getting older and he has to make some moves now or it’s never going to happen for them. So Mike now is in the process of trying to make his way more and more back into the picture, which only poses more problems for Brandon because now he’s faced with, “What do I do? My dad’s coming back in. I have my moms. Who do I take orders from? Who are my parents? Do I have three parents? Do I ignore my dad? Do I ignore Lena? Whom am I supposed to be listening to?”
I think with his dad in particular, they are close and they do connect in a lot of ways, but there’s also a sense of frustration, especially on Brandon’s side that maybe his dad didn’t make these moves soon enough. “Why is he doing it all of the sudden? Why does he care so much all of the sudden?” It only happens more and more and there are more troubles that Mike deals with that in turn makes Brandon have to deal with them. So it’s a very interesting thing. It’s a very interesting thing.
I had my own problems with my dad growing up so that was yet another really, really personal issue that I actually ended up connecting with Brandon a lot on and I could really understand that whole relationship and how that must be for him. So it’s a very cool thing to have to play.
Q: Is there any chance you’d be interested in doing musical theater here at some point?
D. Lambert: Yes, you know, musical theater was where I started. It was actually one of those things where I felt like if I found a play that I really, really enjoyed enough I always said that I’d have no problems going back on stage because I feel like that’s where I started. So I kind of owe it that much, you know?
I love theater. I really do. I still respect it a lot and I think it takes a lot of work and dedication. I have a lot of friends still who are very into theater and are in New York and going to conservatories for acting and whatnot. Yes, it’s a very cool thing.
Q: Do you have a favorite theater role that you’ve ever played?
D. Lambert: All my memories are of all the community theater and little black box theaters that I did growing up. I did Oliver. I did Oliver Twist once and I got to play Fagin. That was a lot of fun. It was the musical and I loved the play. We did that over a summer. Yes, I still remember that entire experience. So yes, Oliver was a really great one for me.
Q: There was a line in last night’s episode that kind of struck me that Jesus said to Brandon when he said, “Well you’re not giving up anything.” What is Brandon’s relationship exactly with the twins like?
D. Lambert: I think it’s an interesting thing because Brandon is such a focused kid and he really does have goals and aspirations and places he wants to go with music. It might lead to him composing one day. Who knows where Brandon wants to go with his piano. He does want to go places. He’s in school for now but it’s just because he has to be.
I feel like Brandon has a lot of things he wants to do in his life and he’s very focused on doing them. So there are a lot of scenes with the twins where it’s not necessarily that he’s favored it’s just that the moms recognize that this kid will probably go places in his life and they just want him to have the best chance at doing that.
It’s sort of mistaken for favoritism or whatever, but it’s just one of the many situations in the house that they have to deal with day in and day out. Maybe that’s a situation that maybe a lot of families don’t have to deal with. But then there probably are a lot of families that do have to deal with that. It’s a very unique situation of The Fosters.
At the end of the day Brandon does not look at Mariana and Jesus as adopted. They grew up—they brought the twins home when they were babies and Brandon’s only about a year older than them. So it’s one of those things where they all grew up together. They all look at each other as blood even if they aren’t actually blood. So I think at the end of the day its just words that are said but they all really do love each other and they really do look at each other as a family.
Q: If you could look into the future, where would you see Brandon with his career with his piano?
D. Lambert: I don’t know. Like I said, I think he could go so many places with it. He could become a composer or just a musician in general. But I really do think he’s one of those kids who’s just so gifted it would be a shame if he did nothing with his music. I think he will. He will just get older and probably go to school for it. Go to college studying music and I think it’ll only go up, up, up for him. He’ll just keep working his way up and getting better and better.
Q: What advice would you give to your fans if they wish to become actors or actresses?
D. Lambert: I’d say it’s the craziest profession that you could possibly do so you better really love it. That’d be the first way to start it off, but I don’t know. For me, it started out as something that I just did for fun with friends. I really didn’t have any dreams of becoming famous and being an actor with lots of money and lots of cars and things. That was never something that I saw myself doing.
Acting developed and as I got older I realized I really did enjoy telling stories and touching people and doing things that not many people get to experience in their lives, going places that not many people get to see. Getting to be different people for me is very, very exciting and sort of I look at it as the greatest game of pretend ever made. Everyone’s in on it and it’s just great. You get to play all day, and it is also your work, and you can study it. There’s never an end game. You can always get better. There’s never an end game with acting.
So for me, I think it was all those things put together, but it definitely didn’t happen overnight. That was something that evolved and I had to realize that, as I got older. So for fans, I think everyone’s going to have a different journey, but if you find something that you love that much that you can pick at it and talk about it all day then it’s probably for you and you should definitely go after it. I would say the sooner the better.
It’s just one of those things where it’s very hard to tell anyone what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s more of a feeling that they just have to—if they really do feel the need they should go do it because it will work out. Things have a way of working out for people who give it their all and are in it for the right reasons. I truly believe that.
So for me, it’s just a matter of staying on the right course and doing the things that I want to do at the end of the day. So if people can make those decisions and be smart about where they want to go in life, I think there’s no limit to where you can end up.
Q: Are there any personal messages from you to your fans that you’d like to pass on?
D. Lambert: I can’t really think of anything profound or anything but I’d probably rely on what I just said. I think watch The Fosters I guess and then check it out and I guess that’d be it.
Q: Like you, Maia Mitchell is also very into music. Do you think that we’ll ever see a Brandon and Callie collaboration on the show?
D. Lambert: Yes, it’s definitely likely. I feel like Callie is sort of into the guitar and she seems to have been in episode two that aired last night and it seems like she’s kind picking it up. So there’s definitely a likely possibility that they will end up jamming at some point. Who knows? Brandon’s definitely always playing music in the house so I would definitely say that’s okay to say that they would end up playing more music together for sure.
Such a great visit with Mr. Lambert, and we are so enjoying “The Fosters!”
Be sure to tune in Monday (June 17, 2013) for a new episode of “The Fosters” on ABC Family at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT!
Note: My questions are in blue! 🙂