Actor on learning how to dance and his biggest competition
By Lie Shia Ong
You know him from his roles on “Pretty Little Liars,” “Days of our Lives” and “Army Wives,” but this fall you’ll see Brant Daugherty in a new kind of role: Dancer.
The 28-year old, partnered with pro dancer Peta Murgatroyd, is one of the stars competing on Season 17 of “Dancing With the Stars.”
MSN TV spoke with the actor about getting his first dance performance under his belt, the dance he is preparing for Week 2, and who he thinks might be his biggest competition this season.
MSN TV: Did you just get done with rehearsals?
Brant Daugherty: We did. Yeah, yeah. We’re still here at the rehearsal space.
How is preparation going for Monday night’s dance?
It’s going well. We’re making leaps and bounds every day. It’s kind of stressful to learn a dance every week.
What style are you doing this week?
We’re doing the rumba this Monday. It’s still in the same Latin family as the cha-cha, but very slow and precise.
I know you’re probably living, eating, breathing everything “Dancing With the Stars” right now. How long are you practicing every week?
We are unfortunately capped at four hours a day. I would ideally like to go longer than that, but that’s as much as we can do: Four hours a day, six days a week.
That’s still quite a bit, though.
It is quite a bit. It seems like a lot at first. I was a little overwhelmed at first, actually. I was like, ‘Ohhh, we have to dance four hours every day?’ But once you realize the pressure and the stress of the show, you understand that four hours isn’t that long to learn these dances.
Is the rumba harder than the dance you performed last week?
We did the cha-cha last week, and the good thing about a fast dance, which I’ve learned, is if you stumble a little bit, there’s a step right after it, [so] you can make it up. So, it’s not the end of the world if you fumble here or there. It’s not ideal, but at least you can get through it.
This season the bar seems to be raised higher right out of the gate.
Do you feel any added pressure because some of the stars you’re competing against have dancing backgrounds?
Yeah… Elizabeth [Berkley], Christina [Milian], Corbin [Bleu], they’ve all danced before. Week 1 was just daunting in of itself because it was Week 1, but I hadn’t seen any other celebrities dance yet, so that was my first time watching everyone perform. They were much better than I was expecting. The level of talent really is high this season, so we have taken that into consideration and we’re stepping it up a notch every day.
Who would you say is your biggest competition or threat?
Right now, I’m keeping my eyes on Corbin Bleu and I’m keeping my eyes on Elizabeth Berkley and Amber Riley. Amber kind of came in as an underdog in this. I was expecting her to be good. I wasn’t expecting her to be phenomenal, and she was phenomenal.
Some of your fans tweeted in questions they wanted me to ask you. We saw last week that you and Peta have quite the chemistry when you dance together. @daugh3rty wants to know: What has it been like working with her?
[Laughs]. Peta is an amazing teacher, and she creates this sense of ease and comfort when we’re around each other. There’s nothing I can’t say. I’m never censoring myself. I can do anything I want to do. I never feel like I have to hold back around her. Because of that comfort and that ease we have for each other, it really just makes us so close to one another. It really helps our dancing that she’s fostered that atmosphere in our rehearsals.
I know some of the fans have been clamoring that maybe there will be an off-set romance between you two?
[Laughs]. First of all, it makes me really happy you didn’t use the word “showmance,” because I hate that word. People keep asking me about a showmance. The word showmance implies I would change my personal life because of a show. That’s not the case. I can’t speak to whether or not anything would, or will, or has, happened, but we get along very well, and I have a lot of fun seeing her every day.
We’ll leave it at that. [Laughs]. @sm0lderhald3r asked, what’s harder on your stress level: Memorizing lines for “Pretty Little Liars” or shows you’ve been on, or learning dances for “DWTS”?
Hands down learning the dances has been far more stressful. It actually kind of highlights the difference between dancers and actors: Actors are used to using their words and dancers are used to using their bodies more. So, Peta memories the dances like I memorize lines. She doesn’t have to think about it. When I get a script and I start to work, I can generally read it twice and have everything memorized but only because I’ve been doing it for so long, and it’s something I’ve chosen to focus on. But, I don’t know how to speak through dance yet. We’re learning every week, but it’s much more difficult to learn the steps.
@aheavens_angel wants to know if you’re afraid of the so-called “DWTS curse”—if you’re scared of getting injured.
Is there a curse on our show?
Well, three’s been injuries here and there.
[Laughs]. I wasn’t aware there was a “curse.” Am I afraid of getting injured? I can answer that: Absolutely, because being injured mainly means that I would’nt have the chance to continue. And for me it’s not so much about winning or getting to the end, it’s just staying with this. I mean, they’re teaching me to dance from a very amazing professional dancer. I don’t want to lose that opportunity and getting hurt would take that away.
@JacquelynAS3B wants to know: When can we expect you to take off your shirt for one of your performances?
[Laughs]. You can expect it when the time is right. I realize that’s not a serious answer, but I don’t have a solid answer for that. I can’t say ‘Week 3 or Week 4’ because I don’t know what dance we’re preparing or that it would be appropriate.
I know Peta has choreographed that for her other dance partners in the past, so you should be prepared, I’m guessing.
It’s something we’ve discussed, and we have discussed when we’re going to do it, and we’re not sure if the time is right yet or not. We don’t want to do it before everybody is ready for it. They have to figure out who I am first.
@collinyar wanted me to ask you about your upcoming movie, “The Starving Games.” What was it like starring in “The Hunger Games” spoof?
Those were some of the best scenes I’ve ever filmed in my life. I had some much fun working on that. I had been doing the hour-long drama television show for a couple of years now, and to branch out into, first of all, a feature film and, and second of all, a comedy, was really exhilarating. They let us goof off a lot and they let us play around. There’s so much physical comedy and humor. It was an honor to work on that movie.
Do you think the movie will resonate with the die-hard “Hunger Games” fan base?
Absolutely. I think first of all, the “Hunger Games” fans are going to see things and nods to the movie that they like and people who didn’t like “The Hunger Games” are going to find things they like in the movie. It’s not just solely for one audience.
Anything else you want to add or a message you want to send to your fans out there?
I was completely blown away by all the support and the love and the recognition we got for our Week 1 dance. I was really nervous about it. I didn’t want to come away leaving a bad taste in people’s mouths, and they were right there with me, and I just want to thank everybody for that.
“Dancing With the Stars” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.