Interview by Carol Wright | Photographer: Amy Casson
Our Editor-In-Chief got to hop on the phone with actor Kale Culley and chat about the CW’s hit show Walker, Culley’s character August, and the advice he has for aspiring actors.
Was there a particular TV show or movie that sparked your interest in acting?
Well, as a kid growing up, obviously, it started off with the Disney Channel phase. I think it was honestly the show, Jesse, when I was five years old, I was like, man, these people look like they’re having so much fun because, at the time, I didn’t know it was a script. I just thought I was watching people’s lives. I was like, man, they seem like so much fun. I want to go and meet them. I want to go and do that. And so I think, after that, I started to realize that, you know, these were scripts, and those were actors and I was like, You know what? That’d be really fun trying to portray characters and really give a screenwriter’s story, you know, make it come to life and have a motive to do everything. So I thought that unpacking all these really crazy characters is going to be so much fun. And a couple of years later, I went to an improv class. At the time, little Kale was all about attention and so he would do whatever he could to make people laugh. So after that, the lady who taught the improv class, she was like, hey, do you have an agent? And that’s how it all started.
Has it been really helpful to have that improv background as you’ve gotten roles and really get more involved in your journey as an actor?
Oh, yeah, 100%. I feel like improv adds some kind of charm to the script that is sometimes left out. It feels like you can really get into the characters. You can have a whole monologue, and then you can improv with people in scenes that aren’t even supposed to be there but you thought it was a good idea so you went for it.
Underneath the mystery and crime aspects of the show Walker is about family and navigating family relationships. Was that something you were excited to explore when you got the role of August?
Oh, yeah because I had never done anything like a crime show before. I’d never done any of that, and it’s not your typical crime show, like, these past couple of episodes that we’ve been filming, [we’re on 14 now] but there have been some crazy twists and turns that I would have never expected to happen on a show like that and I really think the thing that drew me to it was the complexity of August. He really is an introvert and I’m a big extrovert, I love talking to people. And so I was like, You know what, I haven’t done this before, this would be a really fun character to not just attack for the auditions but, you know, if I get it, then really explore and try to make some decisions that are kind of bold, and have him come out of his shell a little bit and try to explore that whole realm. So I think it was just a list of things that I had planned for August.
Can you relate to your character August in any way or are you two completely unalike?
Well, August, he has grown to like film, as do I. He’s working with cameras. There’s some music hinted in some episodes that maybe August would want to pick up an instrument maybe, I love playing music. I play jazz piano. I think other than that, I mean, really, it was a whole different ball game from Kale, besides some of the things that he enjoys doing, I think character-wise it’s a complete flip flop and so I’m kind of growing too, there is one thing that I do as well, it’s like a situation diffuser, he kind of finds certain ways to defuse situations without making it worse. I think that’s what I do sometimes and I think that’s probably the only thing that I have in common with this character, to be honest. I am finding a lot of stuff as we go on. It’s really good fun.
Does that make it an even better experience? Do you feel like you’re growing as an actor because you have to step into these shoes that you don’t necessarily relate to all the time?
Oh, 100%. Back to the improv subject, finding ways to improv things that not Kale would do but what August would do? Because I’ve been in his shoes for 14 episodes now, I’m really finding things that I’m like, oh, did he just do that? I think we can stick with that. I think that’s a really good trait. I’m going to carry that on through more episodes and see if people catch the emotion and the certain little attributes that he has to the character.
There’s one line in episode 3 when Abeline Walker (Mawline) says, “that boy’s working so hard to keep anyone from worrying about him he’s twisted into bits.” As the season progresses do you think that there will be a “breaking point” for August?
Well, I can tell you that throughout these episodes he’s kind of been storing more and more emotion and at some point, it’s gonna explode. So I don’t know when it’ll be, but I’m pretty sure it’ll happen.
What have you learned from working with your co-Star Jared Padalecki?
He is fantastic. I’ve noticed that sometimes, whenever something doesn’t feel quite right to him, he’ll bring up to the director a certain idea that he had, and what motive does Walker have if he made this decision, and just a whole list of really, really complex sort of things that he has in mind, and I was like, Whoa, he’s just like, spinning all this stuff off the top of his head. I mean, he has been on Supernatural for 15 years and he’s had a lot of great ideas and he’s always giving us more ideas to possibly do in the scene to just throw out there and if the director doesn’t like it we can go with his version as well. But he’s always kind of throwing new stuff to the scene.
As the season continues what are you most excited about for viewers to see happen to August and the family?
Oh, I’m trying to think of how to say this. Expect the unexpected, I should say. It’s gonna go pretty, things are gonna get crazy. That’s all I’m going to say, okay, pretty, pretty crazy.
Obviously, this is, you know, a newer version of Walker, something fresh for the times that we’re in. How does it feel to be a part of that legacy and still make it work for today’s audience?
I’m not gonna lie, the feeling of me being in this legacy has not quite kicked in, even after more than half of a season. I’m still kind of in awe about it. When I first started the project, I didn’t really realize how much of this legacy that I would be carrying, and everybody would be carrying on their backs. But we are just, we’re super happy that everybody is agreeing with everything we’re doing and how they’re glad that we’re not remaking it, we’re not trying to replay everything that Chuck Norris did in the original. We’re trying to reimagine it and so I think it’s a really, really great experience to have the fans and people who watched the original Walker Texas Ranger, agree and really love all the choices that we’re making.
During this weird time, how have you kept yourself feeling creative and motivated?
You know, I think it was family as a whole. The whole Walker family, everybody, and the Culley family, you know, really keeping everybody inspired. And whenever we went to the show, it was a little nerve-wracking to step on the set, knowing that this pandemic is in the works and we’re still kind of in a full-fledged pandemic, but everybody in the Walker family, they’re not like, okay, we have to do this and this, and we can’t do that and that. I mean, we all have our masks on and we’re all safe and we’re all social distancing and it doesn’t feel like a huge hassle, it just feels like we, there’s some extra set of rules that we have to follow but other than that, I mean, it really doesn’t feel like a huge pressure. Everybody’s super, super kind about it, which I’m really glad that nobody’s uptight about it, or else that would not be a great experience. But everybody has been super, super loving and it’s just, it’s really great.
What advice do you have for aspiring actors?
The quote that I say to myself a lot is, “Age is just a number when it comes to the things you want to achieve.” I think I really live by that. I’ve always lived by that when I was younger, because obviously, I’ve had some people tell me, oh, you can’t do that. That’s too much work for you. You’re never going to be able to do this, and this and that and all the actors, they’re over 20. And I’m like, well, I’m gonna prove them wrong, and I’m going to do it, and I’m only a teenager. So I think that I live by that rule and I think I’m going to add something else to that. If you truly have a motive to do something you love, absolutely go for it.