Dan Amboyer grew up in Shelby Township. He got his acting start as a boy in Meadow Brook Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol.” He’s gone on to work extensively on the New York stage and for top regional theaters.
What’s a nice guy like him doing playing a cad like Thad on TV Land’s “Younger”?
Getting great exposure in a juicy plot twist, for one thing. Fans of the Darren Star-created series are waiting to find out on tonight’s nail-biting season finale if Thad could have possibly survived last week’s calamity. Think of a terrible construction crane accident heading straight toward him.
Most viewers are probably rooting against Thad’s character, even though he’s so fun to hate. But Amboyer says he enjoys being a bad guy, as a performer at least.
”When I get the scripts and we’re actually doing it, it all doesn’t seem so bad, because the cast, we have so much fun together,” says the handsome 30-year-old actor, who resembles a hybrid of Ryan Gosling and Ryan Reynolds.
“We enjoy our time, and we’re always laughing. When it’s actually cut down into the episode, I’m like, ‘Oh wow, I guess he really does come off as a bit of a douche.’ But there’s a part of it I think is cool, because I’m not necessarily like that in real life.”
Amboyer’s acting bug bug goes all the way back to elementary school, when his parents took him to Meadow Brook Theatre to see the regular holiday production of the classic Charles Dickens tale about Scrooge and Tiny Tim.
“It was the first big theater production I can remember. There were these huge sets. There were pyrotechnics and ghosts and a turntable. I thought it was amazing. I asked my parents, ‘How can I be one of those kids in the show?’” says Amboyer, who had been in some school plays.
With the help of his mom and dad, he created a “silly little resume” at age 8 and slid it through the Meadow Brook box-office window. The next year, he was cast in the same play. ”I played the Turkey Boy and I was Poor Lad and some small parts, but I did understudy Tiny Tim,” he says.
Amboyer went to the Roeper School in Birmingham and then, starting in his sophomore year of high school, to the Interlochen Arts Academy. As a theater major at the prestigious northern Michigan school, his classmates included Michael Arden,who just directed the sign language-spoken word production of “Spring Awakening” on Broadway, and Benjamin Walker, star of the film “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.”
After graduating from Interlochen a year early and majoring in theater at Carnegie Mellon University, he did off-Broadway plays, spent two years with the Utah Shakespeare Festival, and worked on productions at places like San Diego’s Old Globe Theater. He also became a founding member of an innovative New York theater company named Exit, Pursued by a Bear.
Amboyer has had roles on “All My Children,” “Law & Order, ” and “Inside Amy Schumer,” among other shows. His biggest TV break was playing Prince William in 2011’s “William & Catherine: A Love Story,” a Hallmark channel production about the contemporary royal romance that starred Victor Garber as Prince Charles and Jean Smart as Camilla, Duchess of Windsor.
“They were looking for someone in London and auditioning people from Los Angeles and New York. I’m from the Detroit area. But I approached it as I would any other role and did a lot of research even before the first audition,” he says, describing his casting as a long process that required specific network approval of him.
To portray the heir to the British throne, Amboyer’s Meadow Brook training paid off. “I did ‘Christmas Carol’ off and on through my teenage years, so I always had that dialect and that sound in my ear, which was so helpful. It became second nature,” he says.
When he got the script for “Younger” and found out its creator, Darren Star of “Melrose Place” and “Sex and the City” fame, wanted to meet with him right away, he was hooked. “For me, Darren Star is like a TV god, so I was very flattered.”
That meeting led to his casting as Thad, the self-important fiancé of Kelsey (Hilary Duff), who is a young coworker of Sutton Foster’s character, Liza, a forty-something mom pretending to be 26.
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Amboyer says one of the pleasures of “Younger” is working with fellow former metro Detroiters Foster and Miriam Shor, who plays Liza’s boss “It’s pretty cool that three of us are from a 15-mile radius,” he says.
Spoiler alert: Last week’s episode ended with Liza, who knows Thad is cheating with another woman, being threatened by him with the exposure of her real age. Just as she refused to cooperate with his plan to keep Kelsey in the dark, some scaffolding from on high appeared to land on Thad.
Whaaa? Will tonight’s season finale confirm that Thad is toast? “I can say that you may know what you think happened, but the rug is going to be pulled out from underneath you. You may think you know what you saw, but did you really see it?” teases Amboyer.
Speaking of buzz, Amboyer also has been the subject of Web speculation that he’ll be a certain superhero in the DC big-screen franchise, a rumor based on the fact that he did work on “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and is listed on the popular, but unofficial IMDb site as a drone pilot in the film. (Another spoiler alert: The rumor is he could be Green Lantern.)
Amboyer isn’t allowed to talk about who he played or what he did during filming in his home region. He can share that he auditioned to play Superman in 2013’s “Man of Steel.”
”I was really young at that time. I think I was far too young. I think Henry is absolutely the person who should be playing that role, no question. I was in no way ready to do that. But that was a cool op. To somehow be brought back into the fold … was exciting.”
And secrecy doesn’t prevent him from giving an observation on the superhero movie.
”What I learned from this experience is how excited the fans are for it, and how much love they have for these characters,” he says. “It’s been a really cool thing for me, just to feel that from people. Regardless of what happens, I hope they love the film and enjoy it as much as I did, just getting to be here.”
Oh, and Amboyer really hopes you watch “Younger” tonight instead of a day later on DVR. “You have to see it and, honestly, it’s not something you want to hear about afterward. You actually want to be watching in real time.”
Contact Detroit Free Press writer Julie Hinds: 313-222-6427 or email@example.com.
“Younger” season finale