This week, I was able to sit down and chat with Dan Payne, who most recently starred as Logan’s dad Harris in The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers. Over the years, his career has spanned a variety of Disney properties (alongside other hit TV shows and movies), so I loved getting to hear his words of wisdom. Keep reading for my full, exclusive interview with actor Dan Payne!
CORBAN: What was your first experience working with Disney, and how did you get involved with The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers?
DAN PAYNE: The Disney ‘family’ has been very kind to me! I’ve had such good fortune to be a part of a few brilliant projects. I think playing Traeger on Mech X-4 was first, and then Beast in the Descendants trilogy followed by Bruce (Gabby Duran’s dad) in Gabby Duran and the Unsittables. All of them have been phenomenal experiences and each in their own unique way!
I remember the audition coming in for Mighty Ducks and how crazy excited I was. I grew up with the original film as a childhood favorite and couldn’t believe I had the opportunity to be a part of the series. And the icing on the cake being that Emilio Estevez would reprise his role as Gordon Bombay. I did the audition and then crossed all ten fingers and toes!
CORBAN: Well, I ought to try that method of crossing my fingers and toes because it appeared to work very well! I enjoyed getting to see you in the role of Logan’s dad Harris LaRue on the show. While I know that COVID-19 has affected most areas of the film/TV industry, what was your typical “day in the life” while working on The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers?
DAN PAYNE: By the time I got to the show, the unbelievably talented kids had bonded and dropped into their characters perfectly. There was a pretty solid feeling that this series was something special and it was bringing the original feel of the movie back to life. There was always lots of laughter and joking around coupled with a balance of professionalism….and lots of trips to craft service!
CORBAN: Do you have any favorite moments while on-set of Game Changers, and what was it like to work with such an amazing ensemble cast?
DAN PAYNE: My favorite moments were meeting the cast! Lauren Graham – all of them! Maybe a little more of a thrill meeting Emilio since I grew up watching and admiring him! I mean GORDON BOMBAY! Come on! It was impressive to see all these young stars do their thing so incredibly well and with such ease.
CORBAN: The chemistry of the whole cast is evident in each episode and complements the fun-filled nature of the show. Aside from Game Changers, many of our readers will likely recognize you from your role as the Beast in the Descendants. How does working on a project that incorporates more-complicated makeup and special effects compare to working on a “simpler” series like Game Changers, and how did it feel to carry on the legacy of the classic Disney characters?
DAN PAYNE: Descendants was a pretty big production with huge sets, fabulous costumes and magical musical numbers. And it was exactly that, magical! For me, though, it’s always about the people you are working with and both productions were extremely special!
Carrying the legacy of Beast was a bit nerve wracking initially but I had so much incredible support around me that it quickly dissipated, and it all turned to excitement! Kenny (Ortega) was amazing and calmed any concerns when he said not to worry as we are creating a Beast that is meant to live in and serve our Descendants world. I hope we succeeded in most people’s eyes.
CORBAN: The Descendants movies are great! I noticed that you have also been involved in a variety of shows in the DC universe like Smallville, Legends of Tomorrow, and The Flash, but you also starred in the 2009 Watchmen film. Have you always been a fan of DC superheroes, and what was it like to work under director Zack Snyder for Watchmen?
DAN PAYNE: Yes, I have always been a fan of superheroes! My motto is ‘every day on set is a great day’ and I’m grateful to have had many days in the superhero, sci-fi, dramatic and comedic realms! Zack Snyder is a genius and the coolest ‘nerd’ you’ll ever meet…. which is great because I proudly think I’m a nerd too! He is also so calm cool and collected no matter the situation, a bit of a zen guru.
CORBAN: Passion and vision separate the “good” from the “great”, and I love getting to see your individual passions factor into your work on different projects! Having been in the business for a little while, what famous actors or actresses have inspired your career?
DAN PAYNE: There are quite a few – Robert Downey Jr., Ryan Reynolds, Jennifer Garner, Kristen Bell, Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Sofia Vergara, Chris Pratt, Drew Barrymore, Dwayne Johnson, Dax Shepard …to name a few.
CORBAN: Those are all great choices! As we look forward to where your career might take you, do you have any future projects in the works, and where can our readers find you?
DAN PAYNE: I just wrapped a very fun comedy that addressed the pandemic in a unique and, I think, very fun way. Just before that, about 2 months ago, I finished filming a lead in a thriller playing a very dark character. And, fingers crossed, just about to close a deal an upcoming project that’s very exciting with some people I really admire and am super stoked to work with!. I love this job and would love to work steady until I simply physically couldn’t anymore!
CORBAN: I am excited to see your name on many more films/series in the future! Thanks so much for offering to chat with us today, and I cannot wait to see the finale of The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers on May 28!
And, to the reader, you can watch The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers now on Disney Plus. Also, follow @actordanpayne on Instagram to keep up with all of his new projects!