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Feb 19, 2015   Comments Off on Josh Duhamel in Battle Creek: Devil in Disguise Interviews, News and rumors

It’s just after 9:30 a.m. on a Monday when Josh Duhamel slides into a back booth at his favorite diner, greets the waitress by name and orders an egg-white omelet, English muffin and hash browns. “This place,” reports the 42-year-old actor, clad in a long-sleeved gray T-shirt, jeans and sneakers, “is my jam.”

The neighborhood dive—surely the only place in tony Brentwood, Calif., with wood-paneled walls and a handwritten paper sign crookedly taped to one of them that reads “Open daily 7 a.m.–3:30 p.m.”—might seem like an unlikely hangout for Duhamel, the handsome Hollywood A-lister who with pop-star wife Fergie make up one of the industry’s more glamorous couples. But spend some time with the North Dakota native, and it becomes clear he’s retained the humble Midwestern tastes and strong work ethic with which he was raised. After all, this is the guy who, despite starring in the first three hugely successful Transformers films, as well as romantic comedies like New Year’s Eve, still attends acting class. “And it still scares the s*** out of me,” he says with a laugh. “But I want to keep getting better.”

Duhamel’s bringing those well-honed chops to his role as Milt Chamberlain, a charismatic and seemingly earnest FBI agent, in Battle Creek, the highly anticipated new CBS drama created by Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad) and executive produced by David Shore (House). In between proudly showing off iPhone videos of his towheaded 1-year-old son, Axl, a refreshingly candid Duhamel opens up about his pretty-boy image, why winning an Emmy for All My Children was the best revenge and the unprintable dating advice he received from Las Vegas co-star James Caan.

How did you get involved with Battle Creek?

I wasn’t sure I wanted to do TV again. I was happy doing movies. But they were also taking me away from home, and when I had my baby I didn’t want to be traveling. I don’t like being away from him for more than a day. I got a call from my agent saying that Vince and David wanted to meet, and I was like, “I can’t not say yes to that.” I was a huge Breaking Bad fan, and House was amazing. So we had breakfast and talked about it. I’d read the pilot but I wasn’t sure. It was like, “Is this enough of a departure?”

From what?

The pretty boy. I wasn’t sure if there was more to him than just the polished, too-good-to-be-true FBI agent. I was like, “I’ll play the prettiest damn FBI detective you’ve ever seen, but you have to promise me that this guy is seriously troubled underneath and dangerous.”

And is he?

He’s got a real dark side. David said the other day, “You might be [playing] the devil.” [Laughs.] People are going to be like, “What the …?” That’s what I love about David—he doesn’t make anybody too perfect. And that’s life. We’re all messed up.

Even Josh “Golden Boy” Duhamel—former high school football quarterback, onetime model, Daytime Emmy winner-turned-movie star and husband of pop royalty?

There’s this misconception with me that everything has always been all cherries. It really wasn’t. Like with football, it was rough. There was always somebody battling for my job. It was never like, “You’re the man.” I always had to fight for it. Back then, football was my life, and it ended so bitterly that it was part of the reason I left [North Dakota]. I just needed to get away from all that.

What happened?

The coach and I had a falling out. I always felt like I got screwed, but I look back now and I’m glad that all happened. There’s no better lesson than to have to fight through something that doesn’t work out. If everything felt as if it were handed to me, I would never have had the desire—and I still have it—to prove to people what I’m really capable of. It’s been the story of my career.

How did you first become interested in acting? I can’t imagine there were a lot of opportunities in North Dakota.

When I was playing football, a buddy of mine who’d been living out in California was like, “You should be an actor, man. You look like you could be a model or something.” I was like, “Really?” I got stars in my eyes immediately.

Was moving to California everything you hoped for?

It was a new start, and I needed that. But I wound up working all these crap jobs for five years: The night shift in a warehouse. Waiter. And I was a stockroom boy at the Gap. They didn’t let me out front because I didn’t dress well enough. [Laughs.] I remember they put me [out on the floor] one time, and I came to work all excited, like “I’m going to sell some s*** tonight!” And they were like, “If you could just not wear those jeans anymore …?”

The Gap is kicking itself now. Didn’t you wind up entering a modeling contest where you beat out Ashton Kutcher?

Yeah, my first agent ended up taking me to this competition in New York. I got all wrapped up in it and thought it was the coolest thing ever when I won. The funny thing is that Ashton took second and immediately after that, he’s the one who took off. He got this Calvin Klein underwear campaign. He got That ’70s Show. He became this star immediately, and I didn’t. I thought for sure that was my launching pad: “I’m going to be famous.” Instead, I sat there for four years with nothing.

Until you landed your first acting job on All My Children and won an Emmy.

That was really exciting. I was pretty green, but I took it very seriously. I remember telling myself, “This is sink or swim. You’ve already abandoned the idea of a dental career. You’d better succeed.” [Laughs.] I wanted to break the mold of what people were going to expect of me on the show, try things that were outside the box, and when I got the Emmy nomination my first year, it was like, “Holy s***— they like me. They really like me!”

Total Sally Field moment.

It really was. It was like, “F*** you, former football coach. F*** you, ex-girlfriend I found in bed with one of my teammates. F*** you, all those people who didn’t believe in me!” Totally unhealthy, but that was the fuel that drove me. I had a lot of anger. I’m a much happier person now.

All these years of therapy later.

Truly. I’m not kidding.

Who, besides your therapist, has helped you along the way? Have any Hollywood mentors?

James Caan, for sure. I learned a lot from that guy on Vegas. Jimmy’s just so honest. If he liked something, he’d tell me. And I always knew if he didn’t like something because he’d be like, “Hey, kid, come here.” [Laughs.] He gave me advice when I was going on my first date with Fergs, but I’m not going to tell you what it was.

Sounds dirty.

It was. [Laughs.]

Well, clearly, his advice worked. You’ve been married six years and have an adorable son together. What do you hope Axl gets from you both?

We really just want to raise a respectful, compassionate, hardworking kid. At the end of the day, do I want him to go into the business? Not really.

With two performers for parents, how can he avoid it?

Here’s the thing: If that’s what he wants to do, fine, but he really needs to understand that it takes a lot of work. I know that at some point, he’s going to get hurt, and as a parent you just hate to think about that. But as much as you want to protect them, all you can really do is just teach them right from wrong and hope they stay out of jail. [Laughs.]

What will you teach him about success?

You know, my definition of success used to mean something totally different. Whether or not I was in that studio movie, or nominated for this or that. Now, whether it’s TV or movies, truly all I care about is doing the best possible work that I can and getting better and better. Everything else will take care of itself. And I really care about being home and being around my kid and wife. That’s how I define success. All that other stuff isn’t going to make me happy. [Source]

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