Industry Pro: Actor Nick Searcy

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Nick Searcy is the perfect actor to kick off the month where we focus on the business of acting, being that he has rarely been idle since getting his “big break” and shows no signs of slowing down. Though you may not know his name and you certainly haven’t read about him in the gossip columns, people inside film and television casting circles are well aware of him and know to call on him when they have a part he is right for. Those in the YII community who aspire to make a living as an actor are wise to read Nick’s story carefully and take the lessons to heart.

Current part:   Beginning “Justified,” a series for the FX Network, set to debut March of 2010.  Recently appeared in THE UGLY TRUTH, in theaters near you!

College & degree:   University of North Carolina , BA English

Internships:  None.

Acting while in school (professional or amateur): Many many plays, of all types, musicals, Shakespeare, summer stock, etc.

Day job while you were working towards being a working actor: In New York City, seven years of limo driving and Legal Proofreading (done mostly on the graveyard shift, so not exactly a “day” job).

First post-graduate acting job: Off-Broadway Equity production of “Dogs,” where I played a singing German shepherd from Texas named “Boomie.”  Not my finest performance, but I got my Equity card, which enabled me to buy into SAG and limp toward a film career.

How did you get repped? Moved back to NC after seven years in NYC without an agent (a few freelanced for me, but no one ever signed me), and was repped in the Southeast by the Jan Thompson Agency in Charlotte. Got small parts and day player roles in the region in the late 80s.

What was your “big break” (or series of breaks that got you working)? Read for a small part in FRIED GREEN TOMATOES and the director thought I looked mean and stupid and read me for Frank, the main bad guy in the piece. Wound up getting the part when someone in Hollywood wanted too much money. That role in that successful movie enabled me to get a manager and an agent in Los Angeles, and we moved there (in 1992).

Do you continue to train (acting classes, coaches, workshops)?  No. I am not a fan of acting teachers; I don’t think it can be “taught.” I think experience by doing theatre is much more valuable than anything you learn in a classroom. But that’s just my experience. I have had some valuable teachers in my life: Wynn Handman in New York being the most important in my memory. But I only studied with him for about four months. I think acting ability is a gift more than a learned skill. Perhaps that has limited my success! Who knows? What worked for me may not work for others.

Has ageism been a factor into your experience as an actor? I didn’t make a living as an actor until I was 32. Ageism has HELPED me, I didn’t work until I got old!

Have you used your acting career- or are you planning to use it- as a way of branching into producing or directing? I co-produced and directed a film in 1996. I had a wonderful time, but I hated producing. I longed for that nice cushy job I had before, where I sat in my trailer waiting to say my lines. If someone asked me to direct again, I would jump at it. But I love acting, it is what I’ve loved from the beginning, and I would rather do that than anything else.

Eureka moment: When I realized that I should look at each audition as a performance; in essence, that I should treat it as the only time I would get to perform the particular role at hand, and that I should perform it full out, no paper in hand. It has served me well enough, and I was no longer so worried about the result of any given audition. Do your best (they had it right in first grade) and let the chips fall where they may.

Most significant roles:  Frank Bennett in FRIED GREEN TOMATOES, Deke Slayton in FROM EARTH TO THE MOON, Carl in THE DEAD GIRL, Clive in COLD STORAGE, Adrian Trumbull in DEADLY END, Stan in CAST AWAY, Brian Lewis in HEAD OF STATE, Stuart in THE UGLY TRUTH, and whatever role I’m doing next.

Favorite part or project?  Three-way TIE:  1)  Playing Barry on the sitcom “Rodney” for two years.  Best job I have ever had, and I made lifelong friends in Rodney Carrington and Jennifer Aspen. 2) The short-lived series “Easy Money.” Working with that cast, especially Laurie Metcalf, and those writers was so much fun, and so horribly sad when it ended so suddenly. It’s the one that got away. And oh how I loved that toupee!  And 3)  FRIED GREEN TOMATOES, because it was my first real role in a film. Nothing will ever be like the excitement of that experience.

Most difficult part or project?  The television series “7 Days.” It’s a long story.

Describe a typical work day: They are all different. That’s why I enjoy what I do.

Best thing about being a working actor: Just making a living as an actor, doing what I found that I loved to do and getting paid for it, is a dream come true, and more than I could ever have expected.

Worst thing about being a working actor: Being away from my wife and kids.

Brush with greatness: Working with Gene Hackman, my childhood idol and the actor that I most wanted to be like, in RUNAWAY JURY. When I acted with him, I felt like all the dreams that I had as a young actor had come true, and I had the opportunity to tell him that, which is a conversation I’ll never forget. It was such an honor to be in a scene with him, and I don’t think that it will ever be topped.

Sidelines: Golf. BAD golf. And cheering on my 9 year old athlete son from the sidelines.

Secret of your success/advice to the newbie: If you know you can do it, don’t quit. No matter what. Everyone will tell you no, and you can’t, and you’re stupid, and give up. If you love it, DON’T QUIT.

Next move:  I intend to act as long as I can and then live off my children. (DO YOU HEAR THAT, CHLOE AND OMAR?) And in the back of my mind and in my heart, I hope and believe that I will direct a film again someday.

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About JennyYM

Jenny Yerrick Martin is a veteran entertainment hiring executive with 20+ years in film, television, and music. She created to give students, recent grads and others a true picture of the layout of the industry, and how to break in, transition to a new area, or achieve more success on their current path.


  • Dan Brinkle

    November 5, 2009 at 11:30 am

    This was absolutely, hands down my favorite YII profile yet. I had the pleasure to meet and tell Mr. Searcy how great I thought he was at the Runaway Jury Premiere because I myself read for the very same role he got and nailed. His “eureka moment” comment is one of the best pieces of advice any actor can receive! Well done YII!!!!

  • chris

    May 25, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Thank you for the most inresting read. I will be sure to pass it on.

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