Why He’s On Our Radar: Actor Devon Graye, best known for playing a teenage version of Michael C. Hall’s titular character in “Dexter,” is no newcomer to acting having starred in that hit series and many others including “CSI: Miami” and “Alphas.” But this fall the 25-year-old is poised to break out bigger than ever before thanks to a challenging turn in Ryan Murphy’s hotly anticipated second installment of his Emmy-winning mini-series “American Horror Story,” and a supporting turn in the indie family drama “The Discoverers,” which just had its world premiere at the Hamptons International Film Festival.
What’s Next: Graye is currently filming the indie family drama “Last Weekend,” alongside Patricia Clarkson and “Keep the Lights On” star Zachary Booth. In the film, set in a Northern California estate overlooking Lake Tahoe, Graye plays Booth’s opera singer boyfriend.
You career’s really taking off film wise. What do you account for this sudden surge in big screen roles?
I think I’ve always just been open to playing very different and interesting characters. My aspiration is to be a character actor who blends into any role. I just look at what’s a cool role, and what can challenge me. As scripts come in, I go in and give it my all.
TV, for a long time, that was how I made my bread and butter. But in the last year I’ve done a lot of films. Right now is kind of a chaotic time because I’m still filming “American Horror Story,” but I’m here doing this movie for a month-and-a-half, and then I fly to New Orleans for another film. I sort of feel like I’m on a daily basis treading water and trying to figure out which character I am each day. But it’s amazing. It’s all I could ask for as an actor.
About “American Horror Story,” I have to ask: According to IMDb you’re only listed as appearing in one episode. From the way you’re talking it sounds like you appear in more. Correct me if I’m wrong.
I’m allowed to say that I’m doing more than one. They’re so secretive. It’s the craziest thing over there. I’ve never been involved in something that is so vastly secretive. I didn’t even get the full script for my first episode. I sort of know where the show’s going, but I really only knew what I was doing on the show.
This season is just so different from last season. It’s so much grittier. And the fact that it’s set in the ’60s, it deals with a lot of psychological stuff — that religion vs. science kind of way of thinking. I think it’s cool to bring horror to that sort of idea.
So when you say you’re sworn to secrecy, I want to know, what did you have to sign?
There was one main document that said I couldn’t say stuff. But mostly, I think that they just trust you. If you don’t, they won’t bring you back to anything ever again. Ryan Murphy is so huge in the industry right now. Every actor would just kill to work with him. The chance to get to work with him, I don’t think you want to mess that up. If they say not to say anything, then my lips are sealed.
Can you at least tell me who you play?
I play a character named Jed Potter. I come to the institution that Jessica Lange’s character runs. I have been afflicted — I think I can say this — I’m deemed possessed. I’m a young 17-year-old tomboy, whose parents helplessly deliver to this place. But it sort of takes off from there in a big way.
It was just some of the most amazing writing. Just saying the things I spout out at Jessica Lange’s character was so thrilling. Every moment of those scenes I felt like, “I can’t believe I’m here. I can’t believe I’m doing this.” It was kind of the best gift you could ask for.
How nerve racking was it going up against Lange?
It was really, really nerve racking initially. The days leading up to it, you feel that heavy pressure of, “OK, I can’t mess this up.” When I finally got to set all of that kind of melted away and the character took off. It’s that rare moment where a character really steals me for a moment in time.
You have quite the “Six Feet Under” connection, having played Michael C. Hall as a teen in “Dexter,” and now acting in a show opposite Frances Conroy.
I think “Six Feet Under” is my favorite show that has ever been on television. I think I can safely that I really think it’s a flawless show. Obviously working with Michael, for briefly as I did on “Dexter,” was just a dream come true.
Hopefully Alan Ball reads this. In “The Discoverers” you play a moody teen who’s forced to embark on a historical reenactment trek with his family. Did you go all method and live that way for part of the shoot?
Well, I will say that the hotel room — it wasn’t even a hotel, it was an apartment thing — it had more spiders than I’ve ever seen in my entire life, in every nook and cranny. So I did feel a little bit like I was living that life. I’d go home at night and cringe in bed, wondering which spider was going to bite me tonight.
Watch a clip from the film below: