Owen Teague played Young Danny in Bloodline’s first season before joining the main cast as Danny’s son Nolan for season two. I had the pleasure of asking him a few questions about his Bloodline experience and the roles of both Nolan and Young Danny.
Season 2 spoilers ahead!
Will Arbuckle: Going from appearing in flashbacks as young Danny in season one to becoming one of the more major characters this season must have been a big adjustment. How was that transition?
Owen Teague: There wasn’t a whole lot of time initially. I finished shooting the Young Danny stuff (for season 1) and that night I got a call from the casting director. They told me about the role of Nolan and had me read for it. Like three days later or something- the day we had to shoot the last scene of the first season- I found out I got it.
O: It was really sudden. And then over the summer we weren’t sure if there was going to be a second season or if I was going to still be playing Nolan, because double casting isn’t all that common. And then (once it got renewed) it was just a lot of getting into Nolan’s head and watching the first season of Danny, picking up little things. It all happened very quickly.
W: You really did do a good job of playing Danny’s son and picking up on those mannerisms: the walk, the smoking, the facial expressions. But at the end of the day you were playing both Young Danny and Nolan.
O: Right. Young Danny does come back in the second season.
W: So was there anything you did to distinguish those two roles? As you were saying, double casting isn’t that common. That must have been an odd situation as an actor.
O: Right. Nolan, physically at least, is kind of a mix of Danny and me and whatever else we got from Nolan’s character. So he does do these Danny things, but it’s not like he is Danny. He’s less intense than Danny.
When playing Danny as a teenager in the first season, I didn’t really have a chance to watch Ben [Mendelsohn]. The first season hadn’t been released yet. But once they said there was going to be another Young Danny scene in season two, I tried to do what I did for Nolan but even more.
I tried to get Ben’s vocals too: the little weird ways he’d pronounce the “s” or pronounce some words. I tried to get that cadence that he uses and capture the way he talks.
W: Must have been a lot of studying and rewatching.
O: It was.
W: Character-wise, the biggest difference that I saw between Nolan and Danny was that Danny gave up on the Rayburns at a very young age, while Nolan longed to be part of a real family like the Rayburns. He kept the Rayburn House sign in his bedroom, he urged Danny to go to his family for help… What would you say is the biggest difference between Nolan and Danny?
O: That’s exactly it. Danny doesn’t want to be a part of the Rayburn family. He wants nothing to do with them. Sometimes he needs a little bit of help but he doesn’t have a choice. They did nothing to help him or support him, so he wants to be separate from them.
Nolan doesn’t have that history with the Rayburns, so they are still people that he wants to get to know and have a family with. And he knew his dad’s side of the story, but that’s his dad’s side. So everything his dad said had to be doubted and taken with a grain of salt.
W: Speaking of the dad’s side, you had a few really great scenes with Ben Mendelsohn who plays Danny. What was it like working with an actor of his caliber? Did you learn anything from him?
O: Oh yeah. I’m always learning something from other actors. Sometimes you just pick up things subconsciously from the way they work.
With Ben, I’ve never seen an actor just forget about the words and just be the character. We did half-hour takes for the scene in the restaurant when he’s teaching me how to chop onions. And it was just him being Danny for a straight half hour. It was amazing. I had never seen anything like that before.
He worked in a very unique way. They all did. They all do something a bit differently that works for them. It was pretty amazing to have that kind of onset training.
W: It really is such a talented cast. And one of my favorite parts about watching Nolan was that he got to interact with so many characters. He was staying with John, then working for Kevin, then went to Miami with Sally… Was continually changing settings and scene-mates challenging for you? Or just a bunch of fun?
O: I wouldn’t say it was a challenge. Nolan has a different way of responding in each situation. Even though he is the same person at the core, he takes everyone on a bit differently: he may shield himself, not tell complete truths, or act like some bad guy.
For example, he likes messing with Kevin. It’s that same old Kevin-Danny relationship. Nolan likes giving Kevin a hard time and Kevin likes giving Nolan a hard time. But Nolan also wants to get to know these people, so I had to be careful with where I drew the line with that.
Some of the material was difficult, but I loved getting to work with all of those different actors.
W: The scene with Nolan and Danny in the finale at the bus station was one of my favorite scenes of the entire show. You could just feel how devastated Nolan was when he found out there was no insurance money. Which of your scenes was your favorite?
O: It might sound weird, but the scene in jail, because it was such difficult material. It felt great when it was done knowing it went well. That was really fun to shoot even though it was hard, and Ben is just the best to work with.
There was also a scene in the motel with Andrea (Nolan’s Mom) where she is smoking pot on the bed and telling me that we’ve been evicted.
W: The scene when she slaps you?
OT: Yeah. We did some blocking and were trying to figure out what to do, but the slap wasn’t planned. It just came out while shooting.
And you’re right about the scene at the bus station. Shooting in live environments, especially in Miami, was tough, but that came out really well. Getting to work with Sam Shepard at the restaurant was also great. We filmed that one in New York and it was just amazing.
W: It was nice to seem him make an appearance in season two.
In Nolan’s final scene of the season it seemed like he might have confessed to the fire if he had found John. Do you think he was going to confess? Do you think he will ever confess or will this be a secret that hangs over him down the line?
O: To John? Yes. He would have confessed. But even though he didn’t confess, he knows what he did. And because he knows what he’s done, he can never feel at home with the Rayburns. He can’t feel that he belongs there or that he should be with them because he has done this horrible thing.
Nolan’s not entirely wrong that the fire led to Danny’s death. And that prevents him from having good relationships with the rest of the Rayburns, whether he feels he is taking advantage of them or hurting them in some way. Even if he’s just there and being a nice kid, he feels guilty for the fire. It’s made even worse because he’s around people that have also been affected by Danny’s death, and he’s partially responsible for that.
I don’t know where the third season is going to go. I have no idea.
W: I’m hoping for a renewal! It can go so many different ways.
You mentioned that Nolan couldn’t feel at home with the Rayburns. That reminds me of a line from Danny in season one in which he said he never felt safe in his own home. I kind of saw Nolan as a second chance for the Rayburns, and for Sally specifically. Do you think Sally taking in Nolan and his mother gets her off the hook a little bit?
O: I think she’s trying. For a long time I didn’t trust Sally as a character. And I’m speaking from my own point of view, not just Nolan’s. I didn’t know what she was going after and I didn’t know what was in store for her. I still don’t know completely because we don’t know what will happen in the third season.
As the second season goes on, Sally does start to gain more of his trust. Nolan tries to never trust anyone, but when they go to his old house and restaurant, it’s kind of like he has to trust her a bit. He won’t ever be able to fully trust her in their relationship because of the past. The past will always be there.
W: Last question. How’d you like those chin piercings? You still wearing them?
O: The chin piercings! I got used to them. They were glued on. They came on and off.
W: They were glued on? I assumed they would give you the real deal.
O: I’m glad you didn’t realize. Hair and makeup did a great job getting them on everyday in exactly the same spot. When it was humid, they would slip off. And we were in Florida so it was always humid…
Seasons 1 and 2 of Bloodline are available for streaming on Netflix