Building a 'Castle' Michigan native acts out television career dreams

By Kurt Anthony Krug

Legal News

Most parents usually encourage their children to pursue careers in practical fields, such as law and accounting, but for Michigan native Seamus Dever it was a far different story. His parents, Jim and Diana, both of whom were teachers, urged him to pursue acting.

"My father really got me involved in theater at a young age," recalled Dever, 35, who lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Juliana. "Whenever they needed kids for the high school productions, they would look to all the faculty members' children first because they would probably say yes before anybody else. My sister (Larka) and I did some musicals. I ended up doing a lot of them and found out I was pretty good at it, so I was really encouraged by my parents to pursue it."

Born in Flint, Dever and his family moved to Bullhead City, Ariz. in 1982, where his father taught English and drama at Mohave High School.

"It was the beginning of the downfall of Buick City and everything in Flint," said Dever, who is best known as Detective Kevin Ryan on ABC's "Castle" series. "My dad actually taught at Genesee County Jail in Flint. He taught prisoners reading and English. That was the only teaching gig he could find. So they went where the teaching jobs were good."

As a youth, Dever was in numerous plays. During that time, a professional acting company came to town to do "Camelot." Dever, valedictorian of his high school class in 1994, auditioned.

"I was hooked. As I got older, I was like, 'What am I gonna do the rest of my life? I got good grades, so I could do anything I want.' But there was really nothing for me that gave me a sense of excitement and fulfillment that acting did. I'd made the choice to pursue acting in college," he said.

Dever earned an undergraduate degree in theater from Northern Arizona University, graduating in three years with a bachelor's degree in theater. He earned his graduate degree in acting from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the Moscow Art Theatre in Russia. This was a combined MFA program between the two schools. He is the youngest graduate.

"I got to study in Pittsburgh with all these great teachers, and I got to study in Moscow with all these great teachers -- it was the best of both worlds and a really unique program. Russia was fantastic," he said. "There's a lot of great art there. I had these amazing teachers. I didn't do much there except see really good theater and learned a lot about how to act in theater. We did a few repertory shows there. It was really a fantastic time -- some of the best months of my life."

A veteran of more than 60 plays and musicals, Dever guest-starred on numerous TV series, including "Cold Case," "JAG," the "CSI" franchise, "NCIS," and "Mad Men" before his first regular role as Dr. Ian Devlin on ABC's long-running soap "General Hospital" in 2008. His second regular role was Dr. Chris Ferlinghetti on the second season of Lifetime's "Army Wives" in 2008.

"Probably the thing that made people take me a little more seriously was the part I did on 'General Hospital.' For some reason, people started looking at me as a person who could do TV shows because at that point I'd (guest-starred on various TV shows)," he said. "Those shows are great but you want to be a series regular, which is what every actor wants. After what I did in 'General Hospital,' it really helped me land a role on 'Army Wives...' I had a nice long arc on 'Army Wives.'"

Dever continued: "At that point, I started catching the eye of people at ABC and that's when 'Castle' came around. So, fortunately, I was in the right place at the right time and I filled the need that they wanted... ABC's been very good to me. Soap fans are very loyal; they follow you to different shows, so it's a good thing to be part of. I have nothing negative to say about my soap experience."

Currently in its fourth season, 'Castle' stars Nathan Fillion as mystery-thriller novelist Richard Castle. After assisting Det. Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) on a case where the murderer models his crimes after several of Castle's novels, Castle bases his character Det. Nikki Heat on Beckett. Using his connections with the mayor's office, Castle shadows Beckett, Ryan, and Det. Javier Esposito (Jon Huertas) as they investigate homicides.

Not happy with the arrangement and repulsed by Castle's arrogance, Beckett eventually realizes that Castle's connections to New York's high society and unique insight has proven invaluable on cases. He earns her grudging respect, which eventually transforms into sexual tension. Fans are hoping the two will become a couple, especially when Castle told Becket in last year's third season finale that he loved her.

Asked if this will ever happen, Dever responded: "I don't know for sure that they'll hook up at some point, but they probably will. But when they do, it's never gonna be happily ever after for a couple like that. They get on each other's nerves. It'll be more like real life. When it does, it'll probably reflect that."

When Dever first auditioned for "Castle," the show had been given a green light.

"Becoming a series regular on a show that's green-lighted to air is a big deal -- you don't have to go through the pilot process and hope it gets selected. That's very attractive," said Dever. "This is a great role."

Dever's Ryan has been in the spotlight on "Castle" recently. In a mid-January episode, he married long-time girlfriend Jenny (played by his real-life wife Juliana).

"It was fun because it wasn't us in charge of things, which was nice. We actually got to enjoy it a little bit more," said Dever. "It was different. We also got some new pictures out of it too, which is kinda cool."

Dever really enjoyed working on the film noir episode, which aired February 6. In it, Castle plays a private detective from the 1940s, whereas Beckett plays a femme fatale.

"It plays out like a Raymond Chandler novel. Everyone Castle deals with in his regular life is in the story in 1947. Myself and Esposito are there, but we're gangsters. Things are turned on their head. We get to rough up Castle," he recalled. "We got to do something different and play a different character. I got to do an Irish accent, which was fun. It was a great experience."

Published: Wed, Mar 7, 2012

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