Charlie Saxton plays angst-ridden teenager Damon Drecker on the hit HBO series Hung. And although the show, now in its third season, has propelled the Philadelphia native into TV stardom, Saxton has remained grounded. The 20-year-old recently wrapped the play End Days at LA’s Odyssey Theatre Ensemble and will soon return to the East Coast to spend the holidays with his family. We caught up with Saxton to chat about the upcoming season of Hung, navigating LA and rocking out with the band.
So what can we expect from your character this season? CHARLIE SAXTON: Damon and his sister start a band. They’ll be writing a new song or jamming in the living room so that’s what he’s focusing most of his time and energy on. They’re also prepping for college this year so there’s the whole frustration of the SATS and the excitement that goes along with getting ready for college.
Did you know how to play any instruments prior to shooting the band scenes? CS: I’ve played the drums since I was eight years old. At 12 I picked up the bass, and then a couple years after that took up the guitar. I was in a band in high school and we toured around the tri-state area and played local shows. That was a good time.
Did your musical background play a part in the show’s storyline? CS: When I first started the show they asked if I had any special talents. It’s pretty cool because both Sianoa [Smit-McPhee], who plays my sister, and I both play instruments so [Hung creators] Colette [Burson] and Dmitry [Lipkin] really liked that idea and they said, “Why don’t the kids start a band this year?”
Damon is a typical, insecure teen. Can you relate? CS: Totally, absolutely. Even if people say that they can’t relate there are some aspects of themselves that they totally see in Damon—even if it’s not being sure of what to wear, what to think, how to act. It’s all part of puberty and growing up. Me personally, there were definitely times where I was like, man, I don’t know who I am or who I want to be. And you kind of realize you have to stop stressing over the same stuff and not worry about what others think of you and just be yourself. There is a famous quote by Dr. Seuss that says, “The people who matter won’t mind and the people that mind won’t matter.”
With the success of Hung, how have you dealt with fame especially as a young actor in Hollywood? CS: It’s really weird but it’s also very exciting and cool. It just shows that people really like the show and really like what I do on it. As an actor that makes me feel great. It was really weird because I got stopped by TMZ last year when I was walking around the shopping mall, and I thought to myself: Why do they care about me? Why do they care what I’m doing?
Was it difficult adjusting to life in LA given your upbringing in Philadelphia? CS: It took awhile to adjust because the East Coast and West Coast are such different worlds. I was only 19 when we started shooting, and it went from living at home with my parents, not sure if [the show] was going to get picked up and thinking about going to community college, to moving to Los Angeles to be on a television show. I didn’t have a car the first year I was in LA. I rode my bike everywhere. It was tough to adjust but I definitely settled very nicely.
What do you think is one of the most underrated things about LA? CS: There are so many great places to watch really good films. I know that’s sort of obvious but you just don’t realize how many awesome places there are until you come here and experience it for yourself. I go to the New Beverly Cinema, and this past summer my girlfriend and I would go the Hollywood Cemetery to see movies there. It’s an awesome experience.