When Esquire Korea called Daniel Henney the “next best thing”, fans beg to differ, saying instead he is the “ONLY THING”. It’s easy to just dismiss this ridiculously good-looking actor as just another pretty face. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that being born to an ethnic Korean mother and American father of British descent has helped land him roles looking to cast an Asian American.
His unique combination of cultural experiences and attractive appearance catapulted him in the Korean market (with his breakout role as Dr. Henry Kim in “My Lovely Sam Soon”) and subsequently making his mark in Hollywood. The 37-year-old actor is set to appear on the upcoming American drama series “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” as the FBI agent named Matthew Simmons.
Henney took some time off his busy schedule to talk to us about the intricacies of being a member of the FBI Behavioural Analysis Unit for international cases, his modelling background, the controversy surrounding this year’s Oscars, and his recent pitstop on our home soil 2 months ago.
Even though Henney is still single and usually tight-lipped about his personal life, he did opened up about the type of girl that could potentially win his affection. Ladies, take notes.
Check out our interview below:
Since this is a spinoff from “Criminal Minds”, what can viewers expect from this series?
Well, there’s going to be a lot of the same models used in terms of how the episodes are structured, which has worked for years for “Criminal Minds” and we definitely don’t want to change that, but it’s much more interesting that we’re doing a different country every episode. So you’re dealing with different cultures, different story lines, because you have to take into consideration what happens when you walk through different worlds, what things can happen, good or bad, what protocol we have to deal with as profilers.
Everything changes when you cross international borders, so it’s a challenge for us as actors to figure out what we can and can’t do in a certain country. But it’s also really rewarding and it helps (us) to creatively come up with interesting scenarios. So it’s been a lot of fun, and we’re looking forward to it..
How did you land the role of Simmons and what was the audition process like?
Well if I’m being completely honest, and I’m not being arrogant, there was no audition. I was actually taken to dinner and was offered the role.
How did you develop this character over time?
I was very lucky because we had a lot of amazing consultants and guys onset (who were) former FBI agents and some are still working with the bureau. It’s really simple when you can turn to them and ask them any question that comes to mind which is very important for roles like these because we don’t know if we’re doing things the right way. Whether it’s the way you hold your gun, the way you enter a building, or what do I do with my gun when I’m in a different country. It’s the protocol. Sometimes I’ve to cover it with my T-shirt, sometimes I can wear my gun, sometimes I can’t at all, so there are a lot of things like that we learn on set.
What’s the most challenging thing about working in “Criminal Minds”?
Most challenging thing is probably all the different locations. Everyday we’re driving towards the desert; we’re driving to the Harbour Marina, so I’ve filled probably 5,000 miles in the past 6 months in Los Angeles because we have to try find these places that would suit these locations that takes place around the world and the set staff does an amazing job. They never cease to amaze me. We’ve been in a draught for the past few years in LA, yet they found the wettest jungle to shoot in. So that’s the challenge of the show – it’s just making it real.
You do a good deal of shuffling between American and Korean TV series. How different is one from the other?
(chuckles) The systems are every different. Number 1: There’s a union in the US, there’s not a union in Korea, so we worked for some very long hours in Korea. In the US, it’s regulated. But they both have their advantages, I loved working in Korea because there’s more of a family feel to the sets. You feel very close to your co-stars and your crew. Not that I don’t feel that in the US but there’s just something in Asia that brings people very close to each other, whereas in the US it’s a business. So you punch in and you punch out, you have your parking space, you go to work.
That’s fine too so they’re very different. I think they both work but I think they can both learn from each other equally.
I would love to get your opinion on the #OscarSoWhite controversy. What are your thoughts on the issue?
There are a lot of angles to look at it. It’s shocking when you see all the nominated actors were Caucasians this year, so you have to step back sometimes and ask yourself the question: the other movies like “Creed”, whether it merits getting a nomination? Maybe yes, maybe no. The thing for me that’s been frustrating is, in the US it has become so much about black and white, but what about Asians? There’s also a pool there, and I think we have a little more way to go with that.
I think the doors have opened a little bit. I think Asian actors have to be better, I think we have to be prepared more because when we do get the opportunity, we need to be very very good. We need to be that much better, so that we don’t give anyone a choice but to cast us.
I’ve always prided myself in being the best actor for the part that I can be. But I hear a lot of young Asian American actors complaining about the lack of parts but what I say to them is, ‘Well if there is a part, are you ready to do it?’ and that’s not always the case. I think we have to prepare better. We have to encourage our young actors, we have to encourage our writers so that they can write parts for us and that would be a better way to reach a solution than waiting for someone else to do it for us.
— Hermosa Indonesia (@HermosaINA) January 20, 2016
— Hermosa USA (@Hermosa_USA) March 8, 2016
You were recently in Malaysia right? Was it for work or leisure?
Yes, I was there shooting for a TV commercial for a Korean golf wear company. I was there for 4 or 5 days. It was really hot and we were shooting 2 days’ worth of commercials but I really enjoyed my time. I had some really good food, met some really great people, and played some golf. It was just beautiful, I wish I could go back.
I’m glad you got to meet Baymax at the Times Square Shopping Mall.
Oh yeah yeah, the shopping mall was close to my hotel and I went down there and there were just Baymax everywhere. I guess it must’ve been a pretty popular show in Malaysia. I saw a lot of toys and some “Big Hero 6” figurines. It makes me proud because my character helped create him. You know, it’s amazing to be a part of a Disney movie, so it’s always nice to see that stuff.
— Daniel Henney (@danielhenney) January 19, 2016
Your modelling projects is just as impressive as your TV work. What has modelling taught you that has been beneficial for your acting career?
You know a lot of people that talk about modelling kind of have a negative connotation attached to it or a stigma, but I never understood that. For me, it was just an amazing way to start my career, to travel and gain life experience, make a little money and I’ve learned so much from it. Whether it would be how to talk to people, how to carry myself, how to behave in public as a man, how to take responsibility for myself, and be on my own. And all those traits play into helping me be a great adult.
You’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Who was more fun to work with? Hugh Jackman (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”), Arnold Schwarzenegger (“The Last Stand”) or Gwyneth Paltrow (“Bean Pole” commercial)?
Oh geez, that’s a tough question. I really enjoyed working with Hugh because it was my first time being on a film that large, with a movie star that large. My first day of work, I had to fight with him. That was the dying scene I think; that was my first day on set. He’s a wonderful person and I learned a lot from him.
And I worked a little bit with Gwyneth. She was really really sweet. I was super young and super nervous and I didn’t know what to say to her. I think at the time she was being protected by bodyguards because of the Korean production in London. Nobody was talking to her because the Korean crew thought that it was disrespectful to speak to her for some reason.
And so when I went up to her – I approached her – cause we had to work together. I said ‘Hi, I’m Daniel’ and she said ‘OMG! Are you gonna talk to me?’, I said ‘Yeah, I’ll talk to you cause nobody is talking to you’ (laughs). So we got along very well.
Arnold was great but we didn’t had a lot of scenes together because my part in the movie was different than his. So I only got to see him at different events and parties. He was really nice and professional. He gave me a jacket as a gift after the movie with his signature on it which I thought was very cool.
What do you find attractive in women and what can they do to convince you to settle down? Would it involve a lot of profiling like Matt Simmons?
Hey, that’s a good idea for an ad. To profile women that suits your personality… I don’t know. I’m a simple guy, I’m from Michigan. I’ve stumbled on this life which has been crazy. At the heart of it, I’m a country guy, I like simple things. I love barbecuing and being outdoors… Just really simple things in life. Unfortunately, my life is very complicated and it’s hard to meet someone that’s very simple out there. I don’t know, I guess someone that has a great sense of humour, who isn’t pretentious, who isn’t too materialistic, loves to have fun but has a serious side as well.
You know, I’m still looking. I am married to my dog, Mango. She has my heart but there’s still space for another female. I wouldn’t mind having a family at some point. It’s something I’ve started to think about. I’d like to meet someone great and settle down. I’d love for the show to do well so I can stay in one place for longer than a couple of months. I’ve been constantly traveling so much for the last 10 years, it’s hard to establish relationships. So it’ll be good, to be able to be in one spot for more than few months.
— Daniel Henney (@danielhenney) February 26, 2015
What other projects are you working on at the moment?
At the moment, I’m kind of in a stall because I have to see how Criminal Minds perform before I can really commit myself to anything else. Because if it does well, which we hope it does, I’m pretty much spoken for till July. I can’t really do much.
I might be doing a film in London, maybe in June. But other than that, what I’m trying to do right now is to work more on the production side, while trying to get a couple of book projects that I really love be made into movies. So that’s also taking my attention right now.
You can catch Daniel Henney and his co-stars on “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” when it premieres on AXN (Astro Ch701) and AXN HD (Astro B.yond Ch721) this Thursday (17th March 2016) at 10pm.