Los Angeles is home to countless aspiring actors with dreams of making it big. For USC alumnus Eric Ladin, who graduated in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in theatre, his dream is starting to look like reality. Ladin co-stars in a new AMC original series, The Killing, set to debut April 3. He has also had roles in HBO’s Generation Kill and Big Love, AMC’s Mad Men and several other shows. The Daily Trojan spoke with Ladin in a phone interview.
Daily Trojan: When did you feel like you had first broken out as an actor?
Eric Ladin: The first role that I felt like I started establishing my foothold was Generation Kill, because I had been kind of bouncing around and doing a lot of guest star work before that. After Generation Kill, more high-caliber work started to come consistently, and I haven’t really slowed down since.
DT: What was it like working on such an immersive miniseries as Generation Kill?
Ladin: It was an incredible experience, and one that will probably never be matched in my career. I spent seven months in Africa with 30 guys, all of whom I’ve become very good friends with. We really did start to get the sense of being away — not that we could ever think that we were really in the military, but it was a little bit of life imitating art in the sense that we had left our loved ones at home for seven months and spent all day in a Humvee. Once we started rolling, we had no choice but to start talking and acting like soldiers.
DT: What is one of the toughest parts of being an actor that gets hidden by the glamour?
Ladin: It’s a very uncertain lifestyle. You hope to be busy and working on great projects, but it can be a very unstable lifestyle and that’s not always the case. Usually once the momentum gets going though, you can ride that and continue to do great work, and great projects continue to come along.
DT: Did you always feel like you wanted to be an actor?
Ladin: It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and then I finally started embracing theatre when I was in junior high and really started focusing on it in high school. Then I decided to go to USC, and I made that decision not only because of the theatre program but also because it was in L.A. and I wanted to have that opportunity to possibly start working while I was still in school.
DT: How did your education at USC help you in your career?
Ladin: The teachers at USC provided a great service and an amazing classroom experience. I was able to hone my craft and trim the fat off my work, so to speak, so that once I started to get into the real world I was a lot more prepared than I would have been had I started trying to work professionally right out of high school.
DT: What are some of your best memories of college?
Ladin: In terms of acting it was getting to do Grease, the musical, mainly because of the people that were in it. Kelly Ward directed it, and he had been in the movie, so he knew it well, and we had a ball doing it. On the non-acting side of it, one of my best experiences at USC — and I probably can’t get arrested for this now — was when we took a go-kart from a science fair one day, drove it around campus and hid it in a parking garage. Traddies probably contributed to that.
DT: What is one piece of advice you want to pass on to current students?
Ladin: The piece of advice that I got that meant the most to me was to really enjoy all four years and love every moment of it. As an actor, you play so many different roles throughout your career, and the only way to tap into those roles is through the experiences you’ve lived, and so many of those come from my four years at USC. Do as many shows as you can, go to as many parties as you can, meet as many people as you can and steal as many go-karts as you can.