Do you know that handsome face with the smiling eyes? How about this one?
Whoops! Those pretty eyes aren’t smiling anymore but we’re getting closer. I’m sure you’ll have it once you watch this video from The Walking Dead S6 Ep11 Knots Untie.
Got it now? Yep! That’s Justin Kucsulain as Ethan, who stabbed Gregory on orders from Negan. I really can’t blame him; Ethan just wanted to save his brother’s life. (And we all know Gregory needs to go!) Unfortunately, it set into motion a brawl that led to his death by Rick. Even though his time on the show was brief, it was action-packed.
Justin sat down and answered a baker’s dozen of questions for us about his career, life, and all things TWD. Here they are:
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Michigan. I grew up in Berkley, Michigan.
How did you get into acting?
I moved to Tampa, Florida, and started modeling, working with photographers and developed a passion for creation. I was “scouted” by a man, claiming to be an agent, from a Facebook photo and it was suggested by him that I drive to Miami to audition for a part in Iron Man III. Turns out I got the part as a featured extra. I slept in my car, showered at Gold’s Gym and fell in love with being on set during the day. I spent my whole week networking on set, connections I still have to this day. I was referred to my first acting workshop in Tampa where I spent four years studying and also where I was signed with my first agents.
Was it always your dream to become an actor?
No, I don’t think I truly dreamed about becoming anything. I just lived until I figured it out. I focused on what I was doing when I was doing it. I’ve always known I wanted to be a performer/creator of some kind but after being on set for one week I knew I wanted to be an actor. I have a musical history and was the lead singer in a band during my high school years. Before acting I was big into MMA and progressed quickly at the sport; I was addicted to training. I aimed that same will and determination to succeed at my craft once I discovered acting.
What was your first acting role?
It was a local gig, a short for an action film challenge. Sleigh Bells Ring, I portrayed a hero father named Robert Kirkman. No, I did not pick the name and at the time, I had no idea who Robert Kirkman was.
How did you land the role of Ethan?
After dozens of auditions for The Walking Dead, something amazing happened. Scott Gimple sent me another audition and asked me to re-tape for the opposite character. So I did and then I booked the role of Ethan.
Were you a The Walking Dead fan before landing the role?
Sure was. It’s a very gripping, gritty, fight-for-life show and it has all the feels.
What has been your favorite acting role?
Bloodline on Netflix. I was able to put more work into my character and actually feel creation. It was a fantastic time with an amazing Emmy award-winning cast.
Did you do anything special to prepare for the role?
Relaxation exercises, deep breathing, listening to calming music, memorizing lines. I bought all of the comic books with reference to my character and specifically studied the volumes where my character was featured.
How did you relate to and get along with the other Walking Dead cast?
The cast was great. spent most of my time talking with Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus. Great guys, extremely approachable. I guess at the end of the day you break it down to we’re all just normal people with really cool jobs. Very humble, not work related conversations took place.
Were there any funny or memorable behind the scene moments you experienced?
Yes, driving to the Hilltop in a van. We, the main cast members, were all jamming Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and singing along to it.
Can’t you just see that van full of actors belting out the lyrics while rolling down the road? Why did no one film this?!
How does acting differ from working on a television series like The Walking Dead and a Netflix original series like Bloodline?
Very similar situations honestly. Both productions were unbelievable. The Walking Dead had the most amazing craft services; it was like an all-inclusive resort.
What can you tell us about your martial arts?
I started training mixed martial arts and Brazilian jujitsu in Lakeland, Florida. I am a purple belt under master Ross Kellin of Champions mixed martial arts in Lakeland, Florida, also, an American jujitsu black belt under Ross. Mixed martial arts made me the man I am today, very fortunate and thankful for that.
Who are your heroes, your inspirations?
Action hero? Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. T2, Commando, Rocky, Rambo. Yes, they for sure inspired me as a kid.
Thank you, Justin, for such wonderful, enlightening information about yourself and your life. We wish you well in all future endeavors and will be looking for you on both little and big screens. I’m going to end with one last gorgeous photo.