Every band starts with an idea and in the case of Daisy Jones and the Six, that idea came from Graham Dunne played by Will Harrison. Even though the role was one of the first he auditioned for after school, he naturally found a way to mold into the character of Graham whose desire to form a band is the genesis for the journey of a lifetime.
In our conversation Will details the process of becoming bandmates with his fellow cast and how performing the music became secondhand muscle memory, ultimately freeing him up as an actor to portray the character that is known and beloved from the source novel of the series.
Read our full interview with Will Harrison below.
Hi, this is Danny Jarabek here with Awards Radar, and I am very excited to be talking with Will Harrison, a star of the hit series Daisy Jones and the Six. Will, thank you so much for joining me today. I am super excited to be talking about your role in the series.
Harrison: Thank you for having me.
Absolutely and so, to kick it off, I would love to hear how you came to the script. What was your experience with the casting process and how you came into the role of Graham Dunne?
Harrison: Absolutely. This was one of the first projects that I auditioned for out of school, and then the project was put on hold for a year. It was a long casting process. I went in for a bunch of different characters and we finally landed on Graham and went through the callback process for that, which was lengthy, but that’s where we landed.
Did you have any relationship with the source material beforehand when you were going out for this?
Harrison: I hadn’t, no. I think I’d heard of the book, but I hadn’t read it yet. After I got some interest from the casting office and a callback, I went and read the book quickly. It’s such a great book, you can read it in a day or two. It’s hard to put down and that’s when I first got familiar with the source material.
Pretty much everyone I talk to that comes to the book always says, “Yeah, I had planned to read it over a few days, but I just read it in one sitting.”
Harrison: It goes so quickly, and you don’t want it to be over, but yeah, it’s one of those.
So, you mentioned that the production of this series was delayed and had pandemic setbacks. Part of what’s interesting about this is that actually gave you and the cast a little bit of an opportunity to have an extended rehearsal process and build chemistry together. Can you elaborate on what that process was like for you?
Harrison: Totally. Well, as you said, we got shut down after I think I’d been at band camp for two months or so, maybe a little bit less, and we had to shut everything down. But that meant that we had been exposed to all the music and could, in the downtime of the shutdown, still focus on practicing our instruments and learning all the songs. It was a small silver lining for us that we got a little bit more time.
How did you go about learning this music? Was it something that you were familiar with? Did you have a background in that at all or was it a jump into the deep end?
Harrison: It was certainly a jump into the deep end. I have had experience playing guitar before. I’ve played since I was ten years old, but I never had an official lesson or put the practice hours in like I did for this project. That was an amazing bonus of this that we all just got to hang out and play music together. The beginning of the process was funny because we were all in our separate rooms learning our parts, and then it took maybe a week or two before we would start to poke our heads into each other’s practice rooms and try and build things together. I remember early on, me and Josh [Whitehouse], both of our amps were still in our practice rooms, which are next to each other, but we just stood in the hall with our instruments, so the sound was still coming out of the practice rooms, but we wanted to see what it sounded like together. We jumped the gun before they put us in a room together and just played in the hall, which was a fun day.
That’s cool to hear. So, Graham Dunne, how did you come to this character in particular and what was your vision for starting to bring him to life off the page?
Harrison: It’s an interesting thing when there’s source material of a character and you know that so many people, because of reading the book, have this wonderfully crafted image of who this guy is in their minds. That’s the bonus of working on something that’s based on a book. Then there’s the other side of that, which is you have to shut that out and trust that you are the version of this guy that’s going to bring it to life. Taking a little bit of pressure off myself in terms of people’s preconceived notions of Graham was certainly helpful, but he’s such an amazing character and I was so lucky to get the chance to play him.
One thing that I really love about this series is just how ingrained it is in this culture. The 70s LA rock and roll scene. I know that you shot in a lot of on-location historic places that were significant to this time period. What was that experience like just going to these very iconic places and getting to live that experience a little bit?
Harrison: It was so cool. The one that comes to mind is we had a big shoot day where we shut down a section of Sunset and shot the band coming into Los Angeles when they make their way across the country from Pittsburgh. To see that section all done up by the amazing art department that made it look so 70s, it was so cool. Playing at venues like the Whiskey and Filthy McNasty’s, which is now the Viper Room. We played there and they did it up like the old Filthy McNasty’s. It was really cool and kept us grounded. We weren’t on the lot, and we weren’t in front of a green screen. We were right there where those people would have been doing those things.
How did you go about immersing yourself in this atmosphere? Was there anything that you were listening to? Was there anything you were watching to get into the world of 70s LA rock and roll?
Harrison: Absolutely. The rehearsal process for the show really did such a good job of immersing us. A lot of people ask if I had specific music that I would go to, and I might for a lot of other characters that I would play. But for this one, that soundtrack was there. They gave us all of Daisy Jones’s music, and so to get steeped in that, it was really easy with what they gave us.
Coming from this, you have the incredibly unique experience of a soundtrack that you get to perform, and is a living album that comes from this series. How have you seen that resonate with people? It feels like we can listen to a real band with this soundtrack. I just had it on Spotify this morning.
How have you seen that resonate with people?
Harrison: I think it’s so cool the fact that it’s a real album. Obviously, it immerses you so much more as an audience member that you can experience this world in two different ways. You can go watch the show or you can listen to the music. Maybe there are people out there that have heard the music but haven’t watched the show. I think that would be fine as well because it’s an amazing standalone album and that was one of the biggest things when this project was coming together, the question of the music. We’re not involved in that side as the actors. We’re just trusting that it’s going to come together. The fact that it did so well is the thing that really elevates the show because they did an incredible job with the music.
What’s your approach when there’s kind of multiple layers of performance? Because you’re performing on stage and you’re also performing as a character, so there are kind of multiple levels and layers to how you’re acting this character? How did you approach that, knowing that you were going to be performing and performing in multiple ways?
Harrison: Yeah, it was a juggling act in that way and a lot of it was figuring out how much of that we were going to do. The amazing thing, though, is that when you’re in the costume and you’re comfortable with the character, and you’re given a task, which is performing the song and playing your guitar part, it really takes a lot of the pressure off of performing that other half of it being the acting portion, because you are so focused on actually doing something. So, in a lot of ways, it was so freeing to just focus on the performance of the music when those scenes came around.
Did it just become muscle memory at that point?
Harrison: Yes, absolutely. I’ve played a lot of those guitar parts hundreds of times over.
One of the relationships that is most important to your character and to the arc of the series is your relationship with Karen, played by Suki Waterhouse. How did you navigate your working relationship with Suki and how you developed that chemistry on screen together?
Harrison: Suki is so fantastic. She is out of this world in this series. It was really such an easy working relationship. We would sometimes get together in the trailer or outside of work to go over scenes just because we always wanted to come in with something to offer, which was such a fun way to work. It was great working with her.
Were there any particular challenges that you weren’t expecting going into production that came up during filming?
Harrison: The challenge of shooting a lot of those concert scenes was a challenge for everyone across the board because of the scale and sound issues. When you’re filming a scene, you don’t want there to be an insane amount of rock music in the background. So, a lot of juggling those things was something we ran into, but they were fun issues to solve.
Is 70s LA rock and roll something you wish you had been a part o now?
Harrison: Well, I grew up listening to a lot of the music, so my parents introduced me to that very young and I felt steeped in it in that way. Then this was just another way to get to live in it for a few months there, which was so much fun.
Final question before I let you go. Do you have a favorite Daisy Jones and the Six song?
Harrison: It’s so hard because each of them would become my favorite song as I learned them, as I finally understood how to play it, I’d say, “Oh, this is it.” I will say I think Let Me Down Easy is a fun one to play, and it also came to us a little bit late in the process. Another song got dropped off of our album, and that one came in and saved us in a way. I really love that song.
Well, thank you so much, Will. I really appreciate getting to chat a little bit about Daisy Jones and the Six. Congratulations on your effort and your role in this series. It is a wonderful character, a wonderful show, and I’m so glad to have had a chance to talk to you about it.
Harrison: Thank you so much. I appreciate you saying that. Thanks for your time.