In 2006, actor Dean Geyer auditioned for Australian Idol in Melbourne, finished in third place, and became a national celebrity overnight. Sony gave him a recording contract, which led to a chart-topping record and a 244-episode arc (if you can call it that) on the long-running soap opera Neighbours. After garnering attention in the U.S. with a role on the admittedly short-lived Fox series Terra Nova, Geyer is now poised to assume a much higher profile, thanks to a new gig on the hit show Glee—which has its season premiere this week—where he'll star as Lea Michele's love interest.
Details spoke with Geyer, 26, about his fast-paced career, how he made it to Glee, and his love of jujitsu.
DETAILS: You did very well on Australian Idol. What would you be doing now, had it not been for that big break?
DEAN GEYER: I made my mind up to do music and didn't plan on going to university. I believe that things happen for a reason. I'd probably still be doing music. I don't know if acting would have come along, because it was through music that I got introduced to acting. Whenever you have a passion for something…I'm the type of person that runs off to whatever I'm 100 percent confident in.
DETAILS: Even if you were just playing crappy bars for pennies?
DEAN GEYER: Yeah, I've got friends that are still playing music at weddings and bars, and I don't think that would have deterred me at all. I'd rather be doing something that I love, rather than doing a job that's nine-to-five, boring me from day to day.
DETAILS: Last year, you were on Terra Nova, a show about time travel and dinosaurs. How did this not succeed?
DEAN GEYER: [Laughs] It might have been at the wrong time, and they might have been reaching out to a demographic that wasn't strong enough to hold the ratings. I think it did well for the concept that it was. It's a pity it didn't last, because I had a lot of fun on set. There wasn't anything really out there like it. It was a larger-than-life concept, and they really had to double the ratings of any other show on TV just to keep up with their budget.
DETAILS: Maybe in the future, a better move would be to pick either dinosaurs or time travel.
DEAN GEYER: Yeah, I feel like the two demographics were children who love the dinosaur concept (but there may not have been enough dinosaurs to keep them happy) and the guys who love the guns and cars and stuff. These days, [networks] really rely on the young girls and guys [for ratings], and they might not have been into it.
DETAILS: Tell us about your Glee audition.
DEAN GEYER: It was a long process. I went in to the first casting, and the waiting room was just filled with people. I heard after I got the role that they auditioned thousands of people. It could've been one of the biggest casting calls I've been to. I sang two songs: "Cry Me a River" by Justin Timberlake and "One Song Glory" from the musical Rent. I had to come back with an opera song, which I think I totally murdered because I'm not an opera singer. I came out of the second audition not really sure how I did. I didn't hear back for a week and a half, so I assumed they'd moved on. Knowing that [writer-director-producer] Ryan Murphy, an amazingly talented man, was in the room watching, critiquing every bit of your performance—that was fairly intimidating.
DETAILS: What's your character like on Glee?
DEAN GEYER: His name is Brody Weston, and he's an upperclassman at the New York Academy of the Dramatic Arts college. He comes from Montana, a small town—I think he's fairly similar to Rachel [Lea Michele's character], in that he might not have been so popular in high school, but he was one of the most talented. New York transformed him and allowed him to open himself up, to be that confident, charming guy that he is now. Just like Rachel, he moved there because he has massive expectations and goals for his career.
DETAILS: What's your take on Rachel? She's a bit crazy at times…
DEAN GEYER: She is crazy, but from what I've seen this season, she had to go through a bit of change and new vibe of a new city. It's going to make her mature a little bit; she may not be as crazy. She'll keep her quirky personality.
DETAILS: Have you had experience in your own life with Rachel Berry types?
DEAN GEYER: No, I haven't. [Laughs] Acting alongside her [character] is an interesting experience. Getting on any set, where you have to act with a personality that you've never met before, it's an interesting experience, because you have to delve into how you would respond and react. But I love acting alongside her because it is such a quirky character.
DETAILS: She is certainly high-maintenance. What's the most high-maintenance thing you do?
DEAN GEYER: Uh, I don't think I'm very high-maintenance, but I think my girlfriend would disagree. [Yells out to his girlfriend, "What's the most high-maintenance thing I do?"] She says everything. You know what, probably my workout regimen. I'm very disciplined about my workout regimen. That's not a bad thing. It definitely gets in the way of her wanting me to go shopping or go out for a nice dinner, but I want to work out.
DETAILS: Can you tell us about your regimen?
DEAN GEYER: My whole family is involved in the health industry, so I grew up with it. For me, it's just maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I enjoy indulging in chocolate and that kind of stuff, but for the most part I like to keep things simple. Protein, every day. I try and eat four meals a day, and the workout regimen, it's really just weights three to four times a week, and also I keep up my jujitsu around two times a week. Being on a show like Glee, you don't have the time to work out as much as you like to. But I try to keep it up.
DETAILS: Are you pretty mindful about your diet? Do you avoid red meat?
DEAN GEYER: No, no. Coming from South Africa, there's not a lot of vegetarians. Everything is meat. The stable diet there is barbecued stuff, chicken, fish, with a couple of sides. I've grown up enjoying that. I don't limit myself. And if I don't have enough meat during the day, I'll have a protein shake. I sound like a meathead right now, but I'm an actor, so I've got to try and look good for the screen. I'd like to follow in the footsteps of Matt Damon and Jason Statham and do those big-budget action films. I've gotta keep up my regimen.
DETAILS: Have you ever had to use your jujitsu training to defend yourself in real life?
DEAN GEYER: Luckily, no. South Africa is known for being really bad with its crime situation, but no, I haven't had to use it in a dangerous situation. But I've definitely gotten into scrambles when I was younger at some parties. [Laughs]
—Mike Ayers (@themikeayers) is a New York City-based arts and entertainment writer.