Island actor finds steady work on big screen, TV
Galveston has its share of characters. But actor Dan Braverman makes a living as one.
Braverman, 57, didn’t take the traditional route to a career in acting. Braverman served in the Army, taught school, sang in a band and dabbled with songwriting and screenplays. But acting has always been his true calling.
Braverman, who lives on the island with his wife, Holly Thorson, and several rescue cats, is a character actor — someone whose name you might not know, but whose face you recognize when you see him on the screen. He’s worked with Nicolas Cage, Antonio Banderas, Charles Durning, Selma Blair, Jessica Simpson, Barry Corbin and Brandon Routh. This year alone, he has five films in postproduction.
His ethnicity — German, Russian, Hungarian, Eastern European, Scotch-Irish and a bit of Cherokee — allows Braverman to play everything from a mobster to a Jewish rabbi. He also is adept at comedy, impressions and accents, which he learned just by watching movies.
Although he studied acting with Sidney Berger at the University of Houston, it wasn’t until Braverman was 45 years old that he got into professional theater.
“I auditioned at the Strand Theatre and got a part in ‘Holiday Memories,’ written by Truman Capote,” he said. “After that, I started to get nonpaying indie film gigs, which led to me getting an agent and finally getting paid.”
Braverman has been compared to actor Dennis Franz, best known for his role as Andy Sipowicz on former TV show “NYPD Blues.” But Braverman doesn’t really fashion himself after any one actor.
“I admire the skill of anyone who does good work and just doesn’t get by due to looks,” he said. Actors he admires include Danny DeVito, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy and the late Jackie Gleason.
“Gleason was a much better actor than he ever got credit for,” Braverman said. “He was brilliant.”
Braverman’s biggest part so far was in “Stolen,” with Nicholas Cage, filmed in New Orleans in 2012. Braverman plays a cab dispatcher named Lefleur. The work he’s most proud of was in “Artois the Goat,” a quirky romantic comedy starring Mark Scheibmeir, who decides to throw away his career and become a cheese maker. Braverman plays a hermit landowner who is obsessed with digging graves. The movie was made in the Texas Hill Country and premiered in 2009 at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin.
Braverman just finished work on “KILD TV” — an old-fashioned murder mystery — and “Last Man Club” — for which the ending scene was filmed at the Lone Star Flight Museum in Galveston. A future project called “Scherzo,” in which Braverman plays a detective who has been working on a particular murder case for years, is in the works.
TV roles include “Friday Night Lights,” “Prison Break” and “Breakout Kings.”
“A lot of good actors have not had much success because they doubt themselves,” Braverman said. “They are their own worst critics. I really don’t doubt myself; I guess I should, but I don’t.”
Staying positive in a business like acting isn’t always easy, but Braverman takes it all in stride.
“I am always trying to get better at what I do,” he said. “A hundred years from now, someone is going to have a copy of something I’ve been in.”
• Best advice he ever got was from actor Charles Durning: “Never turn down a role and never argue with a director.”
• Actors he’d most like to work with: Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges.
• Best film he’s seen this year: “Godzilla.”
• Collects: Guitars, most recently a 1954 Fender Telecaster.
• His best accent: Dwight Frye who played Renfield in the 1931 version of “Dracula.”
• Visit www.imdb.com/name/nm2428102 to see all of Braverman’s credits.