Daniel Sunjata: ‘My Favorite Thing To Do Is Theater’

Scott Ferrall had never really watched Graceland, but then he vacationed in the Cayman Islands. He spent a couple of nights watching the hit television drama and found the show “awesome,” “great” and “simply badass.”

He’s not alone in those sentiments.

“Everything that you just said in terms of complimenting the show, first of all, thank you,” Graceland actor Daniel Sunjata said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Second of all, it is a tremendous joy to shoot the show. I love my cast members. Jeff Eastin is a wonderful creator and executive producer to work with. We just got a great crew, and we all have a lot of fun shooting the sow. I’m glad that translates into entertaining television for those who support the show and watch it.”

Sunjata plays Paul Briggs, an undercover agent who spends a lot of time digging himself out of trouble.

That doesn’t figure to change anytime soon.

“I guess that would not be the most interesting TV,” Sunjata said. “Seeing him constantly having to deal with past mistakes that he made or sticky, hairy situations, that’s entertaining. That’s good TV. In terms of the issues he’s been dealing with for Season 1 and Season 2 – Season 3, I don’t want to give any spoilers, but definitely a lot of those things kind of end up being resolved. So if we’re fortunate enough to get a Season 4, it’ll be interesting to see where Jeff Eastin decides to take the house of Graceland next.”

Based on Sunjata’s Twitter account, Ferrall believes that Sunjata and Briggs are actually quite similar.

“In some ways,” Sunjata said. “One of the things that attracted me to the character was that he was a Tibetan Buddhist. I don’t happen to be a Buddhist necessarily by denomination or faith, but yeah, there are some similarities there, some points of tangency there. I don’t happen to be a heroin addict, thank God, so there’s no point of tangency there. But yeah, there are some things that we do have in common for sure – at least in terms of spirituality.”

Sunjata, 43, has starred in Grey’s Anatomy, 30 Rock, Law & Order, and The Devil Wears Prada, among other sitcoms and movies. He’s had a wonderful career. And yet, nothing gets his adrenaline going quite like theater.

“Theater is definitely the thing that makes me feel the most alive creatively,” Sunjata said. “I think that has something to do with the fact that it happens in real time. There’s also a deja vu quality to coming to the theater. It’s almost ritualistic. You come to the same place every day, you do the same type of preparation in terms of putting your costume on, getting your makeup on and then going out and doing the exact same show, but it’s never exactly the same. There’s always differences. The fact that it happens in real time, you have the reciprocity of the energy and response from the audience – it’s quite magical. But it’s also difficult to make a living in the theater, even if you work on Broadway regularly. It just doesn’t pay very much. So a lot of people who love the theater end up having to try to subsidize their theatrical aspirations by trying to get work on TV and in film. And I do enjoy TV and film as well, but if I had to pick between the three, I’d say my favorite thing to do is theater.”

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