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Australian born actor David Lyons is taking in the beauty of Brunswick County as recent film and television productions have brought him here to the North Carolina coast.
While some may recognize him as the resident bad guy Sebastian Monroe on NBC’s current hit drama “Revolution,” Lyons will light up the big screen this week with the premiere of locally filmed “Safe Haven.”
Lyons plays Kevin Tierney in the love story that lands a young woman with a mysterious past in Southport. Based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name, “Safe Haven,” filmed last year in Southport and other nearby locations.
The town of Southport is planning a party Thursday on Valentine’s Day for the premiere of the movie. Festivities include an afternoon viewing of the film and admittance to an after party.
While it is not definite if Lyons will make an appearance, he said the event is on his radar.
“Safe Haven” was the first production Lyons worked on in North Carolina but he’s getting more familiar with the area through his work on “Revolution,” which is currently based in Wilmington.
Lyons will be busy working on set for “Revolution” Thursday, which may affect his ability to make an appearance for the premiere in Southport.
“This year has been interesting,” Lyons said as he ate a bite of poached eggs from inside the Causeway Café on Wrightsville Beach Tuesday. “The majority of the characters I have played have been villainous. The two main things people will see me in—“Safe Haven” and “Revolution”—they are both compromised characters.”
While Lyons says he is nothing like the characters he portrays, he enjoys the challenge.
“I find it interesting to play multi-layered personalities,” he said. “You have to get in there and share a space with them—inhabit them—to find your own foothold into them, whether through your own personal experiences or the way they hold themselves or the way they talk.
“When you can do that, you have ‘aha’ moments,” he said. “And you know in those moments why he acts the way he does or says the things he says. It is important not to judge them because if you hate them on the page you can’t effect sympathy whatsoever.”
“Both Monroe and Kevin, they assume they are right in their actions. They aren’t setting out to be evil but they are augmented by alcohol, severe paranoia, betrayal and a deep-seated abandonment complex.”
Settling in North Carolina
Lyons had never been to North Carolina before last year.
“As soon as I found out Wilmington was in the cards [for “Revolution”], I was very excited,” he said. “It has the beach, surf and Southern hospitality. The size and the scope of the town is perfect.”
Shortly after landing the role on “Revolution,” Lyons accepted the role on “Safe Haven.”
Lyons grew up in a small mountain town outside of Melbourne, Australia. He says his hometown is about the size of Southport. He moved to Los Angeles five years ago to pursue acting.
Being in North Carolina since last June, Lyons has grown to appreciate and enjoy the area. Last June and July while filming “Safe Haven,” Lyons stayed near the Southport marina.
During those two months, he was often out walking his dog or enjoying one of his favorite Southport locales.
“It was beautiful. The people there were incredibly receptive and very, very real with genuine interest in each other,” Lyons said.
While in Southport, he said he spent a lot of time at the Moore Street Bakery, Fishy Fishy, the American Fish Company, the Yacht Basin and went running along the waterway.
Running into passion
Acting was a career Lyons ran from in the beginning.
He said he has always had a passion for acting but it wasn’t until he was 26 that he decided to pursue it.
“When I was at university there was no career counselor encouraging pursuing acting. I always thought it was a fickle industry that no one can create a career in,” Lyons said.
He studied politics and criminology and wrote his thesis on Japanese politics.
After graduation, Lyons traveled abroad. He lived in London for a year, Southeast Asia for a year and Portugal for a year.
At 26, while teaching English in Portugal, he had a serious life discussion with a close friend.
“I was traveling the world trying to find something but I was running from something— from what I am passionate about—telling stories and acting,” he said. “There we were, two Australian mates, sitting on a rooftop in Portugal and he asked me if I was truly happy.”
Lyons said he was happy but when his friend pushed him on his answer. That’s when Lyons confessed he wanted to be an actor.
“He looked at me and said, ‘Go and do it.’”
And he did.
Lyons was accepted into a three-year drama school, Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art.
When asked what his big breaks have been, Lyons said the first was getting into drama school.
The next was landing his first job and then each job that followed after that.
Lyons’ career has landed him roles as Dr. Simon Brenner on the TV show “ER,” as Vince Faraday on “The Cape,” Ian in “Eat Pray Love” and many more.
In addition to acting, Lyons has been testing the waters in writing and directing. He is putting the finishing touches on “Record,” a 20-minute short film he wrote and directed.
When asked where he saw himself in the next five to 10 years, Lyons said, “married with kids, living in a small town, doing something artistic, kooky—cutting out a piece of life.”
Rachel Johnson is a staff writer at The Brunswick Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email@example.com.