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Jason O’Marais going back to the past again. The actor, who last fall went 85 million years into the past on Fox’s Terra Nova, isn’t going that far this year, instead opting for Las Vegas in the 1960s as a co-star on CBS’ Vegas.
In the drama based on the real life of former Las Vegas cowboy turned sheriff Ralph Lamb, O’Mara plays the brother to Dennis Quaid‘s Lamb in the ensemble that features Michael Chiklis as the mobster at the center of the lawman’s universe.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with O’Mara to discuss filming the pilot, how Vegas compares to other shows and who his dream guest star is for the rookie series.
The Hollywood Reporter: Fill in the blanks — if you like X, Y, and Z, you’ll like my show.
Jason O’Mara: If you like Casino, every John Wayne movie ever made and Mad Men, you’ll like Vegas.
If you weren’t starring on this show, what show would you want to be on?
That’s tough! I’d want to be on American Horror Story, Homeland, Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad. I’d want to be the new bad guy on Breaking Bad if I was a casting director.
How would you go toe-to-toe with Walt?
With difficulty, but I’d do it. I’d give him one of my [intense] looks!
What was the funniest thing that happened while filming the pilot?
I do remember on one occasion when Michael Chiklis was being extremely badass one moment — which he does very well since he’s the tough guy. It was a very tense moment right before the call to action and he just burst into being extremely campy and started to do Dennis’ makeup touch-ups. “OK, we’re just going to give you a little powder!” We all laughed. It took us a little while for the laughter to subside and get back on track.
If you could scrub anything off your résumé, what would it be?
I remember doing a few really dodgy Irish plays in college during the summer to get American tourists through the door of the theater so that we could make some drinking money. Some of those were pretty bad. They’re not officially on my résumé but I sometimes wish I’d never done them.
What was the strangest role you played in one of those?
At the time, I was only 21 and I played an old man in an old W.B. Yates play called Pot of Broth. I had to write my own song and sing it and I’m not a good singer. I had to make this pot of broth on stage and we didn’t have much money so we only bought a new chicken for this pot of broth and you cook chicken once every three or four days. By the fourth day, it really started to hum. Thank God I only had to pretend to eat it.
What advice do you have for new series regular Dennis Quaid?
I was going to give Dennis advice on how fast we move but we were doing a scene recently and said, “Moves pretty fast in TV, doesn’t it?” And he said, “Yeah it does — I like it!”
Who’s your dream guest star on Vegas?
I think the real Ralph Lamb will have to come and play one of the Italian gangsters (laughs). Maybe Ralph can have cameos in every episode, like Alfred Hitchcock or Stan Lee. The guy is 85. He thought he was going to have a movie made about his life 20 years ago and it fell through. Now that there’s a TV show about his life, he’s still with us, he’s still strong, he’s 6-foot-2 and have you seen his hands? They’re like shovels. I still wouldn’t want to get in a fight with him, and he’s got 45 years on me.
Vegas premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. on CBS.
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