In her breakout role as Daphne on the NBC sci-fi drama, Heroes, Brea Grant had the ability to speed through time, moving faster than everything around her. She seems to have a bit in common with the role, judging by the number of proverbial plates she keeps spinning. On top of her acting work—which includes several film and TV roles including a recurring spot on Dexter—she’s an accomplished comic book author. She co-wrote the trade paperback, We Will Bury You, with her brother Zane Austin Grant and Kyle Strahm, a tale of flesh-eating zombies set in the roaring twenties. Her second Suicide Girls comic has just released, and she’s been busy promoting Homecoming, an indie film in which she stars as an army medic on leave from the Middle East. We were introduced to Brea through our mutual friend and recent stated featured artist, Jimmy Aquino, and connected for a conversation by email.
stated: Thanks for joining us! You’re quite the Renaissance Woman, between your acting and writing projects, and your brother Zane is also a writer. Did you grow up in an artistic family? Where is home?
BREA GRANT: Home is technically Marshall, Texas (a small town in Northeast Texas), but I also like to claim Austin because that’s where I went to school. My grandmother painted and my father wrote plays (both only as hobbies). My mom is also quite artistic even if she won’t admit it. She actually made an amazing pop-up book art piece of Zane and my first comic. So, in that way, yes, I do have some artistic underpinnings in my family.
Zane and I were encouraged to do pretty much anything we pursued, even if it was art, which I think is sometimes really hard for parents like ours who have more traditional jobs. Zane and I were also influenced by the punk scene in the late 90’s and we both started playing music in high school. Our parents would let me bang loudly on my drum set every day. Zane started writing a zine and blogging, in addition to playing music. So a combination of seeing all these punk rock kids who were choosing creative avenues and having parents who encouraged it made for two really creative kids.
(Photo: Teren Oddo)
stated: Does your family support your career choice?
BREA GRANT: Yes. I mean, I think it was easier for my dad to understand once I was actually on television. Until that point, I think it’s hard for parents to see their 20-something-year-old kid leaving graduate school to go be an actor only to wait tables for a few years. I hear that a lot from actors. The moment it becomes more tangible and “successful,” family members tend to come around.
My mom has parties anytime I’m on television. I think every member of my family went to see Halloween 2 in the theater, even though a lot of them found it very offensive. My dad, who saw it in my tiny hometown, said that when my name came up on the screen everyone in the theater clapped. So yes, very supportive.
stated: That’s great. Your choice to study history was interesting considering your career path. Do you find that background helps to inform your acting and writing?
BREA GRANT: It definitely helps. It was good for me to do something in the earlier part of my life besides acting. It helps me to be a more rounded person. I was originally going to get my PhD to become a professor (hopefully). But I felt like everyone else was more passionate about graduate school than I was so I should pursue other avenues.
BREA GRANT: I don’t know if there is ever a “big break” in the traditional sense, but my life definitely changed after Heroes. People recognized me. I auditioned for bigger parts. I started getting invited to events and to do interviews, but it’s still a struggle to make a living in the acting world.
Heroes came about because I was on Friday Night Lights. FNL was so critically acclaimed, suddenly all these casting directors would call me who had never met me before for much bigger projects. Then the writers of Heroes wrote the role of Daphne. I had a few fans there and they brought me in to read for the role. I was lucky enough to not screw it up too bad and got hired.
Suicide Girls comic, art by David Hahn
stated: Can you tell us a bit about your recent independent film, Homecoming?
BREA GRANT: Homecoming is about a medic on leave who comes home to see how her friends and family have changed. She spends an evening with her directionless friends, a new love interest, and her lonely mother, only to have to decide whether or not she should continue on her path in the military. I play Estelle, the medic. The rest of the cast includes Colleen Camp, John Robinson, Sean Hackett (he’s the director and an actor), and Tom Fox Davies.
stated: Will it see a wider release?
BREA GRANT: I’m hoping it will get a wider release. It’s really difficult for independent films of that size (this is a very small film) to get distribution, but it’s doing well at festivals and we’re hoping it gets picked up. I would love if it were just available in a few cities and via online streaming because I’m super passionate about the project.
stated: Is there anything you can tell us about your upcoming recurring role on Dexter without having to kill us?
BREA GRANT: I haven’t really been given instruction one way or another, but each script does read, “For Your Eyes Only”. I’m on for at least the first part of the season and I’m a lab tech intern. And I’m hot. I don’t know a better way to say that but it’s very strange for me to play a character with a lot of sex appeal. I’m usually the bookish girl with glasses. I still have a lot of edge but the role is definitely sexier than what people are used to seeing me in.
That’s all I can really say now. It’s my ultimate fear to spill some sort of news that I’m not supposed to. I keep getting on these shows with all these secrets. I don’t want to be the big mouth actress.
Photo: Teren Oddo
stated: Understood. So, how did you get into writing comics? Did you read them growing up?
BREA GRANT: Growing up, no. I was into My Little Ponies. Which are still amazing. I got into comics in college because of Zane and a few friends who still have the best comic recommendations in my opinion.
stated: What sparked the idea for We Will Bury You?
BREA GRANT: Zane and I had been trying to write a screenplay (unsuccessfully) and we thought, “Why not write something we read all the time?” So we did. Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night, Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse) helped us out a lot with advice and getting it in the hands of Chris Ryall at IDW.
BREA GRANT: This may be a little more than what you’re asking, but I think it has to do with a fear of living life with a collective blindness in hordes of the unthinking (aka dead). I think we are starting to lose human connection because of the online worlds we’re creating and we’re seeing so many decisions that feel like they’re made en masse, completely out of our control. The masses are controlling the world without our say. I think the hordes of dead taking over represent the hordes of the unthinking, un-individualized world that most of us really don’t want to be a part of. …Or maybe I’m over thinking it.
stated: It’s an interesting theory. How is working with your brother? Had you written together before We Will Bury You?
BREA GRANT: We’ve worked together a long time so even when we do have our fights, we know how to deal with them. It’s great working with Zane. He’s much smarter and more detail-oriented than I am so I think we make a good match. If we were both painters, I’d be throwing paint all over the wall and then smearing it around until it works. Zane would start with one tiny corner and one color. And I think we can keep each other in check.
Brea and brother Zane Austin Grant
stated: Good analogy. Your second Suicide Girls comic has just come out. How did you get involved and where do you see it going?
BREA GRANT: I got involved because IDW asked me to pitch an idea. [Suicide Girls founder] Missy Suicide and Steve Niles approved it and we went from there. We’ll have four issues total and then we’re done. There are a lot of guns, nudity, and girls. What more could you ask for?
stated: Indeed. You’re an active blogger with an impressive Twitter following, and you and fellow Heroes star Greg Grunberg were both active on Twitter during the show before it was the norm. How did it start for you and how have you found it’s changed how you promote yourself and engage with fans?
BREA GRANT: I give 100% credit to my friend, Laura Roeder. When I got Heroes, she was like, “You have to start doing this thing, Twitter.” And it has helped my career immensely—not just in connections, but also in staying in touch with my fans.
Funny story about Greg. We were going to London to do some Heroes promotion and I was telling him about it. He joined but I forgot to tell him to turn off the “Notify me when someone follows me” option. We hopped on a plane. When he got off 15 hours later, he started downloading his email (which is very expensive overseas) and was getting hundreds of notifications. I probably still owe him money for that.
stated: Too funny, although he might not have thought so. What else are you working on? Any other writing or acting projects coming up?
BREA GRANT: Yes. I’m…busy to say the least. I just wrapped on a film called The Baytown Disco starring Eva Longoria, Billy Bob Thornton, and a whole lot of cool people. It’s a Southern whoop-ass extravaganza. Think Quentin Tarantino meets Rob Zombie. I’m part of a prostitute assassin gang along with Serinda Swan, Zoe Bell, Agnes Bruckner, and Arden Cho.
I also co-wrote a script with my friend Vera Miao that we shoot in the fall in Texas about two friends on a road trip during a nuclear apocalypse called Best Friends Forever. It’s been a very interesting process going through the pre-production stages of a movie for the first time. Overwhelming, but exciting all at the same time.
stated: Sounds like it. What comics are you reading these days?
stated: Any movies or music you’re particularly into?
BREA GRANT: Anything with a road trip in it to prepare for our movie in the fall. And I’ve been watching a lot of Dexter as you can imagine. I also just saw this documentary called Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight about the oldest living drag queen, which I can’t quit thinking about because of how inspiring it was.
As far as music goes, I love the new Okkervil River, the new Beastie Boys, The Kills, and Cold Cave. I’ve also rediscovered The Get Up Kids recently (who I loved in high school and wrote my first fan letter to) and can be found singing “Anne Arbor” loudly in my car at any given moment.
stated: Good stuff. Thanks for joining us!