At only 18, Gregory Kasyan (a.k.a. Greg Kasyan) can already boast of being in the professional acting industry for almost a decade. But Netflix’s upcoming Daybreak — a teen high school comedy with a dash of gore — will undoubtedly be his big break.
Set in the South Californian city of Glendale, Daybreak is a post-apocalyptic and self-aware comedy. After a bio-nuclear attack turns almost every functioning adult on the face of the earth into “ghoulies” — a zombie-like state — the world turns upside down and sword and flamethrower-wielding teenagers take over — doing pretty much whatever they please. The apocalypse may not be that bad after all. Taking Brian Ralph’s graphic novel of the same as a standpoint, Netflix’s production doubles down the scale and satirical commentary. Think Zombieland meets Mad Max. With a penchant for breaking the fourth wall and pop-culture references galore, Daybreak is bound to be your next binge-able treat.
This week, and after much anticipation, we’ll finally get to see Greg as Eli Cardashyan — one of the Glendale High survivors trying to make it in this new adult-free word. As the series advances, Kasyan’s Eli crosses paths with Colin Ford’s Josh Wheeler and joins in his teenage tribe. Much like his character, Kasyan is also a Glendale native, that’s why the young actor tapped into his own life experiences to fledge out the character. Ahead of the series’s premiere this Thursday, we catch up with Kasyan to learn more about Eli, how he landed the role and expectations.
How did you get your start in acting? When did you realise it was something you wanted to pursue professionally?
I started acting when I was seven years old. As odd as it may sound, I realised I wanted to pursue it as a career at the age of five.
Can you tell us a bit about how you landed your role in Daybreak?
I landed my role in Daybreak through auditioning. The casting was super nice, and we all knew that this role was meant to be mine — in the most humbling way.
What can you tell us about your character, Eli Cardashyan?
Eli is a social outcast. In high school, he’d constantly get bullied for having knockoff clothes. For example, Pikes instead of Nikes. After the bombs explode, he has the whole mall to himself, everything he’s ever wanted and his girlfriend, Mavis.
What there something in particular that made you take on the role from the beginning?
I took the role not only because of Eli himself as a character but also because of how great the project is as a whole. Eli is so funny, and the whole project has so much going on in its story; I was dying to book it.
What have been the main challenges you’ve found stepping in Eli’s shoes? Did you relate to him as a character or not at all?
Stepping into Eli’s shoes was kind of easy. Like Eli, I’ve never had anything handed to me growing up, and he’s also a Glendale native like myself. The only challenge was how to make an already hilarious character funnier, and how to do him justice.
Daybreak is based on Brian Ralph’s graphic novel. Were you familiar with it at all before joining the series? Did you read it in preparation?
Before auditioning for and working on this project, I googled Daybreak and found the comic. I immediately read it and fell in love with it. Brian Ralph is so amazing and talented and such a humble person.
On a more general note, how did you prepare for the role? How does one prepare to enter an apocalypse?
Preparing for the role/apocalypse has been a very interesting take. There are so many layers and factors of it that you have to take in account. For example, how long have we all been in the apocalypse now? Has it mentally affected my character? There are a bunch of factors in it.
The series has a great cast — featuring newcomers like yourself or Colin Ford and veterans like Matthew Broderick. How was it working with them?
Working with Matthew Broderick was amazing. He’s truly a nice and humble person with a great sense of humour. I would always ask him for advice, and he’d tell me that I should try to do everything I can, and he encouraged us all to learn as much as we can.
Being an adaption means the story already has a significant following and, on top of that, streaming on Netflix means a lot of people around the world will surely watch. Did you feel any pressure?
Going into this project I didn’t really feel any pressure because all that is in my power is to perform. The rest is out of my control, so as long as I’m happy with my performance that’s all that matters.
Did you anticipate any of the buzz the series has been getting?
Since the show isn’t out yet I don’t know how much buzz to expect, but I think people are gonna fall in love with this one.
What are you most excited for the audience to see in the series?
What I’m most excited for the audience to see in this series is how different this show really is. It’s so fun, and when you watch it you’ll absolutely know there is really nothing like this out there. It takes you on an incredible adventure, so I’m excited for the audience to join the ride.
You recently posted on IG, saying if someone had told about this all a year ago, you wouldn’t have believed them. If you could, what advice would you give to yourself one year ago?
If I could have given myself advice a year ago, it would’ve been to just stay calm, to let myself relax, and to let myself know that there are brighter days ahead. Last year I was so anxious, but then Daybreak happened.
What about advice for yourself one year in the future?
If I can give myself advice for a year from now, it would be to just stay humble and keep working hard. I don’t know what will happen with the show, but whatever happens, just stay true to yourself and give thanks to whoever has helped you along the way.
What are you most looking forward to for the rest of 2019, be it professionally or personally?
For the rest of 2019, I just want to see our show succeed. I also want to get ready for 2020 and see what else lies ahead.
“Daybreak” premieres October 24 on Netflix and will be available worldwide.
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