Scottsdale Sean Dillingham has acted in more than 100 commercials, 40 feature films and several big-time television series. He’s been acting as long as he can remember.
Whether he’s on the silver screen, on small local improv stages, in stand-up comedy clubs or at a 9-to-5 job, he has never lost his passion for the art.
He is gearing up for big projects. In September, he’ll appear in AMC’s “Breaking Bad” spinoff “Better Call Saul.”
The following month, his “Rattlesnake” hits Netflix. “Rattlesnake” tells the story of a single mother who accepts the help of a mysterious woman after her daughter is bitten by a rattlesnake. She finds herself forced to pay back her “debt” by killing a stranger in Texas.
Around Christmas, he’ll appear in the theatrical wrestling film “Manson Brothers Midnight Zombie Massacre.” The movie tells the story of aging wrestlers trying to live off their names. Dillingham says there are talks of a sequel already.
Dillingham is doing something a little off-kilter this fall. He’ll play Bison in a short film at the beginning of the videogame “Wasteland 3.” It will be simultaneously released to Windows, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
“They did a fundraising campaign,” he says. “They raised $3 million in 24 hours. I went up to Colorado and they didn’t want to do what everyone else is doing. They wanted to go old school with live-action actors.
“It takes place in this really, really cool, post-apocalyptic world. I play this mean SOB called Bison.”
What keeps him acting, he says, is the creativity he can—and must—express to share a character well.
“It’s always something new, and it suits me well because every week it’s a different job,” Dillingham says. “They say this week you’re going to be a cowboy. Next week you’re going to be a monster. The week after that you’re going to be a cop. I enjoy the variety.”
Dillingham—who attended Catalina High School in Tucson and graduated from Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe—says the difficulty of acting encourages him to continually work at his game. The art is “a constant challenge,” which necessitates growth and self-reflection to best play the parts in which he is cast.
“If it gets easy, to me, that means I’m not growing,” Dillingham says. “I know actors, well-known actors, who are cast in the same roles. They keep walking into every movie as the same character they were doing years ago. I don’t ever want that to happen to me.”
Like many actors who work as much as Dillingham, the lure of Los Angeles and Hollywood is constantly in the background. However, he says he is extremely happy in his Valley home.
He auditions three or four times a week, but many of them are taped and sent via email or through servers to casting agencies. He also appreciates Phoenix’s close proximity to Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and Colorado. If he secures a role in any movie or show, he can drive to the set relatively easily.
He also simply thinks it is not necessary to live in California to succeed as an actor in 2019.
“I believe Hollywood is a state of mind,” he says. “I don’t think it’s a physical place anymore, especially nowadays with the internet, cellphones, and how connected people are. I don’t really think it’s really necessary at the same level it used to be to live there,” he says.
Dillingham also prefers to stay here because he doesn’t consider himself a “star.” It’s hard to agree completely, as he has played parts that leave him recognizable to those interested in film and television.
But, just like Hollywood, Dillingham’s career is based on the mindset of acting. He differentiates acting from the red carpets and upscale movie star events that the uninitiated covet.
“That, to me, is not being an actor. Being an actor is, I have to act. If I don’t have an audition or a project coming up in two or three weeks around my home, I become unbearable,” he says.