39-year-old actor Colin Hanks believes the best is yet to come in his acting career. Hanks has been on hit shows such as “Fargo” and “Mad Men” and movies such as “King Kong,” but he is excited about the future challenges he’ll face and the upcoming season of his CBS sitcom “Life in Pieces.” The show enters its third season and the cast is stacked with stars like James Brolin, Betsy Brandt and Dan Bakkedahl. Hanks plays Greg Short, who worked at a crowd funding website until he quit his job.
Hanks talked with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith about the new twists viewers can expect in the new season of “Life in Pieces,” his journey through show business and why this CBS sitcom is unique in his eyes.
DJ Sixsmith: Let’s talk about your early days as an actor. How did you get your start in the business?
Colin Hanks: Well, you’d have to go back in the history of television. There was a channel called the WB a long time ago and the first job I ever got was a pilot for the television show “Roswell.” That was my college learning ground. I left school because I started getting work as an actor and learned how to act for the camera on “Roswell.” There were some teen movies peppered throughout the years and I was able to work as a young actor, which was pretty exciting because it was all new at the time. Shortly thereafter, “Orange County” came around and changed things for me to a degree.
DS: Fast forward to “Life in Pieces” on CBS. The show is going into its third season. How would you describe your experience so far?
CH: It’s been really great. It’s a special thing to find something that makes it to a third year. No one wants to say how rare that actually is, but it is. It’s not lost on me. I’m really happy to be gainfully employed and still feeling like there is plenty for us to do. This show has a lot of opportunities to play with our conventions and styles and we still have some fun stories to tell. More than anything else, I love the people I work with. We have a great cast of people and I enjoy their time and company. We have a great crew. I’m very lucky.
DS: Your fellow cast member Betsy Brandt said that from day one this cast clicked. You’ve been on a lot of different television and movie sets, why did this group work so well together?
CH: I think the fact that we gelled from the get go. I was really surprised by that because it is unique. Often times, it takes a while to warm up to each other or to get to understand each other. Right out of the gate, we were firing on all cylinders and that’s pretty rare. I was really surprised by how quickly Zoe Lister-Jones and I were able to sync up and play off of each other. I also felt that with everyone else in the cast and it’s a big cast. We have a lot of people and a lot of personalities and yet we’ve all been able to support each other and help each other out. That’s a very special thing.
DS: How similar is your character Greg to who you are in real life?
CH: I feel like now there is less and less that I have in common with him. We are now in a fun area where the show is different and it’s almost like a farce more than anything else. From a comedy standpoint, that’s real exciting stuff. The character is a lot of fun to play. I’ve learned long ago to stop starting off stories with “oh there’s this one time that me and my wife” because it would inevitably end up on the show. I am trying not to do that. I’m grateful because now there will be scenes where Greg has to poop in a kiddie potty and I’m really grateful that people now know that’s his story and not mine
DS: What can “Life in Pieces” fans expect in the upcoming season?
CH: I think the thing that our show does pretty well is that we’re able to take those little life stories that on the surface seem small and innocuous, but ultimately they are bonding experiences with your family. We have plenty of those. Sometimes, it’s something as simple as forgetting the name of your boss’s wife to getting a kid to stop using a pacifier. Those are just the ones that Greg and Jen are going through. We have plenty of great sketches this season. I’m really excited that they are all finally airing.
DS: Finally, what’s been the greatest challenge of your career?
CH: I don’t know if there’s any specific big challenge for me. I think just the fact that I’m still around is enough. There’s plenty of times that I sit there and wonder if my window has closed. It’s really more of a game of perseverance than anything else. I’ve been pretty fortunate to have a career in show business for as long as I’ve had. I’ve always really loved the fact that the job that I chose is one that I love and is one that I will never sit there and say I’ve done everything that there is to do in show business. That’ll never happen. I’m fortunate that I can do this for the rest of my life now. I’m more excited about the challenges coming up as opposed to the challenges conquered. It’s not about how many challenges or fears you’ve conquered, it’s about facing them. I’m just happy that I’m still around.
Season three of “Life in Pieces” premieres tonight at 9:30pm EST on CBS. Due to the New York Jets game, CBS prime time programming in New York will air on its sister station WLNY. That is channel 10 or channel 55 depending on your cable carrier. It can be seen everywhere else on CBS. Check your local listings.