To say that Blue Mountain State is intended for mature audiences would be misleading. Sure, the show contains more than its share of sexually charged content and coarse language, but it’s also aimed at the type of person who would find humor in a race requiring its participants to possess only a cookie, a jock strap and a complete lack of a gag reflex. That said, there’s nothing wrong with a little immaturity.
The series takes place at Blue Mountain State University, where the only things that matter are football and scoring — and the two are not necessarily related. Former Heisman Trophy runner-up and NFL running back Ed Marinaro stars as coach Marty Daniels, the hard-nosed, winning-obsessed leader of the BMS Goats. His players include Alex Moran, a talented freshman quarterback who relishes his backup role and has no aspirations of taking over the starting job; reigning national high-school player of the year Craig Shilo, a running back whose girlfriend already has his whole pro career mapped out for him; and Thad Castle, a disturbingly dedicated linebacker who is as stupid as he is talented. Darin Brooks (Days of Our Lives), who plays Moran, spoke to us about the series.
The show’s premiere has been delayed a couple of times. When we first heard about it, it was slated for the fall. Are you getting to the point where you’re really anxious for people to see it?
Darin Brooks: Yeah, I’m at the point where I just want to go into a coma and wake up when it airs, basically. It’s those biting-your-nails times, where it’s like, “OK, just air already,” but I think it’s going to be really good when it does. I’m super excited about it. It’s time to be patient, I guess.
You’re playing a football player on the show. In the pilot episode, you look pretty comfortable on the field. Did you play growing up?
I did. I actually played quarterback for two years in high school then I kind of quit to become a surfer, because I’m from Hawaii. But I had played for a couple of years, and it was kind of cool getting back in the mix of things.
How much football practice is involved? Do you guys get on the field and run through plays and do all that stuff before you film?
Oh yeah, we did a lot of plays and stuff like that. We had a couple of days before we started shooting where we were working with one of the head coaches — I guess he’s worked with a lot of Canadian colleges and stuff like that. So it was very cool to run the plays and get a feel for the ball again. We had a bunch of really good football players. Liam Mahoney — he’s a friend of mine, but he was also doing a lot of the stunts and he’s actually a really good football player and he plays for one of the college teams.
Do you follow foootball closely?
I do, actually. I just started getting into it because, you know, in Hawaii we don’t really have any pro teams. When I finally moved to L.A., one of my roommates — he’s from New Haven, Conn. — and he roots for the Giants. You know, the Giants started out nice but now we don’t know what the hell is happening. It all kind of fell apart.
Blue Mountain State looks like a show that would be really fun to be a part of. What’s the atmosphere like on the set?
It’s phenomenal. Everybody on set is just really cool, and we all got along really well. We kind of became like a little clique or a frat house ourselves, because everybody got along. Even if we were shooting, like, one scene during the day, we’d still hang out on set for hours just cracking jokes at each other or pulling pranks. We just had a really, really fun time shooting this. … It’s a fun show. It’s kind of about football, but it’s really [about] these characters that are going through these really extreme situations that are really funny and really out of this world that I think people are going to like and people are going to dig.
The cookie race at the end of the pilot episode is one of the most disgusting things I’ve seen on TV in a long time. What was going through your mind while you were filming that?
“I can’t believe I’m doing this.” No, but you know what was funny? A lot of the football players who were extras [on the show] and part of our football team that was coming in every day, when we were doing that scene a bunch of them said that they’ve actually done not a cookie race per se, but some of them did pickles, some of did some other things instead of cookies. So it does happen, and I think a lot of people will relate to it if they’ve been hazed in that way.
Did you go to college or were you already busy with acting at that point in your life?
Well, I went to college for about a semester and a half at the University of Hawaii and it was great, but I had met some people in L.A. and they kind of took a liking to me and said, “Hey, if you come to L.A., give me a call and maybe I can introduce you to some people. Halfway through my second semester I said, “You know, I’ve just got to give this a shot.” My parents were like, “Try it for a couple of years and if it doesn’t work, you know you’ve got to go back to college.” … Sure enough, two years into it I booked Days of Our Lives and was on that for four years. Then this Blue Mountain State opportunity came about and it all kind of worked out and has been going uphill from there.
How is this experience different from working on a show like Days of Our Lives?
It’s different in a sense that daytime [TV], we have a lot of the hardest working actors and crews in Hollywood, I think, because we’re shooting anywhere from 100 to 125 pages a day. It’s a great, great learning tool with memorization and working with three different cameras and lighting and blocking and stuff like that. … It’s kind of like getting paid to go to acting class and it was a great experience for me. Everybody at Days of Our Lives was so fantastic there, and I owe them everything. They’re like my first family. But this new show gave us a lot more freedom. I had already built up a lot of the technical skills with shooting a show and when we did rewrites I could memorize it on the fly and just keep going with it, and we had a lot of fun ad-libbing. Days moved a lot faster and we did a lot more; with this new show it’s like we had a little more freedom to kind of play with it and have a little more fun with it. It was really cool to see both sides.
Even though you’ve done hundreds of episodes of Days, do you feel like in a way you’re starting over with a show that’s likely to have a whole different audience?
Yeah, kind of. It’s cool because it is going to be a whole new audience and it’s going to cater to a different crowd, but I think a lot of our fans from Days might turn over and watch this as well, just because it is so crazy and it’s something that’s outside of the box of what they’re usually watching. I think it’s kind of a win-win situation for everybody, you know — my fans that were watching me on Days, and then the new fans who are going to be watching this for football. It will be a nice cross-pollination, I think.
How hard was it for you to leave Days? What was it like when you walked off the set for the last time?
Man, it was pretty emotional. All of these people, I kind of grew up working with. Like I said, it was my first family, and leaving these guys was hard. But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, and I hope that, in some way, by doing this new show it promotes Days as well. … I always owe the Days people everything, but I’ve got to move on and try and help them maybe down the road.
Do you foresee a time when you would go back to the show in some capacity?
I might, maybe down the road. Nothing’s set in stone. Maybe go back a do a little cameo, a couple of episodes or something to help out. If this show’s a big hit, I’d be happy to go back and help them for a little bit at some point. I’m also trying to get out there and do more things — bigger stuff and some movies hopefully, and this and that. But who knows? Nothing’s set in stone, but it could be.
Blue Mountain State premieres Jan. 11 on Spike (HD) and airs Tuesdays.