Finally, North Logan actor blessed with 'Angel' role on national TV
By Jeremiah Stettler
NORTH LOGAN -- Perhaps it was a miracle.
Or maybe old-fashioned persistence.
Whatever it was, it paved the way to Dan Merket's opening debut on the television series, Touched by an Angel.
And yes, it's the role he knows best: comedy.
"It's a heavy episode," says the North Logan actor. "I don't have a lot of lines in it, but I'm what little comic relief has been written into the script."
The episode was produced in July and will air for the first time at 7 p.m. Sunday on channel 2, featuring Merket as the town smart aleck, Harvey.
Merket is excited, but explains that the road to professional acting has been a challenge.
"I've auditioned for [Touched by an Angel] 12 or 15 times," he says. "It's been frustrating. But no matter how good you are, you can expect to get only 10 percent of the parts you audition for. It's difficult, but I enjoy it."
Twenty-one years of on-stage experience would seem to be sufficient for a career in acting, but it has taken roughly eight years for Merket to "break into the business" of TV and film production.
The turning point? An agent out of Salt Lake City, he says.
"I would say it is virtually impossible to get started without an agent. But it's up to the individual. I know a few actors who are pretty successful without one."
After catching the spotlight on a series of TV episodes and commercials, Merket admits that film production has been exhilarating. But the question of whether to be or not to be a stage actor is still debatable.
"I love the immediacy of stage acting. You know if things are working immediately by the audience's reaction. When you are doing TV or film, even if you are really good, the crew is usually jaded. You're not going to get a lot of laughs. In fact, half of the crew is likely not paying attention."
Yet the greatest difference between stage and film acting, says Merket, is the continuity of a plotline.
"On stage you are telling a story. It's all very linear. But on TV, it is a scene here and a scene there.
"I'm working on a movie right now called Dogs Not Allowed. Before we pick up and do a scene, I have to ask where the scene is and what is leading up to it. You've got to figure out where it all fits together. Film is not shot in the order it was written. You shoot it around a certain location whether it is in order or not."
During the 10-day production of the Touched by an Angel episode, Merket was scheduled to perform for only three days. Although John Diely was on the set for the duration, Roma Downey was the only other main character to show up during that period.
Despite the lack of continuity, the performance felt more realistic to Merkert than have his experiences on stage.
"It feels more realistic than stage acting," Merket said. "On stage you've got to belt it out so they can hear it in the last rows. Every emotion has to be big. TV and film acting feels more like reality."
After beginning his career on a high school stage in southern California, Merket has watched his reputation expand beyond the realms of a movie extra to playing smaller roles in movies and TV episodes.
Although his attention has been focused upon several productions, including Touched by an Angel, Promised Land and a number of Latter-day Saint commercials, Merket has also performed in three movies this year. Yet as fate would have it, he says, each film has had "dog" as part of the title.
As a member of a predominantly LDS culture, Merket is often asked how morals can be maintained in a Hollywood environment.
Merket recognizes the concern, but emphasizes that actors need to decide what morals they will maintain before setting foot on stage.
"You need to decide what you will and will not do, then communicate
that to the directors so they understand. I think it is something you
have to be careful of, but I don't think it is any more difficult to
keep your standards in the acting business than enywhere else. Make
the decision now, and it's not as hard later."
Archived Months:September 1998