Photo by Kal Yee/Courtesy of Platform PR
Actor Randy Wayne
Justin Miller is the new guy in town on ABC Family’s The Lying Game. Smart, handsome, and a natural when it comes to swinging a golf club, he has become involved in a new relationship with fellow high school student Laurel Mercer. The blond, blue-eyed Justin is among the testosterone-filled pieces of eye candy meant to help draw female viewers to the show, but, in fact, he is more than just another TV stud. Randy Wayne, who plays Justin, discovered this shortly after he began working on the show.
“When I auditioned for the role, he was a young guy who flirts with this young girl, which is something we’ve all seen before,” notes the actor. “So that was the easy part about playing Justin. However, as time went on I began to find out more about him and realized there are other layers to him than just this nice guy who likes to play golf. The challenge has since become keeping those aspects of the character to myself and not revealing too much about him too soon in my acting. I know where Justin comes from, what he’s up to and all that, but I can’t let viewers see everything right away. Holding back on some of his ‘secrets’ not only makes it more fun for those watching, but also for me as an actor.”
Set in Phoenix, Arizona, The Lying Game is based on a series of novels of the same name by Sara Shepard. The main character, Emma Becker (Alexandra Chando), is a foster child who discovers that she has an identical twin sister named Sutton (also played by Chando). The two girls were separated at birth and Sutton was adopted by the wealthy Mercer family. Having since been reunited, Sutton has persuaded Emma to masquerade as her while she goes off to Los Angeles in search of their birth mother. In doing so, Emma discovers that her twin is hiding all sorts of secrets.
Introduced in the first season story “Double Dibs,” Justin is spotted in the hallway at school by Sutton’s adoptive sister Laurel (Allie Gonino), who calls “dibs” — a term used by Sutton to reserve a boy she is interested in. Wayne chuckles when he looks back at shooting his first episode of the series.
“It’s funny, I’ve been fortunate enough to have already done quite a bit of work in this business for my age and I usually don’t get nervous in front of a camera. I was, however, a little bit nervous during my first day on The Lying Game. I was on a brand-new show and everyone else was already comfortable working with each other. I quickly overcame those jitters, though, and just began to focus on having a cool role to play and ready to take on the challenges associated with it.
“As far as Justin’s and Laurel’s relationship, he really cares for her and vice versa. Things between them are moving pretty fast and they’re both falling for one another. I just hope that the relationship continues to grow as well as remains strong. The two of them are going to face some hurdles in the second half of the season, so we’ll see how things go and how much Justin and Laurel actually trust each other once those hurdles present themselves.”
Although The Lying Game takes place in Phoenix, Arizona, the series itself is filmed in Austin, Texas. The change of scenery has been a nice respite for the actor. “Because I don’t know too many people in Austin, it keeps me focused on my work,” says Wayne. “Also, the overall vibe on-set is different. In Los Angeles it’s a well-oiled machine and gig after gig where the people are terrific and, like everyone everywhere, are happy to have a job. However, this the only TV show that’s shooting in Austin, so everyone here is not only happy to have a job, but also one so close to home. That means a great deal to them, and because of that they are extremely committed and passionate about this project.
“This cast is really neat, too. We’re all different from one another, but despite that there are no conflicting personalities and everyone gets along. People take their work seriously, but when they want to relax and have a good time they know how to do that as well.”
With the second half of The Lying Game’s first season premiering in January 2012, is Wayne pleased with how his character’s story arc has so far unfolded?
“Definitely,” he says. “I think they [the show’s writers and producers] managed to keep the audiences guessing about Justin during the first half of the year, and that continues in the back half of the season. They’ve kept viewers in the dark about him just enough as not to annoy them but to keep them wanting to know what his deal is. That’s not an easy thing to do on a TV series. Justin doesn’t get a tremendous amount of screen-time, but enough where you can care about him.
“Going forward, and it’s a little bit of a selfish thing on my part, but I’m hoping the writers will be able to delve more into his past and where he comes from. I also wouldn’t mind if we get to see Justin play more golf. I love the game, so the more time I can get on the course the better,” says the actor with a laugh. “I’m lucky, though, just to be able to fly back and forth to Austin to shoot a TV show that has great scripts along with an amazing cast and do what I love for a living. It’s unbeatable.”
As a child, Wayne had his heart set on becoming a professional baseball player, but later on he ended up going to college to study landscape architecture. It was his mom who suggested that he take time off from his studies to give acting a try.
“I was 22 at the time and never seriously considered acting before that,” recalls Wayne “I started off submitting myself for non-union parts in short films, and since then I’ve done over 30 short films for schools as well as independent projects. From there I began booking non-union feature films and then SAG [Screen Actors Guild] low-budget films.
“I climbed the [acting] ladder one rung at a time and did almost every type of film you can imagine. The first SAG film I ever booked was the lead role [of Robbie Zirpollo] in The Surfer King. I was so excited when my manager told me I had the job. After that I booked my first TV co-star role, a one-liner on Living with Fran. It was the last line in the episode. So I went to the table read of the script and at the very end I said my line. The next day I got a phone call telling me my character had been cut. It was a bit heartbreaking, but those are the types of things that make you stronger and make you work harder for what you want.”
A recurring role on The Secret Life of the American Teenager and series regular roles on Sons & Daughters, Hot Hot Los Angeles, and the upcoming Talent: The Casting Call are among the actor’s TV credits. Wayne has also guest-starred on such series as Hot in Cleveland, True Blood, The Closer, and NCIS as well as appeared in a handful of made-for-TV movies including The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning in which he plays the young Luke Duke.
“The Dukes of Hazzard was epic for me and will be throughout my entire career,” says the actor. “That’s one job that I’ll always look back on and smile about because it was the most fun I’ve ever had on a set, and I was playing Luke Duke. I grew up watching The Dukes of Hazzard [TV show] and thought maybe I’d end up playing Bo Duke one day. Well, I wound up dying my hair and playing Luke, and that was cool. I worked with Willie Nelson — how many people get to work with a legend like that? Also, I just did a film with John Schneider [Bo Duke in the TV series]. He played my dad, and we had a scene where the two of us are driving together and I’m giving him directions. It was very surreal, like two generations of Bo and Luke Duke working together but in a different scenario.”
Wayne’s fans can look forward to seeing him in the upcoming DVD release of Honey 2, the Universal Pictures sequel to [the 2003 film] Honey starring Jessica Alba, and Hardflip, a skateboarding drama starring John Schneider and Rosanna Arquette that comes out in February. While fame and fortune are among the goals of many of today’s young actors, there is another aspect of his career that Wayne has found even more rewarding.
“I did a movie called To Save a Life, which is about a number of issues facing teenagers, in particular bullying and teen suicide,” says the actor. “I couldn’t believe the response I got to my work in that film after it came out. Kids wrote telling me, ‘Thank you for saving my life. I was going to commit suicide but then I watched your movie and it made me realize that my life is worth something.’
“I’ve received hundreds of letters, e-mails and messages like that from kids. It’s just phenomenal. I get teary-eyed reading them, and I can’t quite believe it’s because of something I did in a movie. I’ve since worked on a few other positive message films and I hope to keep doing them because helping save someone else’s life and getting to be an actor at the same time is a rare privilege.”
Please note, photo #5 above of Jonathan Bennett (as Bo Duke) and Randy Wayne (as Luke Duke) copyright of Warner Bros., and photo #6 of Randy Wayne from To Save a Life copyright of New Song Pictures.