For a long time, Cam Gigandet (pronounced “ji-GAHN-day”) was the bad guy. The dude who clashed fangs with Robert Pattinson in Twilight, home-intruded on Nicole Kidman and Nicolas Cage in Trespass, and killed off Mischa Barton on The O.C. (Don’t even get us started on his bloodthirst in Never Back Down.) But now he’s finally gone good—as genteel Charleston City Attorney Roy Rayder on the new CBS legal drama Reckless. Gigandet, 31, is also making good offscreen: He recently welcomed his second child with fiancée Dominique Geisendorff and spends as much time playing house as he does playing roles. Not bad, Cam—not bad at all.
Watch!: So, Charleston looks like a lot of fun.
Cam Gigandet: Charleston is a good place to work. We scored when we came here—everyone just fell in love with it. And it’s turned out to be another character in the show, which is great.
Watch!: People always ask why you’re so good at playing villains, but it seems like Roy is one of the good guys.
Cam: He is a pretty good guy, damn it! Bad guys are always fun to play, but he is a good guy—a man who’s just trying to do the right thing. At least what he believes is the right thing, which is equally fun, you know? It’s not like he’s a goody two-shoes, and if something needs to be done, he’ll do it. He has a different moral center than some of the other characters I’ve played, but he’ll still handle it as a man, which is what I respect.
Watch!: Is that what attracted you to the role?
Cam: There were many different things. He’s at the top of his game—and I never got to play anything remotely similar to a lawyer, so it was a nice change of pace. And on top of that, when you think of typical lawyers, everyone has his clichéd version, but my character is the opposite of what a lawyer actually is. That’s what really drew me in: He’s a guy who has his own issues, dealing with his own things, doesn’t have it all figured out, but just a guy who likes to go fishing, hang out with his buddies, have a couple of beers and who likes to be a lawyer on his off time.
Watch!: I read an interview where you said you weren’t doing TV anymore because you had too much fun on movie sets. What changed?
Cam: I said I had too much fun on movie sets?!
Watch!: This was a few years ago.
Cam: [Laughs.] That’s a hard-hitting question! I still enjoy movie sets, but I think I came around because it had been so long since I had done The O.C. and this was an opportunity that just felt right at the time. I asked the family and, you know, I have to start thinking about supporting them. It just came to be one of those perfect moments where everything comes together and I was ready to try a TV show and it worked out. One day I’d love to go back to movies, but I’m extremely happy with what I’m doing right now.
Watch!: Your Southern drawl on the show is pretty good for someone who grew up in Seattle.
Cam: Is it?
Watch!: What have you been doing to hone it? Watching Matthew McConaughey movies?
Cam: He had a pretty good accent in A Time to Kill. Just being around here helps a lot. And I’ve just always had a lazier drawl, a lazier tongue, so it was an easy transition to, you know, Charlestonian, Southern-ish type of action.
Watch!: How about your legalese? Is that getting better?
Cam: Oh, the legal speak has not been easy. [Laughs.] They’ve had people help me get through that dialogue because I think I’ve said more words in a courtroom in the past four months than I have in my entire 10-year career of doing anything else. It’s brutal. I can always tell the day of if I’m going to have a good day in the courtroom or a bad day. It’s kind of like real life! I can just feel it: There are a couple of sentences in there that are a little straaaange. It makes it even worse with someone like Anna Wood, who has been in theater her whole life and has experience memorizing all these lines. We’ll be up against each other, she’ll go up and do it verbatim in like five seconds, one take, and I’m on my sixth take trying to get my first sentence out.
Watch!: You two have great chemistry. Had you met her before?
Cam: I hadn’t, but when we shot the pilot we just clicked right away. I clicked with everyone in the cast. It was one of those rare moments where everyone gets along and has a great time together during the pilot, and we were all so excited it got picked up for the mere fact that we could all see each other again.
Watch!: What’s the vibe when you guys aren’t shooting?
Cam: Restaurants are a big thing with us, so we always try to find a new restaurant. I’m more of a timid eater than the rest of ’em—they can go for anything—and I always have to ask them beforehand, [tiny voice] “Do you think I would like anything at this place?” But I’ve grown my palate because I’ve been hanging out with them and trying all these new foods. Aside from that, we have game nights.
Watch!: Do you ever hit the bars?
Cam: The bars are great, and that’s probably where we spend a lot of our time. [Laughs.] At least Michael Gladis and I. We both have significant others in Los Angeles, so we don’t want to be home alone just wallowing in our own self-pity. We go out, play some pool, have a good time.
Watch!: It’s sort of a college town, right?
Cam: Not “sort of”—it’s a college town, through and through. College of Charleston. From my apartment right now I can actually see fraternity row.
Watch!: You guys don’t ever wander that way, though, right?
Cam: It’s almost impossible to avoid it!
It really is. At least for the students of
College of Charleston, I think I’m on everyone’s Facebook page from taking pictures every single day. But, you know, it’s part of the game.
Watch!: Southern sorority girls mostly?
Cam: It’s everyone! Sorority girls, fraternity guys … even a few professors. You realize it’s a very small town.
Watch!: How would you say fatherhood has changed your life?
Cam: I’ve calmed down. You can look at my Instagram page—it’s just photos of my kids! You end up doing things for different reasons. Now that I have kids, I’m on an entirely different journey—which, you know, is a better journey. To be able to have success and share success with my family is the whole reason I’m working at all.
Watch!: You’ve got some interesting projects in the works. Do you know when that movie Johnson—where your, uh, manhood takes human form—comes out?
Cam: I think they’re still trying to sell it to a distributor, as far as I know. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had, working on a comedy for the first time.
Watch!: Is it hard to explain the premise to people?
Cam: I have trouble explaining it. I think everyone has trouble explaining it! [Laughs.] So don’t even ask me to explain it. It’s a very high concept. High-concept, lowbrow.
Watch!: Well said. Spoken like a true lawyer!
Cam: [Laughs.] Thank you. I’m starting to figure it out.
Watch!: You’ve worked with some pretty great people over the years, so I was thinking we could do a lightning round where I name a co-star and you say the first word that pops into your head.
Cam: Got it.
Watch!: Nicole Kidman.
Watch!: Kristen Stewart.
Watch!: Robert Pattinson.
Cam: [Laughs.] Silly.
Watch!: Nic Cage.
Cam: [Laughs.] Funnier than [expletive]. That’s three words.
Watch!: Emma Stone.
Watch!: Minka Kelly.
Watch!: Dennis Quaid.
Watch!: Leighton Meester.
Watch!: Paul Bettany.
Cam: My idol.
Watch!: Amanda Bynes.
Cam: Amanda Bynes, Amanda Bynes. My experience with Amanda Bynes … let me find a word. Potential.
Watch!: Who would you most likely call up for a beer?
Cam: Paul Bettany.
Watch!: OK, last question. Why does the Internet say you have a black belt in krav maga?
Cam: [Laughs.] I don’t know! The real story is, I did krav maga for a year and a half. That’s all I did. I’m pretty sure that is not a black belt. I do have some ninja skills I learned when I did Never Back Down, but I’m not a black belt in anything. I have a black belt on right now, but that’s about it.
Watch!: Maybe people assume that being mobbed by Twihards requires martial arts skills.
Cam: I know, that is a popular misconception! That doesn’t actually happen.
Watch!: Glad we can clear that up. Good luck with the show.
Cam: Good luck making me look good!