If there is somebody in the entertainment industry that can do it all, and make you feel a million different ways with his work, it’s Luke Barnett! The young Washington, D.C. native writer / actor has been making a name for himself over the past few years since moving to Hollywood, California.
Luke’s intelligent satire comedy sketches he has written and starred in have been featured and gone viral countless times on Will Ferrell’s FunnyOrDie.com website. And when he isn’t making people laugh, Luke is flexing his muscles in acting, being seen in hit films such as The Amityville Haunting, Coffin and Iniquitous.
With upcoming spoofs targeting Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and movie roles in 400 Days and The Scribbler, The Levity Ball was lucky enough to catch up with the busy writer/actor to learn more about his hectic life…
When did you first “know” that you wanted to become an actor?
Well, I always loved performing. When I was little and my older sister was in high school, they’d always put me in the plays and musicals when they needed a “Goofy Looking Kid #4” role filled. So there wasn’t much chance of me turning out shy. But it was probably high school when I realized I wanted to get serious about it. My senior year we were doing a production of My Fair Lady and a massive storm forced the power to go out. Instead of cancelling, the parents and teachers in the audience went out and got a ton of candles so we could finish the show. While they worked, I grabbed a conga drum from backstage and improv’d songs about the various staff and students. Honestly, it was probably pretty terrible, but it kept people from leaving. That’s a night I’ll never forget and I think that’s when it really clicked that I should pursue it.
Who were some of your role models growing up?
My mom was a kindergarten teacher and really pushed me to use my imagination from a young age. She was fearless and would never let me settle. In terms of industry people, I’ve been a huge SNL fan since I was in middle school. The seasons with Will Ferrell, Chris Kattan, and Cheri Oteri had a big influence on the stuff I’m working on now. They were all so great at keeping absurdist subject matter grounded in reality. The first classes I took in LA were improv classes at The Groundlings, and that was because of its history with those guys. Also, Jesus. Not the religious figure, our family gardener.
You are seen in a lot of FunnyOrDie.com skits… What was the first joke you ever told or heard?
Dumb & Dumber and Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail are the first two times I remember watching something and laughing so hard I couldn’t stop crying. So let’s go with “We are no longer the knights who say Ni. We are now the Knights who say…”Ekki-ekki-ekki-ekki-PTANG. Zoom-Boing, z’nourrwringmm.”
What has been the hardest thing you’ve gone through since coming to Hollywood?
It probably took me eight years to start getting work somewhat consistently. I didn’t move out here and immediately book commercials or a role on a sitcom. It’s taken a long time, and lot of work, and I’m still grinding away to get jobs. Unless you get extremely lucky, you’re going to have put your career over a lot of things most people wouldn’t be willing to give up. And that can be really tough. I haven’t gotten the chance to try the new Doritos taco, but hey, we all have to sacrifice something.
You are involved in some upcoming horror films… What is it about horror films that obviously interested you to join these projects?
What’s funny, is I was never a huge horror fan but I absolutely LOVE working in the genre. Slasher movies were never my thing, but to get bloodied up and go out into the woods is seriously an amazing experience. And the crews on horror movies tend to be the nicest crews you can work with. I don’t know what it is, but horror sets are so much fun. Everyone really loves what they’re doing and is excited to be there. Weird to have a happy go lucky work environment when you’re chopping someone’s head off with an axe.
What elements do you feel makes an “incredible” horror film?
The horror movies that scare me the most are the ones that feel like they could really happen. Home invasion stuff terrifies me. I have no desire for a man in a mask to come knocking on my door. Nope.
What do you feel sets you apart from other actors in the industry today?
What is your “dream role”?
I’ve been developing a couple of pilots. One is a sitcom roughly based on my life and friends. It’s in the vein of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The other is a parody I think anyone who grew up with Mr. Rogers or Reading Rainbow would really get a kick out of.
I’d also love the chance to one day work on something like The Daily Show or The Colbert Report. Any chance I can get to mask my biased political opinions as satire.
What is your advice to others looking at getting into the entertainment industry?
Make sure you absolutely have to do it. If there’s something else, anything else, that also makes you happy, you will more than likely have more success there and really enjoy it. And you can also do theater and projects on the side. That being said, if you have to go for it, my biggest advice would be to create your own content. I wish I’d started doing that much earlier. I’ve had more success with videos on Funny or Die than with doing small roles in big movies. If you don’t get famous at a young age, it’s going to take an unimaginable amount of work to make it in this industry. There are a million people just as talented and good looking as you, so creating your own content is one way to really stand out from the pack. …Or just marry a doctor!
Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
I’d love to be on a good show. It would be great to work on something for six months and then have the other half of the year to do independent films and work on writing projects. I’m getting married this year, so it would also be great to travel a lot before I’m coaching kid’s soccer and complaining about teenagers and how loud their music is.