Tommy Savas Dishes on ‘State of Affairs’ and YouTube

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‘Image credit Joshua Shultz

This past Friday we got the chance to catch up with Reckless Tortuga’s Tommy Savas while he was filming on his NBC show ‘State of Affairs’ starring Katherine Heigl and Alfre Woodard!

Tell us about your role on ‘State of Affairs’:

Sure! So, my character that I play on ‘State of Affairs’ is this guy named Dashiell Greer. He’s a member of the President’s Daily Brief Team, or as we call it the ‘PDB’. It’s actually a real job. It’s a group of CIA analysts that go to headquarters in Langley at 2 AM and they basically put together a top ten list of the most pressing things that are happening in the world, that need the President’s attention. They distill thousands and thousands of pieces of information from the whole CIA network and joint networks and they put together this book and they present it to the President, and she tells you what to take action on.

Specifically, Dash is the youngest member of the CIA briefing team. You kind of see him getting into a little bit of trouble because he’s super smart but very inexperienced in life. You kind of get to see him struggling to deal with the content that you do having this job.

Do you work with any CIA analysts on set to get a better idea of what they do?

Yeah, totally. Lucky for us, two of our executive producers are actually ex-CIA. One of them is Rodney Faraon, and Rodney was actually on the President’s daily briefing team over two administrations. So, having him is invaluable, getting to talk to him, and him kind of leading the way in how we would react to certain situations and how he reacted to similar situations.

On top of that, before we went to production, I got the chance to actually go to Langley in Virginia and meet the CIA analysts there too, and sit down with them and talk to them to see where they work and dive into their skin which is a really, really unique experience.

It took like a month and a half of vetting out to make sure I wasn’t a risk to national security for them to let me go but when it came to fruition it was definitely worth it. It was an unbelievable experience.

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That sounds terrifying to have people digging into your past.

Yeah. Totally! Not that I’ve ever done anything but I was like “what are they going to find out about me?” because suddenly every little “crime” I’ve ever committed since I was 10 years old was in front of my face

Did they let you look at your file?

My file? No, but in my mind I was going “oh my god, they’re digging through my entire past. What are they going to find out about me?”

Have you found as an actor that preparing, and production for this series is different than for a YouTube series like ‘Reckless Tortuga’?

Totally. I mean with ‘Reckless Tortuga,’ who I’m still part of them and they’ll always be a part of my life, I love them to death, with them we would play so much. It was so much improv and such a collaboration. You get on set, having looked at the script one time and kind of workshop it.

With this, it’s a drama and it’s very topical. I’m having to study for hours, doing research to keep up with current events just to understand what I’m talking about on the show. It’s completely different.

You know, the process, not that it’s not collaborative cause it is very collaborative, but the material is very different, and you have to pull from different places.

Has it been difficult for you to jump from comedy to drama or has the transition been easy?

You know, it’s been easy because the character I’ve been lucky to play on dramas are the ones who bring the levity to the dramatic situation. Like my character on this show, he’s the guy who tries to find the levity in the most extreme and traumatic events, so I get to play to those strengths still with my comedy between those lines of drama.

Do you still plan on working with Reckless Tortuga and on YouTube?

It’s going to slow down. It’s kind of the nature of the beast with my schedule, now working on the show but I’m definitely going to continue on my hiatus from the show to produce and work with them and make content with those guys.

To me, working on that platform of YouTube, it was the one of the greatest acting classes and acting experiences of my life because you get to play so much and you don’t answer to anybody except for your friends, your group, and your fans. Directly to them without having to go through a studio or producers or that kind of stuff.

You get to put out the content that you love and that’s something that I always want to do. Being in charge of what I’m putting out into the world, that platform specifically, YouTube is a place you can do that. That’s something I’m always going to want to do and be part of.

REckless Tortuga

Do you think that YouTube is going to have a stronger effect on traditional forms of media like television and film through collaboration or as a jumping off point?

I do think so, I mean I think I already kind of see that. It’s interesting cause you see these major studios and networks trying figure out how to capitalize on what some of these YouTube channels have already have, and they’re not able to do it themselves.

I already see them coming around, collaborating with more and more YouTube channels and I think that is going to evolve to be more involvement with established channels and directly with YouTube talent who are able to create content that they want to personally create and they have a fanbase for.

What’s it like to work on set with cast? Are you enjoying your experience?

Absolutely, especially with these juggernauts in the industry like Katherine, Alfre and Joe Carnahan, who is our executive producer and creator. It’s an amazing learning experience and they’re all super eager and willing to offer any advice I’m looking for, taking me under their wing.

It’s an awesome experience. It’s definitely a learning experience that I’m going to cherish for the rest of my career, that I will take with me.

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Silly question time: Do you actually play World of Warcraft?

There was a small stint in my life where I did play WoW but I’m more of an FPS player. Right now, I’m into Destiny. I’m kind of more like an online gamer character, like Aaron, really than the Damien WoW/LARPer in real life.

If you could trade places with another YouTuber, would you, and who would it be?

If I could trade places with another YouTuber? You know, I wouldn’t want to. I so love what I’ve been able to do with Reckless Tortuga and I love my group at Reckless Tortuga that I would rather not trade a thing than not be able to work with this group of people.

Aw! That’s very cool!

Did you want me to say Shane Dawson because I will never say that.

One last question: Have you bought anything with your crazy TV money?

(Laughter) Oh! Have I bought anything cool? Nothing yet, I mean think the coolest thing I did was I was able to take my wife for our 1 year anniversary to Hawaii, and we didn’t spare any expense. We kind of reveled in that we were able to have a you know ‘first-class all of the way’ kind of a trip. So, nothing yet, but believe me if we get a Season 2 that’s when you’ll see me rolling around in that Escalade with stylish rims, you better believe it.

Tommy Savas has just finished producing his Kickstarter film ‘Bad Roomies’ with Patrick Renna that will be hitting festivals soon!