The TV shows Cracking Up, 100 Questions, Quarterlife, Heist, Perfect Couples and Bent have two things in common: they starred David Walton, and they barely lasted a season. But that track record hasn’t daunted the resilient 35-year-old Boston native, who just may have found the right outlet for his snarky charm in the NBC Tuesday night sitcom About a Boy, based on the 2002 Hugh Grant flick/1998 Nick Hornby book. A stage-trained actor known for the movies Fired Up! and Burlesque and guest spots on Parenthood and New Girl, Walton is also a father of two, with actress wife Majandra Delfino (Friends with Better Lives). We asked him about dealing with failure, the joys of fatherhood and wilder days.
Does it get frustrating when series keep tanking on you?
It’s super sad. I’ve been on about seven failed shows. It’s heartbreaking, a bummer. It’s really painful. You say goodbye to all these friends that you’ve made and the family you’ve made. It’s the roller coaster that you’ve signed up for, but it doesn’t make it any easier.
What drew you to About a Boy?
So much. I relate to the fact that I epitomize every man’s dream of remaining free, having money and no responsibilities. I love playing a character who’s selfish and young and not very evolved but has a huge heart. That heart gets more and more revealed as the series goes on, and I love that.
“I did a ski race in Gstaad for 20 hours. I got back on the airplane, on a British Airways flight from Zurich to L.A., still wearing the tuxedo from the race awards ceremony, and went straight to my middle seat in coach. Not a James Bond moment.”
Have you seen the film version?
Yes, before, but I’ve actively avoided it because I didn’t want to be accused of ripping it off. I’m from San Francisco in the show and he’s British [in the movie], so there’s a huge identity difference from the start. If I’d had to do an English accent I would have been in trouble.
You’re a father figure in the series and a new dad off screen. What do you love about it?
My kids are two and one. I love putting my daughter to bed, that reading time, or I sing to her. It’s a beautiful way to end the day.
Has fatherhood changed you?
One hundred percent. I feel like an adult. I was a little bit of a wild man. That’s not totally gone away, but I like being home now.
How wild were you?
I got pretty wild. Like any mid-twenties guy, I liked to have a lot of fun. I liked to travel and do spontaneous things. I did a ski race in Gstaad for 20 hours. I got back on the airplane, on a British Airways flight from Zurich to L.A., still wearing the tuxedo from the race awards ceremony, and went straight to my middle seat in coach. Not a James Bond moment.
When did you know you had a flair for comedy?
I got voted class clown in ninth grade; I’ve always been a ham. I’m from a big family and everyone has a role in their family. I have six siblings. I have two younger sisters and everyone else is older. I always loved making my family laugh. That was the start. They’re the easiest crowd in the world. I never did standup. I always considered myself an actor first. I like drama. I like it all. I started in plays that weren’t comedies.
You have Think Like a Man Too coming up. What’s your role?
That’s going to be a huge movie. It’s much more raucous, less relationship-y and much more comedy. I play one of the frat brothers of the guy getting married. I basically come there to get very drunk. It comes out June 20. I’ve also got an independent film called Break Point, a tennis movie.
Can you play?
Yeah, I play a lot. I’m a sports guy—tennis, golf, skiing, hockey. The movie is about estranged brothers who try to qualify for the U.S. Open in doubles, with Jeremy Sisto. We just premiered at SXSW and I’ll be going to film festivals all summer. Jeremy’s an incredible tennis player and very talented actor. Like About a Boy I have a borderline inappropriate relationship in it with Joshua Rush. In the same year I’ve had two inappropriate relationships on screen with 12-year-old boys. I’m done with that!
So what do you want to do next?
I’d like to do something the polar opposite of this [series], maybe drama, go back to theater where I got my start. I’m putting that out there in the universe and we’ll see what happens.