It’s not often that you come across a pair of actors who work together so seamlessly yet their talent and work stand alone. Some of the classic greats that come to mind of course are Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Abbott and Costello, and perhaps soon, Gregory Hoyt and Brian Girard- two actors at the start of their careers who certainly have that special spark.
Hoyt and Girard both attended the University of Massacheusetts (Hoyt transferred from Emerson), in the theater department, but didn’t know each other until they came to Los Angeles. They met at an improv show where Hoyt was performing back in 2003 and Girard had attended with a mutual U-Mass friend. “We recognized each other as having gone to school together. After seeing the show, I felt they were doing something really cool and I wanted to get it on it. I didn’t realize that yet at the time, it was just my mind subconsciously saying that,” said Girard.
Soon after that initial meeting, Girard joined the group and the two began collaborating, performing in over 400 improv shows together to date. “Greg has done all the classes at UCB,” chimed Girard. “We both come from the improv school of Donovan Scott, a character actor who also teaches. He has been our mentor, our master guru,” added Hoyt.
The duo has performed at all the major LA improv venues and began producing short films using their most beloved stage characters. “From the improv shows, we noticed which characters were getting good feedback and started to think about putting them on film. We had access to great filmmakers in our group of friends and with technology we started to have access to the great new HD Canon cameras on the market. We realized we could make really cool stuff guerilla-style with this equipment. We are in Hollywood and that is what Hollywood does. It is all well and good to do live shows but we needed to put in on film because you can reach a broader audience versus say forty people a night. Knowing that maybe a few hundred people could see what we did over the weekend by monday became a lot more enticing,” said Girard.
The pair began producing a series of shorts entitled Klaus (Klaus- The Bike, featured above), which follows the friendship of the two main characters Klaus and Stacy played by Hoyt and Girard respectively. “The shorts are simple stories about friendship. Klaus is a lost German soul trying to communicate, he stumbles through finding the words in English and finding his reality. Stacy is his best friend, but the relationship is still budding. The videos are cinematic in style, emoting visually, and told through voice-over which is my voice,” said Hoyt.
The plan is to continue working with Andy Schlachtenhaufen, who wrote and directed the Klaus shorts, to compile seven short films, each a day in the life of these two characters, into one film for the festival circuit. “We made the choice to do black and white and committed. The shorts are left of center, stylized, and presentational and we hope old Hollywood,” said Hoyt. “With this, we thought, anyone has a laptop and a camera. Let’s create a whole visual universe that our characters can live in. As we build our brand of who we are and what we are doing, people are migrating to it,” added Girard.
As individuals, the industry is also migrating toward their work. Gregory’s acting chops have landed him over forty national and global commercial spots including Go Daddy, Axe Body Spray, six spots for BudLight, and three Super Bowl spots! He has had recurring television roles on the ABC family show Greek, playing the sports ref for nine episodes, and playing frat guy Seth Lebonik on Oxygen’s Campus Ladies. His biggest break yet came when Hoyt recently booked the Clint Eastwood film J. Edgar which releases this November.
“J. Edgar happened ‘the old fashioned way’. I was home for the holidays and got an email from my agent that I had an audition. They sent me six pages of sides, all one or two-liners. I went in at Malpaso Productions and auditioned and found out three weeks later that I was on hold. The hold lasted for about a month and then on a Tuesday I got a call that I was shooting Thursday of that week. I play an FBI agent under Hoover in 1934. I filmed two scenes with Leonardo Di Caprio, Stephen Root, and Armie Hammer and was directed by Clint Eastwood. It was the best day of my career,” said Hoyt. He also recently shot a guest starring role on Rachel Bilson’s new series Hart of Dixie which premieres on the CW September 26th.
Girard has met success both as an actor and producer. “I booked the first gig I ever auditioned for, an actor’s dream!” It was a commercial as the spokesman for Checkers Restaurant. He also shot eight other national commercials including Bank of America, NASDAQ, and an un-aired Mac/PC spot alongside Justing Long and Rob Riggle. He also owns a production company called Wheelhouse Creative which produced the music concert documentary All I Ever Wanted, the Airbourne Toxic Event Live from the Walt Disney Concert Hall, along with a series of 13 other music videos. “The goal is to act and produce,” said Girard.
Both Girard and Hoyt stress the importance of continuing their work on stage and in the classroom and both study with Director Paul Currie. “He is a working director and treats you as a working actor. He lets you know what is expected of you on set and teaches you techniques for on-camera work. I firmly believe if I had not been in that class I wouldn’t have booked the Eastwood film. I would not have had the confidence to go in and be myself and know what it is to act in front of the camera,” said Hoyt.
“It’s no coincidence that the volume of our creative shorts spiked after we joined this class. Paul encourages creating your own work and opportunity. We will always be on stage and keep doing stuff in front of a live audience but the goal is to continue to create content and get funding and be able to sell our work and get it out there, be it TV or film. I don’t separate acting into comedy or drama, TV or film, though we both tend to migrate cinematically. We are funny guys but we also put our hearts on our sleeves and that’s part of what we do intrinsically,” added Girard. “The work you are meant to do unfolds organically.”
When asked to describe each other, Hoyt compares Girard to actor Sam Rockwell and Girard retorts, “Greg looks like singer Beck, a very commercial look, but his behavior and energy is 100% unique to me. What he offers and what he does is rare in this town… and thank you for comparing me to Rockwell.” Girard describes himself as having a vaudevillian sense of entertainment and hopes to one day be the center of a near-silent film where music and minimalist dialogue really carry the story. “That’s the producer side of me, I really love the documentary, verite style of producing and love music; it would be great to merge that sensibility with creating content for ourselves. Hoyt claims Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keeton as his inspirations and when asked about his career dream doesn’t hesitate to answer it is being a part of a Wes Anderson film.
I for one, can certainly see this duo usurping the Wilson brothers as Anderson’s next muse.
Gregory Hoyt is currently repped by AKA Talent, Sovereign Talent, and Judy Fox Management.
Brian Girard is currently repped by C.E.S.D Talent.
In addition you can also listen to this duo in their weekly podcast alongside fellow actor/improviser Robert Scheid on The Scheid Show.