Walking Dead actor Steven Ogg heads home to Calgary

Former University of Calgary Dinos volleyball player Steven Ogg talks about returning home for the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, and life after The Walking Dead.

New York-based former U of C volleyball player dishes on playing bad guys and returning to theatre

In addition to voicing the character of Trevor Phillips on Grand Theft Auto V, and Simon on The Walking Dead, Ogg plays the character of Rebus in Season 2 of Westworld. (Rockstar Games)

Steven Ogg, who grew up in Calgary and played volleyball for the University of Calgary Dinos, is returning to the city to do an appearance at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo.

Ogg, best known for his role as Simon on The Walking Dead, spoke to The Homestretch on Monday about his life as an actor. 

The interview has been edited for content and clarity.

Q: Your character Simon has done some pretty terrible things to people this season. How do you go about playing such a terrible guy?

A: You don't want to go into it with this idea that he's completely evil, or he's a completely terrible person — I don't know how you play that. I never set out to be a character that people have to necessarily love. If he was a pure evil incarnate — and that was his role in the world, to reflect utter chaos, death, destruction and mayhem, then I don't know, maybe I would have played that from the get go, and not been concerned about the sense of humour, or having another side to him.

You never play anything wanting to be liked — you want to serve the story. And the world [of the story].

Former University of Calgary volleyball player Steven Ogg (seen here as Trevor on Grand Theft Auto V) who plays Simon on The Walking Dead, returns to the city for the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo. (Rockstar Games/Associated Press)

Q: The Walking Dead has been a pretty global phenomenon. How did you enjoy the experience?

A: It's been amazing. It's been fun. You get an unbelievable amount of attention. It's wonderful to get that. It's certainly a different world from what I'm used to. It's honestly crazy. I do not understand it. You just have to count your blessings, and go 'wow.'

Ogg was in Europe recently, where he attracted a lot of attention from Walking Dead fans. 'Europe seems to dig me, man, I should relocate,' he said. 'I get a lot of sunshine up my derriere in Europe.' (AMC)

Q: You've played some pretty erratic characters on shows like Westworld, or voicing the character of Trevor Phillips in Grand Theft Auto V or on Better Call Saul. But now I understand you're playing a role even your mother could like?

A: Mom's always like, 'why don't you play something that is nice? Why do you always play a bad guy?' And I'm like, 'mom, have you seen my face? It's not exactly the charming lovable boy next door.' You got to work with what you've got.

But this project, The Short History of the Long Road, I'm super excited about the character. It's just a great story. They're van dwellers — this whole community of people that live in vans, and he raises his daughter in the van, not going to school. So it's very different from the types of characters I usually play. No big mustache. No wild choppers, no crazy hair, no killing, no psycho  — just a dad, doing his best.

Q: How did a backup University of Calgary Dinos volleyball player end up in Hollywood?

A: I did theatre in Calgary — and that's what I'm striving to get back to now. I've had meetings in London. I would love to even to do a play in Calgary. I love the theatre. I started in the theatre, in Calgary. It was always just sort of my thing. I played some volleyball. Travelled the world a little bit — and then ended up coming back to New York 22 whatever years ago, to continue what I had stopped doing for some years.

The life of an actor is a marathon. There's highs and lows, and peaks and valleys. It's great, this recognition right now, for the things I'm doing — but that doesn't mean I have 16 scripts at my side. You still have to go out and hustle to find work. You just keep ticking along — and I've obviously been very fortunate to get these opportunities, whether it's a video game, Westworld or Walking Dead.

These are rather iconic phenomenon — which is just the luck of the draw — the one thing at these comic cons when actors come up and ask, what's your advice? The advice is, go into it for the right reasons.

If you're going into it to be recognized, or to be famous or to be rich — I think that's a pretty horrible goal in general, be it as an actor or anything else.

That's not what life is. Try to be better. Try to be passionate. Try to love more. And try to follow your dream. That's what you do.

If you make money, great — and when the money goes away, it should still be great.

Ogg's Trevor Phillips characters was among the cuthroat characters featured in Grand Theft Auto 5. Ogg would like to return his theatre roots, possibly even to Calgary if the right part should come along.

With files from The Homestretch

About the Author

Stephen Hunt

Digital Writer

Stephen Hunt is a digital writer at the CBC in Calgary. Email: stephen.hunt@cbc.ca