By: Zeke Hanson Photography by Sam Hanson
There’s a film from several years ago called Knockaround Guys. It isn’t a classic. It didn’t win awards, but it is a fun movie. In it, Vin Diesel has a character that talks about his road to 500 throughout the film. 500 refers to the number of fights he’s been in and how long it took before he felt like he was tough enough to be the “tough” guy. He was saying that he didn’t wake up tough, he didn’t act tough, he was tough because he’d been fighting his entire life and it was in your best interest to take his word for it.
Building a career isn’t unlike fighting, except that most of us have lost/would lose most of the physical altercations we find ourselves in. You spend all of your time clawing for that next thing and then one day if you realize it in the moment; you find that it’s gotten just a little bit easier to survive. You’ve become a knock-around guy.
Linc Hand is one of those guys. He didn’t know it when he started but life kept sending entertainment to fight him and eventually it got easier for Linc to connect with the struggle.
Hand first got started by being a bother in the other room, “it was a commercial, a national commercial when I was a little kid, what happened was that my mom and dad owned an advertising agency and so I was playing with my toys in the other room as they were casting. It was for puppy food of all things and I kept going in the room and interrupting so they let me read so that I would leave them alone,” says Linc. Hand was able to do this weird little thing when he was a kid, “I could look at a page and memorize the whole page and they said, ‘it actually works…he’s halfway decent.’ So, they ended up giving me the job. That was technically my first job.”
That was an ad for Sunshine Puppy Food and while they ran a full campaign the rest wasn’t history. It was not kismet. Not by a long shot. Growing up in Alabama Linc was naturally good at football. That shouldn’t surprise you. They put something in the water there. It’s practically on the food pyramid. “I was better naturally at football,” Linc explains, “but I wanted to play basketball. My coach was like, ‘dude, you’re not 6’8’’.’ I kept telling them to wait…and they waited.”
The last growth spurt just never came. “I thought I was going to play sports the rest of my life and that didn’t work out.” It was then that life came knocking and threw acting at Linc one more time, “I was dating a girl who was modeling locally and a small movie came to town so I drove her to the audition. Casting came out and said, ‘What are you reading for?’ I said, I’m not reading, I brought her, I’m the chauffeur. They said, ‘Okay, great. Well, you’re gonna read this.’ I’m like, NO no no no no, I’m not reading anything, I just brought her. Casting comes back out and hands me pages and says, ‘Shut up, come in, read this.’ That’s basically how it went. Okay, I walk in, and a news crew came in and filmed it…and I end up getting a job. The movie never happened but it kind of gave me that spark of, okay, sports is not gonna happen, I didn’t know what I wanted to do …maybe I should go to LA and give this a shot. So about 2 and a half/ 3 months later I jumped in the car and moved to LA.”
Talking about making that move as a dream and actually packing your bags and making the trip are significant differences.
When I moved to LA I had $38 in cash and a promise that I’d actually be paid on time for a video I’d done. I had to make the move then. It was my window, not because I just had to do it, but because my dad was driving me out and he had a few days open to make it work if we left from a funeral. It’s a great memory, not because of where I was headed, but because it was just dad and me on a road trip and we both had our concerns. It didn’t take the fear away, but it made it better knowing that I wasn’t alone. Still, when I dropped him off two days later for his red-eye and got back to where I was staying…it was one of two moments in my life where the only thing going through my mind was…’well, fuck.’ So much of what I’m able to do now can be traced back to what happened on that trip and my dad being able to make that drive with me. There are a lot of things I’ve talked about doing. Some things I wish I had done. But making the trip, taking the risk, at least for me has never been something I’ve regretted.
Looking back and being grateful while you’re in the midst of a scramble, or just appreciating the journey, don’t always seem practical. There’s a lot of hope and there’s a lot of perspectives that if left unchecked, can drive you crazy. How you stay motivated varies by the person. “Right,” continues Linc, “I think, as an actor, you’re an eternal optimist anyway. Anytime you get something, you think, ‘oh no, it’s a one-liner, but here’s the thing…I got this whole backstory…they’ll go into it. As soon as they see me they’re going to dive right into it. This is the brake.’ I always run into everything that way. And there have been projects where it was, ‘hey, this could potentially be something really big.’ And you feel like, ‘THIS IS THAT MOMENT’. This is that pivotal moment where everything changes and it gets easier.
A lot of the times, it doesn’t really work out that way. I think, for me, it’s realizing that this stuff that you take for granted is stuff somebody else is dreaming about. So in my head, I try to be present and be in the moment and enjoy the whole process. That doesn’t stop the hits from hurting and I’ll say this right now, in 100% honesty you’ll get hit…I’ll storm through the house, the dog will hide under the table, my fiancé will say, ‘it’s gonna be okay’ and I’ll say, ‘I know, I just gotta get this out for a second. I’m gonna hit the wall and then I’m cool.’ Five minutes later you remember all this stuff, you breathe and you roll on. I wish I had a really great answer. It changes, every single time. For me, I try to be grateful for what has happened and realize that…I’m going to be sappy with you, my dad drove out here with me from Alabama and that was a crazy trip, a big growing up kind of experience. So, one day I called my dad and I was upset because of this and that and the whole actor thing, and my dad goes, ‘buddy, you remember when we drove out?’ Yeah. ‘You remember how much fun we had?’ Yeah. Absolutely. ‘Okay, now imagine if we started at your grandmother’s house, closed your eyes…and you’re in California. Think of all the things you would have missed. And how great that was? This is just part of that.’ So, as cheesy as it is, when I’m really in a bad spot, that’s something I remember, that my dad told me, that you know what…this just makes the story better, this makes me a better person. Just suck it up, quit being a sissy…and go.”
On the road to 500 you get to work with many people, talents, and sometimes they’re very good. Whatever your role in those situations you get a glimpse of the top. A few years ago, Linc had a small role on a film called The Bling Ring directed by Sophia Coppola. “She was so nice,” exclaims Hand, “and my role was actually cut. All you see in the actual movie is me walking out of a door. When I went to the screening of it I was like, ‘okay, great, at least I’m working. But talking to her and being there on set… when she came up to me she was so soft-spoken, she said, ‘hey, I really want to try this, do you mind trying this?’ And, I’m like, ‘you’re Sophia Coppola! If you want me to run and jump off that tree and try to do a backflip, I’m gonna give it a shot! Just let me know. Whatever you want me to do.’ It is a very cool thing, sometimes, to be a fly on the wall. I dream about where I want to be and all those things but it’s nice to go through all those progressions. It makes you appreciate everything. If I go back to Alabama and I talk to somebody who’s asking for guidance I always think, ‘who am I to give somebody advice?’ But I feel that if you’ve had to battle a little bit, it comes out better than if you walk in and you’re like, ‘oh, my first role was Han Solo.’ Who has that story? Harrison Ford’s story was years and years before he became ‘Harrison Ford’. To me, that’s what makes him so amazing. I love that dude anyway but he put his time in.”
Right as Linc’s character on Revenge started to get his legs the show was canned. Then he played the asshat in 42. Both of those were headliners but neither of them shined a light on him. “You want to be that guy. In 42 I played the bad guy. And I remember talking to someone and they said, ‘Has anyone ever told you that you look like the guy on 42? We hated that son of a bitch!’ Yeah… ‘That was you wasn’t it?’ Yeah, that was me. ‘You were so great! We hated you! But you were so great!’ I just want to be the hero. It’s one of those things that when you do it you gotta just put it up and let it go. Which is hard, because it’s YOU. I’d like to say I’ve gotten better at it but I haven’t. You go, ‘okay, I’ve let it go. I’m fine with whatever happens.’ But you never are. The first time I watch any performance I’ve ever done, I’m like…’ufff. Everybody’s gonna see that, that was bad.’ But that’s not productive. You can sit there and tear yourself apart and think, ‘Right there, I was thinking about bubblegum.’ It’s hard to let that go but that’s part of it.”
The tide has been shifting a bit under Linc lately. If you’ve watched the new show on FOX called Ghosted, Hand is the first actor you see, and his “Agent Checker” character has some exciting things in store. “I’m gonna be honest with you,” says Linc, “anytime you tell me I’m gonna get to play a spy who’s like a James Bond character… the creator told me, ‘Yeah, he’s like James Bond.’ I’m running with that so fast and so hard. Absolutely. A lot of the stuff that I’ve played has been the bad guy. It’s so nice to be a good guy! Deep down I want to be a hero. I want to do a throwback, come in, say a one-liner and beat up a room full of bad guys. Villains are fun because you can do a lot of stuff but I want to do some of the other things. So now I get that chance to be the guy that people actually like. The guy that gets to do the heroic thing. That’s exciting to me, that’s a lot of fun.”
The show stars Craig Robinson and Adam Scott, who should be recognizable at a glance. “They’re in everything,” laughs Hand, “I’m one of those kinds of people, I learned really early on when you’re around really great, incredibly talented people…you sit there, you shut up…and you steal everything you can from them. I may not do it anywhere near as good but I’m gonna steal it and I’m gonna practice it…and I’m gonna try to get to that level. And as for Agent Checker, I hope we get to see what made him the best. I hope we get to see that. For me, that would be fun to see his progression within the mythology of the show.”
If you’re a writer and walked up to Linc and said, “I’m going to write a movie for you right now, what’ll it be?” Don’t expect a hesitation. “Oh buddy,” he’s ready [hands rubbed together] “My dad was a street fighter way back in the day and I grew up on those kinds of movies. My dad was a legend in the street. I would love to take some of his stories and make an old-school, 80s style/Road House/ out for justice/Van Damme kind of movie and just have great action with some great one liners with some incredible fighting. That would be heaven.”
Not just because he’s the hero. Not just because he’s a lead. It’d be a story that he’d like, and it would be homage to his dad. That would be worth the fight.
If you see him comin’.
The man’s on the road to 500.
Bleeds: If you could go into a street fight with three characters that you’ve played. What three would you take into that fight as your posse?
Linc: For sure Agent Checker [Ghosted], because he’s just a badass. Damian Mosley, [Goodbye World] because he’s crazy…and you need a crazy dude. I played the Devil in a low budget [The Other Side], and I’d take him, Richie . . . because it doesn’t hurt to have some supernatural powers.
Bleeds: Any of them that you wouldn’t want to run into in a dark alley?
Linc: Probably Richie.
Bleeds: Good lookin’ out.