Meet a Dad — Actor, Marcus Hanson! | The North County Moms

Meet A DAD — Actor — Marcus Hanson!



This summer, we’re celebrating all that the “kings” of our domestic castles do to provide for our families. We’re exploring the concept of fatherhood — from a father’s perspective (who was once a son). We’ll ask our invited dad guests to reflect on their childhoods while connecting their style of parenting today with the ways their dads raised them.

Hey, San Diego! You’re in for a treat. I get to share with you a devoted dad, husband and an accomplished actor! Best of all, he’s from our homebase of San Diego. Marcus Hanson has worked professionally as a business consultant in the soccer industry for the LA Galaxy. He’s spent several years as a coach for the Special Olympics and, most recently, Marcus has found on-going success in the entertainment industry as a writer, producer, director and, most notably, as an actor. He’s been cast on primetime network television which brings him well-deserved acclaim — co-starring on shows like “Criminal Minds,” and most recently on “NCIS: Hawai’i!” With an upcoming role in the soon-to-be released film by director, Phil Blattenberger, “Condor’s Nest,” Marcus is one busy actor dad! Despite achieving success on the small screen, Marcus is just as humble as he was the day I met him. I played opposite him, a time or two, in in-class scenes at The Rehearsal Room, in Downtown San Diego. So, it’s very much an honor for me to introduce him here — especially for those who may know little more about Marcus than the well-crafted roles he’s played on television!

Marcus, I find delving into our dad-guests’ childhoods is an interesting place to begin our time, as we consider all that you have achieved in your adult life.

So, when you remember your childhood, what are some of your earliest memories of your dad? I remember playing different sports with my dad when he had the time… He made sure to tell me to have fun at what I do. I cherished those moments. With him being in the Army, we moved around a lot, and I understood the sacrifices that not only he made, but also my mother and brother.  I was blessed to have a somewhat close-knit family. Though it was tough to say goodbye to friends I had made, I was lucky enough to make new ones.

Can you elaborate on the feelings those memories inspire? Having kids of my own, I see my parents in them.  My wife and I have been very blessed to have our kids in our lives, and through joys (and even some sorrows), challenges and accomplishments, I’m proud of what my parents have taught me. I continue to learn and challenge myself to be the best version of myself… I try to teach my kids to have fun at what they do and to strive for their own personal greatness through love and empathy.

“I was very fortunate to have my dad to look up to. He served in Vietnam

and worked very hard through good times and bad…”

During your childhood do you recall knowing that you would someday be a dad? Was there a particular trigger that inspired the desire? I knew that I wanted to get married and have a family someday.  That was triggered in my senior year of high school, when I started thinking about college and my adult life right around the corner — along with many other dreams and desires.

Growing up, tell us about your dad. Was he your role model — someone you wanted to emulate? I was very fortunate to have my dad to look up to – he served in Vietnam and worked very hard through good times and bad to keep a roof over our heads and put food on the table, whether it be through times of distress or times of favor. He always did his best.

As a kid, how did you imagine your life when you reached this age in the parenting game? It crossed my mind to eventually become a parent. I remember wanting to have kids of my own, but it really didn’t come to fruition until I made the decision to get engaged to my wife. Then, the blur of what might be, developed into a clearer picture – although we didn’t really have a timeline of when things would happen.

If you could change anything about your childhood relationship with your dad, what would you do, change, fix or relive? Nothing. My childhood helped shape me and got me ready for the rest of my life.

Thanks for taking some time to share a bit of your childhood with us! Now that we’ve gotten a glimpse into the past of Marcus Hanson, and discovered a little about how your dad may have influenced you as a father, we’d like to discover more about, what I call, “the man inside the boy.”

“…To see their innocent eyes as they came into this world,

and the infinite possibilities that rushed through me for their future — 

I tear up thinking about those moments.”

In somewhat of a recap of an earlier question, would you say donning the “Daddy” title was something you planned, rolled into (as the natural next step dictated by marriage), or was it something that caught you off guard and took you by surprise? I would say that I rolled into it.  It was gradual – from getting engaged, to getting married, my wife being pregnant, going through the pregnancy with her, (I am so proud and in awe of her) and the incomparable joy when my first son was born. I was lucky to experience this two years later with my other son. To see their innocent eyes as they came into this world, and the infinite possibilities that rushed through me for their future, I tear up thinking about those moments. (Wow, thanks Maria!)

My pleasure, Marcus. My goal is also to get to the emotion behind the words. It’s the best way to get to know someone. It’s been my experience that my kids have the capacity to bring out a wide range of emotions from within me. I think most parents share that sentiment.

While we’re discussing the people who’ve made us parents…

How many children do you have, and what are their ages? They’re now 21 and 19.  Time flies.

So, many in our audience are parents of teenagers and may be curious about their child’s development toward adulthood. My oldest is in his late teens, so count me curious!

Can you give us some insight on the emotional process you and your wife experienced as your oldest turned 21? There were some surprises on the way. You just have to be able to roll with the punches. But we tried to be prepared as best as possible. Our goal was to try to get him prepared at his pace.

I know your son is on the autism spectrum. And as you know, I’m a mom of a special needs child, as well. Dads and moms with special needs children face atypical challenges. So, there’s often an unspoken understanding of our unique parental perspectives.

Did your son turning 21 feel like the natural, next evolution of your/his existence? Or, was it a reality you thought you were prepared for but one that, nevertheless, caught you off guard? As we were getting closer to the date, we kept reminding ourselves about this milestone, and thinking of the possible challenges that he (and we) needed to address — his independence, keeping in touch, resources afforded to him. The Regional Center has been very helpful in this regard.

It’s good to hear that the San Diego Regional Center has been helpful through the years as you raised your son. It’s a good resource for parents to tap into!

Since what we like to do here, at The North County Moms, is give our regular site patrons — readers and watchers — an occasional peek inside the comings and goings around San Diego of our featured guests, please share with us some of your favorite San Diego go-tos!

Marcus Hanson – In-character/audition

Which area of San Diego County do you call home? How long have you lived here? We’ve been in and around the Mira Mesa area for about 19 years. However, personally, I’m spending more time in LA.

What do you love about living in San Diego? The laid back atmosphere.

What’s your favorite part of San Diego? I like all of San Diego County. There is so much diversity of places to visit and experience throughout the county. I wouldn’t say that there is one particular favorite; we try to find new things from time to time.

Do you have a preferred go-to shop in SD? Right now it’s Sprouts. They have quite a bit of Keto options for me (Gotta get fit again).

I like Sprouts, too! Love the vitamin section, organic produce and gluten-free chip aisle. 

Tell us, are you preparing for a particular role? You did say you, “Gotta get fit again.”  (Marcus didn’t have much to share about his fitness goals — even though he brought it up! The need for discretion around future projects definitely seems “a thing!”)

La Jolla Shores – By Vaughn Woods – CC BY-SA 3.0

What’s your family’s favorite beach in SD? We like many, but I would probably have to say La Jolla Shores.

Before we dig deeper into the specifics of your life as a dad, I’d like you to explore your life as a versatile actor with our readers. Give us a quick recap of when you began pursuing an acting career and a timeline of some of your more notable achievements in front of the camera.

Tell us how professional acting became a goal. Were you a kid or an adult when you discovered your passion? I discovered I wanted to be an actor when I was 19 after taking a theatre course in college. I had so many likes, and wanting to do different things growing up, whether it was playing sports, different branches of the military, different types of jobs. Playing “make believe” and showing humanity on stage really appealed to me right away.

How long have you been in the industry? After college, I was in it for about a year until I started focusing on trying to make money at my “side job” and wanted to start providing for my family. I got away from acting, but through some encouragement from my wife and some in the industry, I got back into it in 2014.

“[To find an agent] …A headshot and resume are needed… That’s your calling card!”

The Rehearsal Room – San Diego

I have a clear image of you on one of my first days at The Rehearsal Room. I started there around the same time as you did. At the time, I remember thinking how daunting it seemed to land an agent in San Diego, let alone LA. Fortunately, with Carey’s [Actor, director, instructor, Carey Scott] student showcases with San Diego agents and LA casting directors, I was able to make some headway.

Actor – Director – Writer – Coach

Was it difficult finding your first LA agent? Take us through that process. I got my first agent through the help of Carey Scott at The Rehearsal Room. For me, the most important thing when looking for an agent is to keep working on yourself as an artist – take classes and have fun. You need some good headshots, a resume showing your work, who you train with, and special skills, and hopefully, footage for a reel (though if one is starting out, it’s understandable if you don’t have that. A headshot and resume are needed though; that’s your calling card). I developed some work in the local San Diego market so I could create a reel and have some credits, which led me to finding my first theatrical agent on my own.

When did you land your first television role? In 2016.

So, two years after we met in class. That’s impressive!

For me, most of my work in front of the camera has been as a spokesperson or in broadcasting, as a host, or other on-air talent, where the teleprompter has been my best friend. Non-actors often are amazed by the amount of dialogue actors can memorize.  I’ve learned a few memorization techniques through the years. I’m curious to get your take on the day-to-day script breakdown and memorization skills you employ.

Have you ever found it difficult to commit your lines to memory? Sometimes, depending on the language or syntax of the lines. What helps me is learning who I am as the character, and what I want in that scene.

What’s the most dialogue you’ve had to learn for a single day’s shoot? How many lines and pages? Tough to say. I remember that I was getting ready for a shoot day where it was a total of four pages of lines that I was going to shoot, and there was some extra dialogue given, which (generally speaking) took it to five (there was some improv added). I also had seven pages to memorize for a day’s shoot, but then it was split into two days. The main thing is to keep working on your character and be ready as best as possible.

Many people know that actors often follow acting techniques often conceived by legendary (and often former) actors and instructors.  I studied Sanford Meisner at one point in my acting pursuits, prior to The Rehearsal Room, where our mentor, Carey Scott, taught “Method” acting.

Audi commercial – Marcus Hanson with co-stars

Do you consider yourself a true Method actor? If not, is there a technique you follow? There’s so many “Methods” out there. So maybe “no” is my answer. I’ve worked with coaches that teach Meisner, Uta Hagen, Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, and other “modern” methods from great coaches in LA. I’d like to think that I’ve taken a little bit here and a little bit there from all of these coaches. Preparation and discovery of who you are is paramount! Whatever works for you. I am in a constant state of learning. One teacher that I work with is Joseph Pearlman, who I’d like to think helped me get to the next level.

I’m familiar with Joseph Pearlman’s work. I know one of the things he stresses with the actors he coaches is bravery –  the art of being brave – in auditions and after you land the role.

Describe the fulfillment you get doing the work you love… and get paid to do! I think that’s just it – getting paid to do something that you love. [There’s nothing like] being able to find what makes a character tick – what it’s like to really be alive and engaged.

What do you love about being an actor? I get to discover who I am as the character, my wants and needs, hopes and dreams, all in order to help tell a story. Because even in their diversity, it’s stories that connect us as human beings.


So true. Humans thrive on the recounting of another’s personal experiences. Somehow, I think others’ stories allow us to reflect on circumstances that don’t belong to us, as we contemplate our own – good, bad or indifferent. How we interpret someone else’s experience can ultimately guide and shape our own undertakings, encounters or personal pursuits whether consciously or subconsciously.

What are some of the daily challenges inherent in your line of work? There are times when I may not be auditioning as much as I like to. And when I am, that a role that I feel that I am really right for goes to a different actor. Things work in mysterious ways. The only thing I can do is to present my best work and let it go. Grateful to be considered! I’ll go crazy if I dwell on roles that I didn’t get. I just do my best work, try to develop relationships as best as possible, and go from there.

As you navigate working with agents and casting directors, do you find it easy to remain yourself and not project an image you think they might want to see? I’d like to think it’s pretty easy to be myself and have fun, as well as being someone who “plays well” with others and is an asset to the entire production, even if it were to be playing someone that may be unsavory. I bring my best professional self to the role – which means that I do the work necessary to portray the role as I, and the director, see fit – and ultimately aim to be a pleasure to work with.

Are you constantly on the road, headed up “The 5” for auditions or have virtual auditions made jaunts up to LA/Hollywood less frequent? A lot of auditions these days are done through self-tapes. Callbacks can be in-person, although many more have been virtual with casting, and/or someone from production.

Scene from “NCIS: Hawai’i”

Tell us about one of your latest roles, Karl Pike, on NCIS: Hawai’i. First, how did you land the role? Through an audition.

How long did you play Karl Pike? One day.

Oh, man! I saw that final scene, but for some reason I thought it was a dream sequence or something. Bummer. That was quite an action moment!

How was that scene to shoot? Really fun to do. Cast and crew were awesome. The director, Larry Teng, is tremendous.

Larry Teng does possess quite the filmography. I bet you’re proud to have worked with him!

Had you ever played a character who lost his life? Yes.

For NCIS: Hawai’i, how did you learn that your character would be killed off? Through the sides I received.

Please explain “sides” for our non-theatrical audience. Sides are the portion of the script, whether for auditioning or the portion that you are filming for the day, i.e., if I were filming pages three through six of a 35-page script, my pages three through six are my “sides.”

Marcus Hanson – On-set, “NCIS: Hawai’i”

Did you know your character’s fate when you accepted the role? Yes.

Where in Hawaii does the show shoot? All over the islands. My scene was on the western side of O’ahu.

How long did you live in Hawaii? As a child, a total of almost 4 years. For the shoot, 4 days.

You make me giggle with these short and direct responses. This Marcus Hanson character might have a future in deadpan comedy!

How was it to work closely with the stars of the show — Vanessa Lachey, Alex Tarrant and Noah Mills? They were great. Although there was no dialogue between them and me in the scene. Karl was already killed.

Gotcha! …Again, the comedy thing may have some merit!

Where can we expect to see you next — big or small screen? The big screen. I was in a film last year that is about to wrap up in post-production called “Condor’s Nest.”  Really fun to do. It was great to work with the entire cast and crew. Big shout out to the director, Phil Blattenberger. Looking forward to the premiere soon!

On set: “Condor’s Nest”

That sounds interesting! I know Mr. Blattenberger has been nominated for some first-time director and screenplay awards internationally. It must have been a pleasure to work with him. It most definitely was.

Tell us about his film “Condor’s Nest” Can’t.  Signed an NDA.  It hasn’t premiered yet.  Coming soon.

There’s my deadpan. Okay, I guess I won’t ask…

…What‘s the movie about? Tell us about your character.  Who are your co-stars?  When is the premiere…?

But, I hope you promise to sit down with me after the premiere to talk about it! 

Moving on, I’m familiar with the stresses of auditioning and the angst associated with looking for, or awaiting, your next role. Even when you land the first audition, callbacks can become the next emotional hurdle to jump — at least they were for me. Running and working out are my daily stress relievers and help to quell the audition nerves. I’m not sure how my mind and body would function without both.

But, knowing your generally relaxed demeanor, do you even get jitters? I try to be as prepared as possible, so I can be present and, in the moment, as much as possible. But sometimes I do get jitters if it’s a live audition or callback. What I do then is acknowledge to myself that I do have them jitters…We’re all human… and that it’s OK. Then I have some type of “hook” — a feeling and attitude that helps me get into the scene and “let go” as the character. (Thank you again, Joseph Pearlman!)

So, it sounds like you continue to put in the work — working a project or not, and you seem to connect with the right coaches to help you put into practice the techniques that work for you. We’ve talked a bit about Carey Scott.

Now, can you share with us how Joseph Pearlman has encouraged you to find your “hook” and “let go?” Do you find it hard to detach from the pressures of pounding the pavement from audition to audition? Not hard. It’s my job to do it.  Every effort puts me one step closer.

I think that’s just it – getting paid to do something that you love…

Being able to find what makes a character tick… 

What it’s like to really be alive and engaged.

Separating work life from family life, how do you deal with important work interruptions that may arise during family time? Depends on the importance of the interruption. That said, I cherish the time I have with my family and look to have those moments all of the time.

What are your suggestions for dads to function and remain fully engaged with their spouses even when circumstances dictate your immediate attention is needed elsewhere? Every relationship is different. What works for me is communication, and that if an opportunity arises, it’s a chance to work and grow as an artist. Having time with my spouse, experiencing the world around us together, is not only enjoyable, but it also feeds me as an artist and as a person.

I know you’ve devoted a significant amount of your more recent adult life to working with the Special Olympics.

How did that come about? My oldest son, who is on the autism spectrum, was taking part in Special Olympics. He started out in track and field, but then he got into swimming, which is one of the sports I participated in growing up. I was asked to help out with the swimmers of different abilities and helped with the team.

What have you learned from those coaching experiences? The joy of these competitors doing their best, overcoming obstacles and challenges and being proud of who they are and the effort they put in. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of their lives and to have them in mine.

Since actors are typically reflective and sometimes use experiences in their own lives to integrate within a given character, I’ll ask you to take us back to your childhood. That’s a little tricky. As an actor, you use what you know. It’s important to see the experiences through the eyes of the character. At least that’s the way it is for me. Maybe it depends on what you mean by, “using their own experiences.”

I’m talking about actors who use their own experiences to connect with a feeling that grew out of an event or a given moment. Tapping into something that’s familiar — something you’ve actually felt before. That’s worked for me. But I haven’t landed a role on primetime television… So there’s that!


If you could have a conversation with your younger self, what are some of the things you would say? Believe in yourself. Compete, not with others, but with yourself. Try to do things better every day, in every way. Be interested in others, and try to see the world through their eyes!

I love that reflective growth commentary! I like that question. I think it’s a keeper.

What’s your advice to teenagers and young people who are trying to find themselves? I’d say, you are supported and loved and, that on one hand, there are others like you. [I’d let them know] on the other hand, you are unique to this world, and you have something unique to give to the world. The world is blessed to have you in it, and you can accomplish great things. Always believe in yourself!

Wow. So true. Teenagers need to hear that!

Is it ever too late to change course, or direction, and choose a different or more productive existence? Never.

Marcus Hanson – Audition

The answer to that one was obvious, but I felt I needed to ask it to make a point. You’re right; it is never too late to try something new! The reason we feel the urge to move in a different direction, I feel, comes from a deeply connected spiritual calling. Whether we see it as that or not, whether we follow that urge or not, is up to us. But the urge emerged for a reason. I tend to believe the reason is a way shower. That feeling is guidepost.

What are your suggestions for new dads to continue to maintain a healthy life balance with young children? Do what you have to do because of love. Work to provide. Be as present as possible for your kids. Teach them well, but also learn from them, too. There’s so much to be in awe of surrounding them. They are gifts to us.

Practically speaking, were you a hands-on, diaper-changing kind of dad? Yes.

Did your dad duties include midnight feedings, tummy time and stroller walks through the park? Yes.

What new things have your kids taught you about yourself as a dad? More patience, bravery, discipline and discovery.

 You are unique to this world and have something unique to give to the world. The world is blessed to have you in it, and you can accomplish great things. Always believe in yourself.

What have been some of your most challenging experiences raising a child with special needs? His education. But my son is working on getting his diploma. He’s come so far. I am so proud of him when it comes to doing things on his own and showing some independence.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another dad? “Trust them [your kids] and let them find their way.” They still need to follow rules, of course. But let their curiosity lead the way to find what they love.

Many people in acting classes might consider acting a hobby… Really? I know some who learn acting in order to get over fears of public speaking. Or, they use it as a way to express themselves. But many who take classes treat it as their profession.

 Good point! True. I’ve known people who studied acting to get over a fear of public speaking, too.

 …I guess my point is, you’ve been fortunate to breakout. You’ve found success due to and beyond the acting-class mold. You’ve become gainfully employed, repeatedly, in your craft. Bravo! Thank you, though, it’s my belief that even if you haven’t booked your first role yet, you are STILL an actor!

I appreciate your outlook. Your positivity is admirable and certainly works in your favor.

You’re an inspiration to those of us who’ve shared The Rehearsal Room stage with you. (Truth be told, Carey Scott has turned out some standout talent through the years. I think we owe it to our curious readers to bring Carey into the conversation through a future interview!)  Appreciate the kind words. Carey is tremendous.



Beyond honing your skills, working with acting coaches, I’m curious to know how you spend some of your free time.

That said, do you have any hobbies? Of course. I watch TV and Film. (It’s my industry after all.) I love to travel and see what my kids’ interests are. And when I can, I participate in sports. I love team sports, as well as golfing and swimming.

Sounds like you never get bored when you’re not filming!

Marcus, thanks for sharing some time with us during these summer months — a fun season to celebrate our dads! 

To wrap things up, where might our North County Moms, and yes, DADs, see you next? Well, the film “Condor’s Nest” comes out later this year. But a series I did some voiceover work on called “Alba” just came out on Netflix on July 15th.

I look forward to checking those out!

As a postscript, before we let you go, tell us about the voiceover process. Is it easier to land those character roles than on-camera work? Not necessarily.

What do you love about voiceover work? Working with the other artists, the director and the sound engineers.

Did you hear that casting directors? Marcus is a joy to work with and plays well with others. And he’s one terrific actor and a great conversationalist. We can’t wait to discover where we’ll see him next! Until then, be sure to follow him and find out what’s happening in his career @themarcushanson!


Maria Felicia Kelley recently spoke with Marcus Hanson. Marcus is a deep thinker, dedicated performer and family man.
We’re fortunate to recognize our conversation with Marcus as our first SoCal Spotlight series interview!

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