North Texas Actor Eric Hanson Reflects on His Successful Career and Future in Acting

by Bob Valleau on May 30, 2024 in Entertainment, Film,

Eric Hanson, a talented TV and film actor from North Texas, has made a name for himself in the entertainment industry with his impressive acting skills and charming personality. 

With a career spanning over ten years (69 credits total), Eric has appeared in numerous TV shows (Vindication, The Price of Fame, Queen Sugar) and films (The Challenger Disaster, No Ordinary Love, She’s Perfect, Big George Foreman), earning him a loyal fan base and critical acclaim. He has won 20 awards with 11 nominations. We had a chance to talk with him recently about his rewarding career and future in acting.

Career Highlights and Memorable Moments

Eric began by sharing some of his highlights from the past ten years. “Wow, where do I begin? When I think of highlights, I get this montage of amazing moments that spark up like electrical shocks in my head. The parts that stand out to me are all the firsts: the first laugh I got in an acting class; the first thumbs up from a Casting Director; my first time on set, watching the crew work so smoothly, like some silken machine. They seemed to read each other’s minds and talk in shorthand. 

“I remember the first time seeing myself in a theater on the big screen, and all I noticed was this zit on my chin. My wife kept elbowing me all throughout the movie, attempting to whisper, ‘Look, that’s you!’ Those poor folks in front of us. 

“We were on vacation in Chicago when we saw my first TV appearance. It was History Channel’s, Lee Harvey Oswald: 48 Hours to Live. That show was also my first bump up. I’d been cast as an extra, I think it was Cop #2. The director bumped me to a character with an actual name and a line of dialogue. 

The night before the Challenger disaster in 1986, a hot headed engineer (played by Eric Hanson, seated in front) leads a desperate race against the clock to stop the launch and the subsequent cover up and whistleblowing. Photo courtesy Eric Hanson.

“One highlight that stands out to me, personally, came after my first leading role in a feature film. We’d just released, The Challenger Disaster, where I played Adam, a fictionalized version of the real engineer who tried and failed to stop the Challenger’s ill-fated launch in 1986. I received a message from his granddaughter, Summer Jensen, which said: ‘My Grandpa was Bob Ebeling. Adam is the exact portrayal of his personality. He was a hothead and had more integrity in his pinky than most people do in their whole body. It made my heart happy in a sad sort of way.’ That’s it, I’m good. Any other accolades from here on will just be icing.”

The Path to Acting

Eric’s interest in acting started when he was a writer. “In 2007 I was in mortgage finance as a Loan Officer. It felt like this unending chase for the next dollar, and it was zapping me from, well, me. When the real estate crash came about that time, I happily made my exit and pursued something more fulfilling. We sold our house in Scottsville, Arizona, and got a little apartment in Chicago so that I could go to Columbia College Chicago. I got my bachelor’s in Fiction Writing in a little over three years, and started writing short stories. 

“While working on writing scripts, we moved to Dallas. And I figured that if I went to an acting class, maybe the actors could work my scenes which would allow me to make edits after seeing each scene up on its feet. During this first class I met my first celebrity. Glenn Morshower (The Resident, Bloodline, Transformers) was visiting that class, and after we spoke for a quick minute, Glenn suggested I do a scene. I half-heartedly resisted but you don’t tell Aaron Pierce (Glenn’s acclaimed character from the TV show, ‘24’) no. So I read a scene, it went well, and I was hooked. The very next day I signed up for that class, as well as another weekly class, an improv class, an Auditioning For Commercials workshop, and hired a private instructor for theatrical training.” 

From finance to film — Eric Hanson worked as a loan officer before switching careers and eventually becoming an actor. Courtesy photo.

Embracing Challenging Roles

Eric does not shy away from accepting challenging roles.For the role of Michael Jeffries in No Ordinary Love, I played an evangelical preacher who held antiquated views of what a traditional marriage should be. He believed that his wife should be subservient to him, and he would gaslight her to make her feel she was going crazy. I booked this role about three days before filming was to begin. After reading the script, a certain charismatic preacher came to mind, so I spent those three days watching all the sermons and interviews I could find. First, I studied his smooth and calming voice, rich with a southern comfort. He would pause after saying a phrase that struck himself as significant, giving the audience time to take in his brilliance. I studied these mannerisms each morning until we finished filming. It took a couple weeks to free myself from him.” 

Approach to Character Development

Eric’s approach to character development and bringing a character to life is unique. “For me, it depends on the role and the project. I always start by reading the entire script a few times just taking it all in. What does the writer want to say with the story, how does the overall story affect me, and what is it really about? I do this without focusing on my character. I find that if I character-dive too soon I’ll begin making judgements before I fully grasp everything. I’ll take notes, and ask questions the first couple of reads, then look for the answers in the next few reads. 

“Once I feel I understand certain things, I’ll put myself in the role and read it all again. I’ll highlight anything that other characters say about me, which can indicate how I’m viewed outside of myself. After all of that, I’ll do an initial dive into my character: what do I ultimately want, what are my obstacles, what devices do I use to reach my goals, how do I feel about the other characters. Then, after lots of notes on a coffee-stained script, I’ll start applying mannerisms: if I’m a coldblooded killer, I might work on being calm and still without appearing stiff, and exercise my voice for the kind of gravity it needs. If I’m a trial attorney, I might work on public speaking and the courtroom theatrics that go with persuading a jury. Or if I’m dying of cancer, I’ll make notes throughout the script of how sick I am in each scene, and research specific details like if the medications make my mouth dry.” 

On-Set Experiences

Eric shares a memorable experience working on set. “My very first audition. It was, I believe, a heavily dramatic scene. Lots of crying and yelling, several dramatic pauses, and some fist shaking. And after I finished the monologue the room was quiet. Very quiet, for what seemed like an eternity, because surely I’d nailed it. Then the Casting Director finally said, ‘Wow. Wow, that was… unbelievable.’ I smiled and thanked her, to which she replied, ‘Unfortunately, we’re looking for something believable.”

Eric Hanson encourages aspiring actors to do community theater. Courtesy photo.

Advice for Aspiring Actors

Eric’s advice to newcomers to the field of acting and his prospects for the future: Study, train, network, and train some more. Just jump in, get involved with some local acting groups. Take classes and be a sponge, absorb everything you see. Watch as many movies as you can, but see them through an analytical lens: what do you think the character wants, how did they go about getting it. Read scripts, there are a lot available for free online. Some of the best training for film & TV is, honestly, doing a play at a community theater. The repetition & rehearsals give great insight into character development, and the friends you meet will be great. 

Future Projects

“Currently I am in Adam the First, which is showing in theaters across the country, but sadly not yet in Texas. And I have a movie called, Chasing Hope that will come out in a few months. Recently I had a guest star role in the show, Tall Tales of Jim Bridger, which we filmed in Montana for the INSP Channel. Last year I was in Nefarious and Big George Foreman, which played in theaters nationwide. Later this year I’ll be working on two other projects that I’m excited about, and will be happy to discuss when the time comes.”


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Cover photo courtesy Eric Hanson.

Bob Valleau is a regular entertainment contributor for Texas Lifestyle Magazine.