NASHVILLE, Tenn (Reuters) - Christian Kane’s dual careers as an actor playing a martial arts expert on TV and a singer of country music with a new album might seem odd to some, but to Kane, the two jobs are a natural fit.
In fact, the 36-year-old’s first acting role was portraying a country singer. Having been kicked out of the University of Oklahoma where he studied art (but joked that he majored in women and beer), Kane heard about TV show “Fame L.A,” so he headed to Hollywood and landed a part.
“I got my first acting role because I was a singer,” he told Reuters. “I’ve been fortunate that the music has never taken a back seat, it just didn’t come as fast for me as the acting did.”
“Fame L.A.” lasted only a brief time before being yanked off the air, but it led to bigger — and better — jobs for Kane. And his dual careers continue to feed off each other.
He and his band released an album, “The House Rules,” this month and his new show in which he portrays the martial arts expert, TNT’s “Leverage,” is now in its third season. The program’s star, Timothy Hutton, directed the video for Kane’s single, “The House Rules,” while the two were taping the show.
“A lot of people don’t know he (Hutton) directed ‘Drive’ by the Cars, and also videos by Don Henley and Neil Young. We sat in the trailer every day and came up with ideas,” Kane said.
The singer-songwriter’s album cuts across his broad musical background, combining rock roots with lyrics that owe much to the storytelling tradition of country music.
“We were writing our stuff when we were the only country band in Los Angeles,” he said of his eponymous band. “Then I started traveling to Nashville and writing with these unbelievable songwriters like Casey Beathard, Jamey Johnson, Blair Daily, Brett James, Jerrod Niemann and David Lee Murphy.”
Kane said he had always written story songs, but in Nashville he learned how to bring those stories to life.
“Most of the guys I write with are on my album. I owe them a lot. The best songwriters in the world are in Nashville.”
Kane and the band will resume touring again at the end of January, and “Leverage” will shoot a fourth season in 2011.
“Acting and music, they are two different things,” he said. “I consider myself an entertainer. I’m creating a business: Christian Kane. I’m the CEO. I get up every day and go to work. It’s a business and it’s run like one, except I love what I do so it’s not like it’s work.”
It wasn’t always so easy.
The son of a father in the oil business, Kane said he attended five elementary schools as a youngster, becoming an introvert who went to the movies by himself and dreamed of bigger things.
“That’s when I fell in love with the whole art thing. When I was by myself I could let my imagination run wild, seeing myself doing all these different things. Years later, I realized that as an actor I could be whoever I wanted to be, so I moved to Los Angeles.”
After a brief stint, Kane recognized he was not ready for Hollywood and returned to Oklahoma, where his parents lived, and enrolled at the University of Oklahoma.
“I got the crap kicked out of me the first time I moved to L.A., then I came home and got kicked out of college too,” he said.
“I thought there were no rules to art; I thought art was what was inside you. That’s what it is to me and it’s what I do, but when it comes to commercial art, which is what I was studying, there were some rules. I didn’t play by them, and they asked me to leave.”
But now, having built a fan base for both his music and his acting, Kane considers himself one of the fortunate ones to be living out his dreams.
Editing by Andrew Stern and Bob Tourtellotte