If you think acting is a job for soft, pampered elites, you should know that actor Brian Sacca got sunburned on his eyeballs while shooting the TBS series Wrecked. Now in its second season, Wrecked is basically the comedy version of Lost. Sacca, best known for his web series Fact Checkers Unit and his role as Robbie Feinberg in The Wolf of Wall Street, plays Danny, a boozehound forced to deal with the aftermath of a plane crash on a deserted island. I talked to Sacca about the perils of filming in the jungle, his time spent working under director Martin Scorsese, and how one exciting opportunity brought him back to the world of acting.
How did you end up getting involved with this series?
One of the producers, Jesse Hara. We have known each other for a long time. They were putting together a little table read of the script. Before they greenlit the pilot, TBS wanted to see how it sounded when it was read out loud. Jesse asked me to come over and read it. To be honest, I thought he just had some clients who wanted to hear the script out loud. I walked in and there were 50 to 70 people in this massive conference room and I was like, “Oh my God. I have to act really well now.” TBS was really excited. I still had to go through a traditional casting process, but I made a good impression in that room to where they were pretty gung-ho on me playing Danny. I feel very lucky and indebted to Jesse for getting me involved.
This is a pretty big role for you. You played one of Jordan Belfort’s wild crew in The Wolf of Wall Street. How does Wrecked compare to your experience on the movie?
The Wolf of Wall Street was a once in a lifetime experience. That crew of dudes was brought on because we could improvise in any situation. There were so many times where Scorsese would be like, “Guys, I want something to happen in this scene. Can you figure something out?” 90% of what I said in that movie was improvised that day. That was the greatest situation in the world. We shot that movie over the course of five and a half months. With Wrecked I feel very lucky because my cast members have become some of my closest friends. I’m not even saying that in that cliche way where actors are like, “The cast was sooo close.”
“We were just like one big, happy family.”
Exactly. Everybody says that. The difference for us is that we go live in these crazy tropical jungles for two and a half months every year and it’s kind of just us. You kind of do become a family because it’s all you have unless you are FaceTiming people. We shoot basically 300 pages in 10 weeks. We barrel through. You don’t get a lot of time to marinate in a scene. Once we shoot it we move on fast. There’s something kind of lovely about that. You don’t have a lot of time to think about what’s going on. Get in there, be funny, see if you can add anything, and get the fuck out. It’s different from Wolf because on Wolf sometimes we would shoot a scene over three days. Here, if you get two hours for a scene you feel glorious, like you can breathe.
You shot season 2 of Wrecked in Fiji, which is pretty amazing. But were the conditions a little rough?
It was rough. It’s hot down there. The sun feels like it’s right above your head. Fiji is not a modern country by any means. There are issues. Like, there was an ice shortage for a little bit. We were like, “What do you mean?” They said, “The island is having problems with ice.” In the Modern Age how can you not get ice? It gets hot on set. You can’t close your eyes when you’re shooting. I actually got sunburned on my eyeballs. I didn’t know that was a thing that could happen. It makes you look like you’re high as fuck for about five days. I was walking around and people were like, “Yeah, dude.” I was like, “Oh, no. I just got sunburned on my eyeballs.” It was an intense shoot.
I read that at one point you were thinking about giving up acting.
Yeah, I did. There was a time of my life where I was mostly just producing branded content on the web because I could make money doing it and I wasn’t making money acting. I was doing that for about 18 months and to be honest, I was really enjoying it. Then I got an email that said, “Would you move to New York for The Wolf of Wall Street?” I replied, “For a werewolf movie?” They replied, “Directed by Martin Scorsese.” I was like, “Yes, please. How can I help?” That’s what brought me back into acting.
Was Fact Checkers Unit something you created for fun that later got turned into branded content?
Yeah, exactly. We just created it to be a funny short and amazingly we got Bill Murray to be in it. Years later a producer came to us and said, “Hey, I think I could sell this as a branded piece. Would you be interested?” We said, “Sure, let’s do it.” Actually, in this current world of alternative facts, we are talking with some people about possibly adapting it into a different format of a show. It’s hyper relevant right now. When we did it it was just a funny spoof on CSI. Now it’s like a real thing. This shit exists in today’s society.
Is what you’re doing now what you always dreamed of doing?
100%. This is what I always wanted to do. I even started a production company in college where I was optioning scripts from writers to try to make movies. All I ever wanted to do was be in entertainment in some fashion, whether it was writing, producing, or acting. Acting was a great in for me, because it was something I happened to have a skill at. But writing and producing…my brother and I were making videos from the time I was six years old. My mom would bring home her VHS camera from the university where she taught so that we could make silly little videos in our backyard. This is it.