Contributed by Chase Goodbread of The Tuscaloosa News on 01/11/23
The call came on Halloween, and appropriately enough, it turned into something awfully scary.
Brandon Moore, a former Alabama football walk-on, didn't exactly get the preparation that would be typical from a successful audition. Producers from long-running NBC series "Law & Order" called the fledgling actor on Oct. 31, immediately put him on a plane to New York, and by the next day he was in front of a camera playing a central role in a new episode that will air Thursday at 7 p.m. CT.
That can make for a frightening level of pressure, for sure, even more so than the demands of being a five-year scout-team fixture for the Crimson Tide. He can't give away the plot, but Moore, 29, was in the Big Apple for two solid November weeks shooting the episode, including an eight-hour stretch in which he needed to cry on command from a witness stand. He wasn't handed a sliced onion to help with the waterworks; a true test of his acting chops.
"One thing that was motivating for me was Jeffrey Donovan, who was the lead in "Burn Notice". We were in a scene that just didn't feel right," Moore said. "I told them, 'This scene feels off to me. I'm not trying to step over boundaries, but I don't feel like it's flowing correctly.' That wasn't easy because I'm the young, new guy, but Jeffrey said, 'For the rest of your career, hold onto your instincts, because you're spot on.' … So they added a couple lines and they kept those lines in the scene for the final cut."
Let's back up a bit.
Moore came to Alabama from Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy in 2012 as a 6-foot, 335-pound offensive lineman who turned down Division II scholarship offers to be a preferred walk-on at UA. The NFL was his dream, and he felt the competition at a powerhouse program would get him there, even as a walk-on, more effectively than playing small-school college ball. After a year as a scout-team offensive lineman, he was told by then-strength coach Scott Cochran that he was "too fat and too slow" to play, so he dropped nearly 100 pounds over the next two years in a relentless effort to get on the field. The physical transformation pushed his scout-team role from lineman to middle linebacker to special teams, eventually trimming down to 240 pounds as a fullback and backup long snapper.
"I wasn't the most talented guy, but I squatted 600 pounds and benched 505 and I was wide as a door frame," Moore said.
Although he only played a few career snaps in game action, his reputation as a scout-team stalwart earned him a scholarship his final season. And after two years of failed efforts to catch on in pro football, he threw the same work ethic into acting.
To date, it's paid off handsomely.
He'll appear in the second season of "Mayor of Kingstown" on Paramount+, which begins later this month. He'll be in theaters soon as well, in "Condor's Nest," a post-WWII movie starring Arnold Vosloo and Michael Ironside. He's acquired a mentor in the industry in actor Michael Chiklis, an Emmy Award winner for whom Moore was a stunt double in a forthcoming football movie called "The Senior."
On Thursday, however, "Law & Order" will vault his career to a new level of notoriety. Just the opposite of walk-on status at Alabama, where he couldn't have been more anonymous.
He's finally getting on the field − just not the one he planned for.
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