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Oklahoma's Ryan Merriman feeling the pull of Hollywood

Written by Tricia Pemberton

© 2007

First published Friday 24th August 2007

Be sure to read the original article

By Tricia Pemberton
Staff Writer

Oklahoma-based actor Ryan Merriman, at 24, is hitting his stride in Hollywood with a 2006 starring role in "Final Destination 3," an upcoming television mini- series with Val Kilmer and a movie due out next year in which he stars opposite Haley Joel Osment.

His success, however, may mean he finally has to tear himself from his Oklahoma roots and make a long-term move to Los Angeles.

"I love Oklahoma, but I can't book jobs here," Merriman said. "I can send tape, but it's not the same as meeting somebody."

Merriman, who grew up in Choctaw and lives in Midwest City, said he'd like to maintain a house in Oklahoma, but soon will be searching for an apartment in L.A.

"It's something I've got to do for the business part," he said. "I like to ride horses and dirt bikes and fish. In L.A., you sit in traffic half your life. But in the end, I'm going to end up having to move there. It's just kind of counterproductive for me to sit here too much."
The actor, who just signed with a new management company, Untitled Entertainment, said the decision was made in part after the success of the horror movie "Final Destination 3," in which he plays a teenager fighting to stay alive as death stalks him.
"I got some good box-office recognition from that," he said.

This fall, he'll appear as a young Jake Spoon alongside Val Kilmer, Rachel Griffiths and a stacked cast in the television miniseries "Comanche Moon," a prequel to "Lonesome Dove."
"It was great ... especially for Oklahomans. We're big Western fans here obviously," he said. "It was an amazing thing to shoot. I mean, all the stuff was tailor-made: silk vests, silk shirts. Jake Spoon was a fancy guy, so I had the black leather gloves and the boots. We all had guns and knives we carried, and we rode horses all day. I mean I could have done that the rest of my life."

Much of the movie was shot in Santa Fe, N.M., some on Kilmer's ranch. Merriman just finished filming "Home of the Giants," a Blue Rider Pictures film that will be released in spring. In the movie, Merriman stars opposite Haley Joel Osment as an Indiana high school basketball player who gets into trouble and must make some weighty decisions before a state championship game. Osment stars as Merriman's best friend, a student journalist.
"This is kind of my movie, and I really get to shine in it," Merriman said. "It's actually one of my most favorite things I've ever done. My performance in it was really diverse. There's drama; there's action; there's comedy. It was a really well-written script."

Merriman started acting at age 8. He started doing local commercials and theater, which led to acting classes and then to a seminar in Texas where a manager found him in 1993 and took him to Los Angeles during pilot season, where he booked "The Mommies." He's since been in many TV shows including "Smallville," "Veritas: The Quest," "Touched by an Angel" and "The Pretender."

He's also had other movie roles, appearing in "The Ring Two," "Halloween Resurrection" and in the 2001 movie "The Luck of the Irish," in which a teenager tries to save his family from an evil leprechaun.

"I've kind of checked the horror box. I'm not going to do any more horror movies, obviously," Merriman said of his role choices. "But I'm an intense person. I really like intense stuff. I think it's a lot of fun. It challenges you."

Merriman said he has two films he's attached to. "Harder They Fall" is a rugby movie that will be shot in Wales. The other, "The Hard Ride," is in preproduction. Merriman said it's a Western about Wild Bill Hickok that will also feature Wes Studi ("Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee"), another Oklahoma-born actor.

Merriman said the movies do not have a start date.

The actor said he'd like to tackle a love story next.

"I'm OK with that, but it's all got to go through the wife," he said. "We've got to scan through the script and make sure it's nothing too graphic."

Of his career, Merriman said, "It's just kind of been an awesome downhill snowball effect. The more you do, you know, the more you book, and the more you book, the bigger your resume gets, which leads to more work."

He said he's now been through the young child stage and teenager stage and is starting to enjoy the leading young man roles.

Even with all his work, however, Merriman has always been able to stay in Oklahoma.
He grew up in Choctaw on 13 acres, and his parents and most of his friends still live there. He lives in Midwest City with his wife and four rottweilers, but he said he loved growing up in a small town.

"I think people who grow up in cities don't benefit in life," he said. "You learn how to change a tire or your oil or mow or whatever. And in acting, the more life experience you have, I kind of say, the more you can relate to anything.

"I think you just enjoy life here. I'll be in L.A. three months, and all of a sudden I'm like, 'I got to get out of here. I'm going to kill somebody. It's concrete everywhere.' I mean, the beach is great, but you can't live down there 'cause it's whatever, $4,000 a month, for an apartment."

Although Merriman is considering a move, he's still working to promote his home state.
He's promoting the film "There Goes the Groom," written by Oklahoman Paul Tompkins. Merriman said the film will be shot in Oklahoma and funded by Oklahomans, but he doesn't have a start date for the project.

"We're really trying to promote working in Oklahoma," he said. "I mean, that would be great if I could just wake up and drive to the set."

He's also very involved with the Oklahoma City-based nonprofit Infant Crisis Services. He'll play in the organization's charity golf tournament Sept. 17.

"I think it's an important charity," he said. "It helps people who need diapers and clothes for their babies and just daily items that help you get through the week. I've been there a couple times in person to the actual place where they do it at, and it's a great facility, and it's so cute, all the little kids running around."

Even so, Merriman, who's been married three years, said he's not ready for children of his own.

"I got married young, so we're holding off on the kids. And, plus, we're both young," he said.

Merriman also supports Eagle Mount in Bozeman, Mont., an organization that uses horse therapy to help people who have lost limbs. He also helps Smile, a charity that helps children around the world who have cleft palates.

Be sure to read the original article


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