Classic Cover of the Month: November 1996

Classic Cover of the Month: November 1996

Brian Austin Green on hip-pop and the horizontal bop

The approach to Brian Austin Green’s Spanish-style house in North Hollywood is a steep incline. At the end of the drive hangs a well-used basketball hoop resting like a shrine above the garage door. As I pull in, he greets me with a warm, infectious smile and invites me inside, where I’m treated to an enthusiastic welcome from his two dogs, Alik, an imposing but docile Rottweiler, and Bailey, a rambunctious one-year-old Golden Retriever.

This serene domestic setting reflects Brian’s early successes. His career has been going nonstop since he was 10, starting with a four-year stint as Brian Cunningham on Knots Landing, then as David Silver on the groundbreaking nighttime soap Beverly Hills, 90210, which after a healthy six-year run is in its final season.

Before the acting bug bit Brian, his father’s successful career as a professional drummer helped him discover his love of music. Country was his dad’s specialty, but it was far from this city boy’s taste. Says Brian, “I’ve always loved rap music, and having grown up in L.A., I was exposed to many different hip-hop flavors. Groups like the Pharcyde had a very big impact on me. They’re original, diverse, hardcore and poetically on point. That’s how I hear my music, too.” With his new CD One Stop Carnival and its hit song “You Send Me,” he is well on his way to yet another career path.

After a brief tour of Brian’s home, we settle in the living room to chat, while Alik and Bailey do their best to capture our attention with their amusing antics.

PLAYGIRL: How did you get started in this crazy business?

I was going to a performing arts school and was in jazz class and the band, playing music and the drums. A lot of student directors used to pick other students to be in their graduate films, so I ended up doing a couple of them just for fun. Eventually, I got an agent through a friend and I did some commercials; then I got Knots Landing…. Alik, stop that! (Alik drops a large rubber toy from the upper floor, which lands inches from our heads.)

What did you do after that?

I did some commercials and a couple of B movies, then a few pilots that didn’t go anywhere. Eventually I did the pilot for Beverly Hills, 90210. The rest is history.

Were you excited about getting 90210?

No, because I had done three pilots before and knew its chances of becoming a series were slim. It didn’t seem like anything that could possibly happen—that all of a sudden I’d be a real working actor on a series with a regular role.

Aaron Spelling sure seems to have the magic touch when it comes to endurance.

He does, although you never know. I’m sure people thought the same way when Charlie’s Angels, The Love Boat and The Mod Squad were at their peak, then he kind of got quiet again.

He certainly did make his impact on the ’70s. Are you into any of the retro trends now?

No, hip-hop is pretty much my lifestyle.

How did you get involved with it?

It’s just what I’ve always been into. When I was in school I listened to a lot of James Brown. He had such a huge influence on the whole music industry. He was one of the first artists who found four bars that he liked and played them the entire way through, and then he just added to it vocally. That was a big influence for hip-hop—there didn’t have to be a certain format. It was really whatever you came up with.

Didn’t you grow up listening to your father’s country music?

(Smiles) No, I didn’t listen to it unless I was in my room and it was playing so loudly that I could hear it, or when I went to shows that he was doing. I’ve never owned a country album. It’s one of the few areas of music that I just can’t stomach. It just doesn’t fit.

But your father’s involvement in the music industry exposed you enough to intrigue you, right?

Oh, yeah. My goal was to play drums, but my father made me take piano lessons. He told me I needed to learn to read music first, so I took lessons for six years. I thank God that he made me take those lessons, because it taught me a tremendous amount.

When you were in high school, were you anything like David Silver?

No. I never ran with a clique, I mingled with everybody. I was great friends with five guys from five different sections of the school, so I had to be in the back corner one day and over by the tree the next day. Everybody picked their little spot, and that’s where they hung out.

Was the school racially mixed?

Very. I grew up going to mixed schools. In North Hollywood, where I was born and raised, it wasn’t a real mixed area, but I never went to school there. I’m glad that I didn’t grow up confused and ignorant to the whole situation. It was totally normal for all of us to be there.

You’ve been working non-stop for so long now. Do you ever just do nothing?

I can’t just sit around and do nothing. Although, I can sit on the couch sometimes and just watch movies.

What kind of movies do you like?

Everything. I’ve seen Braveheart 15 times now. It’s an incredible film.

Are you into watching all the bloody battle scenes?

No, not really. Yes, it was bloody, but the way Mel (Gibson) brought you into the story was so natural. It’s not like a Friday the 13th movie where some guy just runs through houses killing people just to kill people. It was about the price people have paid throughout time to win their freedom.

Maybe you were a Scotsman in a past life?

(Laughs) Who knows? I didn’t watch it and go, Wow, I recognize this location. I am part Scottish, but I’ve got a whole bunch of shit mixed in. I’m like A-1 sauce. I’m a little Scottish, quarter Italian, Cherokee Indian, Hungarian, Irish, (pauses) I think that’s it. Yeah, that’s it.

How did you get the scar on your cheek?

I’ll give you the macho story first. I was mountain climbing and stumbled across a pack of wild cheetahs and fought them off bare-handed. One of them got a slice in before I broke his neck with one swift move.

All with one arm, right?

Of course, because I was drinking some water and soaking my feet at the same time. I was tired from a long day of climbing. (laughs) My real story is when I was three years old I was messing with my grandparents’ dog in Las Vegas, and he decided to pick me up by my head and run around the backyard with me. That’s where it’s really from.

Did he grab you from the back of the head?

I can’t even recall, I just remember the view—everything was just passing by sideways, (laughs)

I’d say that’s pretty macho. So, you grew up in North Hollywood?

Born and raised. And my parents are still in the same house. (Bailey nudges her head into my lap.) Yeah, she’s the resident people tester. She’s checking you out. (laughs)

How old were you when you had your first girlfriend?

I went through a whole bunch of girlfriends, but none of them in the sense of wanting to stay with that one person. I was never really big on that concept until my last girlfriend. She was the first big, big deal I’ve been through.

Was this Tiffani-Amber Thiessen?


When did you break up?

Last September. We lived together for a year and dated for a little over three years, and we had been friends for almost six years before that. Living together was the easiest part of the relationship. We would have been great roommates even if we weren’t dating…

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