From Home to ‘Homeland’ Hrach Titizian Stays True to His Roots

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By Gabriella Gage

Mirror-Spectator Staff

LOS ANGELES — What do “Homeland,” “24,” “Mad Men,” all have in common? Each has won a Golden Globe for Best Drama Series and each has featured actor Hrach Titizian.

In addition to appearing in some of the most popular television series of the past decade, Titizian has appeared on Broadway and several films such as “Float” and “The Men Who Stare at Goats.” Titizian takes his new-found popularity in stride and instead dedicates himself to his work.

Raised in Glendale’s thriving Armenian community, Titizian says that his Armenian heritage helped shape him as an individual. “My parents are both full-blooded Armenian. My father was born in Lebanon and my mother in Jordan. Although I was born and raised in the States, I went to Armenian school all the way up to high school. I’m so glad they did that for me. I speak, read and write fluently in Armenian and that’s a blessing. I hope to do the same for my children.”

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Titizian first fell in love with acting in college. “I didn’t get involved in acting until my second year of college… I was 20. I wish I had gotten started much younger, but I guess everything happens for a reason.”

After taking a college acting class, Titizian decided to make a go of it. “I did background work for a TV show and watched the actors and told myself ‘I can do that.’ So that was it. I dropped out of college and took professional acting classes, got my first set of headshots and hustled to get an agent. I can’t believe it has already been 13 years.”

Titizian has played the role of CIA agent Danny Galvez for the past two seasons of the hit Showtime drama, “Homeland,” which chronicles a US-marine-turned-terrorist and features an all-star cast including Claire Danes, Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin. How did Tatizian land the role? “The casting process for ‘Homeland’ was interesting. I was in New York finishing up the last two weeks of a play on Broadway and I got a call to audition for ‘Homeland.’ It was just a pilot that had gotten picked up for series, so nobody had heard of it, let alone watched it,” said Tatizian.

Timing and a positive attitude always help. “I didn’t get it. But the people liked me and I had worked with them before on ‘24’ […] so there was this role they were having trouble casting. The character was Hispanic, but they wanted me to do it, so they changed it and made him half Lebanese and half Hispanic. I still had to audition for it, because I had to get approved by the network.”

With one phone call, Titizian was on the next flight to North Carolina to start filming. “I’m glad it worked out the way it did because the role I initially auditioned for was much smaller. You never know how things work out in this business. And no one including myself expected the show to be as big of a hit as it turned out to be. You just can’t tell those things until they start airing. And it was a hit right out of the gates and got bigger and bigger each week. It’s very cool to be a part of it.”

After a successful finish to season two and various awards, fans will have to wait to see more from Agent Galvez. “As for season three, I don’t even know if I’ll be back or not, so I don’t have the slightest clue what’s in store for the show or for Danny Galvez. But the writers are very smart and I trust whatever they do will be great,” said Titizian.

Titizian has appeared in numerous television series and films, but says his favorite role actually was in a play. “Playing the ghost of Uday Hussein would top the list,” said Tatizian. He is referring to his 2011 stint on Broadway in “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo,” starring Robin Williams. According to Titizian, his character “was sadistic, evil, funny, charming, juicy and believe it or not, likable. …  At least the way I played it. I would be very pleasantly surprised to get a role like that on TV.”

Acclimating to the grueling scheduling and repetition of theater is no easy task. “It’s very challenging for me, but the payoff is not like any other,” he said. “[The] feeling you get when you’re performing in front of so many people is incomparable.”

“Being on Broadway is probably every performer’s dream, especially working with Robin Williams, [who is] someone I always admired growing up.”

Titizian looks forward to future stints on Broadway. “As for returning, yes, I would love to do that sometime in the future, when I’m ready again,” he said.

In a business that often rewards style over substance, one thing that makes Titizian stand out is his grounding in tradition. “I feel it’s very important to recognize your heritage and your ancestry and keep the culture alive. I’m very proud to be Armenian and although every agent and manager I met told me to change my name, I could never get myself to do it,” he said. “If it takes longer for people to see me a certain way, consider me for certain roles or get in certain doors, so be it. At least I can go to bed every night with my dignity.”

It seems that Titizian’s hard work and positive attitude has paid off. Titizian was honored as this year’s ARPA international breakthrough performer of the year in Los Angeles. “It’s always a good feeling to be honored for anything. The ARPA award was special because I had a film in that festival a few years back and the people involved are really great. That night was loads of fun and I’m fortunate to have been a recipient. Being recognized in that way gives you some sense of ‘I guess I’m doing something right.’”

In the midst of his success, Titizian is also making time for his personal life. “Well, I’m getting married in April, so the wedding planning is definitely taking some work.” In between wedding planning and auditioning, he will be producing a film that shoots in March and also teaching classes on Tuesday nights. “Otherwise, my main focus is acting and auditions are back to normal now that the holidays are over, so hopefully the next gig is not too far away,” he said.

“That’s the scary thing about this business, but also the beautiful thing about this business. You’ll get a call today and you’re on a flight tomorrow. So you just have to stay sane and trust that the work will come,” he said.

 

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