Senior receiver Gunnar Carrigan explores acting career

Suzanne Blake, Editor-in-Chief

Underneath the Friday night lights, senior receiver Gunnar Carrigan is a football star. However, beyond his school activities, he performs under a different set of lights.

Gunnar played a reoccurring role on the Cinemax series “Banshee” as Solomon Bowman beginning in 2013, and last summer filmed a scene in Charleston, S.C. for the HBO series “Vice Principals.”

Gunnar’s experience on “Vice Principals” differed from “Banshee” with the range of the famous faces Gunnar was exposed to.

“I got to meet Danny McBride, which was pretty cool. He was a really funny guy, but it was just a cool experience to get to meet,” Gunnar said. “Because on ‘Banshee’, there wasn’t anyone I had really known previously before, and so it was different on ‘Vice Principals’ because I got to meet him, and so I was pretty in awe when I actually got to see a big TV star.”

The acting journey Gunnar embarked on has made significant strides from its beginning. Gunnar was just 12 when his mother, Bonita Carrigan, who acted previously, asked if Gunnar would like to accompany her to an audition.

“Gunnar has always been very athletic and involved in sports at a very young age, so I was excited for him to broaden his horizons on a creative level,” Bonita said. “The news came as no surprise because he has never been scared to take on opportunities and challenges that are new to him.”

This one audition led to countless others, and soon Gunnar found himself cast in local commercials and then on to a larger scale for Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the “Mermaid Treasure” movie trailer and then finally “Banshee” and “Vice Principals.”

Varsity football coach Reggie Lucas welcomed Gunnar’s endeavor in acting.

“I was excited because I knew he had an audition for the part,” Lucas said. “He is very humble about his acting, but I’m always telling him to dream big.”

However, dreaming big sometimes requires Gunnar to make sacrifices when it comes to school and his other passion, football.

“If I do get auditions, normally I’ll have to take off time from either school like I’ll have to leave a class to go audition, or I’ll have to miss football practice for one day,” Gunnar said. “It’s not easy, but it’s not as hard as some people think because auditions don’t come around every day.”

In auditions, it is necessary for Gunnar to display a wealth of skill, much of it beforehand, and this is exactly what he did for “Vice Principals,’ according to Bonita.

“It takes a lot of creativity, imagination and sometimes research to really figure out your character’s perspective because for the auditions you are given very little insight, if any,” Bonita said. “But Gunnar went with what he felt was true to his character and went into the talent agency to tape his audition.”

Another acting secret unknown to much of the general public, according to Gunnar, is the amount of time required to shoot one scene.

“In ‘Banshee’, I had this one scene where I was actually buried underground,” Gunnar said. “I was actually, literally underground, and I was in a little box because I was kidnapped in the show, and I was taped up around my hands and my ankles, and we shot that scene maybe 30 different times.”

Just as there are differences between the underground scenes Gunnar filmed in “Banshee” and his scene in a high school setting for “Vice Principals,” there are also variances between the reality of high school life and the one depicted on the new HBO show.

“Considering it’s a comedy, it’s not going to be that realistic, but there are some things in it that are pretty realistic like one of the scenes I was in. I was just in a classroom reading. So, of course, that’s realistic because you’ll be in English reading,” Gunnar said. “It’s more the kids’ lives that are portrayed in the show. They are more similar than the principal’s life of course.”

Although Gunnar’s life currently is focused on bringing WF to a victorious state championship and attaining as many roles as he can, Gunnar’s friend senior John O’Neill has one word for what Gunnar’s future will hold.

“Success,” O’Neill said. “He’s smart, so even if he doesn’t get anything from acting, his grades will definitely help him out with his future.”

Looking forward, Gunnar has one trait that will be carried with him from football to acting.

Lucas said, “Gunnar will surprise you with his athletic ability.  Looking at him you would think he is an average athlete, but he is not.  Gunnar will catch every pass thrown his way, and if you underestimate his speed he will run past you. Almost like his acting career.  Hollywood really doesn’t know how good he is yet.”

“Hollywood really doesn’t know how good he is yet.”

— Reggie Lucas