A longstanding fondness for gangster movies and a knack for doing sharp impressions of celebrities landed a Saugerties master barber his first acting gig this month.
Derek Henriksen, 23, made his-small screen debut on Feb. 1, appearing as a murderer nabbed by detectives after a tip-off from a psychic on CBS’ cop drama Blue Bloods.
“I would rather play the bad guy, I think, It’s a little more interesting, you have a lot more colors to the character,” said Henriksen, whose day job is at Union Shave on Partition Street. “You can be a good bad guy or a real bad guy. I think I have the image of being more of a bad guy than a Clark Kent, but I’d do both. I’m sure that people would pick Goodfellas over Superman any day of the week.”
Henriksen dropped out of Saugerties High in 10th grade before getting a GED and returning to play football. He said that his sister’s fatal overdose in 2014, “showed me that life was short,” and drove him to pursue his acting aspirations.
“I was on a bad path for a little bit, and once this happened it was really a punch in the face,” he said.
Henriksen said he realized he was meant to act after perfecting a wide array of celebrity impersonations, echoing distinctive actors like Jim Carrey and Robert De Niro — “I always thought, ‘I could do that s–t.’” He started taking acting classes to that end at Herbert Berghoff Studios in Manhattan two years ago, landing himself an audience with Vincent Pastore, known for his role on The Sopranos as mobster Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero.
“I really like the mobster-style stuff and I thought we’d really connect. We did, and he’s definitely introduced me to a lot of people,” said Henriksen. “It’s all about networking and connecting with certain people that you’re going to know. Once the door’s open, you have to push like crazy.”
Before this big break, Henriksen had only appeared in a locally-aired commercial for Puroclean disaster specialists, playing a restaurant owner that could be mistaken for a mafioso. Pastore ultimately got Henriksen an audition for the CBS bit role — Henriksen said he “won them over with [his] Christopher Walken impression.”
“It was pretty surreal,” said Henriksen of working alongside actor Donnie Wahlberg in Blue Bloods. “I do a voice impression of his brother — I was going to do it, but I don’t know, they were all serious and everything.”
Although the barber/actor was onscreen for only a few minutes, he said filming took two days, with one 10-hour session and another lasting three hours. Although the scene involved a careening car chase, the fishtailing was left to stunt men. A car was destroyed in the process of the shoot — Henriksen said a half-hour of his time in front of the camera was spent playing dead with a locket in his outstretched hand, slumped over the steering wheel and surrounded by fake shattered glass.
“Derek has a very bright future, he’s very talented early on in his career, and as long as he keeps a level head throughout, I don’t see why he won’t be a household name in the coming years,” said Xavier Scott, another barber on the Union Shave team.
The 45-minute long episode, “Ripple Effect,” can be viewed for free at www.cbs.com/blue-bloods