Perham police officer brings Hollywood home by playing cop in movies
PERHAM, Minn. - When the vigilante action movie “Hollow Point” hits theaters across the country later this spring, residents of the Detroit Lakes, Perham and White Earth area may notice that one of the faces on screen, or names in the credits, looks a little familiar.
Actor Bryan Byrne moved to Minnesota from Arizona with his wife, Taylor (who grew up in Detroit Lakes) in June 2016. For the first six months or so, they lived on West Lake Drive in Detroit Lakes, before purchasing a home on Big Pine Lake near Perham, where they now reside with their two “fur babies,” a pair of dogs named Luna and Emi (Byrne also has two grown children, Katelyn and Jacob, from a previous relationship).
During the past three years, Byrne has been employed by both the White Earth and Perham police departments, and recently became a full-time officer with the latter. In his spare time, he’s been busy remodeling his house, and also works out regularly at Anytime Fitness in Detroit Lakes as well as the Perham Area Community Center (PACC).
“I’m also on the board of directors at the PACC,” he says.
So how and when did Byrne find himself taking a supporting role in a major motion picture? The story behind that actually begins back in Arizona, where he spent 16 years as a deputy sheriff with Maricopa County, serving in various roles including bomb technician, SWAT operator, detective and trainer.
“I was fortunate enough to be in a couple of law enforcement-related TV shows while I was there: ‘Cops and Coyotes’ on the Discovery Channel, and ‘SWAT USA’,” Byrne says. “I was also on ‘Inside Edition’.”
It was also there that he met actor Steven Seagal, who became an honorary deputy with the Maricopa County department to film the third season of his reality TV series, “Steven Seagal: Lawman.”
At their first meeting, Byrne had said he was going to punch Seagal in the face (a running joke in the department at the time).
“He looked at me and said, ‘That wouldn’t be advisable,’” Byrne recalled with a laugh. “I said, ‘No, but it would be funny as hell.’”
They both started to laugh, and thus, a friendship was formed that continues to this day.
In 2015, Byrne left the sheriff’s department to become Seagal’s personal assistant, a position he said really didn’t involve paperwork, setting up schedules or the other type of work associated with the job title.
“I was his security and paid best friend,” Byrne said. “He would never say ‘bodyguards,’ he would say, ‘These are my friends.’”
On three different occasions, when Byrne accompanied Seagal to his work on a movie set, the people in charge were so impressed with his look and demeanor — in Romania, China and Thailand, where the movies were filmed, “They didn’t see too many guys who were 6 foot 5, 280 pounds, white and bald,” he joked — that they hired him to be in the movies “Cartels,” “The Asian Connection” and “China Salesman” (where he also worked with Mike Tyson), all without ever taking a single screen test.
He also did some work with fight coordinating, and showing the actors how to move, shoot, and act like a SWAT officer — the latter led to him getting his first speaking role, as an assistant SWAT leader in the movie “Cartels.” Because of his unique look and size, Byrne says, he also ended up doing most of his own stunt work.
“I learned a lot,” he says.
Even though he left Seagal’s employ in 2016 to move to Minnesota, and returned to his former career in law enforcement, Byrne says that he and Seagal have remained good friends, and still speak on the phone regularly.
“He’ll call me up sometimes just to see how I’m doing,” Byrne says.
He also has Seagal on his list of professional references, which has occasionally met with skepticism from some of his employers. Byrne recalled an incident where the prospective employer didn’t believe him — until they called the number listed and found themselves speaking with Seagal himself.
“They got a little tongue tied,” Byrne recalled.
One of the directors he worked with, Daniel Zirilli, also remembered Byrne from his work on “Asian Connection” when they were casting “Hollow Point.”
“I got a call (from Zirilli) in August of 2017,” Byrne said. “He had this part for me, a small cameo, and wanted to know if I was interested.”
Byrne flew to Los Angeles shortly thereafter.
“When I showed up on set, Luke Goss, one of the leads, remembered me from ‘Cartels’ and asked if he could have a fight scene with me,” he said. “I was amazed that he remembered me… it wasn’t part of the script, but then another of the leads, Michael Pare, asked for a fight scene with me too. It ended up being a much bigger part because of that.”
Byrne added that he spent quite a bit of time hanging out with the actors, on and off set.
“They were amazed I was a full-time police officer,” he said. “I think they were more interested in what I did for a living than I was in what they did.”
Byrne also recalled a moment when he told Goss about his partner with the White Earth Police Department, being a fan of his work.
“He (Goss) grabbed my cell phone and recorded a video message for him (Byrne’s partner),” he said. “He’s a real personable, nice guy.”
In fact, Byrne has nothing but nice things to say about all of his co-stars on “Hollow Point.”
“They’re all really nice guys,” he said. “It was fun, and I learned a lot.”
One of the things he learned, Byrne added, is that “it’s a lot harder to ‘fake fight’ than fight for real… getting the right shot can sometimes take hours.”
Though he hinted that he was “just one phone call away” from possibly being cast in his next movie, Byrne also added that if he never gets the chance to do another one, he’ll be content with the opportunities he’s had.
“If I don’t ever do another movie, I’m happy,” Byrne said. “I got to eat breakfast with Mike Tyson, and I got to fight him. I told him I wanted him to really punch me, so he did. I took a punch in my ribs from Mike Tyson — and it hurt. But it was pretty cool to be able to say that.
“I got to travel around the world, and see all these different places,” he added. “I got to hang out with Steven (Seagal), and hear all his stories. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Though the weather in Minnesota is very different from Arizona, or southern Georgia, where he grew up, Byrne says he enjoys it.
“I like the snow, I like all of it,” he says. “When we were planning to relocate from Arizona, we were looking at Georgia, or Minnesota, and I picked here. She (Taylor) was pretty excited. Her family is all here… they’re the nicest group of people I ever met. They just took me in.”