FAMILY MAN BEHIND THE ROLES
Mike Vogel is just like any other 36-year-old family man. He enjoys spending time with his three kids, being out in the country and has a strong work ethic. The only difference between him and the average American male is his extraordinary career in an industry directly in the public’s eye.
“People think that being famous is being some weird mythical creature” Vogel said. “But Brad Pitt still wakes up and still puts his pants on one leg at a time like the rest of us and he’s just a guy. They’re people, doing a job. Every single person on the set is just as important, and that’s what people lose sight of a lot of the time”. After coming home from a day of filming the third and, what would be the final, season of the CBS sci-fi drama Under The Dome, Vogel interrupts his interview when his son enters the room. “What are you doing buddy boy? How did you open that door?” He sounds delighted as his son stops him mid-sentence. Just like any other parent on the phone, he tells his youngest, Gabriel to “Go see Momma” until he’s done.
The first thing you can tell about Vogel is how in love he is with his family. His voice jumps to another level; it’s different to the one he uses to talk about work. It’s what he is most proud of and most in love with. “Still being married to my wife and having a wonderful, amazing, healthy marriage and three beautiful, wonderful kids in an industry where the divorce rate is astronomical and marriage survival is something that doesn’t exist. I think that for me more then anything, I’m proud that we’ve been able to weather the storms and that our marriage is our priority rather than what I do”.
Vogel married his wife, Courtney, a former model; in 2003 they have three children. Their oldest daughter Cassy, age 8, is just beginning to grasp what her father does for a living. “She’s used to seeing people come up to me and talk to me about the show. We were at Olive Garden, ironically”. Vogel laughs, reminiscing about one of his first jobs years ago as a server at his still favorite restaurant.
“The waiter came up to take our order, and I turned to him and hear my oldest daughter pipe up”. Vogel’s voice changes to mimic his daughter’s. “Yes he’s on Under The Dome, and yes he plays Barbie…”, I turned to her, after being incredibly embarrassed, I explained, “Honey, not everyone cares about what Daddy does and we don’t broadcast that. He was simply trying to take our order”.
Vogel has worked with the likes of Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Costner in Rumor Has It, he portrayed Andy in Michael Bay’s reimagining of the classic Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and played Deputy Zack Shelby in A&E’s Bates Motel. His long resume includes such renowned titles like The Help, which Vogel only signed onto because his wife insisted. “You don’t always know what roles are going to be successful. I ended up doing (The Help) because my wife read the book and said, “You don’t have a choice. You’re going to do it”. I had no idea it was going to be the success it would be because you never know what’s going to turn out good or bad”.
On A&E’s Bates Motel, a series initially only slated for seven episodes, the climax at the end of the season was intended to be that Deputy Shelby was killed. “A&E loved the show so much while watching it film, they said, “We need three more episodes”. This was disappointing news to Vogel, whose character’s death had already been written in as the climax of the show. “(I thought) “Man this is fantastic, I don’t want to go, I don’t want to die now”, but I’d already signed on and already kind of knew my fate”. Vogel gushed over his colleges on Bates, even saying he and Max Thieriot, who plays Norma’s estranged son, Dylan, still keep in touch today.
“It was an accident in casting that we kind of looked similar to one another” Vogel explained. “The fact that he’s the son that she doesn’t have a great relationship with – wishes she did, but doesn’t – and yet here she is romantically involved with a guy who kind of resembles that son. It was kind of a weird twisted bonus that I don’t think they realized until after the fact”.
On Under The Dome Vogel portrayed Dale ‘Barbie’ Barbara, a former U.S. Special Forces Operative. “I’m working on a guy who’s close to my heart and I know very well” Vogel said of Barbie. “I did this show having a lot of friends and family in the military and wanted to do this guy justice”. A pilot himself, Vogel says the air force academy was a dream that has never died for him. He thrived on the high action involved in Barbie’s character and did most of his own stunts.
Under The Dome was based on the novel written by famed horror author Stephen King who Vogel said was quite involved with the show. “It was a gift and an honor to work with him… The scary thing about Stephen King is just how normal he is”. Vogel accredits his successes to his Christian faith. While he has done a few movies in the Christian field such as, Heaven’s Rain, he does not make it his priority to be in only God-centered films. Vogel has played some dark characters in his time, for instance Deputy Shelby, who was dating Norma Bates in Bates Motel, was later found out to be kidnapping Asian women for the sex trade. “Well as you do, everyone does (has women kidnapped in their basement)” Vogel joked. Many Christians, like Vogel, grew up in a church that condemns Hollywood but Vogel stands by his decision to work mostly in secular films.
“God said, “Go ye into all the world”. He didn’t say, “Go ye into all the world except Hollywood”. For the longest time we taught that to our kids and there’s no real use for it. God made people artists, real life has edges, real life has twists and if we don’t show that then we’re not really portraying what real life is like”. Although his career is an extraordinary one full of people watching, Vogel makes it known that acting is like any other job, and it allows him to put food on his table for his family. He knows the value of a strong work ethic, which he learned from his father, with whom he worked a plumbing job in Philadelphia. So what helped this rough and tough cowboy from Philadelphia get his boot into the entertainment world? “Ahhhh” Vogel thinks before laughing out. “A bad relationship”.
An old girlfriend wanted to get into the world of modeling – an industry that would years later help Vogel meet his future wife, Courtney. “She took pity on me” Vogel said of their meeting at a party where his friend’s introduced them and he promptly turned his back on her, “I was certainly not skilled in talking to women and would get very nervous when anything was on the line”.
Due to his job, Vogel is away from his family home in Nashville, Tennessee often, something that has plagued Hollywood marriages, “We have a two-week rule, at two-weeks wherever I am in the world one of us gets on a plane to visit, you know, we don’t stay apart for that long”.
Under The Dome’s series finale airs tomorrow evening on CBS, Vogel will also be starring in Syfy channel’s mini series Childhood’s End based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke in December. In the meantime, Mike Vogel is residing with his happy family in his home in Nashville, Tennessee, just a country boy putting his pants on every morning the same as you and me, one leg at a time.