Talk about an audition: Trying out for the role of a disturbed drug addict in Joel Schumacher’s gritty new drama, Twelve, Billy Magnussen got into character. Way into character.
At the audition, Magnussen licked the casting director’s face. “I went in as the character,” he says. “I take acting pretty seriously!”
Besides Magnussen, 25, who also appears on As The World Turns, Twelve also stars Chace Crawford, 50 Cent, Emma Roberts and Rory Culkin – and, right before its Friday opening, PEOPLE got to know something about the movie’s resident bad guy.
1. He Makes Quite a First Impression
Clearly, the casting director would agree. “Licking the casting director was not out of character,” Magnussen explains with a laugh. And when asked about his band, Joy State, the actor-rocker took it upon himself to serenade this reporter with a quick original song on his guitar. “I wrote that for you,” he quips.
2. He Got Ripped for the Role
To play the bulked-up drug dealer Claude, Magnussen honed his workouts. “It was cool – I got guns!” he says. “You feel confident when you work out. There’s no free ride, no secret. I worked out a lot. I wish I still did.” He may not be packing on the muscle anymore, but the actor does still keep in shape with lots of bike riding (he’s currently in Southern California, filming NCIS: Los Angeles) and rock climbing.
3. But His Parents Would Have Kicked His Butt
Growing up in Woodhaven, N.Y., Magnussen had unusually fit parents. “My mom was an aerobics instructor – she wore spandex and sweat bands and stuff,” he says. “It was awesome.” Equally so? “My dad was a professional kickboxer and bodybuilder. I have this picture of him after winning a kickboxing match in 1980. It’s ridiculous.”
4. He Nearly Missed the Acting Boat
Like his parents, Magnussen was a pretty physical guy, wrestling in high school until he ripped his hamstring. Then, “they put me in drama class because I couldn’t take gym class,” he says. “And I found out it was awesome! I went to college for it and I was like, this is brilliant.”
5. Giving It Up for the Soap Fans
“I cannot explain the joy they bring to me when I see them,” the actor says of his soap followers. “They’re the most loyal fans in the world, and they support me in everything I’ve ever done.” Hopefully, that includes one other little known endeavor. In the future, he says, “I want to become a skydiving instructor.”