Stephen Dorff's younger brother Andrew died in 2016 of unknown causes

By Christina Dugan
January 02, 2020 04:00 PM
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Credit: Gregg DeGuire/Getty

With an unforgettable turn in HBO’s True Detective last year and the lead in Fox’s new drama Deputy, it’s hard to believe Stephen Dorff nearly gave up acting only a few years ago.

“Two years ago, I was pretty much going to stop acting because I was just bored and not liking the parts I was getting,” Dorff, 46, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “I lost my little brother and I was pretty much done.”

In December 2016, Dorff’s younger brother Andrew died of unknown causes, which affected the actor’s outlook in unexpected ways.

“I still miss him every day and I don’t understand why certain things happen but life is hard,” Dorff says. “I was very lucky growing up, I had an amazing family. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been punched in the gut a few times after losing a few members of my family. If anything, we grow and learn. I put it into my work.”

Andrew and Stephen Dorff
| Credit: Sylvain Gaboury/FilmMagic

Things began turning around for Dorff when he was cast opposite Mahershala Ali in the third season of HBO’s True Detective.

“That changed everything because I went from not wanting to do anything to having a lot of options and a lot of interesting opportunities come my way,” he says. “It was exactly what I needed.”

Dorff explains: “I needed to create and be with people and get that dream role. It was where I needed my head to focus in on. It was such a rich character. That really got me pumped again in a creative place and I was able to have a new focus. Now, I’m in the best place I’ve ever been.”

Now, the Los Angeles native is starring in Fox’s Deputy as interim sheriff Bill Hollister and could not feel more grateful for the opportunity.

Stephen Dorff as Bill Hollister in Fox’s Deputy
| Credit: FOX

“I’ve always had this weird career where I’ve had these big moments and internally I’ve always gone the opposite way,” he says reflecting on his 30-year career. “In a way, I’ve made it a little more difficult to have one steady run.”

“Every crazy thing I’ve done, every smart thing I’ve done, I’ve learned from,” he adds. “As long as I’m happy doing what I’m doing, I’ll do it. I don’t want to act just to act. I want to act when I can score and make people feel good. That’s the part I love. If it becomes redundant or boring, that’s when I’ll do something else creative… I’m happy that, if I go tomorrow, I’d have a pretty big list of things I’ve gotten to do that have made me proud.”

Deputy premieres Jan. 2 at 9 p.m. (ET) on Fox.