Hal Sparks: Meet One of Entertainment's Most Dynamic Personalities
March 18th, 2013 11:40am EDT
Hal Sparks may be one of the most versatile personalities in the entertainment industry. He’s an actor who currently stars in the Disney XD series Lab Rats, a successful stand-up comedian and the front man for the band Zero 1 – and on top of all that, he’s an outspoken guy who’s actively working to leave an impact off-stage, too. BFTV recently caught up with the multitalented Hal during a break in shooting the second season of Lab Rats to shine some light on an underappreciated star.
With such a diverse resume, it’s hard to pick where to start when discussing the Kentucky native, even if you ask Hal himself. The coolest thing about him is “Probably the volume of things I get to do,” he said. “I’m constantly barraged by voices of ‘You can’t do more than one thing and if you can, you’re not going to do them well.’ And I’ve been able to have success in all these areas with nary a ruffle.”
He’s best known as a television personality, with his breakout role coming when he played Michael Novotny in Showtime’s American adaptation of Queer as Folk from 2000-2005, a part he’s still most associated with today. Yet he’s far from a one-character actor. Comedy fans likely remember him as Zoltan in 2000′s Dude, Where’s My Car? and he’s been seen in guest spots on NBC’s Las Vegas and CBS’s CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. More recently, he’s been a fixture in more family-friendly fare, voicing the title character in Nickelodeon’s animated series Tak and the Power of Juju and now as genius scientist Donald Davenport in Disney XD’s action-comedy Lab Rats (which also stars Kelli Berglund).
“These days I’m picking things that are closer in line with what kind of characters I would like to be playing,” said Hal, who explained that when selecting a next project, “Whether the show lasts is sort of immaterial, it’s about whether it’s worthwhile. This show Lab Rats is fun and it’s sci-fi, and we’re a mixed-race family. That’s a really great part of the show.”
Which other line on his acting resume would he recommend to people who want to see more of him? “You can certainly see quite a lot of me on Queer as Folk,” he quipped. “Lab Rats has new episodes every week which is terrific, and certainly more comedy in it. The nice thing is, you don’t have to pick one. Google me and pick something up. I’m completely confident in anything I’ve done.” The confidence is justified: this is the man who made an cameo as “Elevator Passenger” in Spider-Man 3 memorable.
Hal is also the lead singer and guitarist of the band Zero 1, which is in the process of recording their next album (following the release of their self-titled first record in 2006) and dropped their new single "American Psycho" in February. He put his skills as a vocalist and musician on display that same year when he participated in FOX’s Celebrity Duets, holding his own on stage with musical legends including Dennis DeYoung, Gladys Knight, Dee Snider and Smokey Robinson on the way to a third-place finish. Here’s a compilation of his performances with DeYoung on the series (courtesy YouTube).
The third talent in his considerable arsenal is stand-up comedy; Hal has released two stand-up specials on DVD, Escape From Halcatraz and Charmageddon, the latter of which was televised on Showtime. He was also featured on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend in 2002. Together with John Fugelsang and Stephanie Miller, he has performed at venues across the country as part of the “Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour.” The tour’s next stop is April 13 in Chicago; you can find more details here.
Hal was named No. 5 on our list of remarkable comedians last year. Here’s a sample of Hal’s stand-up talent from Charmageddon:
And if that still isn’t enough to convince you he’s ridiculously capable, Hal even tried his hand at magic in VH1′s 2008 reality show Celebracadabra, proving himself adept enough that he came in second. He also holds belts in multiple martial arts.
So he’s an actor, musician, stand-up comic, knows his share of magic tricks, is a martial artist, and let’s not forget all those appearances on the I Love The… shows. And these aren’t things he just dabbles in; they’re ventures he pursues with the same level of commitment no matter what he’s working on. How can he possibly balance such a varied portfolio? “I have an assistant and my manager refers to my schedule as Jenga, because it’s so hard to shoehorn everything in,” Hal said with a laugh. “It takes work, it really, really does. The important thing is whatever you’re doing, you do it presently. and that’s the hardest thing. I do multitask, but I don’t multitask at the same time. When I’m working on music, I’m working on music, and when I’m acting, that’s all I do. I only do the job that’s right in front of me.”
That leads to what might be the most impressive thing about Hal Sparks: who he is as an individual. He is as active in his personal life as he is in his professional one, an activist who talks honestly, frankly and most importantly fairly about any number of issues, and supports a variety of causes including The Humane Society, Wildhorse Ranch Rescue, the Marijuana Policy Project, the Lili Claire Foundation, AIDS Walk, and AIDS Project Los Angeles. Here’s a star who isn’t afraid to speak up, and even more notably, matches his words with actions.
He’s equally committed to his family, friends and fans. His Lab Rats costar Berglund spoke in our interview about learning from Hal, calling him “literally one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.” Then there’s the fan who met him in 2006 and was not only thankful for how much time he spent talking with her then, but was shocked that he remembered her when she attended one of his stand-up performances five years later.
Maybe a story like that isn’t quite as surprising, given that Hal makes a point of being hands-on with his supporters. “I do all my own social media, including building my own website, because I think that if you are going to interact with fans, it should be genuinely you,” he said. “For better or worse people, should really see a reflection of you and your art.”
Hal looks at his success differently than most celebrities might. “The success comes in multiple points. I don’t expect everything to work at the same time in any of those [career fields],” he explained. “I’m comfortable with the growth factor that happens in every aspect of your career. There’s artistic success. The financial success is the easiest to measure. I have no problem with commercial success.
“But the reality is how much of yourself you put into your art is the measure of success,” he continued. “Is it your work or a derivation of other people’s work? Everybody has been supported by the people in their environment, but the key is that you delivered everything you could.”
Considering everything he’s done, and done well, and done consistently – and the discipline, effort and passion doing all those things requires – there’s no doubt that Hal has given his best effort to both his career and his life. Most people would be excited to accomplish half of what he has. Yet he’s nowhere near done. “The world of performance is endless,” he reflected. And at the rate he’s going, there might not be anything Hal Sparks can’t do.
Lab Rats airs Mondays at 9 PM ET/PT on Disney XD. You can keep up with Hal by visiting his official website and following him on Twitter (@HalSparks).
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.
Photo Credits: Glenn Harris / PR Photos