Portland actor Matthew Delamater is proof that sometimes it’s better to be a little scruffy than cleanshaven.

Delamater, 34, says he auditioned for a bit role for the new NBC drama “American Odyssey” mainly because he heard the producers might be looking for people with long hair and beards.

His flowing locks and unshaven face helped get him cast as an unnamed protester in the pilot episode, and that developed into the larger role of an activist with a first name, Russell. Delamater doesn’t know exactly how much screen time he’ll get when the series premieres April 5 at 10 p.m., but he’s hoping the small role may lead to bigger things.

With or without the beard.

“You never know when you’re going to get your next opportunity so I just worked my tail off on every scene and tried to listen and give them everything I could,” said Delamater, whose day job is working with his wife in her wedding photography business. “I feel super lucky to be a part of the show in any capacity and hope I added value.”

“American Odyssey” is an ensemble drama focusing on three strangers caught up in different phases of an international consipiracy that involves exotic locations, the military and terrorist groups.

The series stars Anna Friel (“Pushing Daisies”), Peter Facinelli (“Nurse Jackie”) and Jake Robinson (“The Carrie Diaries”). The show’s production team includes people who helped produce the TV drama “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Delamater said he spent about four days filming his role for the pilot episode last March in Boston. After NBC approved the series, Delamater was called back for new scenes.

The story involves the killing of a terrorist commander by American soldiers, as well as a corporation funding terrorists. Robinson, one of the stars, plays an activist, and his character is involved with the same story line as Delamater’s character.

Delamater grew up in the western Maine town of Oxford and studied finance and English at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish. He didn’t start acting until he was 24, in an Oxford-area production of “The Music Man.” The whole process of putting on a show got him “hooked” on acting, Delamater said.

Since then he’s been auditioning and acting as much as possible, mostly on stages in New England. Besides landing the role in “American Odyssey,” Delamater also has a small part in a film by Portland-based filmmakers Desi Van Til and Sean Mewshaw called “Tumbledown.” The film is a comedic love story set in Farmington but filmed in central Massachusetts.

Delamater says he doesn’t know if he will be involved in future seasons of “American Odyssey,” if there are any, but for now he’s happy to have had the experience.

“I would love to think that in future seasons I may have more opportunities, but to be honest I’m just super pumped to have been on the train on the first place,” Delamater said.


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