The college thing wasn’t quite working out for Christian Kane, so — armed with $300 and Hollywood dreams — he packed some belongings and drove away from Norman.
He made it to California, but the $300 didn’t.
Kane said he stopped in Laughlin, Nevada, on the way and “lost everything” playing poker.
End of story? Not even close.
Kane made enough of his own breaks to win the I-want-to-be-an-actor lottery, landing roles in TV series like “Angel” and “Leverage.” Now he stars in the TNT series “The Librarians,” which returns for a season two debut Nov. 1.
“I wasn’t going to fail, bro,” Kane said when asked about his beat-the-odds career.
“There were no ifs, ands or buts about it. I was going to do this job to the fullest. I left a lot of friends and I left a lot of stuff, but I was, like, this is it. I’ve got to give this 100 percent of my life. I don’t know if you know this, but my favorite quote is ‘90 percent of life is showing up.’ Woody Allen said that. And that’s it. You have to give everything or you don’t gain anything.”
Kane will “show up” as the celeb with local ties when he is among guests at the Wizard World Tulsa pop culture convention, scheduled Friday, Saturday and Oct. 25 at Cox Business Center. His parents settled in Tulsa, and he is very much an Oklahoman, never mind that he lived on both sides of the Red River as a kid.
“I could say I’m a Texan,” the Dallas-born Kane said. “But, if you notice, not in one interview, never have I said I’m a Texan. I’m always an Oklahoman.”
Wizard World stages convention tour stops all over the country. Kane enlisted for this one so he could see his family, hang out with buddies who are convention guests and meet fans (he has 136,000 Twitter followers) who offer him unconditional love. Kane’s fans call themselves “Kaniacs” and — details forthcoming — they buy him wolves.
How did a good old boy (and sometimes bad boy) from Oklahoma become famous enough to merit a nationwide posse?
Kane moved to Norman when he was in junior high. He said he got into a bit of trouble during his growing-up years.
“(Norman) wasn’t as big as it is now,” he said. “All the restaurants there used to be just a river bed and we would go out there and hang out. I’ll just put it this way. I grew up with a lot of tough kids and, in that sense, we all tried to show off just a little bit, maybe a little bit too much. But I don’t think I grew up with anybody who didn’t know how to throw a punch, so it was a rough little phase in the growing-up stage in all of our lives.”
Kane told the Tulsa World in 1999 that he got kicked out of art school at the University of Oklahoma. What the heck. Why not go to L.A.?
Over lunch, Kane told his dad that he was going to California. His father didn’t resist.
“This is a tough Texas oilman. This is somebody you don’t want to mess with. He ended up supporting me and I made my parents proud, man. ... They supported me the whole time, which was very strange, especially with my background.”
Thousands upon thousands of stars-in-their-eyes kids have headed off to Tinseltown, never to be heard from again. Scott Frank of hollywoodsapien.com estimated in 2012 that there are 108,640 actors in Los Angeles and the number of “working” actors was 21,728. He said SAG-AFTRA keeps exact numbers a secret. Among theories behind the secrecy is if people knew how many actors were in LA, they would be discouraged from trying to join the throng.
Kane, Frank said, definitely beat the odds.
“I’m very fortunate,” Kane said. “But I also didn’t go out there and start waiting tables and getting into acting class and all this other stuff like everybody else does.”
Instead, he got an office job in the entertainment industry so he could learn the business from the inside. And he went to a management company and offered to make “runs” for the company if they could get him auditions in return.
“And they laughed at me,” he said. “A month later, I was the lead on a TV show.”
The TV show was a syndicated drama, “Fame L.A.” The folks doing the casting liked Kane enough that they changed his character from comedian to singer, and he capitalized to become an actor and recording artist.
“It’s really a Cinderella story,” Kane said. “I didn’t have to go through what most people went through. But our boys from Oklahoma, James Marsden and a couple of other people, they didn’t have to either. I honestly believe you, either have it in your blood or you don’t.”
Kaniacs ‘heart’ Kane
It was “Angel” that introduced Kane to the pop culture convention circuit.
“If you kill as many vampires as me, you get to go play in the big leagues,” he said. “And that was fun. Other than that, I have always been kind of in the sci-fi genre and I love it, and I have got great fans and friends and people that get together and love each other and stuff like that.”
Kane then starts talking about his Kaniacs. He said he can’t talk about them too much because they have been so great to him.
“I can’t say that I created the Kaniacs, which is the weirdest thing in the world,” he said.
“They did this on their own, and it’s the most unbelievable thing because they support me in every way. Even when I have got some down time and when I am doing music or even when I’m doing a cooking show or even when I am doing this and that, they are always there. And they stick around. I’ve got the best fans in the world, man. I will put them up against the KISS Army any day of the week.”
The Kaniacs “heart” Kane so much that they buy wolves for him, or at least sponsor wolf rescues on his behalf.
Wolves? “Everybody loves wolves, bro,” Kane said. “Come on.”
Kane said he owns maybe eight wolves.
“One of them is mine,” he said. “It lives at the house. The others are wolves that are on the reservation and stuff like that, and I can’t own them because they are full-blood wolves. But people end up grabbing these wolves. They sponsor these wolves, and they buy these wolves for me and give them to me as gifts.
“That’s one side of the Kaniacs. The other side is like Kaniacs for Cancer, fighting cancer and all that stuff. I lost my grandma to cancer. My mom and my sister run every year in the Susan G. Komen run. The Kaniacs do so much for the community. Nobody knows that. I owe them so much. It’s great for me to come to conventions like this because I get to see these people and shake their hand and give them a hug and give them a kiss and just tell them, ‘Thank you so much for what you do.’ ”
Kane was asked to recall when he was most surprised that Kaniacs showed up somewhere.
“ ‘Leverage’ was canceled,” he said. “We were up against ‘The Walking Dead.’ We were up against all this other stuff. The Kaniacs single-handedly won a People’s Choice Award for ‘Leverage.’ My producers all know it. They all know it was the Kaniacs. They all did that.
“And we got (favorite cable TV drama) at the People’s Choice Awards on TV and we beat ‘The Walking Dead,’ and we beat some other really big hit shows and they did that. So it’s not so much where they show up. It’s how they show up. I can’t repay them for that. All I’ve got to do is just keep going out there and giving them hugs and trying to do the best I can.”
The Oklahoman with the Kane-derella story was asked if he can wrap his head around his own tale.
“Oh man. Are you kidding me?” Kane said. “I’m still the same 15-year-old kid that got on the side of his bed and prayed for this every night.”
In the social media age we live in, here’s a sign Kane reached the big time: William Shatner follows him on Twitter.
Before Kane visited the Tulsa World newsroom for a stop on a Wizard World publicity tour, he and Shatner were tweeting back and forth. That’s Captain Kirk, ya’ll.
“I have worked with a lot of great people, and I have always been starstruck, you know what I mean?” Kane said.
“But it rarely happens anymore just because of the caliber of people I have been fortunate enough to work with, and every once in a while it happens. I remember it happened when I met Elton John. I remember it happened when William Shatner was on Twitter with me and stuff like that. Just every once in a while, you will meet someone that you hold in such a high stature and you have to catch your breath.”
Kane said Danny Glover did some work on “Leverage” and “we all got off around noon and we stayed around for like four hours to watch him do his stuff, and it’s a good feeling and it reminds you of how lucky you are, seeing somebody that you really admire, and you still get that tingly feeling and that starstruck feeling.”
Kane is coming home for the Wizard World Tulsa show. What makes him forever an Oklahoman?
“It’s just the people,” he said. “The people in Oklahoma are a little bit different than the jobs I have worked on. It has taken me different places around the world and I love each and every person that I have met, but there is just something about coming home. These people are hugs. These people are kisses. It’s just a different place in the world. What people don’t understand is Oklahomans have got your back, you know?”