For Americans, Hollywood is an ever-present entity. Each week, new and exciting movies hit theaters and stores, and each day, the lives and scandals of celebrities fill our popular culture. And while most of us don’t live on Sunset Boulevard or even in the remote vicinity of the Hollywood sign, the allure and spectacle of Hollywood are, nevertheless, a part of our American identity. So, as a nation, we don’t know what it is like to look from afar at the film industry with envious eyes, hoping to one day be within reach of all its bright lights and possibilities.

Darri Ingolfsson knows that feeling. A native of Iceland, Ingolfsson was one of those who watched the film industry from a distance, gaining an appreciation and respect for the art of American cinema — anxiously waiting for his chance to be a part of the business of big stars and bigger pictures. Now, his time has finally come. Having moved to America with the dream of making his own mark on the silver screen, Ingolfsson is paving his way to stardom, one role at a time.

In recent years, he has graced the big and small screens — guest starring on such TV shows as ABC’s Last Resort, and appearing in short films and blockbusters like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Flags of Our Fathers. And now, he is taking his biggest step yet toward stardom with a recurring role on the highly anticipated final season of Showtime’s serial killer drama Dexter.

Ingolfsson spoke with GALO about taking the leap of faith to move his life from Iceland to Hollywood, why he thinks it is detrimental to making acting one’s entire life focus, and what it was like to come aboard a popular TV show in its eighth and final year.

GALO: Before you moved to LA and entered the fast-paced entertainment industry, you were originally a native of Iceland.

Darri Ingolfsson: Born and raised.

GALO: That is quite a move, going from Iceland to America. When did you permanently make the trek to America, and what made that the right time for you, personally, to pack up and head to LA?

DI: I almost went to the States in 2000 — I had gotten wind of a place called College of the Canyons in California that had a drama department, but it was more of a college that specialized in many subjects. At the same time, I had went and auditioned for a three-year British drama school in London and I got in. As much as I wanted to go right to the States, I thought it would be a good idea to go to England and get a very grounded and strong drama training first. That actually turned into eight years; three of drama school and then life kind of took over. I will never regret those years and going to England for training because it was a wonderful experience, but about four and a half years ago, I finally made my way over here.

GALO: Other than the institution you studied at in Britain, did you have any other formal acting training?

DI: Before I went to London, I had done some acting in Iceland. I actually went to a private business school in Iceland, but the main reason I went there was because, aside from the schoolwork, they put on a big play once a year and then a very big musical that goes out to the public. Very often, you would see kids that are in those musicals go onto performing careers. So that was the huge reason I went there, even though I wouldn’t call it an official acting school. However, I would say that I have been studying acting, or should I say, studying film, since I was a kid. [American] culture has played a big part in my upbringing in Iceland — especially in the wintertime when there is not much else to do [laughs].

GALO: When you set your sights on moving to LA, was it solely in the pursuit of acting and the opportunities that Hollywood can provide?

DI: Yes. The major driving force for me to come here was the films and television shows. But I actually came to LA two years prior to moving here permanently on a tourist visa to check out the place and make sure the reality of it was something I wanted. I had never been here but I imagined I would like it, so I came here to check it out. When I went back home, I always said that I wasn’t moving to LA just to “make it” [as an actor], but I was moving here to make a life. I made sure that my life had something other than the battle for roles, because that can be very dangerous — there’s a lot of rejection and ups and downs. That can be bad for a person, to put all their power into only that journey because life is so much more. Also as an actor, and an artist in general, we are portraying real life and reflecting off that. I think that if you just concentrate on Hollywood or simply being a thespian, you kind of lose touch with reality of the rest of the world. I was always very conscious about having my head in more than just that place. And I think that has helped me a lot because it has been quite a battle here and there.

GALO: What was the transition like from Iceland to America? Was it a difficult process to acclimate to such a drastically new environment?

DI: It was pretty hard. But I had done it once before when I went to London — literally going into a place, shutting off my cell phone from home and knowing absolutely no one. I had a few people that I knew here, but it was still a little daunting. I can say that I met very wonderful people on my journey and they seemed to be very hospitable. I stayed on sofas, kitchen nooks and air mattresses; I lived in probably five places in the first four months. I came here with a little bit of money — from some advertising I had done in London — but that ran out in like four months. It gave me a little bit of breathing room to figure out what the hell I was doing. And then I started to find random little jobs that would pay me not so much money, but enough that I could survive.

(Interview continued on next page)