Seamus and Juliana Dever
Special thanks to Shyann Swisher for Hair/Makeup and Angelique Salzmann for wardrobe styling.
All Photos by Brett Chisholm
Hollywood is full of gorgeous, picture-perfect celebrity couples who seem to live in a fairytale world of fame, but more often than not, these relationships are revealed as flawed—and the couples usually split under the pressures of the spotlight. One couple we think would overcome all of the odds of celebrity marriage is the talented twosome Seamus and Juliana Dever. As a married couple playing a married couple on the hit ABC series Castle, Seamus and Juliana’s real life is one of celebration, wine and weekend woodworking. They are a ‘normal’ couple who live a normal life in a town and industry that are anything but.
Issue 15's cover man is often recognized as one of the most popular stars of ABC's critical and audience favorite, Castle, which has just begun its fifth season. Born in Flint, MI, Dever and his family moved to Bullhead City, AZ when he was six years old and grew up to become Valedictorian of his high school. After graduating, he headed to Northern Arizona University where he received a Bachelor's in theater in just three short years. He was then accepted into the graduate program at the prestigious Carnegie-Mellon University and The Moscow Art Theatre for which he is the youngest person to earn his Master's degree. Further adding to his acting credentials, Dever is also a lifetime member of the renowned Actor's Studio.
Seamus has navigated the acting spectrum, playing confident characters on shows like Army Wives and General Hospital (both of which had him starring as a doctor), and he has also appeared in many of the most popular television shows on air today including Mad Men, Drop Dead Diva, NCIS, and all three CSI franchises. On the big screen, Seamus has joined Oscar-winning actors Adrian Brody and Ben Affleck in Hollywoodland as well as starring in the independent comedy Ready or Not, among others.
Seamus’ life-long love of performing on stage has also led him to become well-known to theatre audiences. After assuming the iconic role of Alex in A Clockwork Orange, he received rave reviews and nominations for an Ovation, Garland, and Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award. Another highlight amidst his more than 60 plays and musicals is his notable performance in iWitness at The Mark Taper Forum.
In his role as Homicide Detective Kevin Ryan on Castle, he proves to be a fan favorite as well, always imparting his charm, wit, and wealth of obscure knowledge into his character. Much to the delight of Dever’s flock of fans, his character married his long-time girlfriend in Season 3 who is coincidentally portrayed by his real-life wife, Juliana. The real couple, who met in 2002, embraced their on-screen nuptials and have been the buzz of fans since. “I was very pleased with the way that worked out. There was a lot that you can use from real life in the work,” Seamus says. “Our show is very ‘meta’ and we comment constantly on the fact that we are a show that is about an author who has written books that are NY Times Best Sellers that really are NY Times Best Sellers…and so we do a lot of self referencing on the show. And so it really only fits that my wife is playing my wife; as a result, there’s a lot of the TV show that you end up living in real life. You find yourself saying ‘What’s the difference between my character and my life?’ Ok, well I’m a little bit more confident and I’m a little bit louder than my character—and you feel confident with just making that little distinction. However, it’s sort of like, ‘Of course my wife is going to play my wife. Who else is going to do it?!’ So when you live in the skin of a character you kind of go, “Well, it’s sort of me; it’s sort of my instincts and all the things I’m doing are me…so my wife might as well be playing my wife!”
The couple has definitely had a lot of fun with it along the way. They’ve even worked with ABC to develop a website for their characters’ wedding, which features their story along with cute pics of the couple. “That was totally my wife's idea. Those are all our pictures. It's not one of those things like we shot those all in a day. Some of them are actually from our honeymoon,” Dever relays with a reminiscent grin. “It’s fun because you get to see what sort of phenomenon Castle is worldwide because there's greetings from all around the world, like, Uzbekistan, wishing us, you know, "Good luck, Kevin and Jenny!"
Their real 2006 wedding was much less formal and more of an intimate celebration with their closest family and friends, and their dog George. “The best part about it was seeing all my friends and family together,” said Seamus. “We did it at my parent’s house where they have like 4 acres that nobody had seen before. It has a creek that runs through their property and is surrounded by mountains and trees; it’s near the Sequoia National Forest. It’s secluded and pretty up there, so it was neat to have everyone there to see it at the same time. That was probably the best part about it—having all of my friends and family there; I was really touched that they all helped put this wedding together. I mean, we didn’t really hire very many people other than a caterer to create this wedding. All of my friends are theater people too, and we’ve all done production work and know how to do technical things with theater…so basically it was like putting a play together in the end. Everyone was using their decorating skills and their renting skills and their electrical skills. They were figuring out how to put this thing together out in the middle of a field…I was really touched by that.
Juliana, an accomplished actress in her own right, trained in Russia with the Moscow Art Theatre under master teacher Yuri Yeremin, whose teachers were direct students of Stanislavsky. While in Russia, she also had the opportunity to study movement with the famed Russian movement coach Andrei Droznin. In Los Angeles, she's worked with the Steppenwolf Theatre Company West, the much-loved and decorated director Jessica Kubzansky of the Theatre at Boston Court, and the critically-acclaimed director of the Blank Theatre Company, Daniel Henning. The actress, who is also a talented writer, is currently finishing up her first screenplay.
Together the two live a happy life with their two rescued dogs, Maizy and Sophie. They take the time to truly care for their animals. They understand their nutrition and exercise needs, and juggle their busy schedules to make sure the dogs are properly cared for and loved. When they first adopted their beagle Maizy, they quickly learned of the commitment and patience they would need to raise the young dog that came with quite a few behavior challenges. Their first dog together, George, was their first rescue love and was even included in their wedding in 2006. The couple met and adopted Sophie, an adorable Corgie/German Shepard mix, before losing George and adding Maizy to their family. They dote on their dogs, but they also emphasize and reinforce positive training techniques like a parent who wants their ‘kids’ to succeed in the real world.
Seamus and Juliana are an amazing team, both easy-going and gracious hosts as we took over their home with equipment and our creative team, including our top photog and publisher Brett Chisholm, creative director Lora Poe, our favorite Hollywood makeup artist Shyann Swisher and stylist Angelique Salzmann. Looking around their house it is easy to get a sense of what this couple is like in real life. Their home is comfortable and casual while reflecting the craftsmanship and character of decades past. They chose to focus more on restoration than a complete renovation when designing the home they purchased from the original owners. It is the quintessential Spanish-styled Hollywood home of the 20s, complete with custom-molding and details that harkens back to days of skilled craftsmanship and design. It’s something that both of them truly value and is somewhat of a hobby for Seamus, who is often found creating something in his workshop in their backyard oasis.
Throughout our day hanging at their house we had a chance to talk with Seamus about his steady career, lovely wife and his two adorable dogs. He is genuinely a fascinating guy who cherishes and appreciates all of the aspects of his life. In between wardrobe changes and tummy rubs for his dogs, we chatted with the actor about LIFE, DOG and everything in between....
LIFE+DOG: Tell us about your childhood. What was it like growing up and how did you discover your calling?
Seamus Dever: I grew up in Bullhead City, AZ and it was a great place to grow up because it wasn’t a big city. My parents were both teachers; they were both very encouraging in the arts, in sports, in reading and in learning, so I got very good grades and was Valedictorian of my high school. I could have made the choice to go do anything in my life, but I think from a very early age I loved to act. My parents were teachers at the local high school and whenever they needed children in the high school productions, they asked the kids of the teachers. So I ended up doing all of these shows before I even set foot out of elementary school. When I was finally playing a lead in a show in 6th grade, it felt really good that I was having a positive effect on people. And that feeling that I got from those early experiences got me hooked on doing theater. I have done theater since I was 6 and I continued to do it. I also ate up sports and I was always painting sets with my dad or joining him for a run, so a lot of these things were bonding measures between me and my dad.
L+D: Did you set your sites solely on a career in acting, or were there other interests that served as a back-up plan?
SD: I am sort of one of these people who didn’t think “Let me do something different with my life or let me change course.” I did it from the very beginning. I went to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ for my Undergraduate and from the very beginning, even before school started, I auditioned for the first play. They were doing Into The Woods at the time and I auditioned, and I actually did pretty well. I think I almost got the part of Jack, but they gave me the part of Cinderella Stuart, which I was really happy about because it was a main stage show. A lot of people were saying that it would take a few years to get on the main stage shows, and I didn’t find that the case—I did a main stage show every semester there. I was encouraged by my teachers to go forward with this choice after school and not be worried that I was making a scary choice to follow my dreams of acting.
But I did have a back-up, too! (laughs)! I actually have another degree in Broadcast Journalism that I’ve never used—I mean other than all of the accessory elements of being able to hook up a speaker system, because I knew audio production and things like that. When I watch a news report and I get mad because they aren’t answering the leading question, or even addressing it, I think “You’re not following the rules of journalism!” —that’s really the only time I use my journalism degree. But I have one!
L+D: What’s been your favorite role that you’ve played so far in your career?
SD: Oh gosh! Probably my favorite role was during a part of my life that I actually feel like I put everything together from theater that I knew how to do physically; that I knew how to do vocally; that I knew how to do emotionally. It was in a production of the LA Premier of A Clock Work Orange that we did out here at the Greenway Court Theater. We had an amazing director, a guy name Rick Sparks who just composed this amazing play; very visually stunning. It was taxing…it was difficult; I played the lead role as Alex. It was scary and it was interesting and all of these things—all the violence—and it was also sad. And I feel like it put together all of these elements in my mind like “Okay, I’m not your just run of the mill actor, I’ve actually got some talent and I can finally feel confident! And I was getting really good reviews from the LA Times and all of these great places. I think I finally felt justified in my life.”
L+D: What role have you dreamed of playing?
SD: My favorite role now in my head is Jack Nicholson’s role in (the 1974 film) Chinatown. There’s also talk that there’s going to be a sequel to the The Two Jakes (the 1990 sequel to Chinatown) that has been developed for years, so I’d like to be in line to play the next Jake Gittes if that’s even possible!
L+D: Being in your home, we’ve noticed that it has a lot of original character. Why was it important to you all to maintain the original integrity of the home when you bought it and were re-doing it to fit your needs?
SD: Well I think Juliana and I grew up in places that had history, but we didn’t grow up in historical homes. The house that Juliana grew up in was from the 50’s or 60’s, and the one I grew up in was built in the 80’s. So for us, we always kind of grew up around LA and we would visit friend’s houses that were lucky enough to own homes and say, “Look at this great style that used to be.” I guess we have the nostalgia bug in us when we look at older homes and notice the architecture—they don’t make them like they used to. And I think that’s really what it was when we came in here—we thought we had the opportunity to be stewards of this home. And I don’t know whether we expected to or not, but actually this home had been in one family since 1925—since it was built. That’s really unusual. We actually have pictures of the home a year after it was constructed, so we sort of felt like we were governing a bit of history and wanted to really maintain the original character of the home. And thankfully, we have had the family that owned it over, and they said really good things about it and how happy they were that we’ve continued in this same tradition—that we haven’t tried to wreck things and everything is very complimentary. They appreciated that we’ve tried to keep everything authentic.
L+D: What are your family’s favorite downtime activities in LA?
SD: We like drinking wine. Actually, we love wine! There’s a couple of wine bars that we go to, but we collect wine and we also like sharing it with our friends. Now that we’re homeowners, one of our favorite things to do is to invite guests over and share a bottle of wine with them. That’s probably our favorite thing to do.
L+D: You and Juliana are both vegetarians. When and why did you make the choice to become a vegetarian?
SD: My father has been a vegetarian since the late 60’s so I grew up with it. I’m not going to say I was a vegetarian growing up because it’s not true. I craved burgers and stuff like that, but my parents never served that sort of food in our home. I never knew what ribs were until maybe when I was like 10. I would get ridiculed in school for eating mushroom pizza! So I kinda grew up with it and I realized that it was sort of was something that I could live with, and it wouldn’t disrupt my life in some revolutionary, horrifying way. And when I moved out to LA I found that it was something that I could do easily, as opposed to places like Texas where I’ve performed in the Shakespeare Festival and realized that it’s really hard to be a vegetarian there! It’s so much easier in California for sure, but I sort of made the moral choice with a couple of instances. There’s an insane cattle farm on the 5 Freeway in Central California if you drive up to San Francisco; you pass it and you’re like “WOW, this is amazingly huge and crazy”, and another thing that affected my decision was “Fast Food Nation.” It was at that point I realized that there’s this machine that I don’t really want to be a part of, and if I can live with creatures not having to suffer, then I will feel better about myself and the life that I live. Julie’s choice was actually interesting enough; it was when we adopted our first dog, George, who passed away a couple years ago. She realized that there was this animal in our home that she loved and cared about and she felt, “How can we make this distinction between one animal and decide it’s worth saving, then and turn around and say another animal is worth killing?” So she made that choice when we adopted our first dog, George.
L+D: We know both of you guys are active in environmental causes as well. Can you tell us a little about why this issue is important to you?
SD: We are surrounded by overcrowding in LA. We are surrounded by cars going everywhere and you can see the haze; you see the visual proof of pollution everyday when the smog comes and think, “Wow, it’s really terrible out there—I can’t even see the mountains that are two miles away.” We are so surrounded by these issues in LA that I think everybody does their part as a result, and it’s so much easier out here. There’s recycling systems that you can do. You can get on your bike and go to work, which I do. You can figure out ways to reduce your carbon footprint and I think it’s important for everyone to do that, particularly people who live in the big cities because it has a direct effect on your neighbors. Living in LA; I think that’s where that environmentally-conscious stance comes from—it just sort of makes you more aware. If we can make small choices to do the right thing, it can eventually make a big difference, and if everybody follows that mindset it’s something worth doing, I think.
L+D: If you could give away $1 million dollars what group would you give it to?
SD: I would give it to Stray Animal Rescue of St. Louis and Randy, who is an amazing guy. He’s this volunteer who goes into the inner city in East St. Louis, Illinois and he rescues these dogs from really bad neighborhoods that are afraid of human beings. He’s sort of one of my heroes. He’s an incredible guy, and the work that he does is really something special—I would totally donate 1 million dollars to him so he can finish the shelter he’s trying to finish up right now so he can continue to rescue more of these stray dogs. These dogs are hostile. They don’t want to be around humans. You walk through and they want to bite you, but Randy is able to lure them out of these abandoned buildings where they are literally afraid of human contact—he’s got so much patience, and he rehabilitates these dogs… it’s a really unbelievable thing he’s doing.
L+D: How did you first learn about him and his organization?
SD: There was a program on National Geographic called “Man Created Dog” and he was on at the very end addressing the concept that we, in fact, created these animals. We have a duty to help them; we can’t abandon them and we can’t treat them like they are wild animals anymore since we were the ones that domesticated them. The last time we were in St. Louis we were like, “Let’s go meet Randy!” and so I just dropped by and introduced myself and told them I wanted to make a donation. We got to donate some money and Randy gave us a full tour. It was really nice to meet him; we even exchanged numbers and said, “You know if you need anything from us—fundraising, anything— just let us know. We believe in what you’re doing.” Since Juliana’s from there and she understands what it’s like, she wanted to do something for her hometown.
L+D: How did you meet your current dogs Sophie and Maizy?
SD: We met our Corgi/German Shepherd mix Sophie through some casting directors. There’s a lot of casting directors in LA that on the weekends rescue dogs. And so one of the casting directors let us know that there was this dog—and Julie has always had this thing for Corgis—and when Julie met eyes with Sophie in a Petco parking lot, she just knew she was the one. There was actually a little girl that seemed interested in the dogs, but when she exclaimed how cute she was, Julie blurted out “Oh my God, do not take my dog!” and it was truly love at first sight; we knew we had to foster her. So we brought her home and did just that.
And that’s really a joke with us…we can’t foster anything! We grow really close to the dog and we decide, “Okay she’s ours!” So within two weeks, we adopted Sophie and she has been with us ever since—and that was about seven years ago, right after our dog George passed. He was our first dog that we rescued; we think he was a lab and a beagle mix. After he passed, we realized he was sort of an old man—he must have been ten when we got him, so he was a senior dog and I’m not even really sure why we loved him! He bit me several times, but we stuck with him—he was a member of our family and we didn’t give up on him. I think after he passed, we were sort of like we want something of the same to remind us of George a little bit, so I said “Let’s go get a beagle!” We found a Beagle rescue group called Beagles and Buddies and we went and discovered our dog Maizy. She sucked up to me real fast—I remember sitting down and she came and sat on my lap and was licking me as if to say, “Take me home! Take me home! Get me out of here!” So at that point I was though, “Okay, this is the dog!” and that was about 3 years ago—and Maizy has been with us ever since.
L+D: What’s your favorite memory with dogs?
SD: My childhood dog in Flint, Michigan—her name was Jeanie and she was really sweet. She probably owned the record of being the sweetest dog. And I remember Jeanie would go to all the neighbors, and we did really unhealthy things with Jeanie in retrospect. We fed her from the table and we did all the ‘bad’ things we aren’t supposed to do that we know better now! But she was so sweet—she’d go around to all of our neighbors and they loved Jeanie; she knew that she would get food from everybody. She was my first dog and we had her until I was about 16 years old, so yeah; that is probably my favorite memory—wondering where Jeanie was and realizing “Oh, she’s at the Barber’s next door; oh, okay.” (smiles)
L+D: What do you think dogs have been able to teach you in life?
SD: Patience, especially owning a Beagle. You know, that’s one thing: compassion and caring for another thing—I think that can be very rewarding; thinking outside yourself and caring of another creature. It’s not an innate quality; we are not all born with that quality; that skill-set. So I think the idea of taking care of and being a guardian to an animal with their best interest at heart—sort of like being a parent—I think that’s one thing they teach me.
L+D: What’s your favorite thing about dogs?
SD: Probably when they snuggle with you. I come home from a day on set and I’m just tired, and you lay down on the ground and your dogs are like “Hey, I’m going to lick you in the face, is that cool?” And you’re just surrounded by dogs and you’re just in that dog pile. That’s probably my favorite thing—that sort of exchange of affection. They feel it and they want to let you know that there’s a communication there…and I think they appreciate, hopefully, being saved and given a forever home.
L+D: What are your dogs’ favorite activities?
SD: Let’s see…Maizy the beagle likes to bark at squirrels…possums…cats. And there’s some eating involved there, but mostly barking. Barking happens early and at like 2 or 3 in the morning when we let them out to go to the bathroom and yeah, they bark—and I’m sure that annoys our neighbors. The dogs also love chasing each other. There’s this thing that they do and it’s actually funny. They have developed this habit that they do right before they eat; we call it The Hunger Game, because they start playing at that point. Usually at night around dinner time it’s time to start beating up on each other, and they chase each other—we have this really long house, so they can run 75 feet in a straight line and turn around and run back and just do laps, so it’s something they like doing.
But mostly they like following us from room to room and spending time with us. Maizy the beagle likes to hang outside in the sun. Actually, both of our dogs do for some reason. It can be really hot and they are like, “I need to get some sun!” so they go out there and lay on the concrete; they look like dead dogs, just absorbing as much sun as possible. I think they are like lizards or something. It’s weird, but it’s one thing they like to do. And eating, they love eating…they love their meals.
L+D: Before the shoot we chatted about Best Friends Animal Society. Have you been involved with Best Friends in the past or is that something that you’re looking at doing?
SD: No, BFAS is something that we’ve been very interested in getting involved with. About 7 or 8 years ago we knew we weren’t making much, but I think Julie had read a book about contributing to charity—and how that when you contribute, you’ll receive positivity in return. It’s sort of like goodwill that you are passing on and it gets turned back to you…so we set out to take about 10% of our income and donate to charities that we felt were worthwhile. And I think BFAS had this amazing campaign—they have wonderful campaigns about their organization. There was another group that we had supported through an adopt-a- turkey program called “Farm Sanctuary”, so we sort of said “Let’s take these two organizations and donate to them”, and this is when we were still living in an apartment and saving for a house. We were like “Okay, we’re going to focus on these 2 charities”, and that was 6 or 7 years ago—and fortunately what’s happened is that we’ve become a little bit more popular being on a TV show. Now I can do more for these groups, and so I’ve reached out and have had a chance to meet them personally and pledge my support and my time while helping them with what they need.
A special thanks to Seamus and Juliana Dever for opening their home to us and to taking the time to share their story about Modern Living with Man’s Best Friend. We would also like to thank their lovely friend Rachel Cohen for spending some time chatting with us. She waited patiently as we hijacked her beach plans with Juliana, but was such a great sport and a joy to be around! We hope that everyone enjoys the fifth season of Castle, and we look forward to continued success for this amazing couple. To stay tuned to all things Dever, follow Seamus on Twitter at @seamusdever and his lovely wife Juliana at @cleverdever.