Daybreak: Greg Kasyan talks Eli Cardashyan’s development and future

DAYBREAK -- Photo credit: Ursula Coyote/Netflix -- Acquired via Netflix Media Center
DAYBREAK -- Photo credit: Ursula Coyote/Netflix -- Acquired via Netflix Media Center /

Greg Kasyan’s Eli Cardashyan is one of those characters created for comedic relief. But he became so much more in Daybreak.

If you weren’t sure how to take Eli Cardashyan on Daybreak at first, you weren’t alone. This was one of those characters that seemed to be introduced more for comedic relief. But suddenly, he became a character you wanted to root for.

Greg Kasyan spoke to Netflix Life exclusively about the development of the character, as well as his own future in the industry. We also talked about that shocking moment in Episode 9, so if you’re not caught up with the series, there are spoilers!

Netflix Life: Daybreak is one of those shows that looks like so much fun. What was it about the series that pulled you in at first?

Greg Kasyan: You know, I read the pilot and I wasn’t really sure what was going on at first. I had to read it again. I think just that, for it to be so complex, I was like, “I’ve got to get a part in this. It would be so cool to be a part of.”

NL: It’s funny, because we don’t even get to see him in the pilot episode. It’s not until the second episode that we find out he was the Baron Triumph lookalike. What was it like having this role but not actually being in the opener?

Kasyan: Yeah, that was funny. When I went to New York Comic-Con, we had our World Premiere. I’d go up with the rest of the cast for the Q&A and everyone would look at me awkwardly.

But it’s cool! My friends and family watched it and were like, “Where are you? We watched the first episode.”

Then somebody goes, “Oh, congratulations. I’m gonna watch the first episode.” They thought I was in the background. I had to tell them to keep watching, I’m actually in the show. The second episode has this whole introduction, it was something really special.

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NL: It was an excellent way to mark your appearance on-screen. Definitely memorable. I loved that he was hilarious from start to finish. What was it about Eli that pulled you in?

Kasyan: It was when I realized how funny he was, or how funny I was able to create him. During the audition process, he was just this character. He was super funny, but what was cool was while filming, the creators like me improvise a lot. I got to use my imagination, and that was really cool for me.

NL: I was at NYCC and I remember the creators saying that you would say something in real life and they’d text it to the writers to add it into the scripts.

Kasyan: Oh yeah! That was so funny. We’d like to watch sporting events together, and the creators, producers, and directors would be there. I was with Brad [Peyton] a lot of the time, and I think it was mostly him. I’d crack a joke and then I’d see him on his phone.

Suddenly, I’d see something I said in a script. At first I was confused how things I’d say would end up in my dialogue, but then Brad explained that he was texting what I was saying to add it in.

NL: It must have felt like there was some sort of bug on your shoulder telling the team what to write.

Kasyan: Yeah!

NL: I know a lot of the Daybreak cast said they got to add their own flair to their roles. What’s it like as an actor to have that freedom and the creators’ backing? It doesn’t happen often.

Kasyan: Oh, it’s honestly brilliant. As an actor, you want to bring out a truthful performance, using the techniques you’ve learned. So, when the creators give you the opportunity to allow you to go by your trust instinct, it definitely allows you to fully create a character.

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NL: Let’s talk about the death scene, the first major and shocking death of the whole season, really. It was so sad but so hilarious at the same time with the mention of the Magic: The Gathering cards. What was that like to have a mixture of emotions thrown in?

Kasyan: You know, it was very very very slightly hinted at the start of the season. It is an apocalypse show and everything, so I knew that people could die at any moment.

My cousins were like “Imagine if you die!” and I wanted to make sure I was not dying. So I started out by asking Aron if I was going to die, and it was like one of those awkward moments and I knew I was likely going to die.

Then Jeff [Fierson] and Aron [Eli Coleite]  called me into the production office for a creative meeting. I thought I was in trouble. I was like “What did I do? Like, I’ve been good on set this whole time. What am I in trouble for?” They were either telling me I was in trouble or I was dying, so I was mentally preparing myself the day before.

When I went into the production office, I was really nervous. They were nervous too when they told me I was dying. I was like “Oh, yeah, that’s completely fine. I already went over it by myself. But I thought I was in a lot of trouble.”

NL: He was one of those characters I didn’t know if I should like or not. Then we got this death scene and I was like, “I don’t want him to go!”

Kasyan: That’s exactly what Aron wanted. He mentioned recently that he and his daughter were watching the show and she wasn’t happy I died.

NL: It’s the life of an actor. You move onto the next project. Do you have anything lined up?

Kasyan: Well, I can say that if Netflix renews Daybreak for season 2, I’ll be in it. Like Sam Dean is constantly in the show through flashbacks, we’ll get that with Eli.

Other than that, I’ve just been auditioning. There were a couple of things I went for that I didn’t get, which is completely fine. I actually suck at auditioning, which sounds ironic. I prefer sending in a self-tape. But I’m getting better at auditioning.

I’m just trying to perfect my craft as much as I can. I’m always studying acting, always going back to my roots.

I’m very hungry for roles, and I am gaining a support base that are like “Oh, there’s Greg from Daybreak. He’s in a movie now.” That’s realistically like 5 or 10 people, but they’re there.

NL: Do you have any dream roles?

Kasyan: Oh, that’s so hard. Right now, I’d love to play Ponyboy Curtis in The Outsiders if they did a reboot or something. Or definitely A Bronx Tale. I love Robert De Niro.

It’s going to change though as I get older. I’m 18, so those roles are just right for me right now. But when I’m 30, I can’t play an 18-year-old. Although I do look young!

What did you think of Eli in Daybreak? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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