By Luaine Lee McClatchy-Tribune News Service
HOLLYWOOD — Though he spent his childhood acting, Danny Masterson breaks the stereotype about former child actors. He lugs no baggage from the experience.
“I feel like you’re supposed to be amazing at one thing — I’m not amazing at anything. I wish I was,” he says.
“It drives me crazy. I’m proficient in a lot of things, like I’m a very good athlete, but not an amazing athlete.
“I’m a good musician, but not a great one. I’m a good DJ, but not an amazing one. I’m a good actor, but not a great one. I’d say I’m a great friend, that’s probably my best thing.”
He made lifelong friends and fans when he played the curly-haired hipster, Steven Hyde, on “That ’70s Show” for eight years.
His life seems typical of child actors: He began performing at 4 and by the time he was 16, he’d logged 150 commercials.
His mom served as his manager, and they moved to Los Angeles when he was 17 so he could costar in “Beethoven’s 2nd,” a palpable hit, which he followed with his own sitcom, “Joe’s Life.”
He says he was never without a job.
“If there’s nothing to do, I say, ‘I guess I’ll put some connections together and grab $1 million from the budget financiers and get some good actors and we’ll just go make an indie film. I mean, you can always work,” he says in the dark lobby of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel here.
That kind of practicality has made Masterson less angst-ridden than most actors.
“I’ve never lost my job,” he said with a shrug. “I love working. I love being on the set. Love the crew members, love the family vibe. It feels like summer camp.
“I’ve worked with some quote-unquote notorious people, and I’ve never had a problem with them. I get along with everybody.”
He’s proving that once again with his latest sitcom, “Men at Work,” airing on TBS. Masterson plays Milo, one of four buddies who suffer the vicissitudes of life with their own antic sense of humor.
Masterson, 37, seems strictly grounded. He occasionally works as a DJ, owns several restaurants (seven or eight at last count) and is married to actress-equestrienne Bijou Phillips, who only works when she wants, and hopes someday to have children.
“I’ve known Bijou since I was 18 and she was 14 or 15, so this relationship came on very naturally. We were friends who would see each other over the course of 10 years.
“And then we were buddies for a couple of months before, all of a sudden, it got a little more than buddies.”
A Scientologist, Masterson says part of his street smarts emanates from his religion.
“I was born with the idea of being savvy, and then I learned the skills of how to do that studying Scientology,” Masterson says.
“When you’re done with the course, or whatever it is, it’s like going to college but it’s going to college for life as opposed to college for algebra. So it helps with work, your own integrity, your relationships with family, with how to run finances, how to run a business, how to be organized, how to problem solve.
“There are courses on all those things in Scientology. Without that I would probably be foundering around like the average person.”