Houston's Own Movie Star

Houston's new movie star: Native son goes from reality TV to standing toe-to-toe with Ben Stiller in new flick

Houston's new movie star: Native stands toe-to-toe with Ben Stiller

Ryan Serhant
Houston-born Ryan Serhant plays Dave in the film by Noah Baumbach Courtesy of Collin Stark
While We're Young movie 2015
Watts and Stiller star as a married couple tested by the invading forces of youth Courtesy photo
Ryan Serhant
Courtesy of Collin Stark
Ryan Serhant
While We're Young movie 2015
Ryan Serhant

While We’re Young — a new comedy-drama from writer-director Noah Baumbach playing at River Oaks Theatre — showcases a Houston-born reality TV star.

Houston's own Ryan Serhant is already garnering rave reviews, including plenty of praise at the Toronto International Film Festival, for his role as a hedge fund manager named Dave. Impressively, this comes in his first feature film.

You may recognize Serhant from Bravo's hit, Million Dollar Listing New York.  Fans of the show know that the 30-year old has a booming real estate career and a stormy relationship with fellow reality star and real estate agent Fredrik Eklund. But what you may not know is that the striking Serhant (he's a fit 6-foot-3) is a classically trained actor with degrees in English Literature and Theater from Hamilton College.

While We're Young focuses on a childless couple in their forties that's in the midst of a mid-life crisis facing career and marriage challenges. The couple becomes infatuated with an alluring, young hipster couple. The film stars Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts and is set in New York City.

Among the cast of notable supporting actors are Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried, Charles Grodin and Adam Horovitz (King Ad-Rock to Beastie Boys fans).

CultureMap caught up with Serhant in Houston on a promotional tour to find out more about his local connection, his hit TV show and his Hollywood debut.

CultureMap: You were born in Houston and grew up in Boston. How long did you live here and do you come back often?

Ryan Serhant: I lived in Houston until I was 4 or 5 (years old), moved to Long Island, and then went to Boston where I grew up outside the city. I have family in Dallas. I go there every now and then and am very familiar with Texas, but this is my first time back in Houston since we moved away.

After we’re done today (with press interviews) I’m jumping in the car to go see the house I was born in.

CM: Now that you’ve broken into feature film, will you continue to do TV's Million Dollar Listing New York?

RS: I will stay with Million Dollar Listing for sure. We just stopped filming the fourth season, which premieres next week, and we start filming the fifth season any day now.

But acting was my first passion — you spend so much time training and studying for it. I moved to New York and got on a soap opera (As the World Turns in 2007), which was great. I was on it less than a year before they killed me off. It was very difficult to make money so I got into real estate and decided I didn’t want to act anymore

 "After we’re done today, I’m jumping in the car to go see the house I was born in."

Which is, of course, when all this started happening. I guess you could say I played hard to get.

CM: On the TV show, you battle it out regularly with co-reality TV star Fredrik Eklund. Is the show edited to play up the heated dynamic? Do you get along in real life?

RS: It’s a mixture . . .  we get along to play along. There are 53,000 real estate agents in New York City and there are, at any one time, 5,000 apartments on the market. It’s competitive.

CM: How did you end up in the role of Dave, a hedge fund manager who funds the film being made by documentarian Josh (Ben Stiller), in When We’re Young?

RS: The casting directors and the people involved in the movie watch Million Dollar Listing. They reached out and asked me to audition. So I went in and read for it. Four months later, they called and asked me to meet with Ben Stiller. I give them a lot of credit for casting someone known for reality TV in what is, in my opinion, an awesome movie.

CM: What was it like working with Ben Stiller?

RS: (Making) the movie was the best time of my life hands down and honestly Ben Stiller is the nicest guy I've ever met. He’s very humble, super courteous, quiet and to himself. He’s a pro.

CM: What's up next for you?

RS: I’m getting married (to girlfriend Emilia Bechrakis) and it's great. Real estate, of course, and Million Dollar Listing New York Season Five. I have parts in a couple of films in the works, which came out of this whole thing. It's all great.