Edward Gelhaus’ LinkedIn profile describes him as “A nice guy.”
The 2006 alumnus and successful Hollywood actor wants to remind people of his true persona, because his latest roles portray him as just the opposite.
“I seem to be only playing mean villains,” Gelhaus said. “After you shave your head and get a few muscles, you become the mean guy. My mom hopes I get a role where she can say, ‘Yay, there’s NICE Eddie.’ I have promised Mom that I will find a nice role.”
Gelhaus’ “mean streak” began with FX’s American Horror Story “Freakshow” in 2014 in which he portrayed the younger version of Dell Toledo, the strongman of the carnival (played by Michael Chiklis).
Gelhaus described Toledo as “sadistic,” “evil,” and “everything wrong with society.”
Next came a stint on CBS’s Under the Dome in which Gelhaus played a white supremacist prison gang leader who stabs one of the main characters, played by Eddie Cahill. Sadly, because the show was cancelled, Gelhaus’ recurring role also ended.
On AMC’s TURN: Washington’s Spies, Gelhaus portrayed David Williams, one of the key people who captures a spy (JJ Field who portrays Major John André) in the Queen’s guard and turned around the entire war. “It sounds like I would be a good guy but rumors are these three guys (the notorious “Skinner Gang,”) were just bandits and were robbing a bunch of people, and when they found out who they were capturing, they turn him in.”
Gelhaus said he was grateful for the opportunity to work with Emmy Award-nominated director Jeremy Webb (of Downton Abbey), among others. “It was amazing being able to act alongside some major talents,” he said.
For his next character on Rizzoli and Isles on TNT, Gelhaus played Leo, an unsavory character who funneled weapons to the Albanians and met with an untimely demise. Angie Harmon directed the episode, the show’s 100th, which required Gelhaus to spend 4½ hours in a makeup chair getting full-arm tattoos.
“Angie Harmon was one of the most amazing people,” he said. “I got so much positive reinforcement. As an actress, she knows how to get best footage from her actors.”
Gelhaus also filmed a small part for AMC’s Better Call Saul but discovered his part was cut, even after he made the previews. “As an actor you learn to never get excited about an audition, never get excited about a callback, never get excited when you get the part, and never get excited when you see the previews, because your scene could still be cut,” he said. Still, Gelhaus is grateful for the experience.
This past year, he also did some short indie films, a Fitbit commercial, and portrayed the main warrior for a commercial for the popular videogame Far Cry Primal.
In real life, Gelhaus is engaged to a Tessa Marie, a professional Latin ballroom dancer.
And the excitement continues to build. Gelhaus just finished filming a show that he isn’t able to talk about—a show he considers his biggest role yet. “I got to work with some amazing actors on a very big network show that anybody and everybody will be able to watch,” he said.
This character isn’t going to win any points with his mother. Gelhaus describes this role as “really, really bad.”
So how does the smiley actor from Owen, Wis., transform into his bad guy persona? Gelhaus credits his theatre training at Saint Mary’s University.
“The hardest thing for me is to embody these characters and make it feel believable,” he said. “Saint Mary’s helps you find out who you are. If I didn’t realize who I was, especially because I’ve been playing killers and murderers and drug dealers … I need to be able to turn the on and off switch.”
Gelhaus also said that acting in London as part of the university’s Stefannié Valéncia Kierlin London Theatre Program, and subsequently studying at Dublin’s renowned Gaiety School of Acting, helped build an impressive résumé.
“Those are things that capture someone’s attention,” he said.
And, in his business, standing out is key.
That’s why Gelhaus has acquired skills ranging from ballet to ballroom dancing to bartending and from miming to motorcycling. He can ride a horse, wield a sword, or use a pogo stick.
He also advises student actors to learn how to use a camera, how to edit film, and how to use Photoshop. “If you know how to take your own headshots, it will set yourself apart,” he said. “I can film my own auditions in my house. You will want to act and be in shows as well, but you also need to get these skills. Out here it’s truly about marketing yourself.”
It’s also about who you know. Again, Gelhaus is thankful for his experiences at Saint Mary’s.
“I talk to Gary (Diomandes from the Theatre Department) once or twice every month. I think the thing about Saint Mary’s is that this is even a possibility. Gary is one of the first people who I talk to when I get a role. That doesn’t happen normally. These connections that I have with Gary and Judy (Myers, also of the Theatre Department) are so valuable. Out here you get 5 million doors slammed in your face. You can’t take that personally, and you can’t get discouraged. Having that support system is something no one should ever take for granted. Gary hooked me up with my acting coach out here, Howard Fine, who also coaches Will Smith and Chris Pine.”
Ironically, Gelhaus said his college roommate, Andy Greene ’06, is also doing well as an actor in Hollywood and lives just two blocks away. The two support each other and network whenever possible.
“At the end of the day, you can take acting classes anywhere, but to have people who are genuine and build that kind of a support system is unbelievable,” he said.
You can follow his career through www.imdb.me/edwardgelhaus.
Professional photos taken and edited by Edward Gelhaus.