ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Life is changing quickly for Ian Anthony Dale.
The 35-year-old actor is reveling at the fact that his new TV show, “Murder in the First” is a hit.
Oh, and he’s bought his first house.
“It’s been a wild ride,” he says. “It’s always great to have an audience love what you do and we have found that with the TV show.”
Dale plays Lt. Jim Koto in the TNT drama series which is the latest from Steven Bochco.
The show follows San Francisco homicide detectives Terry English and Hildy Mulligan — played by Taye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson — as they investigate what originally appears to be two unrelated murders. Ultimately, they learn both victims have ties to Silicon Valley prodigy Erich Blunt, played by Tom Felton.
Dale is part of the investigation team that helps out the team.
“Jim Koto was tailor made for an actor like myself,” Dale says. “It’s a rare opportunity to play a character like Jim.”
Dale says one of the traits that he shares with Koto is ambition.
“Jim aspires to be mayor of San Francisco one day,” he says. “He’s straddling the line between being a cop and a politician.”
The season premiered on June 9 to 4.9 million viewers, which made it a hit for the cable network. The series airs on Mondays.
Filming for the show began in February and wrapped up in late May.
“It was a pretty quick shoot and I’ve never worked on such a condensed season before,” he says. “Just when we were getting going, we were saying our goodbyes.”
Being on “Murder in the First” is sort of a reunion for Dale and his co-star Diggs.
The two starred in the short-lived ABC series, “Daybreak.”
“It was a reunion of sorts,” he says. “The two of us have this rather offensive blaxploitation skit that we act out during our down time on set. It’s a really relaxed environment.”
Dale has starred in films such as “Tekken,” “The Hangover,” “The Bucket List” and “Mr. 3000.”
While his movie career is flourishing, TV work has been a staple for the actor.
Aside from “Murder in the First,” Dale has appeared as a regular in “Hawaii Five-O” as Adam Noshimuri.
He’s also been in “American Horror Story,” “Emily Owens M.D.,” “The Mentalist,” “Burn Notice,” “The Event,” “Charmed” and “Las Vegas.”
Yet when it comes to the characters that Dale plays, he admits that he’s drawn more to the story.
“I like characters that are wrestling with conflict,” he says. “Even with Jim, you see him struggle to do what is right for his team. He gets stuck a little but finds a resolution.”
Dale says he isn’t too choosy when it comes to which genre a project will be in.
“I just want the character to have a strong story,” he says. “It’ll help me stretch as an actor.”
Now that the show is done filming, Dale says he’s going to audition all summer and look for his next opportunity in film and TV.
Though he’s been working for a long time, he still finds the audition process intimidating.
“I still get nervous because of the pressure that I put on myself,” he says. “Then I remember to have fun. Once I do that, I’m very relaxed and can be myself. In this business it only takes one audition that can change your life. It’s a very powerful thing.”
While Dale has never filmed anything in New Mexico, he has taken notice of the projects filming in the state.
He says — like every other actor — that he would have loved to be in “Breaking Bad.”
“I hear they are doing the prequel out there,” he says. “Maybe I still have a chance for that.”
While the auditions will come around, Dale says he’s more than happy to begin working on his house.
“There’s so much work to do,” he laughs. “There’s about 65 years of rust that I have to work with and an entire redesign.”
As for the show, Dale says he’s been watching it with his family and friends.
“I saw the premiere episode and was very impressed,” he says. “Now I’m hearing from my family and they are the gauge that I use when something is bad or good. They are liking it and we’re just waiting to see if we get picked up for a second season.”