a Seattle-based actor working in film, media, and theater
Basil began acting in 1985 at Andy's Summer Playhouse, a small children's theater in rural New Hampshire. Despite its rustic environs, Andy's happened to be run by some of the most influential figures in New York City's experimental performance scene. Under the guidance of artists such as Dan Hurlin, Madeleine Olenek, Holly Hughes, and David Dorfman, Basil worked as an actor, musician, stage manager, and director. Summers at Andy's provided a unique and enduring performance education.
Basil went on to study theater at the University of New Hampshire. While the course of study at UNH focused largely on the classical style, Basil continued to be drawn out to the fringe. In his third year, he was invited to an improv comedy workshop with a select group of classmates. Initially skeptical of this unstructured, game-based format, the group became hooked after a single afternoon of "yes, and...". Later that year, they founded TheatreSportsUNH, the first college affiliate of Keith Johnstone's massively popular improv comedy franchise. Improv's raw and immediate performative discipline gave Basil and his cohort plenty of opportunities to hone their skills in front of ever-growing crowds of enthusiastic fans. Within months, TheatreSportsUNH was the most popular student group on campus.
Basil moved to Seattle in the early 90s, where he quickly found a home in the vibrant fringe theater community. For the better part of a decade, he appeared regularly on the stages of AHA! Theater, Theater Schmeater, Annex Theater, and Open Circle Theater. During this time, the drive to make original work was strong in Seattle, with many actors developing solo pieces or forming companies of their own. Having grown weary of improv and inspired by 90's cult comedy acts Kids in the Hall and MTV's The State, Basil and five other performers formed the sketch comedy group Bald Faced Lie in 1995. While BFL was one of only two sketch groups in Seattle at the time, the group's success sparked the Seattle sketch "scene", which saw the birth of nearly 20 sketch groups across the city over the next two years. During their 10-year run, the Liars wrote, produced, and performed over a dozen original shows, toured the Canadian Fringe Festival circuit, helped launch the Seattle Sketch Fest, and were featured at sketch festivals in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Vancouver, and Los Angeles.
Basil came to screen acting almost by accident. After landing sporadic commercial and no-budget indie film work between his stage gigs, he was cast in a small role in the late filmmaker Lynn Shelton's first narrative feature, We Go Way Back. The film went on to win the Grand Jury Prize at the Slamdance Film Festival in 2003, bringing sudden national attention to Seattle's independent film scene. Shelton cast Basil again in My Effortless Brilliance, this time as the lead alongside actor/musician Sean Nelson. The mostly improvised performances and intimate aesthetic of the film were an early blueprint for the “mumblecore” genre, and Shelton would go on to become one of its (and the industry's) most lauded directors.
Basil's other film credits include Safety Not Guaranteed, starring Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass; Knights of Badassdom, with Summer Glau, Peter Dinklage, and Steve Zahn; 21 And Over with Myles Teller; and Scrapper, starring Michael Beach and Aiden Gillen.
On television, Basil has co-starred on TNT's "Leverage" and NBC's "Grimm", and stars in the original serials Automata (SeriesFest 2017), Rocketmen (SIFF 2017), and Cherub: The Vampire with Bunny Slippers.
He continues acting on stage, having appeared at ACT Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Village Theatre, Seattle Children's Theatre, On the Boards, and Seattle Repertory Theatre. Regionally, he's performed at NYC's New Victory Theater, Actors Express in Atlanta, Ohio's Tantrum Theater, and on tour with the Letters Aloud reading series.
In 2009, Basil received the Mazen Award, which is given to participants of 14/48: The World's Quickest Theater Festival who "embody the spirit of community and risk-taking inherent in [the 14/48] process."
Basil remains involved in his professional community, serving on the liaison committee for the Seattle chapter of Actors' Equity Association and maintaining active membership in SAG-AFTRA, the professional film and media actors' union.
When he's not on stage or in front of a camera, Basil plays bass guitar for the alt-pop band “Awesome” and the almost completely serious Francophile cover band, The French Project. He lives in Seattle with his wife and kids.