Alum Andy McDermott lands lead role in recently released Call of Duty

Emily Chin, Social Media Editor


Driving through Los Angeles, Andy McDermott’s three-year old kid looked out the window and saw a billboard with his father’s face on it — the face of the new Call of Duty video game.

McDermott (Communication ‘98) is the lead role in Call of Duty: Black Ops III, which was released Nov. 6. He is the face for all of the game’s marketing materials and the hero’s movements in the game are based on his own movements.

“It didn’t set in until it came out,” he said. “All the Phoenix news stations wanted to do interviews. It went from being not such a big deal to doing TV network interviews from my apartment through Skype.”

McDermott’s road to the acting industry has not been a traditional one. After graduating from Northwestern, where he played Big Ten soccer for four years, McDermott went on to play soccer professionally for seven years.

He then moved to Arizona, where he worked as a cop for the Phoenix Police Department.

“It was a lot like being on the sports team,” he said. “It was fun for me to go lurk and come across all different walks of life. You never knew what you were going to get into.”

While in Phoenix, he jump started his acting career with his first movie, “Everything Must Go.” He also modeled and took acting classes on the side.

“(The movie) was kind of the impetus for the big change,” he said. “Acting was always something that I wanted to do since Northwestern, but it was never the right time. I finally realized if you wait for the perfect time to do something you’ll wait forever.”

McDermott took several acting classes while at NU, which he said still help him everyday when he auditions for various projects.

He has been acting and modeling in Los Angeles for the past three years, and has been in small movies and TV shows. But being the face of Call of Duty is bigger than any movie he’s been a part of, he said.

Eight months ago, he got a call from his agent, who told him people wanted him to audition for the Call of Duty role because of his strong tactical background. In addition to his background in soccer and as a cop, McDermott also has a third-degree black belt.

“What’s crazy about this lifestyle is you never know when your phone’s going to ring and you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” he said.

Carol Scott, McDermott’s modelling agent, was contacted by the ad agency that did the outsourcing for the Call of Duty job. She suggested a number of models and actors that she represents, including McDermott.

“He has a good look, it just came to me,” she said. “I know he can handle almost anything. He has a very versatile look.”

McDermott was brought in for a test shoot in which he worked with weapons and did running and jumping shots. Once he got the role, he did three 10-hour days of shooting.

In the first weekend alone, the new Call of Duty made $550 million. Going into the job, McDermott completely underestimated the scope of the project, he said. He didn’t realize how big it was until kids that he coaches in soccer and baseball told him about it.

“Anytime I’m on TV or doing a show or commercial I always get recognized a few times,” he said. “This one is just kind of crazy because everyone’s seen it.”

Aaron Stolberg (Communication ‘98), a friend of McDermott’s and fellow teammate at NU, wasn’t surprised at all by McDermott’s success. As a leader on the soccer team, McDermott showed good worth ethic and inspired others on the team to work hard, Stolberg said.

Now McDermott is going through the normal ups and downs that most Hollywood actors have to go through before they make it really big, Stolberg said. However, he’s confident that McDermott will make it and is proud of what he’s accomplished so far, he said.

“He was always an inspiration to a lot of guys on the team, and I see that today still,” he said. “He’s got a lot of different motivating factors now but that aspect in him hasn’t changed a bit. It’s great to see that hard work still matters.”

McDermott said he hopes his role as the Call of Duty hero helps him nail his dream job: the action hero. He has been auditioning for several roles and is working on a project to create his own movie.

“The dream is to be the action hero guy,” he said. “I was an athlete, and then a martial artist, and then a cop. At some point they’re going to need another Ethan Hunt or Jason Bourne and being the Call of Duty guy certainly lines up with that dream.”

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