When Lifetime’s “Drop Dead Diva” made its fifth-season premiere on Sunday, June 23, fans got a look at new cast member Justin Deeley (“90210”), who plays Paul, the current guardian angel of the soul of fashionable Deb, who’s living in the body of lawyer Jane (Brooke Elliott).
After that look, there wasn’t a very large percentage of Deeley’s fit body that remained a mystery. But given his history, he didn’t consider that a very big deal — and neither does Paul
“Paul has a line in one of the episodes,” Deeley tells Zap2it and others at the show’s sets in Atlanta, Ga., “and the line is, ‘It’s just a human body.’ I’m very comfortable with myself. I started at 22 or 23 modeling underwear. The thing about that was, it was very awkward when I started doing that.
“My manager and I joke all the time — with the exception of that last film I did, ‘Geography Club,’ I’ve been … no, even in that one, I’ve been shirtless or naked. I mean, it’s presumed I’m naked, so I have to wear very little.
“To be able to do that on camera and not to have that self-conscious thing come across on camera — because, obviously, a camera will pick it up — It helped me a great deal with that stuff.
“Listen, at the end of the day, like I said, I modeled underwear. I work very hard on myself physically, in training and that sort of things … so, listen, if it’s harmless, so what? We just have fun with it.”
Deeley also says he learned some important lessons from modeling.
“The tough thing about it is,” he says, “and what I don’t like about it, it’s not as creative. It’s really more creative for the photographer, whereas the model, it’s kind of, ‘Move your … smile … good.’ It’s a lot of focused energy.
“The great thing about modeling, and I think, for models who aspire to be actors, it teaches you how to use your eyes to manipulate a camera. Because, that’s what film acting is, camera acting is. It’s all in the eyes.
“In a still photo, you have to tell a story without words, without movement. I’ve been very lucky at my age. I had a short modeling career, because … I wasn’t enjoying it. But, I got to work with a couple world-known photographers, who taught me a lot about it. So, before I even got on camera, I was ready go to.
“A lot of people were like, ‘Oh, have you ever Googled Justin Deeley?’ It’s like, thank God my grandmother doesn’t know how to Google. It is what it is. I don’t regret any of that stuff, because it taught me a ton. And it’s, oddly enough, transferred over to what I’m doing now.”
While Deeley doesn’t mind stripping down, he’s not crazy about the idea of dressing up for one — like the actors who have to wear law-office business attire for “Drop Dead Diva.”
“Because I know all the other actors have the suit-and-ties stuff,” Deeley says, “I’m very blessed as far as the wardrobe I get to wear. I’d rather have my own wardrobe, if it means I have to be naked every once in a while as opposed to wearing a suit all the time.”