In Netflix’s ‘Daybreak,’ Glendale High is an apocalyptic battleground — co-starring a Hoover alum
When Gregory Kasyan got the audition breakdown for “Daybreak,” Netflix’s upcoming post-apocalyptic high school dramedy set in Glendale, he did a series of double takes.
Born and raised in Glendale, Kasyan immediately related to the character Eli Cardashyan — pun intended — who grew up wearing knock-offs, only to proverbially inherit the Galleria once the “End of Days” leaves teens to navigate a brave new world.
“I thought, ‘This is perfect. I have to play this role. It has to be me,’” said Kasyan, who recently turned 18.
Not only do Kasyan and fictional Cardashyan share a hometown, they’re both Armenian American. Kasyan attended Hoover High — rival of Cardashyan’s alma mater, Glendale High.
Kasyan got the part.
In the series set to debut Oct. 24, Cardashyan is one of several characters transformed from average Glendale High students to survivalists in the wake of a nuclear blast.
At the heart of it all is 17-year-old Josh (Colin Ford), who is searching for his missing girlfriend, Sam (Sophie Simnett), as he fights to stay alive among Mad Max-style gangs and zombie-like creatures that spring up after the cataclysm.
“It’s another gorgeous Glendale morning, where it’s always 82 degrees of opportunity,” Principal Burr — played by Matthew Broderick in a bizarro-“Ferris Bueller” twist — reports cheerfully to classes filled with bored students in a recently released video teaser for the Netflix show.
“Some say you’re a lost generation but, with the right attitude, you can conquer the world,” he adds — before it cuts to a fiery mushroom cloud exploding into the night sky.
While the show was actually shot in Albuquerque, there will be plenty of Glendale-specific narrative Easter eggs for local viewers to latch onto, said Kasyan, adding that he’s not allowed to reveal too much ahead of the premiere.
“A lot of people who don’t know about Glendale should be knowing about Glendale sometime soon,” Kasyan said, pointing out that the show, based on a graphic novel of the same title by Brian Ralph, will be debuting worldwide in nearly 200 countries.
Currently living in Glendale, Kasyan said he was able to offer the show’s creators and directors — some of whom are from the area — additional details about the city to add in for texture and authenticity.
Becoming Cardashyan was “super simple,” because of their biographical similarities, Kasyan said.
It doesn’t hurt that Kasyan has had a lot of acting experience, despite just reaching voting age.
At the age of 5, Kasyan saw an actor crying on a Nickelodeon show and wanted to learn how he could pull off such a realistic feat of emotional mimicry. He went up to his mom later and said he wanted to act.
By the age of 6, his parents were driving him around to auditions and meeting with potential agents. His mom eventually dropped out of college to drive him from audition to audition.
“I owe everything to my parents because they took the time to listen to a little kid,” Kasyan said.
He has since scored roles on shows like ABC’s “The Middle,” CBS’s “NCIS: New Orleans” and “Hawaii Five-O,” Amazon’s “Bosch,” as well as a handful of features and shorts.
A breakout role came in the 2017 indie feature “Quest,” in which he plays Mills, a troubled, tagging-addicted middle-schooler who finds guidance from a teacher.
As his star continues to rise, Kasyan said he’s been recognized around the Jewel City, recalling a recent incident at Hot Wings Cafe.
“It’s cool to be recognized for your work,” Kasyan said. “But it’s awkward — I’m more shy than they are.”
Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.