At 43, Adam Bartley is carving out a nice space for himself in the world of character actors in Hollywood. The Eden Prairie native and 1997 Eden Prairie High School grad’s most recent role is in the captivating new sci-fi/drama series “Night Sky,” now streaming Season 1 on Amazon Prime.
“Night Sky” follows retired couple Franklin and Irene York (played by J.K. Simmons and Sissy Spacek) as they unravel the secrets surrounding a mysterious chamber buried in their backyard.
Bartley plays Byron Albemarle, a nosy neighbor who has noticed strange things happening at the York residence and won’t rest until he gets answers, initially drawing ire from Franklin in his pursuit of the truth.
“Byron is not satisfied with his lot in life,” explained Bartley, of his character.
“He desperately wants to be someone,” he continued. “He has an insatiable desire to prove he’s worth something, but has sometimes (gone) down unfriendly paths to do so.”
‘A sense of wonder’
Bartley said he was drawn to the writing in “Night Sky.” “It conveyed a sense of wonder you don’t always see in TV. It’s something we desperately need right now.”
He particularly liked the writing as it pertained to his character. “They wrote a beautiful arc for Byron,” Bartley said. “It’s an arc you can only dream to play.”
And to play that arc out alongside decorated acting veterans like Simmons and Spacek? Even better.
“He’s a dynamo,” gushed Bartley, of Simmons.
“And Sissy’s a deeply connected, flowing, raging river,” Bartley continued. “She’s powerful.”
According to Bartley, it’s all you can ask for as an actor. “You want to work with people that inspire you,” he said. “You want to work with great artists and tell great stories.”
Stage to screen
Bartley spent his formative years on the stage, a member of Eden Prairie High School’s concert choir and a fixture of the school’s drama program.
“I was in all the plays and musicals,” he said.
“No one would be surprised that I made this my career.”
After graduation, Bartley earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He then spent nearly a decade traversing between New York, Chicago, Aspen and Alaska, acting in local theater productions and working as an acting coach before heading out to Los Angeles in 2010.
“I threw myself into the fire,” said Bartley. “I worked harder than I’ve ever worked.”
Within a year of arriving in L.A., Bartley had landed a series regular role on A&E’s modern Western crime drama “Longmire.” For six seasons, Bartley played sheriff’s deputy Archie “the Ferg” Ferguson.
“It was one of the greatest things I’ve ever done,” said Bartley.
And though the show ended in 2017, Bartley is still enjoying the success of the show. “It’s on Netflix now so new people are finding it everyday.”
“People who love Longmire will love it forever,” he added. “There was lots of great talent on that show.”
It was during his time on Longmire that Bartley fell in love with the process of working in front of the camera. While he loved his time in the theater, Bartley said he found that his performances would go stale over time. Being in front of the camera was different.
“It demands that you create something real,” he said. “After awhile you start feeling free and relaxed.”
In addition to “Night Sky” and “Longmire,” Bartley has landed roles on popular television shows including “This is Us,” “Call me Kat,” and “Candy.” He has also appeared in major motion pictures like “Vice,” “Donnybrook,” and “Honesty Weekend.”
Bartley credits his success with his training and fostering a good work ethic.
“It helps to be a character actor,” he added. “I love playing the odd balls.”
A touch of Minnesota
Bartley said he brings a bit of his Minnesota upbringing to each of his roles – just not the accent. “They work that out of you pretty early on in school,” he explained.
Bartley is instead referring to that innate ability to strike up a conversation with a stranger in even the most mundane of places and foster connections. “I would say there is a genuine, true desire to connect (in Minnesota),” he said. “There’s not a lot of places like that. It’s special.”
Bartley makes his way home several times a year – most recently to host a “Night Sky” premiere in Eden Prairie for family, friends, former teachers, and coaches. “It was pretty special,” he said.
A die-hard Minnesota Vikings fan and season ticket holder, Bartley also tries to fly back to the Twin Cities for as many home games as he can.
Bartley is grateful for all the success he’s achieved so far.
“I love telling stories,” he said. “I’m hoping it continues.”
As for “Night Sky,” which debuted in May, Bartley is still waiting to hear if Amazon will pick it up for a Season 2. He’s hopeful that the story will not only continue, but will include his character, who ended the season in a precarious position. “I’d love to return,” he said.
Until that future is decided, Bartley is open to new opportunities. “I want to keep working,” he said.
“I’m going to take advantage of what comes my way,” he added. “Go with the flow.”