Marcos: When did you first know you wanted to become an actor?
David: I don’t know which specific moment is the most accurate – but there were several. I remember sitting in a cinema and watching The Muppet Movie when I was very little. I knew then that I had a fascination with the movies and it was more than just a normal love for going to see films. I believed that it was all real – the adventure, the characters, the worlds created – and I still do! My first “performance” in front of a crowd was imitating Kermit the Frog as I sang “The Rainbow Connection” in front of my elementary school talent show. I was terrified, forgot the lyrics, and ran crying off stage. I’ve been hooked ever since. My sister also took me to the theater at a very young age to see a production of Agatha Christie’s “Mousetrap” – that had a big effect. The play opened in the dark and you could just hear a man whistling and then murder a woman. It had such an effect on me. I didn’t stop trembling for the rest of the night. There were many wonderful school and community theater experiences that I had growing up in Kansas but I think that something very electric and life-changing was triggered in me when I was in high school and was working on a scene from Peter Schaffer’s ‘Equus’. I was playing 3 characters at one time: Dr. Dysart, Alan and Alan’s girlfriend (can’t remember her name) – for a competition in the National Forensics League. It was like I wasn’t there for a few minutes. I remember thinking that I’d either gone completely mad or had tapped into what was going to be the most magnificent game of make-believe of all time…
Marcos: What was the first big project you got involved?
David: Definitely The Dark Knight. I’d never worked on anything other than theater productions up until then – and though the acting approach to both theater and film acting is very similar, the preparation and execution of the performance is completely different. I felt like there had been some mistake and they had accidentally called my number – but I wasn’t going to let them realize that they’d made a mistake. I’m very grateful that the director, the whole production team, in fact, made me feel comfortable and able to play freely.
Marcos: What has been your favorite role so far?
David: Hard to say. I think the most challenging was probably ‘Tom’ in Tennessee Williams’ ‘The Glass Menagerie’ which was produced in Chicago by my home-town theater company, Shattered Globe Theater. It was a really powerful production and the rest of the cast was superb. I had several moments with the actress who played Amanda (Tom’s mother) where I thought I was going to really lose control. She had a power over me and the whole play had a power over me. It was a terrifying and incredible experience.
Marcos: Is there a particular role that got away? – A role you really wanted, but wasn’t cast in?
David: Hmm…. I think Hamlet. I have played “versions” of Hamlet in several plays that were inspired by the original (I played ‘Hamlet Snopes’ in ‘Hamlet, the Hamlet’ from Susan Lori-Parks 365 Plays in 365 Days, ‘Mamlet’ in a version of Hamlet written in the style of David Mamet – but never the actual Hamlet in Shakespeare’s play. I have played Laertes and (one of my favorites), a very oily version of ‘Claudius’ in an all-ages adaptation called ‘Hamlet, Prince of Puddles’ by Angela Berliner.
Marcos: What role would you love to play that you haven’t yet?
David: I would love to play ‘Mitch’ in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’.
Marcos: What piece of literature you would want to adapt into film?
David: The story of David from the Bible (but I think that Ridley Scott is doing that as we speak!) – and I would love to take a stab at several different comic book adaptations – ‘Moon Knight’ and ‘Morbius’ have been 2 of my favorite books for a long time. I like blending the elements of the occult and horror with heroism and adventure.
Marcos: How was your experience during filming of The Dark Knight?
David: It was a very rare experience for me – a truly great moment for me. I had been working very hard for quite some time to find a way back onto stage and to perform (following a rather lengthy break from acting due to personal reasons) – and I was cast in a way that was very secretive, so I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to be doing. I suddenly found myself sitting on a set with a legion of great actors, hundreds of crew and background actors, a top-tier production team and one of the greatest directors of all time – my mind was melting a bit, you know? But this director – he just said a few, simple things to me and looked at me with a kind of calming confidence that made me feel like I’d be fine. It’s one of those intangible qualities I’ve found in the great directors I’ve worked with – a kind of silent confidence that makes me feel like, “okay, sure, I’ll follow you wherever you want to go.”
Marcos: What are your views on the Batman reboot?
David: I honestly don’t know much about it. I think that Ben Affleck has been doing some really inspiring and awesome work and I’m sure he’s going to bring something interesting to the role. I try not to read about these kinds of films before they come out for fear of having major plot points or casting surprises spoiled – so when I go to see them in the theater it’s an open experience.
Marcos: I just found out that we have mutual friend between us. You cast a friend of mine, David Cosey in your film, Animals. How was it working him?
David: Haha – oh yes – David thankfully responded to a post that I had put out on several of the Chicago neighborhood blogs to play a featured background actor in our record store scene, which we shot in Uptown at the amazing “Shake, Rattle and Read” Book and Record Store owned by the great Ric Addy. It was a wonderful day of shooting.
Marcos: What inspired you to write, Animals?
David: I have a personal history with the same struggles that the characters experience in the film. I think that drug addiction is a strong dramatic foil for any hero who is torn between their self-destruction and love. I wanted to tell a love story that offered some hope but that was framed in the real depths.
Marcos: Will we see you behind the camera for future projects? Will see you go from actor to filmmaker in the near future?
David: I will hopefully always keep writing. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of having written/produced a story and now seeing it find an audience. I don’t think I will ever direct – it’s a gift that I don’t believe I possess. But yes, I hope to keep writing films and plays and helping to produce them. I hope to collaborate much more with my friend, Collin Schiffli (who directed Animals – and several shorts that we’ve made together).
Marcos: How was it working with such big name such as Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhall in Prisoners?
David: Very inspiring. I didn’t have any scenes with Hugh Jackman, but I was able to be around him a few times on the set. He is the kind of actor that I aspire to be. I hope that I get a chance to work with him some day. Jake Gyllenhall is just phenomenal in the film and it was evident when we were shooting the scenes how talented he is. The intensity and ferocity that he brought to our scenes helped to push me into the places my character needed to go. And can I just say that the director, Denis Villeneuve – he’s another one of the great directors of our time. He is a magician on set and in every way.
Marcos: What interested you in a superhero film?
David: I like modern myths. All that good Joseph Campbell stuff!
Marcos: Besides acting, what other training have you had (voice, dance, stage combat, etc.)?
David: I studied at The Theater School, DePaul University – and our training involved all of the above – Voice and Speech, Movement, stage combat, Improv, even Juggling! We had Yoga classes, Make-Up classes, it was an amazing program and I learned so much – many different approaches to acting so that I could basically create my own approach – by picking and choosing the things that worked for me.
Marcos: How has your experience with Marvel Studios been so far? Can you tell us a bit about your role in Ant-Man?
David: I can’t. Sorry!
Marcos: Since you are now working on a Marvel film can we expect to see you at Comic Con?
David: I have only been to SD Comic Con once before – as part of the promotion for a film that I worked on called “Sushi Girl” directed by Kern Saxton. It was an unforgettable experience and I hope to go back. If I’m not there promoting a film next year, though, I will probably be on the floor as a shopper/fan!
Marcos: Do you prefer acting for big film projects or smaller ones ?
David: It doesn’t really matter to me.
Marcos: What are your views on Comic book based films? Do you think they are here to stay?
David: I think that there will always be a desire by audiences to see heroes and villains battling out the epic struggles. When these films are done well, they strike a chord in the audience – whether it’s a die-hard fan of the comic series or just some kid whose parents have taken him/her to the cinema for a summer afternoon (and then that kid becomes a die-hard fan!) – these stories satisfy something in us and bring us all together in a very cool way when they’re done well. I think they will be around for a long time to come.
Marcos: Do you have anything to say for upcoming actors who are struggling to get their big break?
David: Hmmmmm…. Find a way to surround yourself with positive people who are doing what you WANT to be doing with your life. Find role models that you can have your eyes upon every day – even if that means getting an unpaid internship or volunteering at some kick-ass theater near you or at some production company. Go to as many movies and see as many plays as you can. Read as much as you can. And find something healthy that you can do when you are rejected – exercising, reading, meditation, cooking, making balloon animals…. whatever you have to do. Rejection is just part of the deal – and if you don’t find a healthy alternative to sitting around waiting for the phone to ring, you’ll waste a lot of time being unhappy. Hope this was helpful for you, Marcos. Wishing you all the best, Dd