Welcome to Random Roles, wherein we talk to actors about the characters who defined their careers. The catch: They don’t know beforehand what roles we’ll ask them to talk about.
The actor: The first time most audiences were freaked out by David Dastmalchian, he was laughing in the face of possible death at the hands of Harvey Dent, slowly losing grip on reality. Not every actor can say they made their film debut in one of the highest-grossing blockbusters, from one of the highest-grossing directors, but there was Dastmalchian, playing a lackey to The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Coincidentally, the part kick-started a career filled with villainous comic-book roles, including The Flash, Gotham (where he played a devotee to another Joker-esque madman), and this summer’s The Suicide Squad, from director James Gunn. Even when he’s playing a good guy—like Kurt in Marvel’s Ant-Man movies—there’s a bit of mysterious menace to his work. But, despite what his often intimidating on-screen presence may have you believe, few are as genuine and grounded in their approach as David Dastmalchian.
A lifetime fan of comic books, Dastmalchian would rather not question the fates that have brought him a robust career in genre film and television: “People are like, ‘You’ve really chosen this path,’ [but] the things that I choose are to take care of my mental health every day, to try and be the best person that I can be.” His humble outlook on life and career comes from a past where every day was a battle for survival—having overcome addiction and learning to live with mental illness, Dastmalchian takes no opportunity for granted. When given the chance to bring his own story to film, even with a shoestring budget, he dove head first into the indie Animals with director Collin Schiffli. When offered an audition for a supporting role in the dark thriller Prisoners, Dastmalchian trusted his gut, leading to the first of many fruitful collaborations with filmmaker Denis Villeneuve. David Dastmalchian once thought he’d burnt every bridge he’d ever built, but his illustrious resumé is proof it’s never too late for a second chance.
Whether or not it’s too late for Polka-Dot Man and the other misfit rogues of The Suicide Squad would lead us into “spoiler” territory, but the movie looks to give Dastmalchian his splashiest role yet. That is, at least until Villeneuve’s long-anticipated Dune is unveiled to the world this fall, which the actor calls, “one of the best films I’ve ever seen in my life… a piece of cinema history.” With big things on the horizon, it was the perfect time for The A.V. Club to sit down with David Dastmalchian for Random Roles, reflecting on his first onscreen credit ordering a drink next to Kyle Chandler, the Animals press interview that changed his life, and how his comic-book fandom has helped him book the roles of his dreams. The full interview is below, as well as video highlights from our Zoom calls with the actor.
The Suicide Squad (2021)—“Polka-Dot Man”
The A.V. Club: We’ve previously been introduced to The Suicide Squad, but this one feels like its own unique beast. What can you tell us about James Gunn’s vision and what he has in store for this team of supervillains?
David Dastmalchian: Raised on comic books and having been loving and collecting comics my whole life, I’ve always been obsessed with the DC villains and the Marvel superheroes. The DC villains—especially the more obscure ones—have always had a special place in my heart. So when I found out that I was going to get to be a part of The Suicide Squad, not only was I over the moon—I know that, as members of The Suicide Squad, they’re not traditionally good guys doing a good mission; they’re bad guys kind of being coerced into doing a good mission. So, for all of those reasons, I was doing backflips—and still am—that I get to be a part of this.
There couldn’t be a more perfect director for The Suicide Squad than James Gunn. You have a man who has a supernatural ability to tell stories and make movies, someone with a gift that is so exceptional. And he’s telling a story about these people who have these supernatural gifts, who have these incredible abilities, and yet—as soon as they’re a liability to the system—they can be erased in a second. We all know how grateful we are that James is going to be able to make the films that he’s going to be able to make, but there was a moment when the alt-right, and the dark forces, were able to pressure the corporate structure into just trying to take it all away. He has this ability to take characters that, in so many regards, we look at as being despicable, as discarded, as throwaway, and then finding some gem of redemption within them. [It’s] something I think that all of us—without all of a sudden shifting to anything too philosophical or emotional—we’re all struggling to do that right now. We watched that happen around us for the last several years, people that are our neighbors or even our own family, god forbid, doing things that were really despicable. [We’re] trying to find some connectivity to that because, if we don’t, we’re fucked. We’re lost. And I think James is the guy that can do that.
So, yeah, it’s such a dream. Like, I’ll never—not in a half an hour, not in three hours, not in a three-day hangout interview with you—be able to say how much my heart and mind are bursting. And I love polka dots! It’s such a silly thing to say—I love the design, the look, the feel that he created. It’s really wonderfully goofy and beautiful.
AVC: And what about Polka-Dot Man? What makes him, specifically, so compelling to you?
DD: What I can say about his special equipment and abilities is limited because that’s part of the fun of the movie, the way that [audiences] will get to experience that. But I will say that he is not the most eager guy to be out there participating in a mission, [or] having to do really much of anything. So I could connect with that. He is definitely someone who has been struggling with some depression issues, and god knows I do. When I get a role, I have been so fortunate to have been given so many cool, beautiful, well-crafted roles, but few have connected with me as personally as Abner. I mean, I call him “PDM,” but his name is Abner, and I like referring to the character as Abner because that’s really who he is. And Abner is rife with conflict and internal darkness, and I think that what James did was address all of that in a way that’s really fun and lends itself to the story, but, at the same time, is really, really beautiful. I just immediately felt like a kindred connectivity to Abner.
The Flash, (2017-21)—“Abra Kadabra / Philippe”
AVC: Your comic book fandom is well-documented, so I’m curious: When a role like Abra Kadabra comes your way, is that something you’re actively pursuing? Or does the industry seem to know you’re their go-to guy for comic book adaptations?
DD: It’s a mystery to me! It really is like, yes, I do believe in the power of manifestation; I’ve always got my goals and dreams. And I believe it’s important to make contracts with ourselves and to write things down that we want to achieve. So, working in the genre space, the science fiction space, the comic book adaptation space is something I have actively dreamed about. But, to say that it’s something that I’ve actively pursued—other than doing my very best when I was given an audition—is hard to quantify because it’s not like there’s some business model where you can say, “I’m going to pursue comic book movies!” I don’t have that power, I don’t have that connection in Hollywood, I don’t even have an agent or manager—I haven’t in four years. So, when people reach out to me to audition for things or they want me to be a part of their project, I’m at the—for lack of a better term—mercy of the fates. What comes my way comes my way.
I wish I knew! I try not to question the fact that, like, my first big break was in a comic book movie, the first time I was on a film set was in a comic book movie. I’ve always felt that my knowledge of comic books and the serious issues, subjects, and character arcs that can be explored through comic books, in particular—but genre in general—are a gateway to incredible but also meaningful storytelling. So I take that stuff very seriously even though, at the end of the day, it’s kind of silly. I love it and I think my knowledge and passion for it has probably served me when it comes time to audition or be able to make knee-jerk reactions on set to solve problems. But it’s crazy! People are like, “You’ve really chosen this path,” [but] the things that I choose are to take care of my mental health every day, to try and be the best person that I can be, to fight for causes and issues that matter to me—those are things that I have some control over when I wake up every day.
When it comes to the blessings and gifts I’ve been given as a working actor—The Flash, I will be honest, when I got the first opportunity, that was a casting director who just really thought I was a good actor, who I’d auditioned for numerous times, David Rapaport. He couldn’t get me hired on some of his other superhero projects, and then he finally got me Abra Kadabra—I was so excited. I really did not have a positive experience the first time playing Abra. I loved doing it, I love the cast, I love the crew, but when I finished the show, the person who was in charge of part of the show at that point didn’t like what I did at all, and it was really disappointing. Thank god there’s a new showrunner who just this year reached out and was like, “We’d love to have you back to do Abra again.” And I was so excited because I love that character, and I love Grant [Gustin], and the cast, and Greg Berlanti is such a genius, the way he makes the the DC television universe work. So I jumped back in and I knew that character very well—I knew I was on to something—that person was just wrong. And they let me go with it and we had a fucking blast, man. It was so fun.
Ant-Man (2015), Ant-Man And The Wasp (2018)—“Kurt”
AVC: Knowing you take comics very seriously, how do you balance bringing your own work to a character with, say, an extensive comic-book history, versus someone like Kurt, a character you helped create for the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
DD: So, there is a formula that would be like, “My TED Talk today: When I approach character work…” [laughs.] I learned how to act in Kansas, but then I really got serious about my training in Chicago. I was trained on the stages of Chicago theaters, and I developed an approach to building character and approaching text that is: The script is my guide—it’s everything. My director and their vision is what I am there to fulfill. Therefore, I break down and examine and explore the script, the character, their backstory, their relationship to the other characters in the story, their voice, the way their body moves. All of that work, whether it’s, you know, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams at a theater in Chicago; whether it’s Animals, a micro-budget indie film that we shot in Chicago; whether it’s Kurt in Ant-Man for a Marvel Studios picture, Abra Kadabra for The Flash. To me, the work that goes into that is exactly the same. Now, in the performance of it, it’s my job—I believe—to familiarize myself as best I can, and open my ears and heart and mind as best I can, to the vision that the director has for the tone and energy of the story they’re trying to tell. So, knowing when a character may be tonally different than one I would have approached in a differently constructed story, those are micro-shifts. The cameras are just an incredible magnifying glass, so these micro-shifts and micro-adjustments in tone, I kind of put myself in the hands of the director and I allow them to guide that. Otherwise, the preparation, the work, and the execution is almost identical, if that makes sense.
The Dark Knight (2008)—“Thomas Schiff”
AVC: Earlier you alluded to your first big break via a comic-book movie, which was The Dark Knight. Of course, that’s a massive blockbuster, and quite the introduction to film acting. What do you remember about those first days on set? Did it feel overwhelming?
DD: Try to put yourself in the shoes of an actor who, a few years before, had thought they would never act again. You’re looking at a guy in his 20s who had gotten clean, and had basically felt like he burned every bridge—in both friendships and business—who had worked very hard just to be able to hold down a day job, stay sober, and start working on tending to his mental health. All of a sudden, he’s getting to be in some of the best theater productions in Chicago, which is this huge gift that he never thought was going to happen. Then he gets to do a TV commercial with an amazing independent film director, and starts getting paid for being an actor. And then this motherfucker is standing on the set of Christopher Nolan’s sequel to Batman Begins, just a few blocks away from the place where he goes to buy his comic books every week, and on the same block where he used to park his car sometimes and sleep in it when he was a homeless junkie. I have to speak about myself in the third-person—not because I have a dissociative disorder, but because it’s that surreal.
I literally walk into hair and makeup—not knowing what the eff I’m doing, so scared, so excited; I’m going to be a part of this iconic story. I walk into the hair and makeup trailer and—literally, in the morning, the first time I’ve ever been on a film set—I meet, sitting in their makeup chairs, Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Nestor Carbonell—I’m sure I’m leaving someone off, but like holy fucking shit, dude! So, just imagine! Just put yourself in those shoes of that kid. I can go back to those moments and I just vibrate right now, like, thinking about it with this insane excitement, and it still gives me anxiety. Looking back on that moment and being so filled with, “Oh my god, I can’t believe this happening!,” and the deepest well of gratitude.
Because, for all intents and purposes, that should never have happened. I should never have gotten that chance. And I don’t take my privilege lightly when I say I know that I was given a second shot at life—that a lot of people, most people, who go into psychotic episodes who have to fight with radical and deep depression, and then severe addiction issues, most don’t come back from the other side. It’s the fact that I was given that privilege and that gift, it just it makes it that much more surreal to me.
AVC: And it sounds like it was an incredible learning experience for you. What’s one major takeaway from filming The Dark Knight, from working with Christopher Nolan, that you’d applied to your career in the years since?
DD: There were so many takeaways from that. But I observed the director, who is someone I admire so much, have this incredible, unquantifiable amount of preparation, vision, confidence in that vision, and ability to communicate that vision in a way that—when when we were in the midst of what felt like the most overwhelming, massive, high-pressure situation—he was so calm and steady, and his creativity was just flowing. It was deeply inspiring for me to know and understand that accessing some of my most useful tools and skills as an actor was going to come as I could find ways to ground myself, and find that quiet, kind of calm place inside. It’s something that I aspire to to this day. I think it’s really important for me; a lot of times it’s tempting—especially if you’re doing work that’s highly intense, or emotional, or chaotic—to really work yourself up in between takes and in between the action, because you think you’re accessing something that may be able to be extended to the time that the cameras rolling. What I found is that’s actually not always useful. I think I need to be in as present of a place as possible. And it wasn’t just the director, but I think the director will always set the tone with that kind of energy, and it’s from the top down. So, we’re looking around at other actors, and the way that they approach their work the same way was—I learned that’s something I’ve been striving to be like since then.
AVC: But even before The Dark Knight, there was Early Edition—
DD: Oh my god. So I was still in college at the time and a legendary casting director, Jane Alderman, was casting Early Edition, and I got the chance to audition for “Patron # 1,” who I think says, “Give me another.” Maybe? We’re in a bar, and—for anyone who’s [un]familiar with what Early Edition was about—it was Kyle Chandler, who played a guy who got the newspaper every day the day before the news happened. Well, in this particular episode, which I believe was called “Everybody Goes To Rick’s,” it was actually a time-travel episode, which was an anomaly for the show. So the [episode] was set in the 1920s, like the Roaring Twenties, of Chicago—Capone-era Chicago. And I was a guy in a speakeasy ordering a drink.
It was literally one day, which was really about two hours on set. And I was so fascinated by—they had like fake cigarette machines, I remember, because everyone was smoking cigarettes, and they had people in flapper dresses. The actual acting was—I don’t even remember, I mean, it’s like literally standing in a crowded bar and going, “Give me another!,” or something like that. But what I really remember about that experience was how kind Kyle was to me. Considering I was a day player—what they call a co-star role, the way they describe anyone who has like one scene under five lines, usually waiters, waitresses, nurses, one-line characters—he was very, very kind. He even said to me, and it really meant a lot to me, that he had seen me on the monitor, and that he thought I looked really cool on camera. And I thought, “Wow, that’s awesome.” And he is such a fine actor, and he’s done so much cool stuff, and it’s been really neat seeing his journey. I always hope I get to meet him at some point.
But, yeah, that was it. And then, sadly, my whole journey kind of was derailed by my battle with addiction and my struggles, so I did not know I would ever act again.
Animals (2014)—“Jude,” writer
AVC: You wrote and starred in the film Animals, and that was heavily drawn from your battle with addiction. Why did it feel like the right time to revisit that part of your story?
DD: So much of getting to tell stories and make films, you’re at the mercy of the fates. The reality is, when I did not think I was going to be able to act again—in the mid-twenty-aughts—I just had so much creative energy and I had such a desire to share stories with people, but I didn’t think I was going to do with the acting again. So I really committed myself to writing a lot, and studying writing, studying screenwriting and playwriting. I was writing short plays for theater companies like The Caffeine Theatre and WNEP and Chicago’s Shattered Globe, and I was contributing as much as I could to things like Collaboraction.
I had this idea about a story that wrestled with the really tough questions that I faced when it comes to relationships: When do you let go? When do you keep fighting? When do you withdraw from codependency, and when do you try to heal and change? No one comes and tells you it’s time to end this, just like no one can make an addict make that decision for themselves until they’re absolutely ready. I wanted to write a story that dealt with all of that. It was going to be a play, and it was a short story, and it was a piece of fiction, and then it just evolved and evolved until it became my first screenplay, Animals—[after] dozens and then dozens and then ultimately something like 75 rewrites. I felt like I had something meaningful there and there was something that was to be said there. Then I started to try to write other screenplays, but Chris Smith—who had directed the TV commercials that I had been doing, and who I really respect as a filmmaker—and I were talking and he asked to see something that I had written. And I sent him a copy of Animals in like 2012, and he said, “This is amazing. I’ll help you make this—we need to get this film made.” And that’s what started it, to be honest.
So I was writing what I knew, I was trying to share stories that I knew in my heart, but at the same time it was just the opportunity. Like, this opportunity presented itself where somebody said to me, “This. You should make this.” And the timing of it is so insane because I wasn’t married yet, but I was with my wife—I mean, she was my girlfriend at the time, but we were partnered up—and we moved to L.A., and we were totally broke artists chasing our dreams. It seemed to me, if there was ever a time to just go say, “I’m going to do this, no matter what,” it was that time.
I had a deep friendship with [director] Collin Schiffli, who had a great vision for the film. He is someone who had cast me in his short films when we lived in Chicago, and he was a film student at Columbia, and we tried to make all these Funny Or Die videos and shorts. I loved working with him, and I knew that he could do something really special with this. So it was like, “Guys, we’re not going to make any money”—I mean, we had a one-bedroom apartment for production. A one-bedroom apartment was all we could afford for me, the director, the art director, the production designer, the AD, the hair and makeup artist, and the DP. Seven of us in a one-bedroom apartment when we made that movie.
AVC: I can see why you thought, “Why not do this now?” Because, in some sense, you felt like you had nothing to lose.
DD: Nothing to lose! [But] I was terrified. I knew it was going to push me, and it was going to take everything I had to make it, to do it right, to pull it off. And I give a lot of credit to [his wife] Eve because she was unquestionably like, “You just need to do this. This is a story you have to tell.” Chris used to say, “If you build it, they will come,” and it was true. I mean, Collin’s vision was so strong, and then Mary Pat Bentel came on board to produce, and then all these other elements started to form around the film. We made it. And I still look back sometimes and I think about those those nights when we had just been shooting for 12 hours straight, and then I had to run and try and solve some location issue for the next day, or I was still trying to wrangle background actors for the next day, or you name it. We faced so many seemingly insurmountable obstacles in the production of that film.
But one of the biggest fears I had to overcome with that was the fear of talking about my own personal battle with addiction and mental illness. Mary Pat, Collin, Eve, everyone else involved would say to me, “When are you going to tell people that this is a life that you lived?” And I would say, “We’re not going to, we don’t need to.” I don’t want it to be exploited for any marketing purposes. It’s my business; my anonymity was sacrosanct to me at that point, as far as an addict and someone who struggled with mental illness. I said, “It doesn’t matter, I don’t want to talk about it.” Deep down, honestly, the biggest fear I had was that it was going to affect—it sounds really shallow, but I was afraid it was going to affect my employability. I was afraid people were not going to want to hire me if they knew how badly I had struggled with addiction and how difficult my struggle with mental illness has been. I was afraid that, if I spoke about this stuff, it would come back to haunt me as as a professional.
So everybody else involved in the film would say, “You’re wrong. Your story is inspiring to people, and it will help people. But if you’re not comfortable, we will protect you, and you won’t have to tell anybody.” And, one day, Nina Metz from the Chicago Tribune came to do a set visit and to just ask me about filming in Uptown Chicago and the support we’d gotten from the Film Council. We’re walking around Uptown and we stopped on a corner of Magnolia and Wilson, and I’ll never forget, she said, “So where did this story come from? Where did the script come from?” I had this “come to Jesus” moment where I was like, “You know what? Eff it.” And I just started talking—and we just talked and talked and talked, and it felt so good to just get it out and to share. That being said, I don’t think anybody that doesn’t want to discuss—you should never feel pressured to. Anybody entering recovery should know that their anonymity is always protected. It’s just a unique experience for me that this has happened to be the way it’s worked out.
Prisoners (2013)—“Bob Taylor”
AVC: You mentioned your fear of not being employable, but it was around this same time you met director Denis Villeneuve.
DD: Yes, he changed my life.
So, let’s rewind now to December of 2012. We’re trying to put together Animals, which we had come up with a budget that was around $200,000, and I was raising it through going to friends of friends, friends of family, people who we knew had money that, if they had to part with [it,] it wasn’t going to break them. So, the stress of trying to put that together—I had no money, I was working as an actor, but barely shoestringing it by, like barely putting together the rent. An opportunity presented itself for me to be a part of a movie with a decent paycheck, and I didn’t connect with the script, and I had a difficult time understanding what it was that I was to be doing. And I, ultimately—with the advice and encouragement of a good friend in the business, as well as Eve—turned it down because I decided at that point that I would rather put the energy into trying to make Animals, even if it put me in the hole. As opposed to just getting by a few more months, and not being able to give the filmmakers the quality of performance they probably needed for their film, because I just didn’t connect with their material.
So I was really second-guessing myself as an artist, “What was I doing? I’m in L.A.; I should have been on set of that movie!” I was like, “Why did I do that? I could at least be getting paid. I could at least be working right now.” And I got a call for an audition at Barden/Schnee Casting for this film that had this phenomenal cast, and I was given the sides for the scenes of this really desperate and haunted character named Bob. I immediately knew who he was; I felt like I understood Bob Taylor. So even though, in the script, he was written probably looking more like I look now—I think he was written in the script [with a] bushy beard, and overweight, and like really messy and sloppy—I felt like Bob was more like brown wallpaper. He could blend in anywhere and didn’t want anyone to notice him, so he really would just vanish. So I created this version of the character, and I went to their office, and we taped the audition. I left and I went, “Well, I did the best I could do.”
The holidays came and went. I proposed to Eve, even though I didn’t have a dime. I said, “Well, if you want to be with me, this is what it’s going to be like, so what do you think?” And she said yes. In January, I got the call that I booked the role, I fly to Atlanta, and I had at this point seen Maelstrom and Incendies by Denis Villeneuve. I had never seen an interview with him, I had never obviously met the man; I thought his name was Dennis. So I immediately go to meet him and shake his hand, we go into this office and we start talking, and I’m calling him Dennis, and he’s too polite to correct me. He tells me all about this character, his vision for it, what he thinks I can do, and why he chose me. It was kismet from the moment we met.
[Our] friendship formed very quickly, and making the film together—the bond that we formed in the dark place that we went together, it really did forge in fire something very lasting. He has always been very kind and tender with me as an artist, as an actor. I think he knows about the places that I’ve been in the real world, and I think he knows that I’m not unwilling to revisit them if it would help tell a story. And I think that he understands me and speaks in a language that I can hear when it comes to creative. He gives me great notes, and will demand a lot of me because he knows that I would want nothing less. And here we are now, three films later.
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)—“Coco”
DD: Interestingly, with Blade Runner, I was in the middle of negotiating possibly joining a TV series for a lot of money. And I was like, “I don’t think this is the right thing to do.” I wanted to go make All Creatures Here Below [with Collin Schiffli]. But, if I did a TV show, I wasn’t going to be allowed to do All Creatures Here Below. And I was really stressed because I thought, “Boy, is it irresponsible of me to turn down all this money to go make a movie that’s not going to pay me anything?” And at that point, I had a kid, and I [felt] like the stakes are getting higher. But I woke up on the morning that I needed to make the decision and I was really torn. And I got an email from Denis that said, “I killed you in Prisoners. I’d like to bring you far into the future and kill you again in Blade Runner 2049. Would you like to come to Budapest and join me for a few weeks?” And that answered it right there, that’s the sign I needed. Because I knew I could do Blade Runner—which they only needed me for like a week—and All Creatures Here Below. But there’s no way I was going to be able to do those and the TV show. So I chose those and I made the right choice.
Dune (2021)—“Piter De Vries”
DD: I get to be a part of what is [Villeneueve’s] greatest achievement yet in cinema. I think it’s one of the best films I’ve ever seen in my life, and I think that it’s a piece of cinema history. And I don’t think anyone has ever seen a film like this before, I don’t think they will ever see a film like it after. I think that it’s, visually and emotionally, just unprecedented. And it’s also really fun, which is quite an achievement because it’s, you know, just such a vast galaxy that he’s created, and it’s a blast.
AVC: So, what’s your personal history with Dune, the story? And why does Villeneuve feel, to you, like the right man for the job?
DD: I’ve read the book now four times, and I re-read it right before we went into production. Every time it’s a new experience for me, it’s one of my favorite—not just sci-fi novel—it’s a great piece of 20th-century literature. What makes the book so special is that it views every interaction, every character, every element of the narrative from so many different points of view.
When you watch a Denis Villeneuve film, he’s able to take you from the macro, mindblowing expanse of the worlds that he creates down to the micro details of every character in every setting, and he can show it to you from every point of view. His characters are so multidimensional, and the way that he explores characters is so multidimensional that words like “good” and “bad” don’t even come into play. He understands that about human beings, that we are so multi-layered—there are so many thousands of layers to our psychology, to our emotional lives. For his imagination and his ability to show characters in such an all-encompassing way to be combined with the world that Frank Herbert created when he wrote Dune, it’s perfection. I also know that Denis has been dreaming about this film for decades. I mean, this is his dream project, and he has been fantasizing about the world of Dune since as long as he’s been making movies. So it couldn’t be a more perfect marriage.
Bird Box (2018)—“Whistling Marauder”
AVC: You have a small role in Bird Box and, when we spoke to your co-star Jacki Weaver, it was fun to hear her surprise over what a sensation it became online. Were you surprised as well?
DD: So weird; it was crazy!
But, first of all, when I got to go to the premiere of Bird Box, Jacki Weaver was there, and we were both downstairs in this weird green room holding room at the theater, I was so like geeked out. I was so excited to meet her, and she was so nice, but I really blubbered too much, and couldn’t say enough [about her].
Zeitgeists are odd, and it’s the mystery of things that just take off and all of a sudden become a thing. Being a tiny part of that film as it became this bizarrely tidal-wave, zeitgeist movie moment was fascinating, it was baffling. In the end, the thing that I was the most excited and grateful for, was that it was shining such a light on the immense talent that I believe is Josh Malerman, who wrote the book Bird Box, which my wife and I had been tracking [for] years before this movie became a reality. His talent as a writer is next level—I mean, he’s Stephen King, this guy is a brilliant writer. So I was so happy that the movie did what it did because I felt like all that all shone a light on Josh’s book. And I think it led a lot of people to go pick up that book and read it. That was, to me, the coolest part of that whole thing.