If 2016 is somebody’s year, it is Daniel Bacon’s. If that name isn’t familiar to you yet, it will be! With two major films (The BFG and Brain on Fire) releasing, a web series under his belt, and an infant child entering the world, Daniel has been busy. He takes all of this in stride, excited about every opportunity that comes his way! A pleasure to talk to, Daniel gave Talk Nerdy With Us an inside look at the making of The BFG, the excitement of living your dream, the hard work many of us forget about when we watch actors on-screen, and so much more! Read our interview below to find out more about his two films and web series!
The BFG is a well-known and loved book. Was there any added pressure while making the film knowing the popularity and following it would already have?
I don’t think so. I didn’t feel that way, anyway. I know the conversation amongst those of us that were cast as the giants, since we work so closely together, we were all really excited to be a part of such a great story. We didn’t feel pressure, we actually felt a lot of excitement about getting the opportunity to do something like this.
Speaking of you playing a giant, what can you tell us about your character Bonecruncher?
Collectively, other than Jermaine Clement’s character Fleshlumpeater, and Mark Rylance’s character, The BFG, there’s not a lot of specific descriptions for each giant per say- they are more of a collective. So within the collective, I guess that leaves eight of us, we worked with a movement coach and developed through our own personal movements, like as the actor, we found little bits of how we moved and then accentuated that for our character. Essentially, that’s how we came up with backstory and the little details were through movement, defining specific traits if you will. It was a really interesting process to work with Terry Notary, the movement coach, to really help build our characters.
When we were given the initial audition, we were actually asked to create a character for the audition, so there was still a little bit of that layered in, so, you know, there was a lot of detail that went into creating each of our individual movements.
That’s really interesting! So, what would you say then is your favorite part of playing a giant, since I’m sure it’s a different character than you’re used to (than anyone is used to)?
(laughs) Oh man, I don’t know if I had a favorite. My giant actually had a couple of injuries. So, I actually was very sore for a lot of days because of how I had to position my body and move around in that way. If I had to pick, I would say the most exciting thing was the collaboration of it, you know, working with Terry the movement coach, but also with Steven [Spielberg]. He would come in and he would make his adjustments and we would play off of each other.
I only knew two of the other actors playing the giants so it was really neat to meet this group of misfits, because we were all different shapes and sizes and different backgrounds. So, it was really interesting to be collaborative as a group with these other actors and come together to come up with a story and the hierarchy within the group. I mean, obviously, Fleshlumpeater is the leader, but to decide who was next in line, if you will, what role each of us took within the group dynamics. That was really really interesting.
Working alongside Bill Hader was a real treat as well. I’ve been a big fan of his work, so it was really neat to get a chance to meet him and then work alongside him and he was really really cool and down to earth and gracious, so it was really exciting to know he is such a humble and wonderful guy. That was really cool too.
I guess technically, The BFG is a children’s classic, but as far as the movie is concerned, is it going to be fun and enjoyable for all ages?
I think so. I don’t know if you’ve seen the trailers…On set, you’re working inside what is called a volume- the performance capture and the CGI dynamics- but you’re just in a big empty room. You’re relying a lot on the technical crew and on Steven to explain what this will look like and what will happen here. Seeing the trailers for it, it’s like holy cow, it’s really magical, so I think it’s been exciting to see that transformation from just this big empty space to what they’ve been able to put together and, I mean, Mark [Rylance] is such a big part of this movie and it was really wonderful to see him get the Oscar nomination that he’s been accessible to a lot of people who may not have been familiar with his work prior to that and he as well is an absolute treat to watch. He is very well-known within the theater circles and in England. Again, these people are so humble.
It’s all about the work and you struggle away at acting school and so forth and you hear that and it’s really nice to meet people at the top of their game and experience that and, yeah, it is all about the work. That was really neat. So, in saying that, because everyone was so focused on the work, there’s a lot of heart that went into this and I think that’s what people will see when they see the film, they will see how much heart went into the making of this film.
That’s great, that’s really fun! So I also wanted to ask a couple of questions about Paranormal Solutions Inc. What is it about this particular series that got you interested and made you want to be a part of it?
Well, the two people/the creative team behind it, I was familiar with the work that they’ve done and one of the gentlemen, David Milchard, he was part of a web series called Convos With My 2-Year-Old and in 2013, it was one of Yahoo’s top viral videos and so it garnered a lot of attention, so I knew that gentlemen. Then, the other one is Nick Carella and he had been a part of another web series I had seen and really loved, sort of a film noir, 1950s housewives had become secret agents on the side. It’s really fun stuff and I sort of poked them a little bit, going “you know, you’re web series are sort of homogeneous, there’s not a lot of color involved in them.”
I was sort of giving them the gears about that and then, sure enough, a year later they came to me and said: “you know what, we’ve got you a role.” They actually wrote me a role in it. My characters a little nerdier than I ever saw myself as being, but I fully embraced it and just jumped and it was an unbelievable experience. There are some really talented people in Vancouver doing a lot of indie, grassroots stuff and I was thrilled to be a part of it because they’re such a great creative team. It was really a no-brainer for me to jump on board. And I’ve always- they pitched it as Scooby Doo meets Ghostbusters- and I”m like, yeah I’m in!
I can see that from the episodes I’ve seen.
They got a nice little chunk of budget for it, so a lot of the special effects ended up looking really great. When you’re working with low-budget stuff, sometimes it can end up looking low-budget, but it looks really put together, there’s some nice production value for it and that made it all the much better. I also, my sort of main episode, my feature episode, I get taken in by a Sasquatch and the actor playing the Sasquatch is a very good friend of mine. (laughs). He was one of my groomsmen at my wedding, so it was really great to share that with him. As much as it is a fun series, there’s a lot of more serious, touching moments in it as well, which is really nice.
Speaking of different web series, they’ve become really popular lately. Now that you have been a part of one, why do you think that is? What makes them so interesting and entertaining?
Gosh, in talking to the production guys, the guys who made it, they said a lot of media outlets are looking for content, but they aren’t interested in sort of a one-off short film, they like to have a weekly release so that you can build an audience through having separate releases over a period of time. And then additionally to the web series you have the vlogs. We have pretty much 10 vlogs that come out with every episode, so that way you are building a lot of content.
It’s still not the easiest to earn a lot of money from that, there was this huge sort of influx of content all at once. So, as much as they are looking for content, there’s a lot of that content. Trying to distinguish yourself from all the other stuff, it’s a challenge. You can make a little bit of money, but it’s more what’s happening is if you make something that gets a little bit of heat behind it, someone will usually come in to provide a budget to do an additional series. So, it’s a great way to hone, so if you do two or three of the web series and all of a sudden now you’ve got the experience, the following, and so forth to make a bigger venture. So, I think it’s a great way to hone your skills not just as actors, but as writers and producers and directors and so forth.
That’s really interesting!
The cameras help too. So now, with the cameras, with digital, the cost has come way down because you’re not spending money on film.
That makes sense! So, one other role we were told about and has not necessarily been talked about a lot yet, is your upcoming role in the film Brain on Fire. I don’t know how much you can talk about that, but if you can tell us anything about it, the movie or your role.
Yeah! Essentially, I play, and they changed some of the characters slightly because, in the movie, it has small deviations from the actual story. But it was really cool, because the book is such a fascinating read and I had read the book and I play the therapist that she goes to. So, early on in the course of the month that she goes in for the ailment she has, she’s referred to a psychiatrist, a therapist, and in the book, it’s a female, but they changed it so it’s a male and they did that with a couple of the roles.
I was really excited ing because wow this is an actual character and there’s actual dialogue in the script, that’s directly from the book. That was exciting to portray that and my scene is with Chloe Grace Moretz and she is awesome to work with. It’s really intimate, just the two of us, having this long chat. The director was lovely as well. It was just again these really great experiences. You don’t get them every time you go out as an actor, but I’ve been fortunate over the past year to have a couple great ones.
I don’t think they’ve released it yet, but I really hoping it does well because it is such a great story, just the details and what she went through is unbelievable.
I’m excited about it too! As we’ve just kind of talked about, you have been busy with a variety of just different types of roles and jobs. Is your preparation different for each of these? What is it like for you to take on such different roles?
It’s exciting! I’m mid-forties and a decade ago it was a struggle and I wasn’t sure if this was for me. I came into acting a little bit later. I was 25 when I went to theater school. It wasn’t something that I’ve always wanted to do since I was a little kid, so starting a little bit later on and taking a while to get the wheels rolling, it was a bit of a slog for a number of years, but I’ve really started to accept that this is what I want to do. Once I gave myself that this is it, no matter what, I don’t care how long it takes or how much of a struggle it is, I embraced it.
Moving from one role to the next, that’s what we do, be versatile, be open, play all these wonderful opportunities, to really connect with that part of myself, it’s just an absolute treat! I have a family who supports me. My wife is fantastic and supporting me going after this and all the oddities that come with it. It’s exciting. I’ve always been a big- talking with Talk Nerdy-I’ve been a bit of a nerd. I’ve always sort of been a little bit on the fringe, on the outside. So it’s exciting to get to play as my job.
That is awesome! You kind of brought me into my last question. Our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us and so I was going to ask you, what is it that you nerd out about, or what parts of your life are nerdy?
(laughs) I was never really a comic book guy, but when I ended up getting a role in a cartoon series of Iron Man, I played War Machine, so I started to read the Iron Man series right from the beginning and I found that really exciting. I felt like I’d missed out by maybe not reading comics as a kid, because it was really fun to do that research.
I know I’m not alone in this, but I am a massive Star Wars fan. I’m 46 this year so when Star Wars came out, it was the first cinematic experience I remember as a kid. To the point that I saw The Phantom Menace six times in the first three days and was playing the Star Wars Trivial Pursuit in line for seven hours. (laughs).
While I’m not as big as some comic book nerdy guys are, I definitely have my moments. My wife will tell you I’m a huge nerd. I have a propensity for singing songs all the time, but not knowing the words, so I make up my own words and make sounds when I don’t know what the words. I just became a dad!
So I’m working on my nerdom now, I’ve got a little 5-month-old who is way cooler than I am already.
That is awesome! Well, Dan, I am just super excited about all you have going on- both with work and your family. Thank you so much for sharing that with us today! I really appreciate it!
Oh, no problem! My pleasure. It’s been an exciting part. The movie The BFG, it’s about the two of them (Sophie and the BFG), that’s a large portion of the movie, so it was a really great experience to be able to share in a little part of that and having a vehicle like this, it’s been great to now experience talking to wonderful people like you and getting to experience this part of the journey. It’s been really great!
The BFG is now in theaters!