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Interview: Dakota Daulby talks about his career and Falling Skies

We talked to Canadian actor Dakota Daulby who plays Kent in season four of Falling Skies. He also stars in two upcoming feature films (both TIFF contenders). The Canadian Gothic Black Fly and Sitting on the Edge of Marlene. He also has his own feature film in the works that he has written and will direct.

Scene Creek: How old were you when you started acting and was there a specific actor or performance that inspired you?

Dakota Daulby: I’ve been interested in the TV and film industry my entire life, since I was a young boy. I was always obsessed with Roman culture and soldiers and knights and all that so I was always obsessed with those types of films and films in general.

But I didn’t really start getting into acting until I was, I think I was about 14 when I first got into it and I sort of tried to do it professionally. It was kind of an escape from what I was going through as a kid.

In terms of actors that got me into it, I’m bizarre in the idea that I don’t really look up to any other actors in terms of wanting to have a similar career to them. I understand that I’m never going to have a similar career. I can never do the same movie that Tom Cruise did – not to say that I don’t enjoy his acting because I do. I never really had any role models in that regard I just kind of focused on my own career. I aspired to do as good as them but not to have a similar career. I just kind of focused on my own stuff.

SC: Do you have a mentor at all? I’m assuming you went to acting school.

DD: I currently go to acting school. I go to the New Image College of Fine Arts. At the school there is the Acting Department Head, Philip Granger and he’s been my mentor for several years now. He’s definitely taught me a lot about what I do and the school in general – I credit my success fully to them because they’ve given me the skills to do this stuff. I was an untrained actor and I wasn’t doing as well.

I remember I booked my first film called The Woodcarver with John Ratzenberger a few years ago now. I kind of look at it as a fluke that I booked it. I wasn’t trained, I didn’t fully understand what I was doing. I remember one scene, we were doing a scene with John. In the scene I’m supposed to get on my bike and take off to go see my mom. I jumped on my bike and I didn’t understand different shots and all that so I jump on my bike and I rode and I rode and I rode. They called cut and I was gone. I went down the block and people are screaming for me, “Dakota, Dakota, where did you go”, then they had to come find me.

SC: Was there one piece of advice that Philip gave you or something specific that he helped you with?

DD: There is definitely a lot of stuff that he’s helped me with and continues to help me with. One of the main pieces of advice that’s stuck with me is, when you do a character, you step into their shoes and you react as they would react. They’ve gone through all the Same experiences you have and you have to use stuff you’ve gone through for the character. I use all the experiences that I’ve gone through to fill my characters.

And just be thankful. A lot of young actors think it’s about the size of the part. It’s not about the size of the part it’s about what you do with the part. You can have a tiny part and sometimes a tiny part will steal the film because there’s something there, there’s something behind the words. It’s not just a person reciting words off the page they actually make it a real, living breathing thing.

SC: Your short film, Why Does God Hate Me? Was there something that attracted you to the role or was it offered to you specifically?

DD: A lot of actors are afraid to play roles that are maybe out of their comfort zone. I kind of search for that. I want to play roles that people are going to remember. It was one of the first things that I ever did and I thought it was kind of an amazing way to break into the industry. It’s a great role.

SC: Where you nervous doing it? I’m just wondering since you were pretty young.

DD: Was I nervous? Probably. I’m probably always a little bit nervous but those nerves will go away because once you I get on set, I trust myself and what I do, I trust my skills.

Can you tell us a bit about your character (Kent) in Falling Skies? From what I’ve seen he resembles a member of the Hitler Youth in both dress and demeanour.

DD: That’s definitely something that I think was on purpose. Kind of calling back on that, what went on in the Second World War. This season of Falling Skies is quite different than the last three seasons. Without giving too much away, Kent Matthews is heading a naziesque brainwashing camp. He’s trying to influence these young kids to do certain things.

SC: Was there anything specific you did to prepare for the role of Kent? Obviously he sounds like a villain. Was there a headspace you tried to get into for the role?

DD: It was fun because that’s one of the first villains I’ve ever played. It’s such a cool place to play a villain, on such a massive production. For me Kent is not a villain, I never really viewed him like that until once I got on set everyone was like “Oh he’s so evil etc.” it kind of clicked in me that he’s actually not a very nice guy. So I never really viewed him as a villain and I still don’t. I think he has his reasons. I think he’s extremely passionate to those reasons and extremely loyal to those reasons. In his mind what he’s doing is helping.

SC: Where you a fan of Falling Skies prior to taking the role?

DD: I was definitely a fan of the show. It’s interesting because I’ve watched the show and when you get cast like this – most actors can probably attest to this- they go on line, on IMDb and we look up the project. We look at what other actors are in there and what they’ve been doing and stuff and we kind of get familiar with their work and you see their picture on line. That’s all great but at the beginning they’re all just pictures. It doesn’t seem real in a way. Then when you get to the set or the read through you see their real personalities, it’s a bizarre thing. A lot of these actors like Colin Cunningham, Doug Jones, Will Patton and Noah Wylie, they’re all actors I’ve seen growing up. It’s bizarre now that I’m working with them. It’s a really weird feeling but extremely cool that’s for sure. It’s cool to meet them as people.

SC: Do you have a favourite moment that you’ve had on set of Falling Skies so far?

DD: Me and Doug Jones –he plays Cochise on Falling Skies we’ve actually become quite good friends now, we talk quite often. I really enjoy hanging out with him because he’s such a charismatic guy. He’s a really funny guy and he’s just goofy. He’s loud and he’s goofy.

Another great moment was when I was talking to Will Patton. I find that guy so intriguing. I remember before one of our days even started we were all kind of just chilling out and they were laying on the grass, him and Noah Wylie. So I went over and just sat down with them and talked to him. Just to see the passion he has in him for his character is so incredible because it’s hard to keep a passion like that after doing the same project for four years. It’s something I hope I have when I’m at the same level as him. That was definitely a moment that I’ll never forget and I hope to work with him again. He’s a cool guy. They’re all cool.

SC: Is there anything you can tell us about your role as Jake Henson in the upcoming horror film, Black Fly?

DD: Jake Henson is based off of a real person which is interesting. He’s actually partially based off of the director/writer Jason Bourque. It was a little bit scary for me because I’m playing my director. You get to different parts in the script and he would talk to me about how he did this. Like how he collected bottles when he was a kid to get money for food. It was neat for me to see that and to see him relive that through me.

SC: Did you get the sense that it was cathartic for him to make the film? It sounds as if his childhood was somewhat traumatic.

DD: I don’t think his real life was that traumatic that’s for sure. There’s a little bit added to it for the screen. I think it was definitely a cool thing for him.

SC: Can you tell us about the film that you wrote?

DD: We’ll be going into production this September. The name that we’re running with right now is, That Strawberry? It’s a dark comedy about the seven stages of grief.

SC: Is scriptwriting something that you just picked up or is it something that you are being formally trained in?

DD: I’ve never taken it in school although at New Image, Philip Granger is an advocate for creating your own work. So that’s something that I kind of picked up from the school. I’ve been writing for two years now. I just one day decided to write and my writing has evolved over time. I’ve just learned to write scripts because I’ve read a lot of them. It’s important to learn from good work.