Read our exclusive interview with actor Derek Magyar, who’s set to appear in two films in 2012, the adventure-thriller ‘Phantom’ and the horror-thriller ‘No One Lives.’ The critically acclaimed screenwriter-director-producer is also in pre-production for his second directorial film effort, the 2013 drama ‘The Secrets We Share.’ Magyar discussed with us what compelled him to take on his new acting roles, and shared some production details on his new helming projects.
ShockYa (SY): You recently finished shooting ‘Phantom,’ in which you play Garin. The film follows the haunted Captain of a Soviet submarine, who holds the fate of the world in his hands. What was it about Garin that you found appearing, and influenced you to take the role?
Derek Magyar (DM): Well, ‘Phantom’ is a submarine thriller film, and is specifically is about the elements. It’s a wonderful script, very well written. Todd Robinson is an incredible writer, and he’s also directing it.
It was also a chance to work with such great actors as David Duchovny and Ed Harris, and basically all of my scenes were with them. Ed and I went to the same school (the California Institute of the Arts), and David and I became dear friends. I was thrilled to hear that he was nominated (for a Golden Globe Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Series Award) for ‘Californiacation.’
It was an incredible experience, and was the ultimate learning experience. To me, you can never learn enough. As an actor who takes my craft, and being an artist, quite seriously, David’s someone I watch with admiration. I was blessed to be a part of that project.
SY: In ‘No One Lives,’ you play Flynn in the movie, which follows a gang of ruthless highway killers who kidnap a wealthy couple traveling cross country. They come to shockingly discover that things are not what they seem. What did you find appealing about that film, and convinced you to take on the role?
DM: Well, Ryuhei Kitamura is an incredible filmmaker. I think he is brilliant at the genre, and that was very exciting to me. I’m working with Luke Evans, who I think is a serious, serious up-and-comer, and obviously he’s going to be a movie star. I’m thrilled for him, and I wanted to get to work with him.
In the end, what was the most appealing for me with that project was the character I was playing. I was playing the lead opposite Luke. He’s (Flynn) a real kind of psychopath, in a way that I’ve never read before. It was just incredible. I was hoping that I was able to bring this freedom to the character, and hopefully a believability at the same time.
In a way, it’s been by far the most freeing experience for me as an actor-in terms of digging deep into how I operate as an actor, and expressing myself as an artist through a crazy and demented character. It was an incredible role.
SY: You’re currently in pre-production for the drama you most recently wrote, ‘The Secrets We Share,’ which you’re also directing and producing. Are there any details you can share on the casting process, or the plot of the film?
DM: I can tell you that we’re about to get ready, and we’re currently casting as we speak. There will be an announcement sooner, rather than later, in the trades and everything. I’m really excited about it. It’s a younger piece that will appeal to the 18-39 demographic, predominately. But I think it’s an open story, at the same time.
It’s about three girls who end up leaving Los Angeles, and going to a cabin that one of their parents’ own, due to circumstances that I’m not going to give away. But then there’s a guide that they meet. They’re really forced to deal with each other, and the friendships that they have-they’ve known each other for a long time-and the reality of the friendships that they have. They also have to deal with this mysterious stranger that appears, and he kind of changes their lives forever.
So it’s sexy, and has some thriller elements. It’s emotional, and character-driven. So I’m exploring this idea. To me, there’s something interesting about how, since I was a kid, and I’m 32, it’s changed in Los Angeles. In terms of being 21, 22, that you’re going on 31, 32, or 18 going on 25, or 16 going on 21.
I think that society, especially in Los Angeles, it’s gone downhill, in terms of privileged families-a cell phone at 12, a Prada purse at 14. So they grow up in a false sense of reality. I think I’m exploring that idea of what it’s like coming from that privilege of these three girls, who get a heavy dose of reality, and how that changes them into better people.
SY: You’re also set to direct an adaption of “Romeo and Juliet” at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica this spring. Have you always had an interest in theater?
DM: Oh yes, yes. I started a theater company with a dear friend of mine, right after I graduated from CalArts. That theater’s still up-and-running, which I’m proud to say, and that’s called Filament Theater, with filament being the source of light. That’s an L.A. theater company that we started. It’s about people who want to explore experimental art and experimental theater, and just get the chance to do it, which is amazing.
‘Romeo and Juliet’ has always been something that’s been special to me, because I think it’s been told a lot, and a lot in the same way. A lot of people think about it in the same thing, and I don’t feel the same way. So it’s been in my mind for about five years, and I’ve been working on an adaptation.
I was lucky enough to do a workshop of it last spring at CalArts, which is my Alma mater. The production in L.A. is going to be part CalArts, and also part professional actors. It’s gong to be at the Broad Stage, so it’s going to be student actors working with professional actors. CalArts is a place that’s done a lot for me as an actor, so I want to give back to that. I think I can tell my story, and I’m going to get to do that. I’m so excited. There’s nothing more thrilling than being part of the theater.
Written by: Karen Benardello