David Dastmalchian on Late Night With the Devil: Interview

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    For star David Dastmalchian (The Suicide Squad, Oppenheimer), the scariest part of making the post-modern horror film Late Night With the Devil wasn’t grappling with the intense stunts and possession sequences. “It was honestly the fear of trying to capture the magic that a really good late night host possesses,” he tells Consequence. “So I was terrified, literally terrified, of that part of my job.”

    You wouldn’t know it from watching his smooth, confident work as Jack Delroy, the host of a 1970s talk show whose Halloween episode becomes a true nightmare thanks to an outbreak of demonic possession. “I’m so proud of the movie. I think it’s like one of the coolest things I’ve ever done,” Dastmalchian says of the found footage film, written and directed by Colin and Cameron Cairnes.

    Late Night With the Devil begins as a note-perfect recreation of shows from that era, with a full set, a studio audience, a live band, and jovial sidekick — all of which helped the well-established character actor find Jack as a character. “I just tried my very best to create the illusion that I had the swagger, the charm, the quick wittedness of a great late night talk show host. Because I don’t, as David,” he admits. “That was a really hard skill to try and hone.”

    However, it was in the process of developing that persona that Dastmalchian learned a lot about the character of Jack, “because that is fully its own kind of performance. It’s like you’re wearing a mask. You’re going to be this version of yourself that is just charming and fun. We’re going to have celebrities on the show. We’re going to talk about music, we’re going to talk about spooky things and sell a lot of ad time, and we’re going to be a hit.”

    Then, he continues, “We cut to commercial, and I’ve got to let that mask down. I’ve got to start being the scared Jack Delroy. And the similarities between David and Jack were actually quite stunning. I found a lot of inspiration from my own journey as somebody in the public eye, and how strenuous it can be sometimes, to keep up the illusion of whatever it is that I’m trying to present at that time.”

    There’s a juice to Late Night that comes directly from its 1970s setting, though while Dastmalchian very specifically studied talk show hosts of the era for his performance, he says men like Dick Cavett and Johnny Carson and today’s hosts are actually very similar — what unites them all is that “they are quick-witted, and they’re funny and they’re charming. And you have to feel comfortable with them — you’re inviting them in your living room every night.”



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