IGNITE

Brett Dalton Interview pt. 1

by Scott Hokkanen

Brett Dalton is one of Hollywood’s most promising young actors, and he also happened to be IGNITE Comic Expo’s special guest this year!

Brett is well known for his starring role on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as multiple television and film appearances. He is also starring in the upcoming film The Resurrection of Gavin Stone which hits theatres on January 20th.

We were lucky enough to sit down with Brett and discuss his previous work, upcoming projects, and the inner workings of the show business industry as a whole.

We got so much great information from the star that we had to break the interview into 2 parts! Stay tuned for part 2 next week, but for now please enjoy part 1 of our chat:


 

Many of our readers know you from your role as “Grant Ward” and the villainous “Hive” on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., do you like playing the bad guy?

Well I didn’t come into [the show] knowing I was going to be the bad guy, but you never know where life is going to take you.  So I started this off thinking I was going to be the like boy scout for lack of a better term. I really think when Winter Soldier came out and S.H.I.E.L.D. disappeared it really affected the show and we were able to show that in our smaller version, by saying there was a spy in the midst, it developed from an unlikely hero, to an antihero, to a villain.  I think they saw I was really enjoying the role and thought “well we can’t break this up now”.

It’s been a beautiful journey, I’m really thankful for it, and as an actor there’s nothing more that you can ask for.  It’s better than being the same thing over and over again.

Brett Dalton from Agents of SHIELD tv series

Your character was responsible for the deaths of fan-favourites like Lincoln. Do people ever give you a hard time for your character’s actions?

I have been responsible for a lot of bad things that happened [laughs].  I’ve gotten a few complaints, it tends to happen when you’re in line at the airport and someone says to you “hey, you’re a bad dude, go on your way.” I think that in the beginning I wasn’t sure how to respond, but then again every play needs a villain. If everyone’s sitting around and there are no problems, you don’t have a TV show.

You’re really great to your fans, often appearing in Comic Expos like the one here today and taking funny pictures. What’s the strangest photo request someone has ever approached you with?

Nothing too off the wall. It’s all coming from a good place, I get a lot of love for being a bad guy. I was on a top 5 list of bad guys in the Marvel universe so I do appreciate the love I get. I’ll take 50% of the credit but if the writers didn’t have it on the paper first, there’s no way I would have even have had the opportunity, the writers did a great job to make sure there’s depth to the character.

We’ve seen you dish out some serious butt-whippings as Ward and Hive. What sort of physical training did Marvel put you through for your role?

I didn’t work out before this thing, they took a big chance I think on someone who really had no experience in the physical realm. I’ve done swordplay and stage combat but there’s not too many swords in the Marvel Cinematic universe, there are a few I suppose, but there was more like hand-to-hand combat.

It’s a different method, it’s a whole choreographed dance, its physical theatre, close quarters, there are a lot of camera techniques. I was the action guy in a lot of Season One, I started from zero, for the pilot I practiced a lot and nailed it, but when we arrived to shoot the space was different and everything changed.  You have to roll with the punches.

I’m where I’m at because of hard work and persistence. Hard work beats raw talent, there are a ton of incredibly talented people out there, but I will out-work you. Most successful people I know are incredibly hard workers, they sort of erase their work. They work incredibly hard to make it look like they aren’t working incredibly hard.

Brett Dalton from Agents of SHIELD staking a metal wand into ground and exerting green force field

Were you a comic book fan growing up?  If so what was your favourite hero/villain?

Yeah, I was! I mean I love Marvel, but I also love Image comics, and DC had this character Lobo and I used to love him. Spawn was [also] great and I used to collect action figures, I’ve got a ton of them that are still in their original boxes, I’d have whole series of things. Comic book cards too, I still have a few binders of them.

Comic books can really transport you within a page, even though it’s a 2D object it can truly transport you, I’ve been in comic book stores and I’d put down a comic after reading and go “wow, where did I just go?” When I was a kid I’d be mad to think I’d have a chance to be a part of it.

What was it like meeting Stan Lee for the first time?

It was great! The thing about Stan is that he does not need to do everything he is doing.  He’s created an empire, he has gone from seeing comic books as pulp novelties to now being one of the most lucrative businesses in the whole world.

He’s a living legend, you can’t help but get excited when meeting him.  Even celebrities get excited when he’s around, everyone wants to meet Stan Lee.  He is larger than life, he is like a comic figure in his own right.

You’ve had experience providing voice-overs and motion capture performances for animated projects and video games like Until Dawn. How different is that from on-screen or theatrical acting?

It’s really all coming from the same place, I didn’t see a huge difference.  For Until Dawn we were in booths not looking at each other, it was a little bit more cumbersome.

You look like a ninja and you’re in all black, in an all-black room, but it just felt like acting class, you’re in a workshop scenario. I don’t think the technology will faze out actors, I think it just expands the opportunities for actors to work in different ways.

Brett Dalton in Until Time video game running through snowy path and jumping midair in tunnel

If you weren’t an actor and you were to go back to school and take a class what would that class be?

Well I started out in art, I’ve always been able to draw and been interested in visual arts, I thought that that was what I was going to do, and then when I was a senior in high school I auditioned for my first play and that changed everything, I was like wow this acting thing is great, but I was doing art as my intended major.

For a while I thought about being an English teacher, I was also toying around with working in rhetoric being a rhetorician, probably a speechwriter in the future. I understand now that it wasn’t the right fit, I wanted to do something that constantly inspired and challenged me and acting was the right fit.  It’s nice to be back here in college but I’ll stay where I’m at. But if I were to step into a class today it might be English.

If you could work with any actor or director in history who would it be?

Probably Stanley Kubrick would be on top of that list, of course Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, but Kubrick man he’s so weird, those movies are so haunting, you don’t just watch them you experience them and remember those feelings for years later. For a series of images on a screen to do that and to get into your brain like that, that’s something. I think that he was one of the few true geniuses to have ever picked up a camera. In a Kubrick film every detail is concerned, even the actions of the actors in the background have been considered.

As for actors, Anthony Hopkins is of course a legend, I think Christian Bale is completely transforming in everything, Gary Oldman is one of my all-time favourites. Ryan Gosling, I just love the choices he makes and how he challenges himself,  I love Brad Pitt’s work especially when he does goofy character work, he’s brilliant and the best looking guy in the entire universe, he could do rom-coms for the rest of his life and just phone it in but he still amazes you.  Matthew McConaughey has totally reinvented himself. Emily Blunt  is brilliant in everything she does, of course Meryl Streep, the list is endless. Idris Elba is so good, I love watching actors where I don’t know how they’re doing what they’re doing.  It’s inspiring to see people at the top of their craft.  It’s good to have appreciation of other people.

brett dalton at wondercon smiling while speaking on mic on panel

You’re starring in the upcoming film the Resurrection of Gavin Stone. How did you come upon this role?

I loved the script, I felt like I know who this person was. It’s an unconventional love story, there’s no on-screen kiss, it is a redemption story about this unlikely but sweet guy, it’s a child actor who has made terrible choices in his life, and you see that there’s a good guy underneath a bad exterior.

They ended up casting me [and] it just felt right, I don’t always go with feelings but sometimes you have to trust your instincts. It’s the script, it’s the director, it’s a perfect combination of things that I don’t think people are used to when it comes to a religious film.


Thank you so much to Brett Dalton for participating in the IGNITE Comic Expo and for taking the time to talk to us.  Stay tuned for the upcoming second part of our interview with Brett where he gives some great advice to students.

Did you enjoy meeting Brett, or did you have a fantastic time at the expo? IGNITE wants to hear about it! Let us know on one of our social media platforms!

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity