EXCLUSIVE: Haysbert Talks SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR, Comics, Villains and More!
CBM President Nate Best talks with Dennis Haysbert, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For's "Manute", about the film, comics and more. Discover which comic heroes and villains Dennis wants a crack at and why he's one of the coolest guys in Hollywood!
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Dennis Haysbert, who many will recognize from The Unit, 24, Major League and those Allstate commercials featuring the guy with the instantly recognizable voice that's impossible to forget. Dennis has such a great voice, it was a shame to attempt to represent this interview with only a transcript, so I've included an audio/video version of the interview as well. Let me know what you guys think!
Please Note that this interview was conducted back on August 8th. There had been two press screenings for the film at that point, but not many people had the opportunity to view the film yet, including Dennis.
Dennis: Hello Nate.
Nate: Hi, how are you doing Dennis?
Dennis: Excellent. How are you?
Nate: Great! I’m starting my morning off right getting to speak with you, so I’m excited.
Dennis: Bless you. Why thank you.
Nate: So I have to tell you to start off, your portrayal of Manute, was fantastic. I loved it, so I wanted to get that out of the way and let you know that you did a great job.
Dennis: Thank you, I appreciate it.
Nate: So let’s start off, as far as the character Manute, what research did you do for the role and were you familiar with Frank Miller’s graphic novels, or have you seen the first film?
Dennis: I got familiar, more familiar with his graphic novels after watching the first film. And once I got on set, I just barraged Frank with questions about Manute and just got into his head about him. I said “Just tell me everything that you think Manute is about. I will tell you what I think he’s about and you tell me if I am right or wrong.” You know… because I am a big fan of putting back story together and I knew they were going to flush out Manute’s character more in this particular episode, so I just asked him a barrage of questions about it and gave him some of my personal insight of what I thought was going on and we kind of agreed that he utilized voodoo to get his power. You know, so wow ok… it made me reflect back in a small way to (Pedro Smrano) on a much more sinister level. Pedro was probably very light of how voodoo worked, but uh, he got into more of the Serpent and the Rainbow type of style of voodoo. I said, “I think I will just run with that” and he kept his power by being in service to whomever his boss was at the time. And at this particular point it was Eva Green’s power and I just ran with that.
Nate: Interesting… So is that part of the reason why that half way through the film he mentions that Eva is a goddess? Is that kind of where that came from with the whole voodoo background?
Dennis: That and just how he felt about her, you know. She has a way of disarming anyone and Manute was no different. I think it was safe to say that not only did he work for her, he worshipped her and loved her. She is a beautiful woman without question, and for a man-monster like Manute, he gravitated to that and protected her even more because of it. There had to be something vested to protect her the way he did, and to fight for it the way he did. At the latter part of the film, where there’s another aspect of it, I won’t give that away, it’s one of those things that I had to embrace with the character. I wanted to go as far out there as I could within the combines of the script.
Nate: You’ve played some very well know heroic characters. You’ve got Jonas Blane in The Unit, you’ve got President Palmer in 24 and even, some fans may not know, but you’ve voiced Kilowog in the Justice League animated series, you’ve got all those heroes under your belt. How did you like playing the villain in A Dame To Kill For and how was that different?
Dennis: That’s just hard, you know… I think if you talk to any actor, you have so much more creative license and you can just go further playing the villain, because almost anything you do is correct and it’s also controlled, but yeah it was just fun. It was fun just to go to that dark side. Also when you’re playing the villain, I don’t think villains ever think of themselves as villains. There is always a reason for what they do and their reason always seems correct to them.
Nate: That’s a great point. So do you see more villains in your future?
Dennis: You know what; I think it would be fun. I think it would. I think it would be fun to play Apocalypse.
Nate: Oh that would be a great character! Talk about the baddest of the bad, right there. That’s awesome!
Dennis: I would love to be injected into that X-Men universe. You know I love these things. I just saw Guardians of the Galaxy and totally loved it.
Nate: Great film! So that brings up a question: Are you into comic books, are you a comic book fan, or is it more of a necessity now with the rolls that you’ve done?
Dennis: Well I used to be into comic books a lot more than I am now. You know with these movies coming out and the comics… yeah I actually have to get back into my comics and looking at things like The Walking Dead and how they’re executing and bringing these comics to the screen. It will be interesting to start reading up on a lot of these characters that you haven’t seen yet and see what’s out there and see which ones I can bring to the screen.
Nate: That’s great. So as far as comic book titles, what titles were your favorites? Which ones did you kind of keep up with before?
Dennis: Wow, I used to always keep up with John Stewart the black Green Lantern, love him. Would love to get into that universe. Cloak and Dagger. I used to enjoy. You know, all of them. All the DC favorites and the Marvel favorites. Loved the X-Men, loved The Avengers, You know, sheesh, you know, Superman, Batman, the classics are always great, but the ultimate super hero is Green Lantern. I love John Stewart as Green Lantern. The fact that using that power range, using your imagination, however strong your imagination is. You can make those constructs. I think the Green Lantern can beat Superman.
Nate: Oh…That starting trouble right there (laughing). That’s wonderful to find a comic book fan in Hollywood that actually knows a bit about comics and not just the new ones.
Dennis: Oh yeah. No, the classics are the best. I like the new ones and the nuances they keep bringing up. I use to like one called Hawk and Dove. They were brothers. The Hawk was so aggressive, that Dove was actually stronger. So that was really an interesting dynamic.
Nate: How did you like the female dove, when they went that route?
Dennis: You know what? I didn’t know they went with a female Dove. I think I probably got out of it by that time. I would love to read up on that. So that’s interesting. So they became brother and sister?
Nate: Well…It was actually the brother. I can’t remember how it happened, but he was killed and a new Dove came aboard. It was actually one of the comics that I followed for a little while. I was probably kind of like you; I kept up with them for quite a while and then fell away for a little bit and now obviously I am back into them pretty heavily.
Dennis: Oh, OK.
Nate: So back to A Dame To Kill For. Robert Rodriguez mentioned that there were no sets for the film, everything was green screen and there were really very few props used during filming. How challenging was that? Was that something that you got used to after a little bit, or was it strange throughout?
Dennis: Well I’ll tell you something, it was a challenge up to the point where you said “You know what, this is actually kind of cool,” because you’re working with a pretty bare set, so you have to utilize your imagination and it actually helps you focus on the other actor a lot more and as you’re focused on the actors and on the work itself, I think it allows Robert and Frank and their creativity to draw something around you that was conducive to the performance that you were given. I think our performances help them come up with the drawings and the backgrounds that will eventually help us and telling the story.
Nate: Is that something that you think will start becoming more common in Hollywood? He kind of went away from the conventions of Hollywood with how he’s done everything. Do you think that it will become more common place?
Dennis: I think it will begin to. I think what Frank did with the 300 hundred movies; you know it kind of works. I never thought for an instant that those guys were not on those ships. I just saw the latest 300 and it was just wonderful the way that they did it. The actors looked so focused on what they were doing, that you never doubted for a second that they were on land, ships, horses, elephants, whatever else that they were using. I think it was visually stunning and I think if you can execute it in that fashion, then it is great.
Nate: How do you feel now that the film’s completed? Is there anything that you would have done differently, or that you would have changed with your performance or with the film overall?
Dennis: Well I can’t really answer that, because I haven’t seen the whole film yet. I’ve just seen trailers and I know how I felt when I did it and I felt pretty darn good. So, I can’t wait to see it, especially in 3D and I can’t wait to see all the other actors that were in it that I didn’t work directly with. I am just like all the other fans. I’m going to get my popcorn and my soda and sit down in my seat and just enjoy the ride.
Nate: That’s great. Hey, I really appreciate the time Dennis. I can’t wait to hear how you feel about the film and when you see it and talk to you later with your future projects.
Dennis: Sounds great man, I look forward to it.
Check Out My Sin City: A Dame To Kill For Review!!!
Co-directors Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez reunite to bring Miller's visually stunning "Sin City" graphic novels back to the screen in 3D in Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame To Kill. In a town where justice doesn't prevail, the desperate want vengeance and ruthless murderers find themselves with vigilantes on their heels. Their paths cross when they converge on Sin City’s famous Kadie's Club Pecos... The film opens with fan-favorite “Just Another Saturday Night,” when Marv (Mickey Rourke) finds himself in the center of carnage as he tries to remember the events leading up to it. “The Long, Bad Night” tells the tale of Johnny, a cocky young gambler (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) on a winning streak taking his chances with the biggest bastard of them all, Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). The central story, Miller’s critically acclaimed "A Dame To Kill For," has Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin) facing his final confrontation with the woman of his dreams and his nightmares, Ava Lord (Eva Green). “Nancy’s Last Dance" follows Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) in the wake of John Hartigan’s (Bruce Willis) death. On a downward spiral filled with grief, she will stop at nothing to get revenge.
Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame To Kill For opens August 22.
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