David Thomas Newman Talks About 'Voodoo Macbeth' And Landing Roles In Hollywood | Hype | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

David Thomas Newman Talks About ‘Voodoo Macbeth’ And Landing Roles In Hollywood

Interviewd by:
Francesca Escarraga
Interview date:
February 2022
Follow David:

How did you start your career in the entertainment industry? What inspired you to become an actor?

I grew up annoying my friends and family with all sorts of performances. I felt like I was the life of the party and fed off the attention my goofy voices, faces, and antics created. I found it easy to make adults laugh. That seemed whatever “valuable” could mean a child. After countless church plays, elementary school plays and musicals, hosting my own TV News Hour throughout high school, and making some films in college, I most definitely had the itch. Never once did I imagine I would get paid to perform or act. That seemed like a fantasy.

Congratulations on your role on Voodoo Macbeth! How did this project come to life and why did you want to be involved in it?

There were many amazing storytellers involved from Warner Bros, to USC, to countless other filmmakers in Hollywood. After spending mere seconds researching The Federal Theatre Project, Rose McClendon, and Orson Welles, I was determined to help tell this story. Although my role is far from the protagonist, there must be a cog in every car wheel.

Can you walk us through the process of auditioning for the role? What were the challenges and breakthroughs you’ve encountered along the way, and how did you overcome it?

I had auditioned for the producers in the past, so this was my first taste of an “offer only” or direct booking and didn’t have to audition. If you’re an actor reading this, trust me, it was a blessing in disguise. Just be ready, at the right place and the right time, and it can happen to anyone. What’s that saying? Luck is where preparation and opportunity meet…? Something like that. In the film, I don’t have a plethora of lines or screen time, so the role proved difficult in conveying emotion from the get-go. If you watch the film, you’ll see what I mean.

Can you tell us more about your character? What do you love about this character? How did you bring the character to life?

I play a disgusting character, originally named “Tweedledum,” who is half of the sinister duo supporting the main antagonist, Martin Dies (played magnificently by Hunter Bodine). It’s safe to say I spent plenty of time in between takes with my Co-Star, Trevor LaPaglia, in order to fine tune our individual characters who are effortlessly named “The Suits.” I love to hate this character, and the interesting phenomenon about that statement is I believe I know exactly who this character is and know how to be as ugly as he can be. Growing up in Texas and not being afraid of exploring new things and places really opens your eyes in experiencing how ruthless people can be in this world.

What did you like about the story? How do you think this story will change and make an impact in today’s society?

I love how the story is based on true events about an extremely disenfranchised group of brothers and sisters in our society, about a triumph and leader in Rose McClendon (who co-directed and lead the Federal Theatre Project in 1935 until her death the following year), and an underdog in a twenty-year-old Orson Welles. Literally everything about this story was doomed from the start, and these true American heroes win in the end. I hope this will be a testament to overcoming unnecessary obstacles and nonsensical boundaries in our world, today, and open our eyes to never repeating the foolish parts of our species’ history.

What was the dynamic like between you, your castmates, and film crew? Were there particular moments on set that were memorable?

This was the first time I shot on Warner Bros Studios as an actor, and it was insanely memorable. We shot in many locations but going to the Studio with a drive-on pass, and parking by the massive Conan Obrien blow-up head felt like a dream sequence. I had worked on the lot in the past as part of the Art Department in network TV shows, but this was different. I felt like Bill Paxton or Kevin Costner, who did the same thing before their big breaks. Being there on the New York Street part of the backlot and, quite literally, just standing there, taking it all in with the 1930’s wardrobe, picture cars, marquee lightbulbs, Trans-Atlantic movie accents, countless background actors, multiple directors and assistant directors, late nights with coffee and Red Vines, was all an absolute dream come true. It still is. I think besides filming on the Warner Bros lot as an actor, the most memorable part of shooting was the comradery between all the talent and producers. Oh, and the black and white tiles at Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro. A magical place!

Can you give us a sneak peek of what we can expect from this film?

Impeccable acting and a beautiful story! The film premiered to an amazing reception at Cinequest in San Jose, CA, and went on to many other film festivals including the Pan African Film Festival run by Danny Glover. I honestly have no idea how many awards this film has won, and when the festival run will end, because it’s that good.


https://vimeo.com/509606633

What kind of films do you like watching? Which films and filmmakers have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?

This is totally a 180 direction from the rest of this interview, but I’ve been on a sci-fi kick for quite some time now. I don’t mean supernatural or space horror, even though I do love the Alien franchise, I mean films like Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. The soundtrack, alone, takes me to another place. But that story… Can you imagine growing up your whole life, having children, experiencing love and loss, watching your planet spiral into a long death, only to travel to space to save your family and all of humanity only to outlive your children? That’s quite a tangent. Sorry if I lost you, there. To answer your question, I think I fell in love with film and the art of storytelling because I want to understand human behavior and learn how I can be part of our community as a productive member of society. We all need to feel acknowledged and loved and hopeful.

What were the monumental life lessons, mistakes, and things you’ve learned that you would like to share to aspiring or emerging actors, storytellers, and creatives in general?

Don’t ever give up on yourself. The biggest mistake I made in life was to listen to society and follow a path that was acceptable to everyone else. I didn’t care about that path. Other people do, and other people will always have their specific role in life, but that doesn’t mean it’s meant for you, and that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with that. Just don’t lose sight of yourself. Have lofty goals. Chase your dreams. If you haven’t heard this before, or didn’t understand it, I’ll say it again. We really do only live once.

The pandemic has greatly affected the entertainment industry. How did it affect your side of things?

The industry kept working and I kept acting. I think the main things that changed were the audition process and the way we shoot projects now. I’ll never forget auditioning for the TV Show Wild West Chronicles before the pandemic and reading for 5, or 6, maybe 7 roles. More auditions, then callbacks. Then the pandemic hit, and everything kind of went quiet for some time. Next thing I knew I was wearing a mask in a casting office in Burbank, standing alone in an empty room, looking out to camera and the producers in the hallway in order to be COVID compliant. It was bizarre and fun all at the same time.

What kind of roles do you want to take on in the future?

Besides a strange, odd-ball type of character to show my range and how dark life and the human experience can be, I think ready for an action role in a feature film. Shooting the series Shifter as an Irish IRA Agent a couple years ago gave me the taste of stunts and fight choreography, and now I want to translate that into car chases and explosions like old Hollywood used to be. There’s something about hero characters and the thrill of practical effects that always draws me in to acting and filmmaking, and still does. Have you seen the most recent Mad Max? What a ride!

How important is diversity, inclusion, and representation in films? What are some of the practices, customs, or culture within the entertainment industry that are still problematic?

Representation is extremely important in Film & Television. Sheepishly, I’ll admit I might not have understood this until I carefully listened to fellow actors and members of various audiences who struggled, and possibly continue to struggle, with this. Even everyday people in my life, not just those in the entertainment industry. It’s sad, yet uplifting, to see and hear people have this immense reaction and connection to characters and entire movies like Encanto, and Shang-Chi and Blue Bayou. It feels good to know that all the people of our world can tell stories, and anyone can connect to them, so that maybe in the future it’s not just likeness to likeness.

Stereotypes, prejudice, anything of that sort should be a thing of the past. Those things stem from fear and cowardice. No one should feel afraid or bullied away from trying new things, experiencing new cultures, and interacting as one people. Travel somewhere, try a new dish. Learn to understand someone else from their point of view. I can’t believe this should still be said out loud, but yes, I do think there is still work to be done. I think one solution is to call people out in a diplomatic way when any of these types of situations arise. Can you do that privately? Of course! Does that eliminate the opportunity for others to see, learn, and share? I think so.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind as an actor?

Wow, I suppose I would need something of value to give to the world before ever leaving any sort of legacy. Right off the top of my head, without putting any thought into this, I would love to show the world that you can connect with others in the most powerful and monumental ways without being some sort of superstar. Yes, mega-millionaire celebrities and athletes and actors have massive audiences and, obviously, influence large populations at once, but what about your everyday neighbor? What about your everyday neighbor who might live in another state? Another country? You can make valuable human connection anywhere, you just have notice other people and look them in the eye. Stop. Look. Listen. Be someone to someone.

What’s your advice to actors who want to break into the entertainment industry?

I’ll probably get in big trouble for saying this, but don’t listen to everything Casting Directors say on social media. Be true to yourself, and if your headshot is more like a portrait or maybe your reel looks worse than a student film or you missed one of the directions on your self-tape, who cares? Do what is, at bare bones, required of you, and then express yourself in your own way. We’re artists. Who cares what a gatekeeper behind a desk says, just have fun and make something!

Do you have other upcoming projects you want to share with us?

Unfortunately, due to an NDA I can’t divulge anything about my next film that just wrapped. It’ll have a Theatrical Release, though, and everyone will get a chance to see it on the big screen. Other than that, a couple horror films I shot recently, Shadowmarsh and Appetite For Sin will be releasing soon on VOD and Streaming Platforms. I’ll also be producing a feature with my goody buddy, Oleg Zayanov, which will start pre-production this year, and begin shooting in 2023.

Damaged City Festival 2019 | Photos | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.

Damaged City Festival 2019 | Photos | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

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