Ever wonder if there’s more to the person playing the lab technician, doctor or lawyer in a TV show or movie? Well chances are, it’s Vancouver-based actor Daniel Bacon you’re seeing.
He’s a well-rounded actor of screen and stage who has a long list credits to his name. Since the late 90’s he’s played everyone from a ‘Technician’ on Stargate SG-1 to a ‘Reporter’ on Arrow. He also voice acted recurring roles like James Rhodes/War Machine on Iron Man: Armored Adventures and Leo on Bob the Builder.
This year, Daniel joins big names like Rebecca Hall and Bill Hader in Disney’s big summer digital adaptation “The BFG” directed by Steven Spielberg. He also plays Dr. Han in “Brain on Fire” starring Chloe Grace Moretz. We wanted to learn more about the acting career of a talent Vancouver actor:
What’s it like to have roles in two epic adaptations this year; The Big Friendly Giant and Brain on Fire?
In a word, awesome! I had been familiar with Roald Dahl (and love The Fantastic Mr Fox!), but I hadn’t ever read The BFG. It’s such a fun story and the illustrations by Quentin Blake are fantastic! I haven’t had the chance to see an advanced screening of the movie yet but from the look of the trailers the team has done a wonderful job of incorporating the magical feel of the book into the film. I did read Brain on Fire prior to working on the film and the story is absolutely fascinating. It was a real pleasure for me to be able to portray one of the actual characters from the event in the film.
How did you get into your animated character ‘Bonecrusher’ for The BFG?
Well, to be more accurate our characters are digitally created as opposed to animated. For the audition we had to create a character from scratch and put them into a scenario, so that was a really cool experience. Once we were cast in the film we began preliminary work prior to actual filming with movement coach Terry Notary. Terry began by watching us move as ourselves and taking specific elements from how we individually walked and behaved and used that as inspiration for creating how our characters would move through life. We came up with physical gestures that defined our characters so we had a very effective point of reference that allowed us to drop into our characters each day on set.
With an acting career spanning 3 decades, which roles or projects stand out the most for you?
Wow, three decades! Sounds crazy hearing it that way. I’ve been fortunate to have been a working actor for as long as I have and a large chunk of that has been very yeoman like, having roles as doctors, lawyers, professors a lot of white collar stuff. I would have to say prior to the BFG two projects in particular stand out for me. My role in the film Toxic Skies opposite Anne Heche was very eye opening. My character went from having one scene in the film when I auditioned to being one of the leads when I got to set. It was my first time playing a lead and was very eye opening. Ms. Heche and the director Andrew C. Erin gave me incredible support and that allowed me to settle in, stay focused on the work and not become overwhelmed. The second role that stands out for me is my character Dave Silva from the tv series The Bridge. I played an undercover cop whose wife (also an undercover cop) dies in front of me of me with a knife sticking out of her. Her last words to me are I’m sorry and it’s not until later in the episode that I find out what she’s sorry about. Only that she had been cheating on me with my partner of 12 years. It was a really challenging role and I was directed by one of the creators of Orphan Black, John Fawcett, so just a great experience all around.
When did you know you wanted to add a teaching career to your repertoire?
I did a couple of years at college with the intentions of being a high school teacher, Phys Ed and History, before moving to Vancouver and going to theatre school. After studying for a few years in part time classes one of the schools I attended began a summer youth program and I approached them about volunteering for the program to help out. After the summer they offered me the opportunity to continue with a position on the weekends working with the teens. It was an incredible gift to be able to intertwine acting and teaching and be able to sate the desire to teach I had coming out of high school.
What do you get out of theater work that you don’t in front of the camera?
For me they’re both very fulfilling. Both involve the core element of storytelling, actors are storytellers, it’s what we do. On camera and being on stage present different challenges and working through those challenges creates a different overall experience for me as an actor, so I get a lot out of both. One thing I do love about theatre that doesn’t really happen on film though is the inability to yell cut once the play has begun. On stage if things go wrong you don’t stop. The cast has to work together to keep the story going and hopefully the audience will be none the wiser!
Being based-out of Vancouver and having worked on numerous local productions, where do you see Hollywood North in 5 years?
Vancouver is such a versatile location. We can look like a lot of different cities, we have desert 4 hours east of us in the Okanagan, we have year round snow-capped mountains 2 hours to the north , we have dense forests less than 30 mins away. We have an incredible infrastructure of studio space and highly trained crews but we also have additional hours of daylight in the summer that they don’t have down south. So with all of these elements, I don’t think we’re solely dependent on tax credits and the dollar conversion to have a thriving industry. Cap it all off with the fact we are a 2 hour flight from Los Angeles and in the same time zone and we simply offer a lot of benefits to filming here. It would however be nice to see the indigenous production scene continue grow here. I think it is happening, but it’s happening slowly.
Advice for aspiring actors?
There’s always the standard advice (which is great!), continue to train, be good to your instrument, your body, don’t take anything personally, don’t give up but I’ll also add something that I’ve found incredibly helpful. Have interests outside of acting. Having an opportunity to find some balance is so healthy. I’m an avid golfer and was a DJ for over a decade. My time pursuing those interests help me to decompress and give me some perspective. So join a sports league, paint, play an instrument, whatever interests you, it’ll only serve to help you in your pursuit of being a working actor.
Interview by Amar Mirchandani @amarmirch