Interview: David Dastmalchian (Gotham, The Dark Knight, The Flash, Blade Runner 2049)

We were delighted to catch up with actor David Dastmalchian.

David has been most recently seen on our screens in Gotham season 3 as Dwight Pollard and villian Abra Kadabra in CW’s The Flash

He got his big break playing Joker associate Thomas Schiff in Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight‘. This has led on to many Film & TV Roles including playing Kurt in Marvel’s ‘Ant-Man‘. More recently he appeared in the revival of Twin Peaks & Blade Runner 2049.

“I used to do cut-and-pastes with my doubled copies of comics as a kid to put the DC villains against the Marvel heroes.”

What inspired you to become an actor?

I was very fortunate to have many, many inspirations to become an actor. I had some incredible teachers in public school in Kansas and a very supportive family. In 3rd grade, I discovered my first comic book and was hooked ever since. I also found the magic of some of my favorite actors and artists when I was about 10 years old and started watching the Creature Feature in Kansas City hosted by “Crematia Mortem”. I loved all of the old Universal and Castle and Hammer films. Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney and L. C. Jr., Peter Lorre.

I think I’ve always been under a kind of spell when it comes to my fascination with film and theater. 

You recently portrayed the role of Dwight Pollard in Fox’s hit show Gotham – how was this experience?

I had such a fantastic experience on Gotham! The cast and crew are very passionate about their work. I have a life-long love for the clown prince of crime and, as I mentioned before, a deep love for the old Universal horror canon.

So it was pretty awesome to get to play a kind of “Dr. Frankenstein” as I attempted to resurrect the mighty Jerome (Cameron is so talented) in my own mad laboratory! 

Gotham wasn’t your first outing in the Batman universe. You portrayed the role of Thomas Schiff in 2008’s The Dark Knight – how was this experience?

The Dark Knight was my first film role and it changed my life. Being able to work with the amazing Christopher Nolan, to be a small part of his brilliant vision, it was something that I will never forget.

I learned a lot during that experience and I was inspired for life by the brief amount of time I had the honor of spending in the presence of the great Heath Ledger. He was kind, humorous, generous and just mesmerizing as The Joker. 

How aware were you of the Batman mythology before taking on the role of Thomas Schiff?

I was VERY aware, had been collecting and reading comics for nearly 20 years by the time I got that role – and it came in very handy, I believe. I actually auditioned for the role of a bank robber in the opening heist sequence, so I had never seen any script pages or character descriptions of Thomas Schiff.

When they gave me the role, [The Dark Knight] team was very secretive and so I wasn’t actually aware of what I’d be doing until it was about time to film. When I finally saw my pages, I instinctively thought of an Arkham cohort of Joker; someone who came from the pages of the darker Batman narratives that I discovered in the early 90’s.

Back to Gotham do YOU think Jerome Valeska (portrayed by Cameron Monaghan) will eventually become The Joker?
I don’t know but I certainly hope so. 

Cameron’s “Jerome” is a maniacal maelstrom of madness!

Moving on from the DC universe. You portrayed the role of Kurt in Marvel’s 2015 film ‘Ant-Man’ – how was this experience?

I loved working with the Marvel family and was very lucky that Peyton, Paul and company wanted to keep me around!  I had been cast by Edgar Wright when he was putting the movie together but then the script changed when he left. 

The first comic that I collected monthly was the West Coast Avengers which featured Hank Pym and The Avengers have always been one of my favorite super teams.  

How was it acting alongside leading man Paul Rudd?

Paul is the best.  It’s hard to keep up with him sometimes because he doesn’t stop creating, playing – his mind is an endless well of comic brilliance.  And he’s just a very cool, kind dude which makes it all even better.

You appeared on Kevin Smith’s podcast Fat Man on Batman – on this show you spoke poignantly about working with Health Ledger. How would you describe his take on The Joker and working with him?

I don’t know what hasn’t been said about Heath’s Joker.  It was the perfect embodiment of that very dark, gritty “realistic” take on the mythos that Nolan achieved.  There was a balance of everything in his performance.  On set, he was very kind, very down-to-earth.  He seemed to be having a lot of fun when he was working and could slip into his character with the kind of effortlessness that I envy as an actor.

Rumours have been circulating that Kevin Smith could be in line to direct an episode on Gotham – would you like to see this happen?

I sure would.  And I hope he would bring me into his episodes!

You have working on many projects over the years – which have been your personal favourites?

It’s hard to say.  I’m very grateful for the work I’ve been able to do.  I think that being a part of [The Dark Knight] as my first film is something I will always hold close to my heart.  My collaborations with Denis Villeneuve [(Arrival)] have been some treasured moments for my life. 

I would say that I’m most proud of what we’ve accomplished with our independent films, “Animals” and the upcoming “All Creatures Here Below“.  My dear friend, Collin Schiffli, directed both of these films which I wrote and act in.  We made these films as true labors of love because they are stories that we really cared about; very personal stories. 

I hope that your readers will seek out Animals at and will keep on the look-out for “All Creatures” which stars the brilliant Karen Gillan.

What is your favourite movie of all time?

It’s a tie.  2001: A Space Odyssey and ‘The Muppet Movie’

What is your favourite TV Show of all time?

That’s a VERY tricky one.  

Probably the classic ‘Twilight Zone’.  Although I have always loved that old show, ‘Friday the 13th, The Series’, and of course the greats of our time like ‘The Wire’; Man, that show was just on a whole other level!

If you could play any role which would it be and why?

I would love to play someone in a Muppet film.  I have always loved the Muppets.  Or Morbius.  Morbius and Moon Knight two of my favorite comic book characters.  

DC or Marvel?

DC villains, Marvel heroes.  I used to do cut-and-pastes with my doubled copies of comics as a kid to put the DC villains against the Marvel heroes.

Do you have any other upcoming projects? 

Be sure to see The Belko Experiment in theaters in March!  It’s like “Office Space” and “Battle Royale” did a mash-up.  From the marvelous mind of James Gunn and directed by the great Greg McClean. 

And I hope people will seek out “Chronic” directed by the very gifted Michel Franco and our film ‘All Creatures’ (release is still TBD).

You can find out more about David on his website

7 thoughts on “Interview: David Dastmalchian (Gotham, The Dark Knight, The Flash, Blade Runner 2049)

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