Interview on Garret Dillahunt by fansided about the movie braven in 2018
Garret Dillahunt has had an expansive career, beginning in the early ’90s with a role in the hit soap opera One Life to Live. He went on to work in many styles and genres of film and television, including A Minute with Stan Hooper, Deadwood, The 4400, The Last House on the Left, No Country For Old Men, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Looper, Burn Notice, 12 Years A Slave, Raising Hope, Justified, Hand of Godand the upcoming season of Fear the Walking Dead.
Dillahunt has shown many different facets of himself in his catalog of work, which includes drama, comedy, and of course, action. But although Garret has a silly and goofy side evident in projects like Raising Hope, he is also the quintessential bad guy. He has the ability to flip a switch in himself and lose all morality to play someone that is meticulous, calculated and cold.
Still, the one thing that shines through in every performance is a humanity, and a character with many sides. Such is the case with his character in Braven. He is the ringleader of a drug retrieval operation that lands on the snowy doorstep of Jason Momoa’s cabin. Not much is told about his role, but it is crafted expertly through his motivation and the way he sees to the dangerous job at hand.
I spoke to Garret about his latest role, the rumors of him almost playing Negan on The Walking Dead, and his latest casting on its now beloved franchise addition, Fear the Walking Dead.
FanSided: Garret, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. I have been a fan since I saw you as Krug in The Last House on the Left and followed your career ever since.
Garret Dillahunt: Well, thank you so much. I always love it when I talk to someone who knows who the hell I am. (Laughs)
FanSided: In Braven, you play the methodical and motivated villain who looks to be a ringleader for a drug cartel. I wanted to ask what about playing the villain entices you?
Garret Dillahunt: Well, I play the bad guy, but I also played a bunch of good guys. It’s interesting people only remember the bad guys. (Laughs) With this role, I met Jason in Topanga or somewhere. He had his kids hanging around, and I remember he was excited about me being tall. (Laughs again) I guess he has trouble finding believable adversaries, and I still don’t think I am a believable adversary for that monster. He is the greatest guy, and he asked me if I would play. I said yes right away. Play with him on the edge of a snowy peak? It sounds awful and fun. (Laughs again)
FanSided: Well, that was something I was just talking to Stephen Lang about. He said that working with Jason is very organic. He seems like a real dude.
Garret Dillahunt: It’s definitely refreshing, and I really amazed at what the kid is doing. I have been doing this a long time, and I am a lot older than him, you know? I don’t have a mass production company, he directs and acts in huge movies. On top of all of that, he is raising a family. There is a lot to admire about that guy. And I think he deserves even more love. But he likes to fight, and I like to fight, and I think in Braventhat is definitely on display.
FanSided: In the movie, your character steps into frame and is super violent. It’s a crazy scene. When you are making orders to retrieve the drugs, you are methodical and know what to do at every moment. My question to you is, even though everything is said about the character without saying a word, did you have a more detailed backstory created for him in your process?
Garret Dillahunt: I think it is definitely evident. I would say he had military experience, he’s a mercenary, and I think he’s the muscle for some unseen cartel. It’s his a** on the line. He is definitely part of a pecking order.
FanSided: When you play a villain do you ever have to go to a certain place in your mind, or does being bad come natural for you in a performance?
Garret Dillahunt: You know, there is always a switch. I’m not just showing up, I get fed through the scenes and the environment. It’s like when I am working on Fear the Walking Dead now. It’s always a dance between you and the writers and the directors. When it comes to Braven, the script writer was changing things on the fly. He was asking questions like, “How do we make these fights believable?” I couldn’t fight Jason, that would be a rough go. (Laughs) We came up with the idea that happens in the third act. It was the only way that that would have been believable.
FanSided: I thought the fight scenes were excellent, and were very reminiscent of how action once was. When you see a lot of modern action like say the Fast and the Furious films, it is this almost superhero style action that has no realistic aspects whatsoever. It was evident in your choreography, and it was all very real. it was refreshing.
Garret Dillahunt: I like that about it too. Jason has a group around him, and they are martial artists. The director is also a mixed martial artist, so we had an amazing stunt team there.
FanSided: I hope this isn’t a cheap question, but that terrain looks horrible. Stephen [Lang] said he was chilled to the bone, and there are icy, snowy peaks. Was there any issues for you during the production?
Garret Dillahunt: It was certainly cold, and that was the worst part. I had to wear that coat, and I wore the hat and the sweater because it looked cool. I guess it did the trick. And we ran a lot. I never ran more in my life than this movie. I think the worst part was definitely that final fight sequence, because we went over that cliff and it was completely exposed to the wind. We were in it a lot, and between takes we would stick our hands in hot water. So, appreciate that. (Laughs)
FanSided: When it comes to the gunfights and choreography, was there anything that you had to learn to keep in tone with this particular screenplay?
Garret Dillahunt: Well, we had to learn the choreography. And under Canadian law, we had to take these courses to work on a cliff. I have the videotapes of us hanging upside down. It was pretty fun. We had to take this harness safety course, and it had nothing to do with what we were doing. It was quite a few mornings, and it was like Breakfast Club. (Laughs again) It was crazy, but also hilarious.
FanSided: So you have done so many different roles, but do you prefer action productions like Braven?
Garret Dillahunt: You know, I don’t know if I have a preference, and I guess I should. I have been really spoiled, honestly. I started in college to get over some personal tragedy. My brother had passed in a drunk driving accident, and I just stepped into a class on a whim, really. I remember going to rehearsal after rehearsal, and I found safety there. That was a long time ago, but I am still a workaholic, and I like to play widely diverse characters. I love comedy, I loved working on Raising Hope. I have a hard time saying what a preference is, but I do like it. I am a physical person, and I love it all.
FanSided: You know, I think to a certain degree you are on the level of say Bryan Cranston. What I mean is, he plays goofy, lovable Hal on Malcolm in the Middle, right? Then, you see him shed that skin and become this character Walter White on Breaking Bad. It is kind of the same thing with you. So is it ever hard to separate the two things so masterfully?
Garret Dillahunt: I don’t think so. Maybe I don’t even think that way. I think some of the great bad guys are f***ing hilarious. No one is just good or just bad, I don’t think. I mean, I’m not. My wife will tell you that. (Laughs) I think that is what everyone expects, and I would honestly say that the villain in Braven is not the best soldier.(Laughs again).
FanSided: Yeah, but in his defense, you had no idea that you were going to run into a family who is armed and knows how to use bows and s***. (Laughs)
Garret Dillahunt: (Laughs hard) It’s like Hans Gruber in Die Hard, right? Of all the families in the Newfoundland forest, we had to stash the drugs here.
FanSided: I wanted to ask you a question about your involvement in The Walking Dead universe. Now, this was before Jeffrey Dean was cast, but I remember you tweeting a volume of the graphic novel featuring Negan. Were you initially cast for that role?
Garret Dillahunt: Right. That is what started the conversation with Scott Gimple and led to this part. At the time, I was on another show called Hand of God, but I wanted to play Negan. Scheduling conflicts didn’t allow me to do that. The character I played on that show is very near and dear to my heart, for sure. I did talk to Scott, but at no point was I given the part, but it started the conversation. He called me a year later and was excited about me. I have never been on a franchise show, you know?
FanSided: But you are definitely part of the new cast of Fear, and I welcome you, and I am excited to see that.
Garret Dillahunt: Thank you so much. I’m excited about it. I’m happy you are too. I wouldn’t have been good for Negan anyway, and Jeffrey is doing an awesome job with it.
FanSided: Garret, thank you so much. This was a lot of fun and I cannot wait for everything you have coming up.