Interview with Actor David Adam Flannery on DETROIT with Kathryn Bigelow, Atlanta vs LA Acting Scene and More

Interview with Actor David Adam Flannery on DETROIT with Kathryn Bigelow, Atlanta vs LA Acting Scene and More

Arthur Glover – So I want to know more about you. Regarding your background, how did you get plugged into the acting industries that are based in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York City?

David Adam Flannery Well, I mean, I always wanted to be an actor, since I was a kid. I was watching Arnold Schwarzenegger, he was like my big hero, like anything he did when I was a kid, which I probably shouldn’t have even been watching. They were pretty out there…but he inspired me at such a young age, and since then I always wanted to be an actor, so growing up in Idaho, and as soon as I got into college, I was just like, what am I doing? I felt like I was following something that my grandmother wanted me to do, and she wanted me to be a doctor. So I just wasn’t happy doing it, and that dream of being an actor came back up, and I was just like – I’m just gonna move to LA. I was 19, and I didn’t have any money, but I got in my car and I drove out there, and one thing led to another, and I got roles here and there, and just never gave up. Then eventually I booked a film shooting in Atlanta, and that was the first time I got out there, and it was a film called DARK ROADS 79, and it was a horror film. It’s pretty good, you should check it out. But I was talking to some of the people on set, and they were like “Man, Atlanta is killing it right now, you gotta get out here, it’s such a great market”. So about a month later, I ended moving from LA to Atlanta, after being in LA for seven years. And like I said, Atlanta has been treating me really well, and then my manager told me that they had auditions in New York City for this new Kathryn Bigelow film, but they wouldn’t let me take a look at any of their sides, or any of the script, they said I just had to come up there and trust them. And I’m just like – for Kathryn Bigelow, absolutely, since anything she’s ever done is just amazing. So I flew up there the next day, and went in there, and you know, the rest is history man. It was an incredible, incredible experience.

AG – Have you been able to see the profound differences between the Atlanta film market, and the Los Angeles one?

DAF – Yeah, Atlanta is…I feel like it’s still a budding film market. I definitely recommend it to anybody who is wanting to get into the film industry or TV, to just go out and check out Atlanta, because I thought that LA was the only place where you can do that in, but that’s just not true anymore. A lot of stuff  is on tape in Atlanta, which is a lot different coming from LA, where most of the stuff is in person. And when you do have an in-person audition, everybody is comfortable with each other and super nice. I don’t know if that’s the southern-quality in everybody, but everyone wants to know how you’re doing, and I remember when going to auditions in LA, nobody was talking to each other, it was just like keep your heads on paper, and go in there. It was just so much more cut throat out there, so there’s definitely huge differences in Atlanta, and that’s the one quality that’s completely awesome.

AG – It seems that you manage to always be cast as someone that has your same name on all of your projects. Even in the upcoming DETROIT, you play Officer David Adam Flannery. Could you you tell me what the story is behind that?

DAF – You know, I’m not sure. It might be just cause it’s my name, and they like it. I could not tell you…it’s funny when you mention that. I have no idea, they just kind of went with it when I was on set. I was like – sure, that’s a lot easier for me guys!

AG – I wonder if that’s something that will stay with you your entire career, you just keep playing characters with your same name.

DAF – I wouldn’t mind it.

AG – Let’s talk about ALL EYEZ ON ME. I should definitely see it and have my own point of view for it. But it seems that a lot of critics and audiences didn’t respond well to the film, and I know that you’ve mentioned that it feels like a perfect representation of who Tupac was as a person, and not just about his music. Why do you feel like the film wasn’t received well?

DAF – Well Tupac, I mean he’s got such a huge following, and anytime you come out with something that everybody…I mean he’s got this great big following, some are going to respond well, and some are not going to respond well. When I saw the film, I didn’t know Tupac’s personal life, I just knew about his music when I was growing up. So I watched it, and I felt that it gave me a good insight of who he was. It might’ve not went into every aspect, because there’s only so much you can do in two hour long movie. But, I thought it was entertaining, they did a very good job with what they worked with, and I thought it was great, I really did.

David Adam Flannery, david flannery, actor

David Adam Flannery

AG – So yeah, I’m really intrigued with this DETROIT film, and I know that director Kathryn Bigelow, she likes to keep her sets as hyper-realistic as possible. So what was it like working for her on a set that’s based around the greatest human uprising in American history?

DAF – I mean Kathryn, first of all, just her as a person, every time I met her, she’s super sweet, and super cool. And, you know, it’s kind of like a period-piece, it’s set in 1967. So, the costumes, the dust, the cars, it was just so awesome to be on this set. We took over this small town in Boston, and everything was a part of this film, they had tanks, and explosions. It keeps you so pinned to the characters, so into what’s happening, you feel like you’re transported to the past. She’s so great about doing that. I would love to work with her again, she’s just amazing.

AG – Do you have a specific memory from the set, that would perhaps carry with you over the rest of your career?

DAF – When I first met her was an incredible experience within itself. I remember this one scene that Algee Smith and I had together, and as soon as we finished filming it we were just looking at each other, it was just like, that was it. And I went back to Kathryn, and she was overjoyed, that meant just the world to me.

AG – And yeah, obviously you have to casts a ton of people when making a riot film. Did you ever feel the extent of that chaos during that shoot that perhaps people actually experienced during those riots in 1967? Or do you feel like it still cannot compare?

DAF – You know, obviously the sixties were tumultuous times. So, there was a lot of things happening back then. It’s hard to go back, and think about what people were experiencing, and their uprising. I mean you have this military there, you have these people walking around while molotov cocktails are going off, and everything else. So that’s scary within itself, and going back and thinking about what these people went through, it’s hard for me to put myself in their shoes, and what they experienced. It was crazy back then, and this film is something that people need to see, because it hasn’t been talked about that much. So it’s a really great film, and I definitely recommend everyone to see it, if not for a great piece of filmmaking that it is, then just for an inside of history, and what it was like in the sixties.

AG – Do you think that these riots display the best of us as a society, or the worse, or both?

DAF – Well if you take both sides, and you’re going to get both sides of that. It’s people in hyper-realism, when they’re experiencing people dying everyday, and there’s so much hatred going on. People are just fending and trying to survive, and you handle both sides of the coin, sure, there’s going to be happy times, and they’re still trying to work towards their dreams, and they’re trying to do that, but you have these hateful people. So you’re going to get both sides of the coin, no matter what happens. And it probably just makes it more hyper-realistic, like I said.

AG – What can we learn from those times, that can help us deal with the troubling times we are experiencing today?

DAF – Well, you look at all what’s taking place now, Black Lives Matter, and these groups, there is still similar issues that we’re dealing with today, which is crazy, it’s 2017. Every single person out there deserves to be treated with an equal amount of respect as everybody else. I hope, and I know, that there is a sliver of hope out there that will happen. You watch this film, and you’re like man, this is still going on today. I hope that things start changing for the better.

AG – Well on a more positive note, you being in this film, it could easily be something that skyrockets your career into a very interesting direction. Have you seen any of this happen since you’ve wrapped being in this film? Are there any more auteur directors that you look up to that you might be working for, or hope to work for in the future?

DAF – There’s a slew of people that I would love to work with, you know. I’d love to work with Danny Boyle, he’s one of my all time favorites. Spielberg too, Clint Eastwood, those are guys that I dream of working with. I got this little project in the works, can’t talk much about it, but it involves China. There’s things happening, and I’m forever grateful for this film, and ALL EYEZ ON ME, and everything else that’s come up to this point. I’m just staying on that grind man, every single day.

AG – What does David Adam Flannery want to be known as as an actor, and what do you want people to see in you, that perhaps they do not see in others?

DAF – Love. I just want to spread that message of love. It’s things like when you’re a kid, and you see this girl, and you start dating, and you fall in love. It’s that first love, and that ecstatic joy, I want to bring that to everybody in the world, and that’s one of the reasons I became an actor, to be able to reach such a huge aspect of humanity in the world, and show them through these films, that there’s love and joy out there, and I just want to keep spreading that message.

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