TV Series Hub was thankful to get to chat with the star who gives his voice in the latest film “Ford vs. Ferrari” and in the latest new “Death Stranding ” video game. Not only being a part of Dunkirk and Captain Marvel, he’s also wrote, directed and starred in his own film. And while he’s having a great 2019 year, there’s still more to come. Here’s that interview with Darren Jacobs.
You’re in the new film Ford vs. Ferrari, can you tell us who you play and what was it like playing that character?
“I am the main racetrack commentator for the Le Mans 66 race. There were actually two commentators: French and English. This means that all the commentating for the last third of the movie is by me. “
How did this film come to you?
“Nearly all voiceover jobs in the USA are actually auditioned. In the UK you are booked from your demo and from past jobs, but the USA needs to know you can do the job…so you have to audition. I recorded the audition while I was in the UK visiting my family. I had just bought a new travel mic and software to use it…and I promise you it was a frustrating experience doing it with new software. I was lucky because I had previously studied similar voice accents and patterns for a previous theatre job in the UK, so I understood the style of acting that was needed to sound authentic for the job. “
Have you met Christian Bale or Matt Damon on set? If so how was that like?
“I did not work with Christian Bale or Matt Damon as this was recorded in post-production. I saw many of their scenes and worked with them through a forty-foot screen in front of me…which was exhilarating, but not in person.”
You are also in the new game Death Stranding, who do you play and how did this come about?
“I play one of the leading characters in Death Stranding called Heartman. I perform all the P-Cap (performance capture) for the role (facial movement, acting, and voice). He is an expert scientist in the game who lives in a 24-minute cycle; he dies every 21 minutes, but then is resuscitated three minutes later. He has a tragic backstory but is a surprisingly fun and optimistic person. I almost didn’t audition for this project because I made a mistake and nearly missed the deadline. I thought that it was just a voiceover audition, so I recorded it and was just about to send it off when I spotted it was an on-camera audition. I freaked because I had a meeting I was supposed to be getting ready for, but thought that I loved the character so much I wanted to submit my audition. It was like a whirlwind dressing for the part while trying to memorize the scientific technobabble. I honestly don’t know how I managed to get it done in time, but I did. They contacted me a week later with a new script (and a different character name), and a set of instructions from the unnamed director. This really piqued my interest, so I started looking into it…and I with some clever detective work, I had a hunch that it was Hideo Kojima’s newest project. That changed everything. I WANTED that job. I recorded my call-back going through each note he gave me in detail and sent it off. I was told a few days later that I had booked Death Stranding…and that Hideo Kojima wanted to meet me.”
Was there any preparation for going into this game?
“Yes, and no. Mr. Kojima asked me to meet him while doing some final motion capture filming in Los Angeles. I really was not sure of what was going to happen, but nevertheless, I went. When I arrived, a PA came to ask who I was…and when I told him the role I auditioned for he looked blankly at me. I then told him the name of the role I initially auditioned for too…and then when he looked blankly at me again, I said, “Errr…the character has narcolepsy and falls asleep every twenty-one minutes”. Sudden understanding flooded him, and he said, “Oh! You’re Heartman! That’s your character name. And you don’t have narcolepsy…you die.”
I then was ushered into a huge soundstage where Mads Mikkelsen was filming one of his iconic scenes that was used in his trailer. I watched quietly at the side while Mr. Kojima as a gigantic technical team did their stuff. It was magical. After this I was introduced to the cast and crew and explained my role in the game.”
What was it like working with Norman Reedus? I’m sure it was intimidating.
“Norman is a very cool guy. My first scene interacting with him was a shower scene. When the team told me this in the studio, I looked at them skeptically, like I didn’t believe them, but I quickly realized it was true. The dialogue I had to say was that I needed to collect a specimen of his shower water for tests. The crew thought I was hilarious with my baffled reaction. It was a rather funny moment. “
You’ve had a good year being in films from Captain Marvel to Men in Black International, what was it like being part of these big franchise movies?
“It’s great. There is nothing quite like seeing a giant billboard of a job you worked on at bus stops and on the side of buildings. It feels good because suddenly people say things like…’Didn’t you do some work on that?”. It’s also good because you can send a picture to your mother proving that you’re not making it up. HA.”
You were a part of Dunkirk (from what the bio says), what was that like working in a Christopher Nolan movie?
“This was excellent on many levels. It was a great experience because I learnt so much information about the war that I had no idea about. Not only did we have to learn about the historical situation, but we had to learn nautical terms and army lingo. I honestly was in shock at what the allies did to save as many stranded soldiers as they could. It is an amazing example of what can happen when working together.”
You’ve been interested in acting since you were 11 years old, what inspired you into acting?
“I come from a working-class background in the North of England – something very similar to the feature film Billy Elliot. I started performing in local productions, and after booking my first TV role, I decided to learn all aspects of performing. So, at about fifteen I won a few scholarships and started to learn to dance and act professionally after school. It was grueling. I was academically adept too, so it was a struggle convincing people that I wasn’t just wasting my time on a pipedream. I worked incredibly hard (travelling to different parts of the UK to take lessons while studying full time), but at nineteen I won a scholarship to study in London. Within a few weeks of graduating, I booked my first job in the West End in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. From there I didn’t look back. “
Growing up what television shows and movies did you enjoy?
“I loved all sorts of TV: drama, suspense, soap operas, cartoons. I literally loved TV and the movies. I also was lucky because my town had a huge theatre that would host the most cosmopolitan companies from around the world. I would watch the Royal Shakespeare Company, Alvin Ailey, The Royal Ballet Company, etc. in my hometown for practically nothing. It was insane. Imagine that kind of inspiration on your doorstep in your teens. I saw Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi live in my hometown. “
You’re not only an actor, but a producer, writer and director. You made a film called Blind Date (2012), which you also star in. What was the inspiration of making that film?
“I had recently moved to the USA, and while I was filling the time, I wrote a short film. I was just flexing my writing chops, so I never thought anything of it. When I realized that I knew actors who would be PERFECT for the roles, I wrestled with the idea of turning it into a short film. After I spoke to the cast, Luke Baines (Shadowhunters, The Girl in the Photographs), Teya Patt (How To Get Away with Murder, Deadwood: The movie, For All Mankind), and Cory Blevins (Get Shorty, Fresh off the Boat), and found out they wanted to do the short too, I moved full steam ahead. “
How hard was it to make this film?
“This was such a valuable learning experience for me. I learnt to juggle many tasks at once while having a clear focus on an end goal and having the strength to carry it through. There was so much work that I had to do on it and locking the production crew and locations was a complete nightmare. I was super pleased with the finished product, and we actually had it shown in a few international film festivals too.”
When you’re not filming or doing voice overwork, what do you do that you enjoy?
“I love reading, swimming, yoga, writing, and more recently, partaking in escape rooms. I’m addicted. It’s so much fun. I love solving a puzzle or conundrum, so using my brain and racing against time is a great way for me to think outside the box whilst having fun. My word of wisdom, though, regarding escape rooms…choose your co-escapees VERY wisely.”
What advice do you have for anyone that wants to get into the business that you are in now?
“Honesty. Persistence. Determination. Resilience. These are the cores you need. Be honest with yourself. Are you good enough? Truly? Are you going to persist? Are you going to persist in wanting to do this? Are you determined enough to persist? Are you doing this for the right reasons? Are you ready for consistent and brutal rejection? If you are ready for this…THEN DON’T LET ANYONE STOP YOU!!! If you listen to the naysayers and the doubters, you will stay indoors all your life surrounded by bubble wrap. Go outside and follow your dreams. If you can’t find the path, then build a road and create a journey. If you fall flat on your face then at least you tried, but don’t be sixty years old and regret never trying. Who knows? You might find a different path to the one you started out on, but I bet you’ll get an experience worth walking down that road for.”
Are there any future projects that you would like to announce?
“I’m currently in a short film that is just hitting the international film festivals called Washed Away (Supposable Films). It is a beautiful little short about loss, self-discovery, and life. I am in a short called When the Train Stops (Glamford Road Productions), that won some recent awards at a few festivals too. Also, I am in a movie about 80’s tribute bands in the UK called Elevator Gods. I play a character called Pab who is in the Duran Duran band…and yes, I had to dye my hair blonde for the role.”