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Revealing Late Night Terror: David Dastmalchian on LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL


A man in a tan suit stands next to a camera
David Dastmalchian in Colin Cairnes and Cameron Cairnes ’ LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL. Courtesy of Adam White. An IFC Films and Shudder release

Note: This interview was conducted before it was revealed that AI art was used in the film, an action that we don't condone.


By Shannon McGrew


In LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL, it's October 31, 1977. Johnny Carson rival Jack Delroy hosts a syndicated late night talk show 'Night Owls' that has long been a trusted companion to insomniacs around the country. A year after the tragic death of Jack's wife, ratings have plummeted. Desperate to turn his fortunes around, Jack plans a Halloween special like no other, unaware that he is about to unleash evil into the living rooms of America.


Leading up to the release of LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL, Creepy Kingdom's Shannon McGrew spoke with actor/producer David Dastmalchian. During the interview, they discussed everything from transforming into a late-night TV host to the contrast between showing Delroy's public and private persona and more.


It's such a pleasure to be speaking with you today, David! To start off, can you tell us about your approach in preparing for the role of Jack Delroy?


David Dastmalchian: The thought of being able to respond quickly to the moment, which is what a talk show host has to be able to do in interviews, in the opening monologue, in reacting with the audience - because there's a live studio audience and the home viewing audience when you're watching this is feeding off that energy. I had to go back and think about all of the early skills I learned in Chicago as a theater actor, where improv was a big part of my training. A lot of the early work I did at the theater school at DePaul involved studying the work of people like Del Close and Viola Spolin. I tried my best to inhabit the feeling that you might get going to see a second city show or being in the front row of the audience watching Johnny Carson or David Letterman. It was scary. It was hard. It was a great challenge, but I don't think anything in life is worth throwing ourselves into if it doesn't scare and challenge us a little bit. I hope people see and feel like they're watching Night Owl, 1977, Jack Delroy.


A man kneals down next to a woman and a child in a chair that has a bleeding nose
Ingrid Torelli, David Dastmalchian, and Laura Gordon in Colin Cairnes and Cameron Cairnes ’ LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL. C ourtesy of IFC Films and Shudder. An IFC Films and Shudder release.

I recently learned that you're very familiar with horror hosts after seeing the article you wrote about them for Fangoria. With that in mind, what aspect of playing Jack Delroy appealed most to you?


David Dastmalchian: The thing about Jack that I loved the most was his exterior persona is this well-orchestrated version of a man brimming with confidence and charm and affability and intelligence and curiosity - all of these qualities that I, aside from being curious, don't think I possess. I don't feel like you look at me and say, oh, that guy could host a television show. Constructing this persona of confidence, ease, and comedic timing is a great challenge. Then, that paired with what spoke to me, his deep fear, insecurity, anxiety, depression, and the grief that he was wrestling with. Those are all things that are right on the surface for me. I've been wrestling my whole life, but in recent years, I just continued to do the daily work involved with maintaining my mental health, my sobriety, and my connection to reality. I'm 22 years clean and sober. What a gift getting to play a character who's like a clown who you get to see with the makeup on, and then you get to see with the makeup off, and both sides of those parts of his personality are on a collision course with reality. This fateful night when Jack Delroy, in his attempt to catch up with Carson, made some questionable choices, which we've all done in the throes of depression, anxiety, and addiction.


You work alongside an incredibly talented cast that does a superb job of bringing their characters and accompanying stories to life. What was that experience like?


David Dastmalchian: The entire cast, except myself, are Australian, and they have completely nailed it. They created the tone, the voices, the dialects, and the personalities. Ian Bliss ("Carmichael Haig"), the guy who plays the skeptic, and Laura Gordon ("June Ross-Mitchell"), the psychologist who wrote the book, were last minute, and I mean last minute, like days before filming. We had a couple of casting emergencies that made it tricky to make a movie. It was COVID times, travel restrictions, and this and that. Rhys Auteri ("Gus McConnell"), my co-host, Gus, had never done scripted. He's an improv actor. You've got our amazing psychic, Christou, played by Fayssal Bazzi, who just showed up and nailed it. As for Ingrid Torelli, who plays Lilly D'Abo, I think she will give all The Exorcist fans a run for their money. She's the next Linda Blair. She's so good. I was surrounded by greatness, and when you get that gift, it elevates you and makes you do your best work. All that behind-the-scenes stuff, where my producer is putting the pressure and turning the screws on me, shooting those scenes, was so intense and were a totally different tone than the rest of the movie.


Lastly, why do you think horror fans have such a magnetic pull toward seeing horrific imagery through found footage films or mockumentaries?


David Dastmalchian: Isn't it strange? It's the same phenomenon that... the reason traffic slows so intensely when there's a bad accident isn't because there are fewer lanes. It's because everyone needs to look. After all, we must look at the things that scare us the most. We have to stare into the void. We have to stare into the death. We have to stare into the destruction. With films like this, if you can pull it off and do a good job, you will create a world that feels authentic and real enough to the audience that they can believe they're watching this broadcast from 1977. As the wheels start to fall off, and Jack's psyche becomes more and more afraid, I hope people will want to keep watching because they care so much about the character and where they're going. Maybe they see a little of their own fear, their own fear of themselves, their own fear of what lies beyond in watching this and, therefore, look away, maybe losing an opportunity to confront something that all of us have in common.


LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL is now in theaters. Additionally, the third volume of Count Crowley by David Dastmalchian will hit bookshelves this September. You can order your copy here.



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