“Star Trek Beyond” Actor Dan Payne On The Art of Science Fiction
Although he may play intimidating beast and security guard Wadjet on Star Trek Beyond, actor Dan Payne is an all-Canadian family man when he’s away from the cameras. The 44-year-old star, who was born in Victoria, British Columbia, has become somewhat of a sci-fi geek with his recent roles. After all, Payne also plays superhero Obsidian in Legends of Tomorrow, and is clearly living his dream on the screen.
With Star Trek Beyond officially out on Blu-Ray and DVD today, we caught up with the Canadian actor about his passion for science fiction. From his experience depicting fantasy to his love of acting and most notable quirks, here’s what Payne had to share with us.
Real Style: You are known for acting in science fiction shows and films, like Legends of Tomorrow and Star Trek Beyond. What sets acting in sci-fi apart from other genres?
Dan: What sets it apart for me is that there’s a level of fantasy and imagination that you have to bring into it. Real world movies or shows that are about things that actually happen versus having superpowers, there’s a little bit of a fantasy element to it.
With Star Trek, they created such a phenomenal set backdrop for us that it was so easy to transport to another world through it. In fantasy, the expression of exploring another world, you get the universal truth of that excitement and fear, but there’s an element of fantasy that you have to not forget so you can take people on that journey.
Real Style: Tell us more about your role in Star Trek Beyond.
Dan: I was a security officer, and originally I was going to be the character that tries to protect them in the jail cell. The way it worked out, it got cut down a fair bit. It was kind of cool, I did help them escape and lift the door. I was kind of the big brutish security officer alien.
Real Style: How was the experience of starring in this film, alongside names like Zoe Saldana, Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto?
Dan: Those people are so unbelievably talented and on top of their game. Just to be around them and experience their process in action, as actors, was an invaluable experience and education for me. I kind of feel like I got to be a secret spy, watching that world all hidden behind that makeup. I’m honoured to be part of the Star Trek franchise, period, but to be around those amazingly talented actors and [director] Justin Lin as well was something to hopefully absorb.
Real Style: Star Trek is always well known for its prosthetics and makeup! How did you feel about embracing this bold new look on screen?
Dan: I get to birth a creature from concept to reality. The makeup is the core of it, and Joel Harlow is a wizard. He made phenomenal, elaborate and unique creatures for this. Once the makeup is on, it’s a collaborative process but it’s pretty neat to have the makeup sort of speak to you when you look in the mirror and see how the face moves. For me, the personality comes through that makeup and that exploration of how it all looks and moves. You try to make it more unique than just a human with a mask on.
Real Style: Tell us a little more about your role as Obsidian in Legends of Tomorrow.
Dan: That was kind of a bucket list check-off, the superhero role and to have superpowers. I’m not going to knock the other guys, but I’m pretty sure that Obsidian’s powers were the coolest.
Obsidian wound up being stoic, reserved, possibly psychotic and demented (but you’d never know) type of character. What I liked is that there’s a darkness in that character, where you don’t know if he’s on the good or the bad side, or playing both. I hope to be explored, as the character in the story moves on. They time travel, so they may eventually travel to a time where he’s unmasked. Lance Henriksen plays the older version of Obsidian. That was pretty cool, to be associated with him, because I’ve been a longtime fan of all of his work.
Real Style: What originally inspired you to pursue acting?
Dan: I think as a kid, it was always in me. Playing with my brother and sister (we were really close), creating worlds and stories and having fun. I wanted to be a pro volleyball player, and I fell in love with performance and audience response. The pressure of performing and doing something that I love doing in front of people who were grateful to see it. That relationship sort of worked out to be acting and theatre. I went to the U.K., got an agent and started doing the audition process. I got to a point where I wanted to come back to Canada and expand the opportunity of bigger films where my accent would probably be a bit more relevant!
Real Style: What are the differences between acting for TV and acting for film?
Dan: The bigger budget films only shoot about a page or two a day, so there’s very specific amount of time spent on detail and getting each tidbit exactly how they want it. In a movie or TV show, you shoot eight or ten pages and you aren’t afforded as much time to do each scene.
Real Style: Do you have a dream role, and if so, what is it?
Dan: At this point in my career, I would definitely like to be a slightly aging action hero with a smart mouth and have a little bit of fun. A little bit of a “Yippee ki-yay”, Bruce Willis’ Die Hard type of idea.
Real Style: What are three fun facts about you that would surprise your fans?
Dan: I have heterochromia, meaning that one eye has two split colours. It’s a diagonal cut in half. It’s amazing how many people don’t know that until they meet me and we talk long enough for them to see it.
I love to write and do photography, as a cathartic experience. Also, my wife fosters dogs, to try and give these lost puppies a chance to get adopted. I’m grateful to my wife for that, she brings that element to my family and my kids get to understand what that means.
Photo 1: IMDB
Photo 2: Star Trek Beyond
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