Interview: Brett Dalton on “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone”
Posted on January 18, 2017 at 3:56 pm
Brett Dalton (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D”) plays the title role in “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone,” about a spoiled former child star who is sentenced to 200 hours of community service in the town he grew up in after some bad behavior. He is forced to live with his estranged father (“The Middle” star Neil Flynn) and work as a janitor in a local church, where he is cast in the role of Jesus in their Easter passion play. The movie opens January 20, 2017 at theaters across the US.
I spoke to Dalton about getting the chance to perform “Hamlet” (well, one speech, when Gavin auditions) on screen, a first for him. “But I always hoped, I always hoped. I had not done Shakespeare prior to grad school, but you audition with a few Shakespeare monologues so they can see how you handle text. I never thought that I would even be any good at it but I really got turned on to it as soon as I started studying it and the second play that I did in grad school was actually “Macbeth.” I played the title role, so either they made a casting mistake or I must have been decent enough at it that they thought I could handle the whole thing. There something very universal about the stories and something just magnificent about saying those words and having them roll around in your mouth, it’s pretty miraculous. So, I did not expect that I would ever get a chance to do that on film where millions of people could see it. I hope I did a good job.” It’s an important part of the story because “let’s say he is better at his job than we expected because up until then we just heard about all of his mistake and stuff. For him to have at least chosen that means that he must be able to connect to another human being, do the work and have that kind of empathy, and that he is smart about his choices, at least as an actor.”
It is a challenge for a good actor like Dalton to play a bad actor. “I don’t think a bad actor knows that they are a bad actor so I think that he is doing his best, as we all are. Acting in theater is an art form that requires an audience and it’s a completely subjective thing. You do your work and then you put it out there and it’s not yours anymore. It’s something that you have shared, and so I think as with anything else you just do your best and do your homework and then you have to let it go at the end. When I read the script, he felt like a real person. His sense of humor is what makes him appealing; this was somebody who was so damaged and so far gone I think without that maybe it would’ve been a little bit difficult to go with him on that journey.” In order to research the character, he read some biographies and autobiographies of former child stars. “I can imagine that would be really, really hard because when you’re there on top you feel like it’s going to last forever and you feel like you can do everything and then reality hits you realize that all of that stuff wasn’t real to begin with. Gavin has a bit of that knowledge at the beginning of the film and then gets to that point where it’s hammered home at the end of the film as well when he gets the thing that he thinks that he wants more than anything else and it’s not what he thought it was going to be.”
He enjoyed working with Neil Flynn of “Scrubs” and “The Middle,” who plays his father in the film. “I loved him. He was great. I was always a fan of his on ‘Scrubs’ and I obviously knew that he was very funny in a very dry way. There was a bit of a connection there that both of us had been part of TV shows that were up and running and there was just a connection there already. Often with TV schedules you just have to kind of plug-in, you have to make quick choices, everything is on a schedule, and you have a day to make it work. We were just used that and could take direction quickly and connect quickly. It was a lot of fun and we connected instantly. I had a lot of respect for him from the get go.”
He liked the comedy in the film and believes that it helps convey the deeper story. “You do need a spoonful of sugar for the medicine to go down. I think comedy is an incredibly important part of telling a story and that was important in this film. That’s what made me like the script so much in the first place — it was funny. It didn’t seem to take itself quite so seriously. This is a film that I think anyone can watch and get something out of. It doesn’t like hammer anyone over the head with anything. This is I think first and foremost a good film, not just a faith film. This is a story of someone who gets a second chance. Anyone can relate to that.”