Years ago I became a fan of Dan Fogler from his offbeat comedies Balls of Fury (2007) and Fanboys (2009). He has since blossomed into one of the “it” guys in the business right now as he readies to appear in season 9 of TV’s biggest show, AMC’s The Walking Dead, has Fantastic Beasts and the Crimes of Grindelwald coming to theaters in mid November, and has a recurring role in ABC’s The Goldbergs. He is also a writer of graphic novels, which all led him to this year’s New York Comic-Con. The Brooklyn-born actor and author sat at the Heavy Metal booth selling out copies of his graphic novel, Brooklyn Gladiator, before taking a few minutes to jump in a press room for some questions.
Fogler walked in with a handful of shirts to distribute to us, not realizing the room was full with about 20 reporters. He told anyone who didn’t get a shirt to come by his NYCC booth and he’d get them one. Fogler was totally genuine, almost surprised so many people came to talk with him.
Question: What can you tell us about Fantastic Beasts 2?
Dan Fogler: I’m back somehow and I’ve retained a lot of the memories and you find out how within the first two seconds of seeing me in the film, which is awesome. I saw the film twice and I’m really excited about it.
Question: What’s the experience like doing the second film now that you’re immersed in the Harry Potter world?
Dan Fogler: It felt like being a sophomore coming back to college where you’re not as stressed out and you know the ropes and the people. That first movie everyone just wanted to do a good job. I was thinking “˜this is my shot, I have to nail this’. I don’t want to be the Jar-Jar of the franchise. [That line drew huge laughs from everyone.] We knew this was a franchise and the fans dug it and would be excited about seeing the second one. They enjoyed the chemistry, so the second time was a lot more comfortable and I had a blast, I’m really proud of the work we put into it. You know the Harry Potter movies, the sequels just kept getting bigger and bigger and that’s what is happening here.
Question: As a fan, you’re entering these big fan universes, Star Wars with Fanboys, Harry Potter, The Walking Dead. Do you feel pressure as both an actor and a fan joining these universes?
Dan Fogler: Absolutely. That first movie was like a global phenomenon and you don’t want to mess that up. There’s a lot of pressure to show up and do a good job. Once you do something like Fantastic Beasts and you go around and do the press circuit and you survive that, you start to realize you can surf this. Then you join The Walking Dead and you go to Comic-Con and again it’s like coming back to old friends. I’m still very romantic about it. I still read The Walking Dead and I’m playing a character from the comic book, which is so cool.
Question: How did that come about, nine seasons in that you got cast in The Walking Dead?
Dan Fogler: Working on the Fantastic Beasts movies, I told my representation to look for TV jobs during my down time and hopefully something on the other side of the spectrum from Jacob and The Goldbergs, which is all fun and lovable. I wanted something darker and I think they were tapping on The Walking Dead‘s shoulder for awhile. Out of the blue they called and asked if I wanted to play this Luke character and I said absolutely. I hope it continues, my schedule is hard to work out, but I hope it goes on for a long long time. It’s a blast, I’m riding horses and stuff, it’s cool.
Geeks of Doom: How do you separate and balance these characters when you’re literally doing them one after another, going from Jacob in Fantastic Beasts to Marvin on The Goldbergs to Luke in The Walking Dead? What is that like as an actor? Plus I have to say, you’ll always be Randy Dayton to me [his character in Balls of Fury].
Dan Fogler: [Laughing] That’s unfortunate. You get there and you learn what the playing ground is and it’s all different facets of my personality. I feel like I’m playing different relatives. Luke is very close to myself, it’s almost like me in a parallel universe if acting didn’t work out and I became a music teacher, it’s very close to my own voice. Jacob is like playing an ancestor because my great-grandfather was a baker on the upper east side, so playing Jacob is this wonderful gift of being able to step into a relative’s shoes. Then Marvin, I mean I had an uncle like that. An uncle who is constantly scheming on the side and needs money. I know that guy, he was in my family, and he was in Adam Goldberg’s family and we got to know each other on Fanboys. So he’s like a brother to me. I just try to use different spectrums of my personality and then you get on the playing field. Once I got the costume for Jacob and that moustache, once I had the moustache I was like “˜Okay, I’m Jacob’. I come from theater, so it’s layered. There’s the inside layer where it’s sense memory. Then you get the other layers on top of that you really start to fool yourself into believing that you are these characters.
Question: Tell us some more about your character and working on The Walking Dead.
Dan Fogler: It was like getting in a sauna. Working with Andrew Lincoln, that guy gives it his all in every scene and that becomes infectious on set. Again coming from theater I love working and the day ends and you have pain in your shoulders and you’re sweating. The character I play, Luke is a music teacher. They’ve given me such lovely lines along the lines of the theme of holding onto our humanity and civilization while everything around us is crumbling. It’s an interesting message right now. There’s a huge chance there. Shakespeare said, you have to put the mirror up to society and let them reflect, this is a very entertaining way to have people reflect. I have these great monologues and he’s really cool. Every time he finds a discarded instrument he collects it, and you’re like “˜What are you doing, you’re gonna get yourself killed’. That’s the point though, they’re beautiful scenes. I get to work with Danai (Gurira), and she’s wonderful, Norman (Reedus), Samantha (Morton), who I get to work with on Fantastic Beasts also. I’m having a blast, I get to ride horses like, it’s a western. And I kill zombies, I don’t normally do that.
New York Comic-Con ended a whirlwind 4 days at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in NYC earlier this month. Dan Fogler was super cool and true to his word, about a half hour later I found him sitting at the Heavy Metal Comics booth greeting fans. Season 9 of The Walking Dead began last week; Season 6 of The Goldbergs is three episodes in, and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of GrindelWald hits theaters everywhere on November 16, 2018. The man is literally everywhere! You can check out a preview of his graphic novel Brooklyn Gladiator at the kickstarter page here. And he’ll always be Randy Daytona to me!
[All photos by Dr. Zaius for Geeks of Doom.]
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