I recently got the chance to talk to Dan Flannery about his role in ‘Contagion’. Here, Dan talks about what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set and which three people he would invite to dinner…
Hey Dan. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film ‘Contagion‘.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
The film chronicles the spread of a very mysterious and deadly disease. With our mobile world, it can reach all corners of the globe in a matter of days.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I am a doctor who has contracted the disease because of my work with patients who have been stricken. Most people who reach this stage succumb to it. It’s a very tender scene with my daughter, played by the wonderful Jennifer Ehle.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
The film, which had been in Chicago for most of last winter, came back in late spring for two weeks of additional photography. My agent called to see if I wanted to be part of the project and was available to work on it. The “wanting to” was a rather superfluous question.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
With the list of stars that it has, it was completely an ensemble piece. They all just flowed so beautifully throughout the film. Also, the film settles in to an honest unfolding of the story while resisting the temptation to over sensationalize the crisis.
The film stars Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Laurence Fishburne - with Steven Soderbergh onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set?
As an actor, I have to say Mr. Soderbergh was wonderful. He really gave us our lead and pretty much left it up to us. There was a quiet strength in his presence. The only other member of the cast who I met was Laurence Fishburne, and that was just in passing – my leaving the set and his arriving.
Let’s talk a bit about you Dan. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
After several years of being a businessman, I was very taken by the wonderful theatre scene in Chicago. I started taking classes, and four years later decided this was my new career path.
You’ve had a number of roles in a variety of different shorts and films – who have been your favourite actors/actresses to work with so far and which project has been your favourite to be a part of?
Honestly, I can’t pick a favourite. I am particularly appreciative of having worked with Richard Farnsworth who came out of retirement to work on David Lynch’s ‘The Straight Story’. Working for nine days on ‘Holiday Baggage’ with Cheryl Ladd and Barry Bostwick was another standout, mainly because it was so many days to be around a great group of people. I really enjoy being on set and working!
What is currently on your I-Pod right now?
Oh boy, I’m probably blowing this whole thing right now. I don’t have an I-Pod! I could give you a list of some of my favourite LP’s and films, but…
If you could have dinner with three guests (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
- Louis de Bernieres — so we could talk about adapting his novels to screenplays.
- John Niehardt - a poet laureate of Nebraska some time ago. A wonderful storyteller.
- Marilyn Monroe – I want to know what’s behind those eyes, and so the four of us could just sit around for a long evening and talk.
If you were stranded on a desert island – what three things could you not live without?
I’d have to have several books (maybe get Jane Hamilton to somehow send me each of her latest as she writes them). If I could drive on the beach, I’d like to have a nice vintage car. I guess my grandchildren would be next.
What’s coming up for you in 2011/12?
The beauty of this business is, we never know. Certainly a highlight came suddenly mid year this past year with being cast in ‘Contagion’. So, we live with a lot of hope!
Thanks for the interview!