I recently got the chance to talk to Daren A. Herbert about his role in ‘This Means War’. Here, Daren talks about what it was like working with McG and Chris Pine on-set and what is currently on his I-Pod right now…
Hey Daren. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘This Means War’.
Not a problem, mate. Thanks for the love!
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
‘This Means War’ is a 2012 romantic comedy and spy film directed by McG. The film stars Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy as victims of a love triangle in which two CIA agents (who are best friends) discover that they are dating the same woman.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play Agent Bothwick, a colleague of FDR and Tuck within the CIA who gets drafted onto FDR’s (Chris Pine’s) team in the war against Tuck (Tom Hardy). Bothwick is FDR’s right hand man, so to speak, and does a lot of the technical work when it comes to spying on, researching and sabotaging Tuck in his pursuit of romantic relations with Lauren (Reese Witherspoon). He’s a consummate professional in the beginning, but he evolves into a bit of a comedic sidekick. We see quite a bit of him in the film and he/I got to deliver a couple of pretty funny lines. Tuck had his own CIA sidekick, Agent Boyles played by the very funny Kevin O’Grady.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
Audition. It was a while ago, but I remember being in the room with McG, the casting folks, a reader and a few other people. We did the pages as written and then McG got me to do a number of takes where things just got more and more ludicrous! He was prompting to me to give him the most off-the-wall responses to a couple of scenarios from the script and I went off!!! It was fun for me, especially when I saw the faces of the casting agents who had seen me before, but NEVER doing anything like that – loud, broad comedy with a thick Black American accent. I’m from Bermuda, so I’m always putting on some accent or other, but doing that stuff in that room…I had a blast!
How would you say this film is different and unique?
Hmm…Well, it’s a combination of action, comedy and romance that I haven’t really seen attempted on film before. ‘True Lies’ might be as close as I could get, but it’s different from even that film. It really is quite a ridiculous piece! They’ve put a little something for the males and the females and released it between Valentine’s Day and President’s Day/Washington’s Birthday, so there you go.
The film stars Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Til Schweiger, Chelsea Handler, John Paul Rattan and Abigail Spencer – with McG onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
McG is a fun and funny guy! I wasn’t expecting that and he encouraged us to work up some surprises and go for ‘em…boy did we ever! I worked mostly with Chris and he was a chill kinda guy. Shooting was very slow so in some of our down time he’d rock out on my little backpacker guitar that I’d brought to set with me. Chris can play guitar man, believe it! I only play variations on a blues tune that I learned in grad school, Chris was pickin’ out some big tunes! I was on set with Tom, Reese and Angela Bassett a couple of days, both in Vancouver and LA, but most of my time was spent with Chris, McG and Kevin as well as a few of my other Canadian friends who worked on the film – shout outs to Viv Leacock and Patrick Sabongui! On my last day of shooting in Vancouver, I had to bring my wife and my luggage to set because I was jumping on a flight to Toronto hours after wrapping to start rehearsals for a musical I was doing over there, called ‘Parade’.
Some of our best moments of improv did make it into the film and I’m very happy with that, but there was one moment, McG could have never put in that film…not with a PG-13 rating anyway. Chris and I were meant to be watching Tom and Reese getting hot and heavy on the screens in our surveillance van and I’m giving him play by play commentary…all sorts of things are coming out of my mouth, Chris is holding on as best he can and the crew are snickering and looking away and I think I said, ” Boss, Tuck can f**k.” Explosions of laughter all around and McG hollers, “Cut! Did we get that? Please tell me we got that…” the camera had just run out of film. Didn’t even get a shot at the special features on the DVD! Sigh, such is life.
Let’s talk a bit about you Daren. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
Well, growing up in Bermuda I didn’t even think becoming a professional actor/performer was a possibility though I’d always performed whether it be theatre, dance, singing and chatting dance hall, you name it. It wasn’t until I was at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia that I saw others preparing to do it for a living and I thought, well alright then. So I worked hard, studied hard, did as much as I could within and outside the confines of my Musical Theatre training program, and later my MFA Drama program at the University of California, Irvine for the required periods of time and then, off to LA to hustle for work. Here I am in Vancouver (and sometimes Toronto, London, NY and LA) still doing it.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the industry?
Advice…I’d say best of luck and always be you. Study never ends, every experience can teach you a lot about yourself and your craft, but be prepared for a lot of rejection, discouragement, lean times, hungry times, many days/weeks/months years of hard work and sacrifice for brief moments of joy/fulfillment…damn, are you sure you want to do this to yourself? I hope you ain’t getting into it for fame and fortune ‘cuz I know a lot of very talented and skilled performers who’ve been doing it for years and will NEVER have fame and fortune. If you still want to “get into the industry” despite all that, again I wish you good luck.
You’ve been in a number of different films and TV projects – which actors/actresses have been your favourites to work with so far? Any good stories?
Yes, I’ve been fortunate I’ve worked on a variety of projects, both on stage and on screen…even did voice and motion capture on a couple of video games. You can find all that stuff on IMDb.com. I’ve worked with some awesome performers and I aim to work with many more before my time is done. I’ll send out love and gratitude to Valarie Pettiford, Troubadour Theater Company in LA, my friends Windell Middlebrooks, Colvon Collins, Marci T House, Margrit Polak and to Bill Condon, Eddie Murphy and Mel Damski for treating me with utmost respect on set – that doesn’t always happen.
What is currently on your I-Pod right now?
Don’t have an I-Pod, but I often play a YouTube video with five different versions of FELA’s ‘Water No Get Enemy’ while in the shower and I’m prepping the music and script for Meredith Wilson’s ‘The Music Man’ which I’ll begin rehearsals for in a couple of weeks. Actually, Rock City’s ‘King Of The City’, Bobby McFerrin & Anita Vitale doing ‘Centerpiece’, Kanye and Jay-Z’s ‘Otis’, ‘Marcus Garvey’ by Burning Spear, Aretha Franklin doing ‘Nessun Dorma’, Matthew Johnson & Beyonce doing ‘Halo’, an Arsenal FC video to the song ‘On Fire’ [Yes, I Daren Herbert am a Gooner: bring in Podolski, Vertonghen, Kagawa or Belhanda, M'vila if it's doable, work some of the young gunners into the 1st team and get about 9 current players off the books this summer and I'm a happy man!] and a few others are currently on heavy rotation at my place.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
Michael John LaChiusa, Spike Lee and Lawrence Hill because I have a bunch of projects that I would like to discuss with them:)
What’s coming up for you in 2012?
As of this moment, a Harlem Renaissance tribute show, ‘The Music Man‘, the Pulitzer prize-winning play, ‘Clybourne Park’, ‘The Light In The Piazza’ and then a bit of work and family time in Bermuda ’round years end.