Eka Darville, actor

Don’t choose acting as a career because if me telling you not to do it is enough to deter you from doing it then you shouldn’t be doing it ...

While you’d be forgiven for thinking Eka Darville is a Hollywood native, the talented actor is actually one of Australia’s most promising exports. In fact, he spent most of his childhood kicking around in Byron Bay. The charismatic gent scored his first role in Blue Water High while completing his final year of high school and has recently graced our television screens as Malcolm, the drug addicted neighbour in Jessica Jones, Diego in The Originals and Ryan Morgan in Empire. Eka is venturing back to Australia to attend the Supanova Pop Culture Expo from April 8 to 10 but before he does, we caught up for a virtual chat about mushrooms and fame.

You recently captivated our attention as Malcolm, the drug addicted neighbour in the Netflix original series Jessica Jones. What was that experience like?
It was a mixed bag of experiences. We shot that particular show in New York so we moved there in the middle of one of the coldest winters on record, so that was pretty intense. Playing the character of Malcolm was incredibly satisfying in terms of playing a character that had such a meaty story arc that I could really sink my teeth into. It was a pretty intense experience taking myself to a place with a character who is suffering from a major heroin addiction on a daily basis and having to explore that very dark corner of reality, it was challenging and rewarding.

How did you prepare for the role?
I did a lot of research on the different phases of addiction and the psychology behind addiction. I interviewed a bunch of addicts and psychiatrists who work with addicts, I studied their physicalities and I spent a lot of time on YouTube watching people document their detox as they are coming off heroin. The rest of it was just coming on set and holding your own, the same shit you do with any job. Making sure you have everything you need in place so when you have that five or ten minutes you can turn it on and really maximise that moment.

Any word on a second season?
We are good to go on a second season however it won’t be for a while because they have also announced another show called The Defenders, which is Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Luke Cage and Iron Fist coming together in a superhero team up. That’s slated to be shot before the second season of Jessica Jones, so it’s a while away yet.

Let’s rewind a bit, what originally attracted you to acting?
I think school can be a 12-step brainwash camp where you teach kids to forget what they originally wanted to do. In Indigenous societies, they look at children and what they naturally gravitate towards and kind of foster that from a really young age. For me, acting was something that was always there. I was always fascinated by it and gravitated towards it. There was never really a definitive moment where I was like I want to try acting, It was just like a intrinsic knowing that at some point in my life I was always going to do that.

What was it like starring in Power Rangers?
I remember in primary school there was a sugarcane field right next to the school and at lunch and recess we would go out and play Power Rangers and all of the kids would tell me I had to be the black Power Ranger because I was the only black kid in school. When I booked the role of the red ranger it was like some kind of weird little vengeance on all of those kids. Look who’s the red power ranger now!

You’re a man of many talents it seems as you’re also part of a tribal electronica band Deya Dova, do you have any other hidden talents?
Not so much hidden talents but there are lots of other things I am fascinated by, like mycology for instance, which is the study of mushrooms. I find them absolutely fascinating, I’m very interested in all forms of botany and biology and in particular mycology.

So if you weren’t acting do you think you would pursue mycology as a field of study?
I actually do. In an alternate reality I would definitely do something in the natural sciences, I find it fascinating and inspiring. Like I was saying before about gravitating to something at a young age, I’ve always had a freakish ability to identify different plants at an incredibly young age, which my mother never fails to remind me of.

Congratulations on becoming a dad! How has parenthood changed the game for you?
It changes everything. It’s like a 180-degree switch that encompasses every single facet of life. There’s no corner of one’s life that remains untouched or unchanged. Mostly for the better but there are certain things that I definitely miss in terms of the endless hours of free time and self indulgent pleasures like getting really wild and loose at music festivals. We still go to them but it’s definitely a modified experience now. It’s like any parent says it’s a heart-opening, mind-opening, evolving, all-encompassing experience that happens every single day.

You’re coming to the Gold Coast for Supanova Pop Culture Expo, what are you most looking forward to doing while you are here?
I’m looking forward to surfing Snapper. It’s been absolutely flying for the last few weeks so I’m just hoping to get some big tropical barrels.

What are some of the perks of being an actor?
Phenomenal amounts of free time, large amounts of money in a short period and not having to work a 9:00 am to 5:00 pm so I can spend a lot of my time with my son, that’s a very rare thing to be able to do as a man.

How do you deal with the fame side of things? Do people stop you in the street? 
Yes, it happens a lot but it depends on what city you’re in and what phase of a series is airing. I personally have a really hard time with it because I don’t like celebrity in general, I think it’s a bit of a hoax. I kind of indulge it and it’s no skin off my back if it makes somebody’s day if they recognise me but it jars me out of my reality because it has very little to do with me and a lot to do with their projection of who I am. Especially in this selfie day and age, you become almost like a statue. You’re just a tourist attraction. People come along and take a photo with you and often they won’t even say goodbye they just kind of walk off. Sometimes it’s really sweet and really beautiful though, particularly with Empire, my character was a very empowered homosexual character and inspired a lot of people from the LGBT community so there’s a positive side to it as well.

Do you have any words of wisdom for people looking to pursue acting as a career?
This is going to sound pretty negative but just don’t do it. Don’t choose acting as a career because if me telling you not to do it is enough to deter you from doing it then you shouldn’t be doing it. It’s going to be a very tough road, it’s not a quick road, it’s fraught with many many different ups and downs but if you honestly know in your soul that this is what you came here to do then that’s what you’re going to do and nothing I say will change that. They are the people who should be in it and for everyone else, I’d say go to a drama class, go get the joys of the experience but don’t try to make it into a career. Enjoy acting for what it is and don’t need it to be anything more.


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