For Australian actor Eka Darville it’s been an interesting ride. The rise of his career over the last several years has seen this kid from Cairns go from teen soap Blue Water High to Marvel’s Jessica Jones. But don’t be fooled, his IMDB page shows a huge variety of work and a showcase of his talent.
Appearing at the Supanova Pop Culture Expo over the weekend on the Gold Coast, and in Melbourne this forthcoming weekend, we sat down for a relaxed chat with Darville to discuss his work.
Darville although born in Cairns, grew up in Byron Bay and spent much of his younger years surfing and living the coast lifestyle. So for him this Gold Coast appearance in particular is a homecoming in a huge way and the opportunity to come back for a holiday and to catch up with family and friends. Weirdly enough it’s what he would class his first ever convention experience.
“I did New York Comic Con but that was very different because I was doing this (ie: interviews) the whole time as I was promoting Jessica Jones, interviews back to back to back, so I didn’t even get to look at the conference. So this is the first time doing autographs and meeting fans and that whole side of it.
It’s been such a beautiful experience, surprisingly so. In theater you get this instant feedback from the audience that you can ride that wave of energy. Whereas in film and television you can make the art then you put it out there and you hope that people are there where it’s landing.
This is an opportunity to really connect with the people that it’s really affecting in a most intimate and personal way. It also feels like an opportunity to give back because this is the people who really care about the content the most and it means a lot to them and helped them through a lot of stuff.
Particularly these comic book conventions I’ve never been into comic books or pop culture in general, I’m very much a naturalist hippie dude so I’ve never really understood this whole world. But coming to this has been super beautiful to see, that a lot of people who’ve had a hard time finding a place in a lot of other areas of society and have been shunned have got a community that they’re celebrated in, and I think that’s beautiful.”
Darville’s career has predominantly been on the small screen in a wide variety of TV series. Ranging from the action adventure of Power Rangers R.P.M to the historical action drama of Spartacus to the supernatural in The Originals to the African-American music industry in Empire and most recently the superhero universe with Marvel’s Jessica Jones. With such a wide ranging and diverse amount of genres we quizzed him on what has been the most challenging aspect of his work.
“What I actually find really challenging is doing support characters on smaller TV shows, like The Originals I had a really tough time with. I’m a writer as well, and so from a writing perspective any of the peripheral characters their only job really is to serve the overall story arc which is often the story arc of the main characters. So there can be drastic contradictions that go down between episodes with who your character really is, so that as an actor is really frustrating because I don’t think I can do my best work or have anything that I can sink my teeth into.
However on something like Jessica Jones I feel like I really did get a few opportunities even though they were few and far between, there were some really meaty and challenging scenes and it was so gratifying to finally do something where the writing was that good. That was probably a bit of a pinnacle for me.
Then on Empire the vibe on set is just so high. It’s all African American crew, all Black directors, and the African American culture is so big and vibrant and “here I am” *snaps fingers*, there’s this liveliness about it that I just loved being around.”
Darville may have occasionally struggled with playing the supporting roles but it seems his performance as Malcolm Ducasse in Jessica Jones won him a whole heap of new fans. Malcolm is Jessica’s drug-addicted neighbour who *spoiler alert* turns out to be manipulated to spy on her.
Oddly enough the reason for Malcolm’s popularity was that he had the most redemptive but relatable story, which is most likely attributed to him being a human among superheroes.
“I think why he’s most relatable is because I genuinely believe that all people are born with a beautiful heart and came here to do good. Malcolm is the heart of the show, he carries the ethical and moral compass of the whole series. I think it’s beautiful that the fans relate to him so synonymously because it’s indicative of the fact that they have big hearts.”
Even supporting actors can learn from their experience as well as their fellow co-stars. For Darville, still considered a young actor, we ask what were some of the key things he learnt from working alongside actors David Tennant and Krysten Ritter who have been around the traps for a significant time.
“That’s a really good question …. *pauses* …. From David there’s an unapologetic comfortability in who he is that emanates from the inside out that he doesn’t have anything to prove, that he’s just there to work. And he’s able to do it with an open heart and a smile on his face and brings a lot of energy to set and I really see that in him and honour that and respect that. So I learned that unapologetic confidence he has, comfortability more than confidence that he has.
With regards to Krysten she’s just such a hard worker, yeah I really admire her work ethic. She’s in every single scene pretty much in the show, and so she’s there from all hours of the morning til all hours of the night, every single day for the entire shoot. And she’s not the most burly of women and doing a superhero series it’s physically grueling, and then dealing with the emotional content of how dark and heavy some of the themes are, it’s emotionally draining so there was just so many different aspects of challenge and I think she handled it like a champion so I look up to that.”
Prior to the release of Marvel’s Jessica Jones there had been a lot of hype building up to it. The show itself was coming several months after Season One of Marvel’s Daredevil had been released. That show had sent shockwaves through not only the realms of comic fans but also through those who were looking for a new TV series with high caliber production and story values. So it was no surprise to Darville that high expectations were resting upon the shoulders of the cast and crew of Jessica Jones to deliver another stellar show.
“Yeah, Daredevil was a good show, I didn’t think it was great. I think the writing in it had weak moments. So when I got the first scripts through for Jessica Jones, I was so pleasantly surprised with how good the writing is. It really all comes back to writing and I just stand by that and I think it was so strong. Just based on that alone I was very confident in what we were creating. And yes there was a lot of pressure in terms of it being and having that Marvel marquee value that it has, there’s definitely an in-built audience which is not the case for most other shows.”
There’s no denying that since the arrival of streaming service Netflix it has shaken up the industry in regards to television. Not just from a delivery standpoint with its on demand and instant gratification. But also from a content point of view in that the studio/network now rivals its US counterparts such as ABC, NBC or even HBO when it comes to providing programs that viewers become invested in. As an actor for Darville it means the opportunity to work on shows that not only are rich in content but also an audience that is keen for that.
“The Netflix model has done amazing things for content production, because the way people are consuming content it’s no longer about getting people from one ad break to the next and this broad open demographic shit. Where it’s just make good content and people will want to watch it. People will pay for good content and they want to watch it and they want to support it. People are here (at the convention) specifically for that and I totally appreciate it.”
Darville has had a busy last few years, and his future is already looking solid with both a Season 2 of Jessica Jones confirmed and also he’ll be showing up in The Defenders which will also be on Netflix. There’s also a few other projects he has lined up which he can’t disclose so we’ll be keeping an eye on his IMDB page to see how things fare for him. But we’re pretty sure that this young and talented Aussie actor is going to continue to make headway in the industry.
Eka Darville will be appearing at the Supanova Pop Culture Expo this weekend at Melbourne Showgrounds, Friday 15th, Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th April.