David Dastmalchian‘s first on-screen acting gig was a comic book movie. He was an unnerving yet sympathetic presence in The Dark Knight as a nameless henchman for the Joker. As a life-long comic book fan and writer, Dastmalchian’s role in Christopher Nolan’s epic was a thrilling, as well as life-changing, experience, kicking off a career in the superhero genre that would see him pulling off heists with Ant-Man and crossing paths with The Flash. With The Suicide Squad, however, the actor finally gets to suit up and proclaim, “I’m a superhero!”
Spoilers for The Suicide Squad follow.
It’s a wonderful moment for both Abner Krill and Dastmalchian. After a life of pain and suffering, the character gets to finally use his power for good. He turns his darkness into light. He helps to save the day. It’s a moment of wish-fulfillment for the misunderstood character, but also for Dastmalchian.
“Well, imagine your whole life you’ve been collecting comic books,” Dastmalchian said. “Your whole life, you’ve been obsessed with obscure villains and especially DC villains. Then you get cast in this movie with one of the masters of modern filmmaking, James Gunn, and we’re going to make this movie.”
Dastmalchian previously played a goon and, of course, a sidekick in the Ant-Man movies — but as Abner, he gets one of those wonderful hero shots in Task Force X’s climactic fight against Starro. In the battle, Polka-Dot Man lands a devastating blow against Starro, taking out one of the giant alien creature’s legs (while imagining Starro is his mom, of course). When the day came for Polka-Dot Man’s big hero moment, Dastmalchian was nervous but more than prepared.
“We shot in Panama at the very, very end of, I think a six-month production schedule is August, September, October, November, December, June. Yeah, like a six-month shoot we were on. So that day, that line, that moment, I felt like I had been building to, been driving to my whole life. And the day that it arrived, I was really scared.”
The fear was quieted by Gunn, who for good reason, envisioned Dastmalchian for the character early on. “Then, I was at peace,” the actor concluded. “I was feeling really great about where James had gotten me with Abner, but I knew how important that moment was to the character’s arc. It was a day that it was just me and Idris, kind of working together. I had a minute where I felt scared and James came out to me and there are hundreds of people standing around with cameras and gear and everything. We just had this really small, quiet conversation as two collaborators, two friends. An actor and a director that I trust so much. He said some things to me that just helped me rise to the challenge. I hope it’s a fun moment.”
With comic book movies, we’re accustomed to seeing heroes used to being super, but that’s not the case with Polka-Dot Man. There’s something childlike about the character. So much so that James Gunn at one point, when Abner Krill was revealing his past to the gang, told Dastmalchian to physically move like a nervous and shy kid. In the end, watching Polka Dot-Man stand up straight, shining bright in a moment of triumph is like a kid finally getting his wish granted to become a superhero.
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