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Dan Fogler: From ‘Fantastic Beasts’ to His New Role on ‘The Walking Dead’! (Interview)

Actor Dan Fogler, known for his roles in hit movies like Balls Of Fury and Fanboys, will next be seen in the Warner Bros. film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald as well as AMC’s hit TV series The Walking Dead. Dan was on hand during New York Comic Con last weekend, joining thousands of fans in celebrating all things ‘geek’! Fortuitously, Fan Fest News, via media consultant Brian J. Cano, had the opportunity to sit in on a roundtable interview with the charismatic Mr. Fogler as he discussed his involvement with some top-notch franchises. Check it out…

Media: What can you tell us about Fantastic Beasts 2? I’m sure you can’t tell us a lot but what can you say?

Dan: What do you guys know?

Media: You’re in it. (laughing)

Dan: I’m in it. I’m back somehow. I’ve retained a lot of the memory. You find out within the first two seconds of seeing me in the film how that’s possible, which is awesome ’cause everyone’s gonna be like, What the hell! Oh, that’s why. So, I saw it twice and I’m really excited about it.

Media: How was the experience shooting the second movie now being immersed fully in the world versus the first time you did it?

Dan: It felt like being a sophomore coming back to college where you’re not as stressed out and you know the ropes and you know the people. That first movie, everyone just wanted to do a good job. This is my shot, I gotta nail this, I don’t wanna be the Jar-Jar of you know… (laughing)

Brian (Fan Fest News): You spoke the name. Careful there.

Dan: That is the name that shall not be spoken. So yeah, there was a lot of that first movie where… let’s just do a good job and make sure that this is actually a franchise, and it was.  People dug in and I knew coming back to it people enjoyed the chemistry so the second time was a lot more comfortable and I just had a blast. I’m really proud of the work.

Media: Any challenge when shooting the [2nd] film? It would be pretty much the same characters, all the cast members all together bringing it to the next level. I’m curious how they change their encounters.

Dan: You know, the first Harry Potter films the sequels just got exponentially larger and larger and more ensemble and more characters to juggle. That’s happening here. It’s a dense piece of art. You have to go back and see it several times to absorb it all. That’s what she (J.K. Rowling) does in her movies. It’s like a Shakespeare play… complex relationships, easter eggs, things that link to things that will happen down the line. So the challenge I guess was, I mean I had a blast, but the challenge was going into it [that] I only knew my scenes and there were a lot of ensemble coming in and a lot of new characters and I was coming into it going… I’m pretty sure my stuff is going to be fun. I was just curious to see if Johnny (Depp) was gonna be the great villain that we hope he is if Jude (Law) is gonna be the Dumbledore we hope he is. I’m going into it thinking just like everybody else. Is everyone gonna rise to the occasion, and they really do.

“That’s what she (J.K. Rowling) does in her movies. It’s like a Shakespeare play… complex relationships, easter eggs, things that link to things that will happen down the line.”

Brian (Fan Fest News): As a fan, as an actor [in] Fanboys, Star Wars Universe, Harry Potter Universe, Walking Dead Universe starting soon… as a fan coming into these large franchises do you feel pressure? Like I’m in the big show now. To tack on the end of that, what’s another world, as a fan, you would like to appear in?

Dan: I’d love to be in one of these Star Wars spin-offs. I grew up on Star Wars, that’s my love. What’s was the first part of the question?

Brian (Fan Fest News): Do you feel any pressure coming into these immense pre-established worlds?

Dan: Absolutely. That first movie was like, this is a global phenomenon… you don’t wanna mess it up. There’s a lot of pressure just to show up and do a good job. Once you do something like Fantastic Beasts and you go around and you do the press circuit and you survive THAT, you’re like ok, I can surf this. And you go to The Walking Dead and you go to the Comic Con, again it’s like coming back to old friends who have kind of done it. I feel very romantic about it. I still read The Walking Dead, I’m playing a character that’s in the comic book, so that’s so cool to me.

Dan Fogler, New York Comic Con
Image: Brian J. Cano

Brian (Fan Fest News): That’s awesome.

Media: Can you talk a little bit how that came about? It premieres tomorrow night.

Dan: Yeah. I think my representation because doing the Fantastic Beasts movies, I was like please look for TV shows for me during my off time on the other side of the spectrum… The Goldbergs and Jacob which is all very fun and loveable but I wanted something darker. They were looking around and I think they were tapping on The Walking Dead shoulders for a while and out of the blue, they were like, “Hey does he have time to play this character? We want him to do this Luke character. And I said, absolutely. I hope it continues, with my schedule it’s hard to work everything out but I hope I can do it for a long, long time. I’m having a blast man, I’m riding horses and stuff.

Media: How do you separate your characters where you’re doing these things right after another. You go from being Jacob to being Luke on The Walking Dead, Marvin on The Goldbergs… how do you separate those? Also, you’ll always be Randy Daytona to me.

Dan: That’s unfortunate. (laughing) You kinda get there and you kinda learn what the playing ground is and it’s all different facets of my personality. I feel like I’m playing different relatives. Luke is very close to myself, it’s almost like me in a parallel universe if acting didn’t work out and started to become like a music teacher or something. He’s very close to my voice. Jacob is like playing an ancestor. My great-grandfather was a baker on the lower East-side. So playing Jacob is like, oh my god, thank you. Thank you for this wonderful gift of being able to step into [my] relative’s shoes. And then Marvin, I mean I had an uncle like that. An uncle that is constantly scheming on the side and he needs money. (laughing) I know that guy, he was in my family and he was in Adam’s (Goldberg) family and we got to know each other on Fanboys so he’s like a brother to me. So it all just seems like a very… I always just try to use different spectrums of my personality and then of course, like I said, you get on the playing field, they give you the… Jacob, you know, the costume is very… that mustache! Once I got that mustache and hair to the side, I’m like ok, I’m Jacob. I come from theater, there’s layers. There’s the inside layer where you’re like ok, this is like sense memory, I know this guy in my heart. Then once you get the other layers on top of that and the make-up… you really start to fool yourself into believing that you’re this character.

“Luke is very close to myself, it’s almost like me in a parallel universe…”

Media: I was lucky enough to see the first film (Fantastic Beasts) the first time a couple weeks ago when it went back into theaters and one of the things that struck me almost immediately was how likable and relatable your character was. So, apart from being a Muggle, why do you think that is?

Dan: Apart from being a Muggle? Muggles got a bad rap in the first movie right? I mean they were just mean. Most of the Muggles in the Harry Potter series, Harry’s parents ya know, humans, normal folk were not represented well so in this one J.K. (Rowling) really wanted to have a Muggle that was likable. I feel like Jacob, and a lot of the characters, but specifically Jacob is… you look at him and there’s this nostalgia factor where you’re just like… you see me and Newt together, it’s like Laurel and Hardy, you see me and Queenie together and that’s like Guys and Dolls or something. And, it’s heroes journey. The classic, iconic Joseph Campbell cycle The Myth stuff.  He’s the f–king baker, that you have read [about] your entire life in fairy tales, into the woods. So you have all that going into it gives you that that warm feeling, it’s like you know the guy already right?

Dan Fogler
Image: Warner Bros.

Media: Is it ok if I switch gears? Talking about your character in The Walking Dead, Luke?

Dan: Yeah. What do you want to know?

Media: Please tell us about the character first of all and working with Andy Lincoln.

Dan: Yeah, Andy man. I wish I had more to work with him. We crossed paths in the show. We’re comin’ and he’s leavin’. So, it was really kind of bittersweet to see this world that he, he was the captain! He put his brand on that show as far as… we are working in the sauna and we are doing this sunrise to sunset 120%, everybody. We’re all sweating up our brains out here and we’re just gonna act our balls off. You see that in the show you know. Every single shot that he’s in, just giving it his all. He set that standard. Thank you for giving that high-water mark of energy. So then coming in and you see that the crew and everybody, like I said I’m from theater, so I really love… at the end of the day when your muscles are hurting and your sweating… you feel like you got your money’s worth. I really appreciate that kind of [work ethic]. It’s really a film. It’s like we’re making an extended zombie movie essentially.

“We’re comin’ and he’s [Andy Lincoln] leavin’. So, it was really kind of bittersweet to see this world that he, he was the captain! Every single shot that he’s in, just giving it his all. He set that standard.”

My character Luke is very similar to me, he’s a music teacher. Such lovely words they’ve given me along the lines of the theme of holding on to our humanity and our civilization while everything is crumbling, which is an interesting message right now. There’s a huge chance to… it’s like Shakespeare said, you gotta put the mirror up to society and let them reflect on what’s going on. This is a very entertaining way of having people reflect. They have these amazing monologues. He’s really cool, he goes around… every time he finds a discarded instrument, he collects them. It’s like, what are crazy?! You’re gonna get yourself killed! It’s like, that’s the point. So these beautiful scenes. I get to work with Danai, she’s just wonderful, Daryl, Samantha, who was in Fantastic Beasts as well. I’m having a blast man! I get to ride horses, like it’s a Western and kill zombies. I don’t normally do that. So that’s really fun.

Dan Fogler, New York Comic Con
Image: Brian J. Cano

Media: Rowling changed your character’s arc so how did that change your portrayal of Jacob?

Dan: That’s funny because… you have the first movie, she sat me down and was like, this is your arc. I was like this is the greatest heroes journey ever! This is what she told me. I was like god if he gets to do all that, I will be so happy. Then we started rehearsals for THIS movie and I was like, hey I know you’re busy Jo but I just wanted to check in about my arc. So for like this movie, I’m supposed to go here and that’s supposed to happen right? And then she goes, “Oh no, that’s all totally changed.” Then she walks away from me! (laughing) So, how do I play that? I just have the philosophy now where I’m just like can’t get excited about anything she says to me because it could change tomorrow. So now I’m totally, fully in the moment as Jacob. What she has done is basically like, no, you don’t know what happens tomorrow. Deal with it. (laughing) ‘Cause she doesn’t know and we shouldn’t know our arcs. We should be totally in the moment, take it step by step like they are.

Media: Since we’re at Comic Con, do you want to take a minute to tell everyone about Brooklyn Gladiator?

Dan: The reason I’m here is I’ve got two books coming out, or three books coming out. We’ve got Brooklyn Gladiator, which is my dystopian Blade Runner Akira style comic book that I have. The other one is Moonlake which is my Twilight Zone style series and then the other one is called Fish Kill which is like a noir set today. Fish Kill we are still working on a publisher, it’s probably gonna be with Chapter House and I’m very excited about these books that are coming out in the new year. That’s why I’m here, I’m hocking my wares. We sold out! People are loving it. And the shirts are 4DX Dan Fogler’s 4D experience podcast, check that one out.

Many thanks to Dan Fogler for taking the time to chat during a hectic New York Comic Con weekend. Be sure to check him out in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald to be released in theaters November 16th and keep an eye out for Dan’s appearance in Season 9 of The Walking Dead!

Special acknowledgment to Brian J. Cano for his much appreciated support of Fan Fest News.