Interview With TODD STASHWICK | Celebrating Superheroes
We all enjoy a good story where a Superhero appears and saves the world. The audience demand for films and TV shows based on comic books has increased in the past few years, starring highest-paid actors and having the most prominent writers to create the script. Actor Todd Stashwick, who also is co-writer of “Suicide Squad 2” says: “(…) I believe, in these turbulent times, comic characters can do a fascinating thing. They can provide allegory to current events and, simultaneously, escapism. Fantasy fiction has always been the realm of exploring societies woes but within that framework, they often offer a message of hope. They can be a necessary way of processing social-political issues wrapped in complex, fun and fantastical stories.” Ultimately, it doesn’t take too much to find a Hero within all of us. Just by being kind to each other on a daily basis, we increasingly add to the well-being of the world we all share.
- Please introduce yourself briefly. Who, in your own words, is Todd Stashwick?
I’m Todd Stashwick, Human, Son, Brother, Husband, Father, Friend, Creator, Consumer, Carbon based. Currently making scratch by acting and writing.
- Since you started your career in the entertainment industry, how has it changed and evolved over the last few years?
Things are beginning to diversify. Miles to go, but the industry is opening its eyes to a wider range of faces and voices. Representation is huge. We are seeing a healthy shift.
- Disney and Warner Bros. are in the business of universe creation with Marvel and DC, respectively. The modern cinema seems to be increasingly bidding on comic book movies. Why do you think this is happening?
A few reasons. Within the last decade plus, VFX have caught up with the demands that comic book stories require, visually. Next, in a world that has so many venues to consume entertainment, studios seek out properties that may have a built-in following. Comic book franchises can be expanded over the course of many films. It’s a business and if the box office continues to hold, these genre films will continue to be made.
Lastly, I believe, in these turbulent times, comic characters can do a fascinating thing. They can provide allegory to current events and, simultaneously, escapism. Fantasy fiction has always been the realm of exploring societies woes but within that framework, they often offer a message of hope. They can be a necessary way of processing social-political issues wrapped in complex, fun and fantastical stories.
We are tribal by nature. Gathering around the social campfire and celebrating heroes together is healthy.
- The SYFY’s “12 Monkeys” season 4 premiered this June. How has your character ‘Deacon’ evolved throughout the series seasons?
Deacon’s journey over the four seasons is extraordinary. He was introduced as an antagonist, dare I say, villain. His villainy soon was eclipsed by a far greater threat. At his core, he’s a survivor and when he weighed his options, he chose to side with team splinter. Through his experiences with them, he began to let his guard down. Revealing a much more complex and altruistic man that had previously been shown. He’s like that wild wolf that you throw food to, who eventually will protect the humans in the camp. He wasn’t shown a lot of kindness in his youth so he has his dukes up. He masks his pain with swagger.
- How would you describe your experience as a cast member of “12 Monkeys”?
I was hired originally as a guest star, you can’t help but feel like an outsider. But to their credit, even then, I was immediately welcomed and embraced. I was treated like a collaborator. In season two they made me a regular and I became part of team splinter, both on and off screen. We have had amazing experiences together. Some shared crazy tough long hours. We have traveled together, created together. Enjoyed the madness of comic-cons together. We have raised a glass in Prague and had to say a sad goodbye. We told a story that I am proud of. I love these people and would be humbled to work with any of them in the future. They are part of the fabric of who I am.
- You have been part of many popular shows such as “The Originals,” “Heroes,” “Justified,” “The Riches,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Burn Notice,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Gotham,” to mention a few. Is there any current TV show you would love to be part of, and why?
I would love to do a role on Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. It would be such a departure from anything that I’ve done in the recent past. It would connect me back to my Second City Chicago and theater days. It’s like if Neil Simon wrote Mad Men. It has that old school sharpness, a huge heart and is smart as hell. It’s a gem.
- “Kim Possible,” is the name of the movie you are currently filming, portraying Dr. Drakken. What can you share with us about it?
It is a live-action Disney Channel movie based on the wildly popular action cartoon. I play the nefarious Dr. Drakken who is the arch nemesis of Kim. I can say it is a role that balances my penchant for menacing roles and at the same time allows me to indulge some serious silliness. The cast is fantastic. It’s one of the few jobs I’ve had that I can have my daughter watch, without covering her eyes. I’m thrilled to be part of the Disney family. Disney is big in our house.
- After working with Gavin O’Connor in “Jane Got a Gun,” you became a co-writer of the script for “Suicide Squad 2.” What inspired you to want to do this?
I love writing big action stories with idiosyncratic characters. I have been a lifelong DC comics fan so I’m the target audience. I want to write a movie that I want to see. I’m inspired to play in this universe that I love and hopefully tell a new story with these characters.
- Throughout your acting career, you have been working on various projects that include films, TV shows and even video games. How has your professional experience influenced you in the development of being involved in co-writing?
My professional career began at Chicago’s Second City. That job requires you to do both, act and write. That really set the pace and taught me the value in creating content. I learned early on that I didn’t just want to be an actor. That I took great joy in collaborating with people and generating a story. I’ve never viewed myself as just an actor. I’m an entertainer and that takes many forms. Each discipline, acting vs. writing requires different skill sets but they often cross over. I sometimes look at my writing from an acting point of view, and vice versa.
- Where does your interest in comic books come from and what other projects related to this genre would you like to do?
My earliest memories of play have always involved fantastical fiction. As a young child in the seventies, I had Planet of the Apes and Star Trek action figures. I would watch Adam West on the ’66 Batman series and the Spiderman cartoons. Then Star Wars hit like a thunderclap to my Eight Year Old mind. That informed much of play for years. From there I deep dove into comics, through High School, College into adulthood. The dance of great writing and great art in a monthly format continues to thrill me. My family and I make a weekly pilgrimage to Blastoff Comics in North Hollywood. It’s a second home.
I collaborate on my own webcomic, Devil Inside with artist Dennis Calero. I would like to create original work for a comic book publisher in this medium that has given me so much. It would be fun to see a book I wrote on the shelves at Blastoff.
- Are there any other “writing projects” you are working on at this moment? If so, please elaborate.
I’m developing ideas across a few platforms. Television series, comic books and films. None that I can elaborate on as of yet. I won’t take the cookies out before they’re done baking.
- Are you involved in any charity or humanitarian organization you would like to mention? If so, which one?
I am a big supporter of the Pablove foundation that fights childhood cancer. I recently ran the LA half marathon with them. It’s an amazing group that works to increase the quality of life for children afflicted with cancer, through art. They also raise money to fund research to fight the disease. Go to pablove.org
- Being an actor, and the possibility of playing and imagining different characters has positively influenced your personal life? If so, how?
Playing characters or writing stories that, hopefully, lift up others, is a deeply meaningful way to live. To imagine life from a different point of view, a different character is an act of empathy. The ability to empathize is the key to our salvation as a species.
- The spirit of The Hedonist Magazine is “The Essence of a Joyful Living.” How does Joy during the process of creation affect your own experience and in consequence the final manifestation of your actions?
I agree with Alan Watts when he said: “The existence, the physical universe is basically playful.” To exist is to play. I find joy in creating. Creation is joy. One in the same.
- Our mantra is “You can be, do and have anything you want,” words by Abraham Hicks. What is your take on such a statement?