James Badge Dale of “Mickey and The Bear” on Acting and Being a Gentleman

James Badge Dale chats with DA MAN about his thoughts on acting … and how to get up every day, and be the best man he can be.

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Building a strong résumé is important for those seeking to stay for any length of time in a particular career. For actors, that means getting roles that are genuinely great and fitting. Now, James Badge Dale is a great example of an actor with an impressive résumé. Over the years he consistently delivered strong performances, either on film, theater or television. Add to that his special treat of adding that special something to each role like no else does and we have ourselves a really special star.

His first notable role was for the 1990 film adaptation of Lord of the Flies, when he was just a teenager. But after that, he went to Manhattanville College to play hockey and started studying theater because he wanted an easy grade. Then he got hurt and wasn’t playing so well then all of his energy went into the theater department. He admits that there are some similarities between hockey and theater. Not just the live performance aspect of it, but also the ensemble. Hockey is a true team sport. You live and die by the team. Theater is the same way; you live and die by the group.

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He, later on, has few roles in some film and television series. His role as Chase Edmunds in the third season of the Fox TV series “24” perhaps the one where people started to recognize his face and more importantly, his talent. Proven by how then he got a role on a Martin Scorsese film, “The Departed” in 2006. Dale has been in many movies such “Iron Man 3,” “World War Z,” “The Lone Ranger” and television show like “The Pacific” since then.

The American actor is currently promoting his latest film, “Mickey and The Bear,” a powerful drama film that premiered at the 2019 South by Southwest Film Festival. In the film, Dale played as an opioid-addicted father opposite to Camila Morrone’s character, Mickey. In his interview with DA MAN, Dale offers new insight into the movie and shares about his passion for acting.

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DAMAN: Hi, James. Great to have you with us. How are you and what’s keeping you busy these days?
James Badge Dale: I’m doing great. Thanks for having me. I just wrapped a film in Atlanta and I’m excited to be back in New York getting ready to open “Mickey and the Bear.”

DA: Speaking of which, we heard a lot of great things about “Mickey and the Bear.” In a nutshell, how would you describe this particular new movie?
JBD: I’d say it’s a deeply personal coming of age tale with a powerful commentary on veteran’s issues.

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DA: This is also Annabelle Attanasio’s directorial debut and from what we seen on the trailer, she has done a great job at it. How do you feel about working with her?
JBD: I love Anabelle. She’s a special filmmaker and I’m humbled to have gone through this journey with her.

DA: You play as Hank Peck and he’s a rather complex character. How did you prepare for a role like this?
JBD: Hank is me. I am Hank. I don’t give away secrets.

DA: “Mickey and the Bear” hold a 100-percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. What do you think about this score?
JBD: Cool! 101 percent!

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DA: You seem to choose the right project every time. How do you decide on taking on new roles and new film projects?
JBD: I take on roles that make me feel like I have something to say. Ask yourself what you bring to the project. What makes you an individual? What are you bringing to that role no one else does? If the answer is “I don’t bring anything unique” or “I don’t care to say anything” I’d always suggest: don’t do it.

DA: You’ve been in the industry for quite a while now.  What title or which role was the hardest?
JBD: “Mickey and the Bear” asked a lot of me. It asked a lot of myself and Cami. But life is about digging into challenges and we dug in every day. It’s only a movie. It’ll end one day. So, go hard while you’re there.

DA: How do you stay positive on set every day?
JBD: I love my job and I’m lucky to do this for a living. I don’t get jaded in life. But, also, don’t get overconfident. Filmmaking is a team sport. You take care of your squad. Therefore, you rise and also fall together.

DA: Have you ever thought about directing or producing one day?
JBD: If anyone is foolish enough to hire me to direct, I’m all in. Let’s do it!

“You don’t take any of this with you when you’re gone. So, leave a mark on others and make them proud.”

DA: Which elements of acting would you say came naturally for you?
JBD: None of it. But an overactive imagination helps. There’s always been this sense of adventure to acting for me—this kind of unknown. You try to keep that sense alive. That sense of danger. That sense that you don’t know what is going to happen … even when you totally know exactly what is going to happen. You have to believe the fantasy.

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DA: Looking to the past a bit, what is your all-time favorite role?
JBD: I prefer to continuously look to the future, therefore I feel your favorite role has to be the one you are currently playing right now.

DA: If a new actor came up to you and asked you for advice on how to make in in the entertainment industry, what would you tell him or her?
JBD: The advice I would give would be to have persistence … and thick skin. And love of the game. You need to absolutely love what you do.

DA: Did you have a mentor or role model when you first started acting?
JBD: I had a few. I was lucky. I always worked with more experienced actors who passed down a lot of knowledge that was passed on to them and so on. There are rules to this game. And they’re passed down through generations. If you look at who I had the privilege to work with in my twenties … all those guys. Honestly, I don’t want to name drop, but the list is long and I owe them a lot. But now I’m the old dude and I try to give it back.

“But life is about digging into challenges and we dug in every day. It’s only a movie. It will end one day.”

DA: What would your dream project look like?
JBD: Anything that’s shot in Costa Rica. I love going to Costa Rica—the villages, the people and the surf.

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DA: Now that 2020 is just moments away, what do you hope for the new year?
JBD: Peace on earth! And I hope my dog doesn’t lose his other eye!

DA: Last question: What motivates you to wake up and face whatever each new day throws at you?
JBD: Wake up wanting to be DA MAN! I’ve been down before. I know what it’s like to have to pick yourself up. I want to get up every day and be the best man I can be. It’s an individual thing I guess and no one should tell you what that means to you. But I get up and try to work hard, be good to people and hold up my family and friends. You don’t take any of this with you when you’re gone. So, leave a mark on others and make them proud.

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