EXCLUSIVE | Dan Fogler reveals why he went with a 'good flawed hero' for his dystopian comic 'Brooklyn Gladiator'
Dan Fogler talks about the inspirations behind 'Brooklyn Gladiator,' as well as teasing what to expect from 'The Walking Dead' and 'Fantastic Beasts'
Dan Fogler is best known for his roles in 'Fantastic Beasts,' 'Fanboys' and 'Balls of Fury.' A comedic actor with a rough-edged charm, he's more than just an actor. He hosts a weekly podcast, 'Dan Fogler's 4d Xperience!', aimed at 'people who love movies and stoner conspiracy theories' where he sits with celebrity guests to discuss headlines, pop culture and "hella spoilers," with new interviews releasing all through the summer. He has also authored the '90s throwback comic, 'Brooklyn Gladiator,' a grim and gritty look at a dystopian future inspired by the headlines of today. In an exclusive interview with MEA WorldWide (MEAWW), Fogler talks about the graphic novel and two others he's authored - plus, a tease for 'Fantastic Beasts 3' and his role in 'The Walking Dead.'
What can you tell us about 'Brooklyn Gladiator' and the themes it will deal with?
Brooklyn Gladiator is a cautionary dystopian tale that sprouted from today’s headlines. What if tomorrow the government decided to solve all our problems with AI & Nanite technology? In 2033 New York is a dark fascist world void of sunlight. The sky is literally a constant chemical cloud screen with 24-hour ads projected on it. Surveillance is pervasive - there’s no escape so the hero must look inward for answers. The tale asks us if we’ve lost touch with our humanity, if technology has lured us away from our ultimate potential as a species and if most conspiracies are eventually proven as fact, then perhaps it’s time for a new definition.
What about the series' primary antagonist?
At first, the antagonist is the system. The very city is an Orwellian nightmare. And because John Miller is forced to be a criminal to survive, his brushes with the Nanite enhanced police force is a consistent deadly threat. One cop, in particular, becomes a tenacious thorn in John’s side. It is a homage to the man in the white hat chasing Butch and Sundance. But the true antagonist is a secret which will be revealed toward the end of the series - a phantom working behind the scenes manipulating John from the beginning.
Why did you make your protagonist an addict?
It makes him more human. I like a good flawed hero. He was duped like everyone else by a government who flooded the streets with the most addictive “cure all” drug ever. Plus, ever since he lost his fiancee, Hope, he went off the deep end. He almost died getting sober and it’s something that haunts him daily. That’s real and it helps ground his character in a very sci-fi world reminiscent of (Tom) Cruise in 'Minority Report.'
What was it about the protagonist's story that you wanted to explore?
John Miller is the reluctant hero in a technocracy built on lies and he’s the last person on Earth that still cares about the truth. I always wanted to write a story where the protagonist rejected all the tech and chemicals and plastic and looks inward and finds that he’s more powerful without having to use the artificial crutches. He veers away from the singularity and becomes the most powerful psychic in the world. And if judged by his exterior you’d write him off as a simple cage fighting '90s action throwback.
Tell us about the art for this series - it's very in your face and almost cartoonishly gritty
Simon Bisley is a legend in the comic book business, I grew up reading his 'Lobo' and admiring his many covers for Heavy Metal Magazine, so it was a dream come true to get to work with him. His style is visceral and I thought since the book is a homage to dystopian tales from the '80s and '90s he'd be a perfect match. I feel like 'Brooklyn Gladiator' has a real Eastman and Laird feel and I couldn't be happier to be published by Heavy Metal.
Besides 'Brooklyn Gladiator', you also have two other releases, both of which seem to have a strong horror-mystery vibe going. Can you tell us a little more about these projects and what inspired them?
'Moon Lake' was inspired by 'Twilight Zone' and 'Heavy Metal' the movie, 'Tales from the Crypt,' 'Creep Show' and all things I stayed up past my bedtime to watch. It’s on the wilder, campier edge of the conspiracy horror genre where a super-smart Sasquatch, Zombie T REX, grey Aliens and psychotic cheerleaders all fight side by side. Each character is an endless rabbit hole to discover, all narrated by the Man in the Moon himself (he's basically Alfred Hitchcock on acid).
'Fishkill' is the prequel to 'Brooklyn Gladiator.' We see the seeds sown for the future technocracy through the eyes of Detective Bart Fishkill. It’s a homage to 'China Town' and 'The Fugitive.' 'Fishkill' is on the darker more grounded side of the conspiracy sci-fi spectrum. Det Fishkill tries to unravel a child trafficking case which puts him directly in the center as the accused patsy of a horrific terrorist attack on the Brooklyn Bridge. He must prove his innocence before time runs out, but the further he tumbles down the rabbit hole he starts to question his own sanity and guilt.
What can you tell us about 'Fantastic Beasts 3'? Are there any interesting developments that you can tease about the movie (without spoilers, of course)?
All I can say is I read the script and I’m super excited to finally get started. We’re supposed to begin shooting again end of summer. I’m crossing my fingers that we stay on target for that schedule. which will allow us enough time to still hit the original release date.
We're still a while away from the Season 10 finale of 'The Walking Dead'. What can you tell us about the showdown to come?
It’s epic! I am so proud to be a part of this season. I loved all the battle scenes and I’m putting this out there: my new weapon’s name is “Rickenbacker” after Pete Townsend’s guitar.
'Brooklyn Gladiator' is now on sale wherever comic books are sold. You can catch Dan Fogler and his celebrity guests on his podcast here.