For some actors, they get roles instantly. For others, it takes time. But the wait is worth it. I speak from experience here. Kind of. Anyways, a new and upcoming talent, Derrick de Villiers has landed quite a couple of new roles (speaking roles) and is sure to get even more if he continues to go at the steady pace he’s going at now. After a chronic illness nearly took everything he ever had, Derrick shaped up and went out to do something new: ACT. His training lead to new fun adventures, BG work, and a couple of roles that play out well for him. I spoke with him about his two new roles in Turner and Hooch and Snake Eyes, and he gave me a lot of amazing and fun details on what it was like to work on set. He told me some other info too. Interestingly, we really felt impressed talking to each other, it was like we had a connection. We kind of have a connection though since him and I live in the same area. I wouldn’t be surprised if we were neighbours.
HNMAG: So you’ve acquired a couple roles lately on different series. What keeps you going at such a steady pace?
Derrick: My consecutive training, I would say. Also, I acted in Snake Eyes in 2019 and because of a pandemic, it had been put over a few times. It took a year and a half to come out. So yeah, just studying, training, and waiting for the next one to come. It just so happens Turner and Hooch is being released a week apart from Snake Eyes which is really lucky for me.
HNMAG: And what inspires you to go out and get roles like these?
Derrick: Since the very beginning, I always told my coach that I’ve been interested in playing the bad guy. Because it seems so FUN and she told me, “You know, Derrick, bad guys aren’t always just bad guys. There’s completely different layers to them.” Through my training, I have learned to show these people’s perspectives and where they have come from. They’re not just bad people, sometimes we ROOT for the bad guys because we like them. That’s kind of the role I lean myself towards. It’s kind of my look, my mom tells me I look sinister, so I just use what I have.
HNMAG: You mentioned Snake Eyes delayed due to the pandemic. Did you feel you had a lack of work during the time?
Derrick: Well, work for the business-wise, Yes, it definitely felt like it was slowing down. Nobody knew what was going on in the very beginning. So I do feel that productions did slow, but I stayed. As my studio shut down, we just continued to use the technology that was available to us, which at the time was Zoom. It didn’t really stop me, I knew it would come to an end. But it’s kind of easier, you can do your self-tapes at home, you don’t have to go to the studio anymore. That’s how I landed the role in Turner and Hooch, working with McG in callback on Zoom. I was there for a 4-hour day, they kept it short and protocols were very tight, and very established. I felt very safe at that time, it was in October 2020.
HNMAG: So they kept the set nice and safe for you?
Derrick: They did, and I still do Background work now. The productions I’ve worked on are very strict and very tight. The coordinators do an excellent job at making sure EVERYONE stays safe.
HNMAG: You’ve also received training from Kaaren de Zilva at Deb Podowski Acting Studio for years. Why do you keep with the same instructor instead of switching things up a bit?
Derrick: It was her write-up in her bio that attracted me to her. I’ve never read such compassionate words and I actually felt she was meant to change my life. I started there thinking I was going to take a couple acting classes and be on my way to Hollywood, but I found out after my first month or two, that wasn’t the case, and how deep this art really is. I really wanted to give it a chance and keep sticking with it, and she was so kind and just so gracious in working with me. I had a lot of anxiety problems and social anxieties. I had also been removed from society because of my illness for so many years. Kaaren took me under her wing and she really knows how to teach people individually and make them really feel cared for. She’s also giving me major insight into my life and that’s what really keeping me going. Through her, I found my purpose and my passion.
HNMAG: In one of your roles, you play Marshall Scott Turner who inherits a dog as a partner. Can you tell me a bit more about your role in Turner and Hooch?
Derrick: Yeah, I play a prisoner, I’m being booked into the station, which is an integral part of the show from what I see. It’s a comedy scene which I think is VERY funny with the people in it. My interactions are with Brandon McLaren. It was amazing to feed off his energy and give it back to him. It’s a bad-guy role but there’s a comedic twist to it as well. It’s going to be a lot of fun to see, I think.
HNMAG: Have you ever had to work alongside anyone in a similar scenario?
Derrick: Yeah, in my acting class. I’ve trained under all the genres: Comedy, Drama, Thriller, Romantic, Rom-Coms. I’m just so happy to showcase that part of myself, not just the bad guy. Because we all have so many elements, we’re not just one kind of person.
HNMAG: Have you owned any dogs yourself? Looking back, would you say their ownership helped prepare you for the show?
Derrick: No. I had a dog that was small and DIDN’T slobber (laughs). But I think I had that dog when the original show came out in the 80s. I’ve always been a dog lover and now that I think about it, my brother-in-law has a big doberman pinscher I babysit once in a while. He’s not slobbery, but he’s a big clumsy dog. I can kind of relate to that character.
HNMAG: What about your character Ringmaster? Could you describe that role a little more?
Derrick: I can a LITTLE bit, I can’t say too much. But I can tell you that he’s all about his money, he’s a hustler, he’s exciting, he’s energetic. Yeah, it’s a really integral part of the movie. I’m excited to see how it turns out or what they do. I think it’s going to be pretty amazing. I was asking people on set like my stand-in what they thought, and they were blown away by it.
HNMAG: Do you feel any similarities in mannerisms to him?
Derrick: For sure. I kind of hustled my way to the position I am now. Not just grimily or greasily, but I did work really hard. This is not an easy job. Little bits and pieces of me are him, so, yeah. I can say that I am like him. I can relate to him a little bit which makes it believable.
HNMAG: You seemed to have learned a lot of interesting new facts while on set as well. What is the most important lesson you feel you’ve learned ?
Derrick: Well, I filmed two days on Snake Eyes and that was actually my first acting job with a line. It was very overwhelming, I was with Henry Golding on set and people were talking to me, people I”d known, though BG or student films. So respecting my personal space was something I had to check myself on at the end of the first day, because it’s so easy to get lost in the madness of the set because there’s SO MUCH going on. You’re being pulled in so many directions, I learned that when you’re looking at an actor on set, they seem to be in their own world. You’re told “Don’t talk to them, don’t bug them.” Now I know WHY, they’re preparing for their job. They’re not there for a LONG time, they’re not there to socialize, they’re there to work. I wrote out a list and carried it there the second day. I refer to this list to this day and carry it everywhere because I want to be a professional. I don’t want to be known as this guy who can’t act or doesn’t know how to take things seriously. I want to be a professional.
HNMAG: You didn’t start acting until a chronic illness altered your life. Did the illness make you think of a new way to live your life?
Derrick: It did, when you have that kind of illness, you lose everything. I had to learn how to eat properly. If you don’t have your health, you don’t have ANYTHING. I was learning to stop abusing my body. I watched what I consumed, mentally and physically, I started exercising, I started cutting off people in my life who were toxic and not aligned with what I was doing. I got fired from my job at the time I was ill, and lost my faith in humanity. I just wanted to surround myself with light and love, not heaviness anymore. I didn’t want to be angry, I wanted to do things that fulfilled me. I decided that I was going to make a choice and go for it, because I had already lost everything in life, had nothing else to lose, everything to gain. I just stayed at it, and I think that’s part of really what it takes. Not giving up on your dreams.
HNMAG: The productions are very high profile with well known cast and crews. What is it like working with them? Are they easy to work with?
Derrick: I did. Cast and Crew from Snake Eyes, I walked into the makeup room with Henry Golding and there was another high-profile person and I could not believe where I was. I didn’t say anything to Henry the whole day, I just left him alone and gave him his space. But at the end of the day, I talked to him and asked for a picture. He was very polite, and told me to keep working hard. Two days later I was back in my seat at Debbie’s class I was just grinding away. When I showed up on set the next day, the training assistant came to see me and it was one of my former directors from a student film. That was so unbelievable. I told him I was there because of him, how he was part of my process. It was just really great. A Production Assistant on set was from another student film I had done. I had known many background players on set who I got to interact with. When I was done with my scene, they were all cheering, I heard someone say “Good Job, Derrick!” Henry gave me a high five, the cameraman was cheering me, Robert Shwentke came over and gave me a pound. It was just so awesome, I felt so much at home. It was amazing. As for Turner and Hooch, McG was so cool. It was just an honour to work with these people, Josh Peck, Cara Patterson, and my neighbour was working on set too, doing video playback. He lives two doors down from me, I couldn’t believe it, we were filming 7 minutes away from my house, it was just so cool.
HNMAG: What is your biggest dream in acting that you hope to accomplish?
Derrick: I would like to be a series regular on something, because so far I couldn’t have dreamed to get where I am today. I mean I dreamed of acting, but now I can’t believe what’s happening. I can’t believe I’m acting, having an interview with you or another interview the other day, I can’t believe I have an agent, I can’t believe I’ve stuck with this for so long, and now I just have to set more goals. Maybe more shows? Bigger movie part? I hope to just do more. I don’t really want fame, I just want to do good work.
Derrick is one of those talented people to look out for. We had a thorough conversation and awesomeness is the only I can describe it as well as his impressive work in acting. If he’s already doing this well already. Keep an eye out for Turner and Hooch as the series starts July 21st, but don’t forget about Snake Eyes as it hits theatres July 23rd. When you see Derrick on screen, you’ll be very impressed by how he portrays characters. Here’s hoping he acts many more roles!