By day six, the Sundance fatigue was setting in for everyone. I was staying up ‘til 4 writing reviews and news, getting up at 7 for 8AM screenings. Talent was talking to press from 7AM, and it was 3 in the afternoon before Dennis Haysbert got to me. The presidential voice was still noticeable, but registered a few decibels lower.
Haybert’s Sundance film was The Details, a comedy starring Tobey Maguire. He plays Maguire’s basketball buddy, a hard up working man who creates more comedic problems for Dr. Lang (Maguire) when Lang tries to give him break. The voice of Allstate and David Palmer talked comedy and his thoughts on the last season of “24.”
Q: Was it nice to play a character that wasn’t an authority figure?
DH: Yeah, you know, it took some getting used to. I liked that. I love to stretch.
Q: Do you start getting offered the same things and get sick of it?
DH: No, never get sick of it. Not at all. I love the parts I get to play but I also love stretching once in a while. No other place can you do that better than in an independent film.
Q: Does it work better for comedy when you can play it straight with your gravitas?
DH: Sure. It’s only as good as the scripts that you get.
Q: How did you come up with the bald bearded look?
DH: It was pretty much how it was written. Bad teeth, I tried very hard to hide because I figured anybody would if they had bad teeth and couldn’t afford to have them fixed. I’d be a little self-conscious about that. The beard, those are all choices.
Q: Was it a difficult makeup process?
DH: Not the teeth so much but I had a scar on my arm which I talked about in that one basketball scene with Tobey when we were the only ones in the gym, that we cut out. He finished the story as he was telling Elizabeth [Banks] when they were at home, but I think you got one glimpse of the scar in the kitchen after the dinner I prepare for he and his wife.
Q: How would you describe the tone of The Details?
DH: It’s quirky. Kind of nutty yet also real because it’s life.
Q: How does this Sundance compare to other times you’ve been here?
DH: This one is the truly artistic and a celebration of the small film for the most part. I think it had to expand and bring in these new kind of bigger independent movies in order to get people in, get the sponsors and bring in the A-listers. So I think it all helps. It all helps.
Q: Have you gotten to see any films?
DH: Not this trip. I came in yesterday, went to the premiere, I’m doing press today, might see something tonight.
Q: Did you keep up with “24” after you left?
Q: What did you think of the finale?
DH: You know, it was okay. It is what it is. I’m not going to disparag 24. It just added too much to my life and career. I’ll always love those guys, the crew and all the actors that they got to play afterwards. Each season was a tribute to the season before and the season before that, so I couldn’t sit here in good conscience and disparage it.
Q: They had to leave it open for a movie.
DH: Well, it doesn’t really matter because once you do a movie you can start anywhere you want to. You can go back to your strongest season and pull out pieces of your strongest stories and somehow put them together. I don’t know, eight years, I do think that they started repeating certain shows. I mean, how many atomic bombs can go off without the whole country being decimated.
Q: When did the voice become such a strong asset to you?
DH: It’s always been a strong asset. It’s just when people decided to use it and have it become a national kind of voice.
Q: Was it around the time of “24?”
DH: I’ve always done voiceovers. Everything helps everything else. If you have a great role on television, people start to think about the voice and companies start thinking about using your voice to sell certain products. It all depends on how popular you get. Okay, now, oh, that voice, let’s use that voice as opposed to that voice. A lot of guys, a lot of actors out there are using their voices. Most of the time you just don’t see them.
Q: Actors can be self-critical. When did you start feeling you were getting good?
DH: Day one. [Laughs] I think work begets work. It depends on the degree you go in each performance. I like to think that I grew after each performance and I’m continuing to grow.