Scroll To Top

David Millbern, Among Friends


For his latest role, actor David Millbern gets to be bad -- very bad -- and by his own account he savored just about every moment of the experience.

Cast as Liam Macklin in here! Networks' Death Among Friends, Millbern portrays a ruthless hired gun who kills a young lawyer in order to cover up a corporate secret, then goes on to terrorize the same lawyer's family when he realizes that the precious secret his boss so desperately wants to keep under wraps didn't die with his victim. A thriller (rife with twists, turns, and even a few explosions), the Ron Oliver-directed Death Among Friends is at its core a classic tale of good versus evil, featuring villainous performances from Millbern and an intoxicatingly venomous Margot Kidder.

Ultimately Death Among Friends, like all successful films, is simply a vehicle for the cast to tell a story, which is what Millbern says he enjoys most about his job.

"I just like to tell stories," Millbern says. "The job of an actor is to sit around the fire and tell stories. That's what we all do. That's what filmmakers do. That's what screenwriters do. And the chance to tell authentic stories of the [LGBT] community is where it's at."

With Death Among Friends debuting on here! this Friday, Millbern talked to about the way telling same-sex love stories has changed over the years, playing the heavy in his new film, and the joys of working with Margot Kidder. You, sir, are really quite over-the-top sinister in this new film.
David Millbern: I know. It's so good to be bad. [Laughs] It feels so great. I've got a lot of inner rage.

So I take it you truly relished this role, then?
Well, it's true ... it's just so much fun to be bad. I know what Joan Collins must have felt like in Dynasty. Evil is good, you know? [Laughs] The film used to be called Something Evil Comes and ... I was the evil that came.

Was Liam Macklin the most wicked character you've ever portrayed on film?
It's interesting because I did a film for here! called In Her Line of Fire with Mariel Hemingway and David Keith. In that particular film I played a psychotic ex-marine mercenary ... [and] for that character I had tats on and a shaved head ... the whole jarhead haircut and everything. That character was more visibly psychotic. With this character [Macklin] I had to sit on everything, which is actually more menacing because you don't know what my character is going to come up with.

Indeed. In fact, it's the unknown depth of your character's sort of psychotic nature that makes him most compelling to watch.
I think we're most fearful of the people who don't show anything at all. My character is not a raving lunatic -- he's just silent the entire time. Ron Oliver, the director, wanted [Macklin], this hired assassin [who is] employed by the Margot Kidder character, to not be quite up with technology and how younger people were communicating. [He] wanted him to be not quite with it, which I thought was interesting as well. All he knows how to do is kill and follow orders with no sense of self at all.

How did you prepare to be so deliciously bad in this role, and what were you thinking about as you did?
I think all of us have a lot of inner rage, and whether it is allowed to come out or not is what defines whether you're sane or not. An actor can take some of that inner rage that we all have and make it translate to camera and get it out. It's like the whole primal scream thing.

I'm allowed as a person because of what I do to get it out, and I think you just tap into that as an artist. You just tap into what ticks oneself off, and once you do that, then when the right moment comes on-screen you can just let it out and it comes from a very real place. That's joyous for an actor. That's joy to be able to tap into real things and go through with it.

Did you make any special concessions to your character on the set while you were shooting the film?
I'm a Method actor, so I consciously did not want to become friends with the cast. I'm a really friendly guy, but it's hard to be on a set and be like, "Oh, yeah, great car" and "Oh, you did this last night" and then go into a murderous rage. It comes off fake. So I did keep myself separate from most of the ensemble cast and I found that was great because my character didn't know them and there was a sense of discovery throughout the movie ... of discovering who these young people are.

Again, being Method, I didn't want to know a lot about [the cast] personally because it didn't service the piece. So it was a very lonely shoot in a way. I didn't fraternize with the cast in between takes because I was basically in character and I didn't want to have any diversion.

You work with both Margot Kidder, who has a divinely evil role in this film, and Nicholle Tom, around whom much of the film's drama swirls. What was it like acting opposite those two women?
Working with Margot Kidder was a real joy, and Nicholle Tom is certainly a wonderful, wonderful lady. Both of those ladies are really wonderful to work with and they brought a lot to their characters. Margot and Nicholle are two classy ladies who brought reality to the piece in a fun way.

Speaking of fun, there's always a bit of that behind the scenes on every set. What was one of the funniest moments for you during the shooting of the film?
Everybody on the set called director Ron Oliver "Daddy." At one point on the set ... I caught myself calling Ron "Daddy" and he just sat there coolly and said "See, they all come around to calling me 'Daddy.'" [Laughs] I was just doing it out of rote. I would never call a director "Daddy."

You were in two films, Twilight of the Golds and Gods and Monsters, which dealt with gay themes in a pretty straightforward and explicit manner. However, Death Among Friends, deals with a same-sex relationship between two of the main characters in a much more matter-of-fact way. Is that a sign of changing times?

I think that speaks to what here! Networks does -- they speak to today in that we don't have to make a big deal about people being gay or not gay. The lesbian characters in this film are just who they are. [Their relationship] doesn't have to be highlighted or bracketed. That's where we're going and that's what here! does so brilliantly. They portray the LGBT community in an authentic way. And that's what I think this film does beautifully.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Duane Wells