[Interview] Malcolm Barrett for Into The Dark’s POOKA LIVES!

[Interview] Malcolm Barrett for Into The Dark's POOKA LIVES!
Courtesy of Blumhouse and Hulu
Most people know him for playing Rufus Carlin in NBC’s “Timeless”, but Malcolm Barrett has been pounding the pavement for quite some time, especially in the Television world. He’s had reoccurring appearances on “Law & Order”, Fox’s “The Sketch Show”, and “Luis”. Many may also know him for his supporting role in the award-winning The Hurt Locker and the film, Dear White People. Now we get to see Malcolm Barrett take on the role of Derrick in Into The Dark’s latest installment, POOKA LIVES!

For the recent release of Into the Dark’s POOKA LIVES!, I had the chance to talk to Malcolm Barrett. During our conversation, we discussed everything from the backstory behind Derrick, the perilous game and balancing act that is interacting on social media, and what it was like working with multiple practical interpretations of the ever-loving and naughty Pooka.

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today! To start things off, can you tell us a little bit about your character in POOKA LIVES!? 

Malcolm Barrett: Sure! My character’s name is Derrick. He’s sort of a big city writer who has done well for himself. However, after falling victim to being ridiculed and made fun of after a big social media influencer targets him, he kind of becomes a recluse. He goes back home and reconnects with his friends probably more selfishly than for any other reason. While he’s there trying to figure out what his purpose is and what his new life is going to be, it all gets up-ended after he takes on this job doing copywriting and promoting for Pooka.

As you mentioned above, your character deals with a lot of hate via social media. We see how Derrick handles, but how would you, as Malcolm, handle it? 

Malcolm Barrett: What’s funny is I’m kind of known for responding on Twitter so I know exactly how I would handle it. I make a lot of jokes and my audience gets me, hopefully, and recently I was facetiously explaining black slang on Twitter – I made a joke about it. It got really popular and for positive reasons, people found it funny and then it got really negative reactions and I was like, “Is black Twitter coming for me right now? Is that what’s happening?” It was funny because I think for the first minute or day or however long, I was like trying to be nice and amicable and then I saw it was becoming a thing. I was like, “Wait a minute, I remember who I am, I’m an asshole” (laughs). So I just started going after literally everyone, not on substance just literally roasting them and making fun of them. I didn’t really care as it’s just a bunch of people saying words but I’ll say words back (laughs).

Besides dealing with social media trolls, Derrick endures a lot of interactions with Pooka in all different forms. What was that experience like and do you have a favorite Pooka design? 

Malcolm Barrett: It’s funny cause there’s a number of them – there is Lederhosen Pooka, there’s a half-man/half Pooka, there’s a bear Pooka; they’re all pretty interesting. The final one is probably the scariest one, where he’s furry but also a man at the same time. I think that’s probably my favorite. Alex Ward is one of the guys that’s up there in terms of being a puppeteer/stuntman. His whole genre in creature effects is just amazing. For me, that’s how a lot of the interaction was done – with him or just me fighting. We had another stunt guy who was the bigger Pooka and it was a lot of fun because, if you like the person behind the mask, you’re going to have fun. Any other interaction is just me fighting or being chased and all that was a dream come true for me.

When it came to working with director Alejandro Brugués and the rest of the cast, what was that experience like? 

Malcolm Barrett: Honestly, this is one of the most fun, least pretentious casts I’ve been around from head to toe. There was mainly a group of like four or five of us – Gavin Stenhouse, Lyndie Greenwood, Felicia Day, and Jonah Ray – we were all just super comfortable really early on. It was probably because I was the lead and I’m a really nice guy, that’s probably why it all worked (laughs). Everyone felt very comfortable. Alejandro was very fun and wanted us to do what we wanted, he allowed us to be ourselves and, to a certain extent, the characters are pretty much us. My guy isn’t the best person in the world, I think he’s a guy who is trying to figure out everything but for the most part, the characters you’re playing are pretty close to our sleeves. The relationship that the cast had reflects how comfortable we were with each other and with Alejandro.

Prior to filming, were you familiar with the term creepypasta? Do you think you would ever do something like the #PookaChallenge? 

Malcolm Barrett: I’m never going to do any of these challenges (laughs). I didn’t know it was referred to as a creepypasta, I had never heard of that before. I wouldn’t do any of this, long story short, I’m not doing anything, I’m not saying any horrible names five times fast, I’m not doing any of it.

POOKA LIVES! is now streaming on Hulu and for more on the film, check out our review here as well as our exclusive interview with Pooka here.

Shannon McGrew
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