The star of Netflix’s Cursed talks about working on the supernatural series, and becoming quite the baker during quarantine.
All clothing GIORGIO ARMANI, necklace and bracelet EMANUELE BICOCCHI
We should all be a little thankful for quarantine. At the very least, it’s proven to Daniel Sharman that his new quarantine pastime – baking – doesn’t seem to be working out quite as well as his acting. While he might make bread so hard you can use it as a paperweight, Daniel has delivered countless stellar performances on screen from his early days on Teen Wolf to his most recent role in Cursed.
Wonderland sat down with Daniel to discuss his newest project, playing “The Weeping Monk” in Netflix’s Cursed, and what he hopes to do next. Daniel is a unique actor in that many of his roles involved not just using his detailed-oriented approach when looking like himself, but also continuing to create powerful characters under hours of make-up and special effects. Cursed offers no exception as Daniel hones in on the detachment and severity of his character to deliver a fresh new take on Arthurian classics. Like many of us, Daniel has used his quarantine to try his hand at sourdough, but also as a time of reflection about what’s in store. Daniel’s work, in shows like Medicis and Fear the Walking Dead, have kept him on the road for years. Thinking about what comes next, Daniel hopes to return home to England and to the stage in coming years, as long as he can squeeze in some more adventures along the way.
(LEFT) All clothing SALVATORE FERRAGAMO
(RIGHT) All clothing Z ZEGNA, necklace and bracelet EMANUELE BICOCCHI
Quarantine has thrown in everyone’s lives off a little bit, how has your quarantine been and has it affected your work or projects at all?
My life is a bit like quarantine anyway when everything started. I had just finished filming Cursed and wanted to take some time off. As I was wrapping up my break and was beginning to get back to work, everything started shutting down. My quarantine has been like going back into hibernation. Since quarantine started, I’ve built a vegetable garden, I began doing some courses online and learning to bake like everybody else. I’m kind of over at this point. You know, there’s only so much baking that a person can do. Only so much vegetable gardening.
It does seem like everyone has started getting sick of their quarantine hobbies at this point.
Definitely. And now I’m in a place of being not quite as enthused by everything being on pause. So that’s how my quarantine kind of panned out.
And you’ve been in Colorado for all of quarantine or in a few different places?
I started out in Los Angeles. I had lots of friends who lived right next to me, so we all decided to quarantine together. We ended up building this lovely little commune in Los Angeles, making dinners and hanging out together. As things kind of eased up, we dispersed and went to different places. So I’ve come to Colorado to do some relaxing and painting and drawing. I’m not sure what the rest of quarantine holds.
It must be especially difficult for you. I was looking at your Instagram the other day, and I was just noticing that you seem to spend a good amount of time with friends going on adventures to various places. Where is next up on the list to go or the first thing that you’re doing post-quarantine when things are back open?
The place that I’ve always wanted to go is Japan, maybe to go backpacking. So that’s my next adventure. And Mongolia is another place I’ve wanted to go. I’ve also recently got into biking, so being able to bike around some of these places would be a fun thing to do.
You finished filming Cursed, which has just been released on Netflix and has been getting a lot of amazing reviews. Previously, you’ve worked on Teen Wolf, The Originals and Fear The Walking Dead. There’ve been a lot of sci-fi roles for you, is there something about the science-fiction genre or that type of work that really appeals to you when you’re looking for roles?
It’s not something that I have sought out intentionally. I remember when I was finishing drama school, one of my acting teachers said, ‘You know, you look very odd. A bit like a weird elf. Your tendency is always going to be cast in things that are kind of fantastical’. And it has ended up being quite true. So I’m kind of looking at doing something else after this, outside of the sci-fi genre. But at the same time, it’s a genre that’s very entertaining. It’s a massively popular genre and something that comes with that is people are very passionate about it and get very involved with the work. It’s always quite nice because people really do follow your work into these weird realms. I do feel very lucky that those people have been very patient with me in my different roles.
Your most recent work, Cursed, does fit into the sci-fi genre, like a lot of your previous work. Were there aspects of your creative process or how you prepared for previous roles that you were able to maintain when you’re getting ready for Cursed?
I don’t think that I approach any character with any less detail. Whatever I’m doing, no matter how fantastical or how wild the fantasy, is to make a character as real as possible. Sometimes it’s more important to build up some kind of backstory and I worked with somebody new for this project that really looks at how you can build characters from the ground up. It’s been a really interesting process and definitely something that I have used with Cursed. But whether I’m playing Lorenzo Medici, in the most recent season of The Medicis, or I’m playing a killer monk, which is my role in Cursed, my process always includes as much detail and specificity as possible. I do my homework and bring it into the world that you’re being asked to represent.
I guess this touches on that idea doing homework. Cursed is based on the King Arthur stories and there have been a lot of different interpretations of them in TV and film before. As part of your preparation for this role, were there any specific actors or previous interpretations that you studied?
I try to not look at other people’s work because I think I have a tendency to recreate certain things. My process is to start from scratch. Sometimes I do look at things like movements and get inspirations from those. For instance, I looked at Seven Samurai in terms of how efficient killing looks on screen. There were ideas from that, which I took to the stunt team so I could incorporate it into the role. What was most challenging about the role was taking emotion out of his repertoire. I had to build up this character that is so traumatized, that had an inability to be hopeful and so I really focused on having a lack of empathy. It was quite a lonely process to live in that character for nine months when we were filming.
I was watching some clips from Cursed and there’s this really incredible makeup for your character. And I remember back to Teen Wolf with all the werewolf makeup. It seems like you’ve had to spend extra time, maybe more than other actors, in the makeup chair. How do you use that time in the chair? Any go-to activities or routines you’ve developed?
There’s a lot of listening to music, but really through those processes you get to know the makeup team so well that you end up just chatting away for hours. They have to put up with me early in the morning, which is not a pleasant experience. It starts becoming very friendly and that’s really what I love about working in a big team. You get to know people and build up such an intimate knowledge of people’s lives, which makes you grow closer and closer. That time also lends itself to gradually coming into the character, so by the end getting on your makeup and your costume you’re ready to be your character. For Cursed, it was about two hours worth of makeup and then the costume, so by that time you’re all done I felt ready to go. It’s good for me because I’m not a morning person at all.
You mentioned that you’re spending quarantine taking it easy and that you’re looking for your next project, maybe outside of the sci-fi genre. Do you have any projects that you’ve already started? Or what kind of work do you envision yourself doing with your next few projects?
In the coming years I really want to keep exploring, with characters and all kinds of things. My biggest desire would be to go back in to do theater in England. So hopefully I can work on something like that or return to England in general on future productions. I don’t have any specific plans, so I’m just waiting for the right thing to present itself. I’ve been on the road for about three years and so it would be nice to get to go back home to work for the next chapter. It’s been really nice to have this time over quarantine to figure things out and think about what’s next.
Before I let you go, you did mention that you’ve become a little bit of a baker over quarantine. So I need to know your new signature dish or something that you’ve perfected over quarantine, just to prove that it’s actually been happening.
Right, right. Well, here’s the thing, I’m a pretty terrible baker and it will not become my second career.
There’s nothing you at least made an attempt at?
I baked bread that was so bad that I made it basically into a giant scone. It turned out that hard, but fortunately, I do love scones. So, it was my biggest failure, but also my biggest success because I’ve been eating a giant scone for the past three weeks. I am happy to provide you with some pictorial evidence of this masterpiece. Although, the pictures won’t do it justice just quite how hard this piece of bread is. I’m working on it, I’ll send you some samples. If you need a paperweight or anything like that, it would be perfect.
Maybe you can use it to lift since all the gyms are closed…