Ricky Church chats with David Dastmalchian about his role as Calendar Man in Batman: The Long Halloween…
After many years of fans clamouring for its adaptation, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One has been released on Blu-ray and digital as the next in DC and Warner Bros.’ animated film line. Based on the maxi-series from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, the story follows Batman in his earliest years of crime fighting as he, Jim Gordon and Harvey Dent investigate a serial killer named Holiday who is targeting members of the Falcone crime family on one holiday each month. While they are trying to solve the case and bring down the Falcone mob, they also have to contend with the rise of Gotham City’s supervillains.
To celebrate the release of the first part to this highly anticipated film, we sat down with actor David Dastmalchian who plays Julian Day/Calendar Man in the two-part adaptation. Originally one of Batman’s goofier villains, Calendar Man was reimagined in The Long Halloween as a very intelligent and insightful criminal obsessed with holidays, seasons and time who Batman and Jim Gordon go to for help in solving the Holiday killer’s identity. Dastmalchian is also no stranger to the world of comic books as he has starred in several pieces of superhero media, most notably The Dark Knight, Marvel’s Ant-Man films and this summer’s upcoming The Suicide Squad as another goofy Batman villain, Polka-Dot Man. We chatted about Calendar Man’s intelligence, his ability to get under Batman’s skin and Dastmalchians love of comic books. Check out our interview below…
Ricky Church: Batman: The Long Halloween has been at the top of fans list of adaptations for several years now. Was it intimidating for you to join The Long Halloween films?
David Dastmalchian: You know, it was incredibly intimidating for me. It’s always very nerve wracking and anxiety inducing for me as an actor, bringing to life characters from stories that are so iconic and important, especially to people who, like myself, have been reading and collecting comics their whole lives. Anybody out there who’s been collecting comics for more than a minute knows and understands the importance of what Jeff Loeb and Tim Sale did with The Long Halloween. I mean, this is really vital and important comic book iconography. Personally, as lucky and as blessed as I’ve been to be a part of so many incredible comic book adaptations in film and television I’ve always dreamed of getting to be a part of animation. I always hoped that I would get the chance to be a part of something and I’m a big fan of the DC Universe movies. I think that these films over the last number of years have been just so awesome.
When Wes Gleason [voice director] contacted me and said that the team were interested in having me voice Julian Day, I just did a cartwheel, man! I was so excited. It was such a huge moment for me. So I was very scared. I really held the bar exceptionally high for myself because I know that I, as a lover of comics and of stories like this whenever they adapt them to television, animation, video games, I know that I want them to be something really special. I hope what I’ve created with Julian is going to be something that fans will enjoy and time will tell I guess, but I’m hopeful that they do because I really loved playing this.
Yeah, for sure. I thought you were great as Calendar Man. He’s one of the lesser known villains in Batman’s rogues gallery. For those who might be unaware, what can you tell us about Calendar Man?
Here’s the thing about Calendar Man. He’s been brought into the comic books in several different iterations, but the way that Loeb wrote him in the original comics run of The Long Halloween and then the way his voice is adapted by Tim Sheridan in his beautiful screenplays or our film, he is an individual who sees the world from such a acutely unique perspective. Julian’s understanding and handle on the value and the importance and the dominating force of the passage of time is something that he has taken to that next level where the way that everything is relegated to the passage of minutes into hours into days and months and years marked by the specific moments on the calendar, be they holidays or just another page torn off of a calendar, it’s how he organizes all the chaos of the universe and the beginnings and ends of things are vitally important. Like the beginning and end of every day on a calendar to the beginning and ending of every holiday which we’re constantly going towards and then moving past and going in this circle that is the calendar year.
He’s so wonderful and in one way you could look at him as a reader or as a performer. You can think ‘oh that’s just absurd and silly,’ but if you look at it from Julian’s point of view, he’s both obsessed with and in one sense almost trapped within the confines of this kind of maze that is the passage of time and its calendars. Therefore, because he has a deep insight into that, obviously this is his life, Batman comes to him for some hints and clues as to who Holiday could be and obviously Julian really loves getting to toy with Batman about all of that.
Yeah, they’ve got an interesting relationship in their scene. How do you think he’s able to get under Batman’s skin so well?
Well, you know, Batman is a rather self-righteous and self-important martyr, if you will, and is responsible for Julian being incarcerated. For Batman to come to Arkham seeking information on this series of grizzly murders is kind of a great treat for Julian because not only does Julian, as would any of us who – if you were in prison for the rest of your life and you had the opportunity to not only use your knowledge to demonstrate to somebody who thinks that they’re quite important how useful you are, but even to toy with Batman, I think that’s a really pleasurable experience for Julian. Giving Batman just enough to let him know that I have insights that he just can’t fathom with his limited bat brain but at the same time not giving him so much to help him really wrap up his case and solve things the way he would like to, it’s a really wonderful game. A psychological game, a twisted game, and it’s a great insight into how dark and troubling it is to be Julian Day.
For sure. Now, you’re kind of funny because you’ve been jumping around different universes on film for years now. You’ve starred in The Dark Knight, The Flash TV series, the Ant-Man films, now The Long Halloween and then The Suicide Squad later this summer. You said you’ve been collecting comic books for all your life now so what is it about the comics and their superhero films that attract you to them?
One of the most amazing things about comic books and comic book storytelling is that they are our modern myths. These are characters who are others. They are larger than life. They have these often supernatural or super gifted abilities that separate them from the rest of society and yet whether they’re on the side of good or evil, they’re characters whose stories we can tell and observe and still gain insights into our life. I think there’s this wonderful quality about comic book storytelling that transports us. It takes us on these incredible adventures in our imaginations, but at the same time they can really challenge us with interesting and fascinating questions about what it means to be a person, a human being.
We all know what it feels like to be an ‘other’. We all know what it feels like to be different. We all know what it feels like to wonder what our place is in this world, in this universe, and to wonder if the things that are wrong with us are curses, if they could be turned into gifts, if they could be wiped clean by some kind of cure. Whether that is some kind of intellectual or athletic or musical or who knows what gift a person may carry around with them. I think that’s something that really connects with us. It’s such a joy to see how many passionate and talented artists are committed to bringing these stories to life through not just the pages of comic books, but also films, live-action, animation, television, video games. That I get to be a tiny part of that universe is something that I thank God for every night when I go to bed in all honesty. It’s truly a gift and I can’t believe that I get to do this.
Thank you very much to David Dastmalchian for sitting down with us!
Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One is available on Blu-ray and digital now. Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two will be released on July 27th, 2021.
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.