The Boogeyman: David Dastmalchian initially turned down his role because it was too dark

David Dastmalchian plays Lester Billings in the Stephen King movie The Boogeyman, but initially turned down the role because it was too dark

Stephen King’s short story The Boogeyman is about a man named Lester Billings, who visits a psychiatrist after his children have been killed by the title character. Director Rob Savage’s version of The Boogeyman, which is in theatres now, goes far beyond the story King wrote – but Lester Billings is in the movie, played by David Dastmalchian (The Suicide Squad). During an interview with Collider, Dastmalchian revealed that he initially turned down the offer to play Billings because he didn’t want to go as far into the darkness as the character required.

Dastmalchian said, “I read (the script) and I said, ‘Absolutely not. No interest in portraying Lester Billings. I don’t care to go there. I’ve done too much stuff in the darkness. I need a break, and I can’t do it.’ And then (producer Dan Cohen) is many things, a gifted producer, a wonderful human being, but he’s also relentless and he just kept talking to me and saying, ‘If I could just get you to talk to Rob and hear his vision of who he thinks that Lester could be and what you could do with it.’ I was like, ‘I don’t know if I have the capacity in me right now to go where you need to go. We’re coming out of a pandemic. It’s been a dark time in all of our lives, to bring to life a guy who in many ways just represents so many of the things that scared me the most about this life …’ And then, of course, that fateful Zoom finally happens with Rob Savage and I go, ‘Ah, I love this guy,’ and, ‘Yeah, we’re gonna do this movie together.’ Immediately I got the truth of Rob’s vision as a director that spoke to his insistence that this was going to be an overall film that was not constructed for the device of mere entertainment or scares, and that a character like Lester was not a mere device as a conduit of information and, for lack of a better term, a kind of trope, a kind of caricature of the Southern yokel guy that I kind of got the feeling that he was in the short story.

He realized that Savage’s vision for Lester would help open the door to making the audience vulnerable and getting them to start caring about the characters. Now audiences are getting the chance to see how successful they were at bringing that vision to the screen.

The Boogeyman was originally heading for a release through the Hulu streaming service, but it scored so well at a test screening that the decision was made to give it a theatrical release. The film centers on a 16-year-old and her younger sister, still reeling from the death of their mother, as they’re targeted by a supernatural boogeyman, after their psychologist father has an encounter with a desperate patient in their house.

Scott Beck and Bryan Woods (A Quiet Place) wrote the initial draft of the script for The Boogeyman, which was then rewritten by Akela Cooper (Malignant) and more recently Mark Heyman (Black Swan). King has said the work those writers put into the script resulted in a “terrific screenplay”. Despite the fact that it’s quite different from the source material, a short story that appeared in the pages of King’s Night Shift collection.

The film stars Chris Messina (Sharp Objects), Sophie Thatcher (Yellowjackets), Marin Ireland (The Umbrella Academy), Vivien Lyra Blair (Bird Box), Madison Hu (Voyagers), and Dastmalchian.

The Boogeyman was produced by Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, and Dan Cohen of 21 Laps Entertainment, the company behind Stranger Things. Beck, Woods, and Emily Morris serve as executive producers. The movie has officially been rated PG-13 for terror, violent content, teen drug use, and some strong language.

The film was recently screened at the CinemaCon event, and you can check out some of the social media reactions to that screening at THIS LINK. You can also read a review by JoBlo’s own Chris Bumbray HERE.

Will you be watching The Boogeyman, and are you glad David Dastmalchian took on the role of Lester Billings? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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