The Movie Waffler Interview - GREATLAND Star Arman Darbo | The Movie Waffler


Interview - GREATLAND Star Arman Darbo

arman darbo
Globe-trotting young actor Arman Darbo talks about his fantastical new feature.

Enter the surreal dystopian prophecy of 2020: Greatland, a world where boys are married to trees, cats and dogs run for President and the Virus has become a new religion. An acid roller coaster ride into the future after Covid-19, on a mission to debunk 2020! Set in an imaginary country dubbed the birthplace of love and endless source of fun, Greatland tells the tale of Ulysses, a rebellious non-binary teen on a mission to save his childhood sweetheart as an absurd election and a deadly virus wreak chaos and violence.

Globe-trotting young actor Arman Darbo talks about his fantastical new feature Greatland (out now on Amazon VOD from Indie Rights around the globe), a dystopian fantasy by writer-director Dana Ziyasheva that tells the tale of Ulysses, a rebellious non-binary teen on a mission to save his childhood sweetheart as an absurd election and a deadly virus wreak chaos and violence.

greatland poster

Are you in Hollywood, Arman?

Yes, I live in Los Angeles since 2015 but before that, I had a very globe-trotting childhood. I was born in France, then lived in China and Costa Rica. L.A. is so international that it feels like the perfect place for me to call home now.

Do you think it's almost a necessity to live in LA if you want to be an actor in the US?

Yeah, definitely. When I lived overseas, I used to send in self-tapes to casting directors in L.A. and that was always so complicated. There are so many more opportunities when you live in Los Angeles. At least before the pandemic.

What's the best and worst thing about living in LA?

I love the energy and the creative vibe in the city, the weather and the beaches, the diversity of cultures and foods you can experience. I miss being able to walk and see people on the streets like in Europe or China.

How hard is it to get acting work? Are you up against a lot of other young actors?

To be honest, I don’t really pay attention to other kids auditioning for the same roles. You have to do your best and stay zen. Often times, you won’t even understand why someone is cast over others. Maybe he looks like the actor playing the dad, maybe you’re too this or not enough that and a lot of that is subjective anyways.

Have you always wanted to act?

It actually really happened by accident. A film agent approached my parents after seeing me in a shopping mall in Beijing when I was eight. I got cast in a martial arts adventure movie produced by Keanu Reeves and that launched my acting career.

Now that you do it, would you recommend people follow your path?

It’s definitely not for everyone. Auditioning is hard. To do it well requires some serious work. Psychologically, you need to be very strong to deal with all the rejections and disappointments. When things work out though, it’s very rewarding. I got to meet awesome actors and travel.

Any advice to other young budding actors?

I would say have other passions or hobbies while pursuing your acting dream. For me, it was music and it was always a refuge when I wasn’t filming. I liked to be able to create my own art and express myself without needing all the crew and infrastructure that you need to make a movie. I keep my friends from middle school and high school; most of them are not in the movie industry. Music and my friends keep me grounded.

What was your first film or television job?

It was a movie called Kung Fu Man that was shot in China, in the mountain areas of Yunnan province. It’s an action film full of martial arts, stunts and wire-work. I was eight-years-old and played the son of a cruise ship company owner who’s been kidnapped. I got to take a cruise ship between Hong Kong and Taiwan and always ended up in the middle of the fights. Because I spoke Chinese, I became good friends with the stunt team. They told Jackie Chan about me and he invited me and my Dad to his Chinese New Year dinner in Beijing.

And how does Greatland compare?

It’s a completely different experience: the film genre, the American way of making movies vs. Chinese and most of all I am now the lead man in the film, not the little kid saved by the main actor.

Can you tell us what Dana brings to the film as a director?

She has a crazy imagination and never goes for the obvious, that’s what I liked in her directing style. She knew exactly what she wanted but was always open to my inputs.

Do you watch your own work afterwards?

Never if I can avoid it! But I do listen to people’s feedback.

Tell us about that dream project, that one project you’re dying to get up!

The end of Greatland really calls for a sequel. I can see how insane and rich the story of Ulysses and Ugly Duck could develop…

If the movie is successful, how will you celebrate?

Just getting together with my musician friends and pulling an all-night jamming session!