Evan Peters On ‘Dabka,’ Filming In Somalia & Working With Al Pacino [VIDEO EXCLUSIVE]
Dabka, directed by Bryan Buckley, is based on the true story of Jay Bahadur (Evan Peters), a rookie journalist who goes to Somalia to live among, and write about, the pirates getting international infamy in 2008. The film also stars Al Pacino as Seymour Tolbin, a fictitious Vietnam War corespondent, and Barkhad Abdi (Captain Philips) as Jay’s Somali guide.
Peters, star of Dabka, recently sat down with uInterview to discuss his experience filming the movie, working with Abdi, Somali refugees, and Al Pacino.
Peters was initially intrigued by the project because of its authenticity and it’s honesty towards Somalia and its people.
“It was sort of an insane thing to do and Somalia is incredibly dangerous,” Peter’s told uinterview in an exclusive video interview. “Bryan [Buckley] really sold me on that when we first met and he told me about the beauty of the Somali culture, how sarcastic they are and how funny they are, and how they are portrayed very negatively in Hollywood and in the media.”
Beyond just portraying Somalians in a more realistic and more well-rounded light, Buckley cast several Somali refugees, bringing a deeper authenticity to the film.
Said Peters, “Working with [the Somali refugees] was a blast. They were so real and so natural. I didn’t know what they were saying half of the time because they were speaking Somali but Barkhad was helping me translate in real life as well as in the movie.”
And while working with Somali refugees was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Peters, so was working with his other co-star, the legendary Al Pacino.
Because they only worked together for two days, Pacino first asked if Peters would like to meet up, so they could get to know each other a little better. Peters happily agreed.
“I go to meet him at the bar and I’m right on time and I’m waiting fifteen minutes and I’m like, ‘Oh, it’s Al Pacino maybe he is a little late, you know,'” Peters recalled. “So I’m waiting at the bar and finally I go over to the maitre d and I was like, ‘I’m meeting Al Pacino?’ You know, that’s just weird to say and I didn’t really want to say that because I didn’t think he would believe me, number one, and number two, it just felt weird coming out of my mouth.”
In the end, he told the waiter and was pointed in the direction of Pacino, who had been waiting for Peters in the corner the whole time. Still, the legendary actor didn’t hold anything against Peters and told him some of the many stories he has collected over his career.
“It was awesome to work with him, it was so fun, I can’t even really describe it.”
I read the script and I loved it and the ambition to go out and do this, I guess, a little blindly. But yeah, it was sort of an insane thing to do and Somalia is incredibly dangerous. Bryan really sold me on that when we first met and he told me about the beauty of the Somali culture, how sarcastic they are and how funny they are, and how they are portrayed very negatively in Hollywood and in the media. I sort of jumped at the opportunity to portray them in a different light and learn more about them as people. And also, to learn about the pirates too. It was just a very informative and enlightening experience that I wanted to go on.
I abandoned that very quickly because Jay is a very different person. He is very tall and speaks very differently. And, I don't know, we kind of talked about it, me and Bryan, and it was more about capturing the spirit of Jay and how he sort of went out on this mission and it was more about that then about capturing him as a person and his mannerisms.
Working with the Somali refugees was amazing and one of my favorite parts of the film. Bryan told me he was going to train Somali refugees to act and to speak better English and I said, 'That's such an amazing feat,' and he did it. And working with them was a blast. And they were so real, and so natural and I didn't know what they were saying half of the time because they were speaking Somali and Barkhad was helping me translate in real life as well as in the movie. South Africa is beautiful and Cape Town is beautiful and there are resorts and beaches and things so it's not quite the danger it was made out to be before I left for there. Everyone kind of freaked me out, I was a little scared but when I got there, I was like, 'This isn't bad at all.' New York is more dangerous then Cape Town in some areas.
It did get pretty hot. I must say, that first scene where we first meet Bouya, it was so incredibly windy, and cold actually, it was freezing cold. I thought we were going to have to ADR the whole thing because we couldn't even hear ourselves talking, we were yelling because the wind was so loud. That was really it, that was probably the most extreme thing that we had to deal with.
Al and I only worked together for two days and because we were working together so quickly, he decided we should meet together. And it was really cool because he was like, 'Lets met together and Johan's' that theater, I hadn't been there before. I go to meet him at the bar and I'm right on time and I'm waiting fifteen minutes and I'm like, 'Oh, it's Al Pacino maybe he is a little late, you know.' So I'm waiting at the bar, waiting at the bar, and finally I go over to the maitre d and I was like, what do you say, 'I'm meeting Al Pacino?' You know, that's just weird to say and I didn't really want to say that because I didn't think he would believe me, number one, and number two, it just felt weird coming out of my mouth. But I did, and apparently he had been waiting in the corner for me the whole time, which is really embarrassing. But he was awesome, he was a really loving and sweet man. He told me cool stories and was just there. He's Al Pacino, he's a legend. It was awesome to work with him, it was so fun, I can't even really describe it.