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Friday, March 8, 2024

‘Imaginary’ – Dane DiLiegro on Unleashing His Inner Chauncey Beast and Earning His Number One Trophy Kill [Interview]

Dane DiLiegro‘s breakthrough role as the feral Predator in 2022’s Prey marked him as one to watch in the genre space. Now, the 6’8″ actor can be seen going feral on screen once more in Imaginary, as the more monstrous version of Chauncey the Bear.

Imaginary, out now in theaters, is directed by Jeff Wadlow (Cry Wolf, Kick-Ass 2, Truth or Dare, Fantasy Island, The Curse of Bridge Hollow) and stars DeWanda Wise, Tom Payne, Taegen BurnsPyper BraunVeronica Falcon, and Betty Buckley.

The horror film introduces a cute, imaginary teddy bear named Chauncey, brought to life via the award-winning animatronic and practical effects house Spectral Motion. But there are many iterations of the villain, with the DiLiegro’s Bear Beast delivering critical scares and at least one notable kill. Bloody Disgusting spoke with DiLiegro about his turn in Imaginary, where the actor provided more insight into the film’s practical effects while teasing what’s ahead for his horror career.

To start, Dane DiLiegro reveals surprising inspiration behind his turn as the monstrous bear.

Chauncey the Bear Imaginary

“Obviously, this character is in the movie significantly less than the Predator, but it’s also an interesting juggle, because his origin is a cute and cuddly teddy bear. So, you’re talking two opposite ends of the spectrum. You’re taking this cute, cuddly teddy bear, and you’re making this terrible, horrifying, disgusting thing. You’re trying to get the best of both worlds of that. Essentially, it’s the teddy bear with the entity inside of him. So, part of me was thinking a little bit of Edgar [Vincent D’Onofrio] in Men in Black. He’s got the alien inside of him. This entity is kind of like It. It’s doing its best version of what it thinks this cute and cuddly teddy bear is. With weird ticking of the head and weird jerks and stuff like that. He’s not quite symmetrical; one shoulder’s higher than the other. I just tried to integrate all these things to just make him a little off and tap into that uncanny valley a little bit. Not to reveal all my secrets here, but just make him a little strange, like, ‘What the hell is that?’

“Then, yes, there were some quad on-all-fours scenes. I trained very hard for that. I was wearing weight vests, walking on all fours. I was dragging sleds with weight, with 200 pounds behind me, with weight. Jeff is a pro-athlete director. I didn’t know what was in store for me, so I needed to be prepared for anything. Fortunately, in that final scene, we did it quite slow, just to increase the creep factor, which I appreciate. But yeah, it was tough because I really had to make sure not to make it look like a primate. Anytime an actor goes down on all fours, very easy to look like a primate. And it was my goal not to do that, so it worked out. It worked out well.”

As for the creature costume, playing the Chauncey Beast wasn’t nearly as sweaty as donning the iconic Predator suit, though the head was animatronic and required puppeteering.

He explains, “This suit was actually quite nice. It was very breezy. Traditionally, I’m wrapped in a couple inches of foam latex, and I’m zipped up and locked into this, essentially, ‘rubber suit.’ It’s not rubber, but it’s foam latex, which is a sponge. This is more fabric and light foam. So compared to some of the other things I’ve worn, this was about half the weight. You can’t see it, but my legs actually were not Chauncey’s legs. I had black spandex on, and then they had these digitigrade practical legs outside of my legs. Think Doug Jones as the Fawn in Pan’s Labyrinth. And then they CG’d my legs out. But we’re in New Orleans in the summertime. It’s hot, it’s humid, and my upper body is wearing a full fur costume. The mouth was puppeteered by a guy named Richard Landon, who coincidentally worked on the first Predator movie as well. He’s a master animatronic and mechanic specialist at Spectral Motion, and he’s worked on countless films for 30 years. He was incredible. He puppeteered the mouth. If the mouth was closed, I essentially couldn’t see anything. My face was in the gullet of this character.

Chauncey Beast

Working on Imaginary gave DiLiegro a career highlight when it comes to onscreen kills. Spoiler Warning: Skip ahead to avoid spoilers about one prominent on screen death in the film.

In the third act of Imaginary, the characters venture into the “Never Ever” to save young Alice (Pyper Braun). It’s there where Chauncey Beast is unleashed in full, and where Betty Buckley’s character meets a bloody but quick demise.

The actor details how this scene was filmed and what makes Buckley’s onscreen death such an honor for him.

“Obviously, you only see the arm. If you took that door away, you would’ve just seen me with a furry forearm, like me in plain clothes with a furry forearm. But it was me. That kill, I told her at the premier the other night, I think I have 45 kills in my career, my long, illustrious four-year career as an actor. She’s number one. She’s the number one, most honorable kill for me. I was telling her, top of my mantle, so far, that’s my number one trophy kill. She’s a legend. Watching her act, it was better than going to acting school. I would just sit there, even though I wasn’t in the scene, I would just sneak on right next to the camera and just watch her go through this whole, all of her lines and everything. It was incredible.”

Scary teddy bear Chauncey Beast in 'Imaginary'

Dane DiLiegro as Bear Beast in Imaginary. Photo Credit: Parrish Lewis

DiLiegro isn’t slowing down anytime soon, either, when it comes to horror. Look for the actor to get hairy once more in Steven C. Miller‘s upcoming Werewolves.

He teased of his character, “I’m a werewolf. Yeah. That was also with Alec Gillis who built the Predator costume for Prey. He usually calls me for any larger non-human character. That was a lot of fun. Steven Miller’s incredible. That was a very, very quick shoot, but we were outside, we shot in the rain. I would’ve loved to play a human in that. But no, just a werewolf.”

While the actor’s dream role remains Jason Voorhees, he’s excited about the chance to explore horror even further, human or monster. When asked about what corners or subgenres of horror he’d love to tackle next, he didn’t hesitate with his answer.

“I love this new video game kind of riff that everyone’s going on right now. I know Dead by Daylight is on the way. I know there’s another Five Nights at Freddy’s on the way. I also know, additionally, Christopher Nolan mentioned he wanted to do some horror? And I know Kevin Williamson has some things potentially coming up that are exciting.

“I’m open. I am here for all of it.”

The post ‘Imaginary’ – Dane DiLiegro on Unleashing His Inner Chauncey Beast and Earning His Number One Trophy Kill [Interview] appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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