EKA DARVILLE

GQ (Australia) - - THE SOURCE -

THE BIG­GEST AUSSIE AC­TOR YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF. THOUGH NET­FLIX AND MARVEL ARE SET ON CHANG­ING THAT.

Some­times we’re so busy claim­ing ‘Aussies’ who weren’t born here that we for­get to praise those who ac­tu­ally were. Like 26-year-old Queens­lan­der Eka Darville, star of Em­pire – US com­mer­cial TV’S big­gest hit this year. The work of ac­claimed di­rec­tor Lee Daniels ( Pre­cious, The But­ler), it cen­tres on hip-hop la­bel Em­pire En­ter­tain­ment and its found­ing fam­ily’s strug­gle for con­trol. Darville plays gay film­maker Ryan Mor­gan, the love in­ter­est of a po­ten­tial heir to the for­tune, Ja­mal Lyon (Jussie Smol­lett). The cast also boasts Ter­rence Howard as the pa­tri­arch with ap­pear­ances from Naomi Camp­bell, Snoop Dogg and Cuba Good­ing Jr. And if the 23 mil­lion who watched the de­but se­ries’ US fi­nale are any­thing to go by, sea­son two will be huge. Speak­ing of big, Darville’s also in Marvel’s up­com­ing Net­fix se­ries Jes­sica Jones, due later this year. Yep, you’ll be see­ing a lot more of him. Start­ing now.

GQ: ANY IDEA BE SUCH A HIT? EKA DARVILLE: WOULD

It’s blown ev­ery­one away. Lee Daniels will say he knew, but he didn’t – it’s mind-bog­gling. The week it was out I couldn’t walk down the street with­out peo­ple stop­ping to take photos, it was re­ally in­tense. I can’t imag­ine what it’s like for the lead cast.

GQ: YOU ALSO PLAYED A GAY CHAR­AC­TER IN DID YOU HAVE CON­CERNS ABOUT BE­ING TYPE­CAST? ED:

I did. It’s a fickle in­dus­try and those things can stick. But the re­sponse has been fan­tas­tic. [Ryan is] a strong man who’s gay, and doesn’t give a fuck what any­one thinks. That’s what I love about him.

GQ: THE CAST IS IN­CRED­I­BLE. ANY SUR­REAL MO­MENTS? ED:

My son was on set one day and plonked him­self down on Ter­rence Howard’s chair. I got talk­ing to this stun­ning black woman next to him, and though I recog­nised her, I didn’t put two and two to­gether. When I met my wife af­ter­wards, she was like, ‘Oh my God, did you see Naomi Camp­bell?’ and I re­alised I’d been chat­ting to her for half an hour.

GQ: SO YOU PLAYED IT COOL? ED:

I don’t sub­scribe to that whole celebrity thing. There’s noth­ing spe­cial about ‘fa­mous’ peo­ple, other than the treat­ment they get. I’ve had the plea­sure of meet­ing some big-name stars – Sean Penn and Char­l­ize Theron – and it’s al­ways a case of be­ing sur­prised by how hu­man they are.

GQ: WHY ARE AUSSIE AC­TORS KILLING IT OVER­SEAS? ED:

There’s a real con­nec­tion with na­ture, which gives us a rugged edge that’s ap­peal­ing. We also have a no-bull­shit ap­proach, while Amer­i­cans can get lost in the glitz.

GQ: HAS THE SHOW CHANGED YOUR LIFE MUCH? ED:

In New York it has, even rid­ing the sub­way. Some­times I want to take my son to the park in track­ies, but I don’t feel com­fort­able any­more be­cause I’m al­ways asked for a selfie.

GQ: AND THE BANK BAL­ANCE? ED:

If I’m guest-star­ring on Em­pire or any other net­work show, I get paid the same amount. It’s not mas­sive money, once agency fees, man­agers, lawyers, pub­li­cists and taxes are con­sid­ered. But that’s not the case if you’re a se­ries reg­u­lar. I guar­an­tee Jussie Smol­lett is not hav­ing fi­nan­cial is­sues.

GQ: HELP, THEN? SHOULD

ED: Yes, I’ve signed a six-year con­tract, and I’m in a great po­si­tion where I don’t need to take a job for money. I want to work more in Aus­tralia – we pro­duce some of the most cre­ative stuff be­ing made, so I’d love to get back and do a film. Em­pire sea­son two de­buts Septem­ber 23 in the US and on Net­work Ten later this year

FOL­LOW @EKADARVILLE ON IN­STA­GRAM FOR UP­DATES — AND OUT­RA­GEOUSLY CUTE PHOTOS OF HIS SON MANA, WHO TURNS TWO NEXT MONTH.

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