EXCLUSIVE: Darren Criss & Keean Johnson talk visiting South Africa, their new film ‘Midway’ and how we could all do with more stories of hope and victory

2019-12-20 10:16
Darren Criss


On 16 October, Channel24 flew to Hawaii to speak to the director and cast of the much-anticipated war film, Midway. Here Bashiera Parker sits down with Darren Criss and Keean Johnson to talk about their characters' roles in the epic battle, and how this story is one everyone can relate to.

Cape Town – With the ocean in the background and rows of palm trees lining the beautiful Four Seasons Resort, I sat down with Darren Criss and Keean Johnson in Hawaii – but we started our conversation talking about sunny South Africa. Darren Criss said he'd never been to SA, but he's absolutely "dying" to visit. Keean Johnson said the same because he grew up listening to stories about our beautiful country. "My dad used to sell encyclopedias door-to-door to live in South Africa when he was younger," Keean told me. "He said how much fun he'd have there when he was 14. He really enjoyed it. I would love to go at some point."

I invited them back home – pretty sure we'll see them soon – but we had to get talking about Midway – their much-anticipated World War II epic.

Darren and Keean play fighter pilots in the film who helped secure an American victory. Without their determination and bravery, things would've turned out much differently. In our interview though, Keean said it was James Murray's "realistic", "scared" character that he so admired.

"There's obviously these characters when I'd read the script, where they almost don't sound real. It almost sounds like it was written from someone's mind. And you realise it's true, and you realise some of the extreme acts of heroism that these people would do," he said. "But I think James is, he was more of an everyday guy. I think he was either enlisted or had to enlist himself because of his parents' wishes. And he wants to make them proud, but at the same time he's scared, and he's a young kid who would just like to be home being a kid. But when he's exposed to this reality, I think he grows a lot."

Darren Criss also spoke about his character but, again, touched on the fact that these men were real – and their heroism is something everyone can relate to.

"While it is still a real person and it is a personal matter, I think there's so many universal themes about the things that these men and women are going through, my goal is to make those themes as accessible as possible to people around the world who aren't from the 1940s, that aren't American, that weren't pilots," he said. "Things about their actions that can be an accessible source of inspiration for anybody around the world."

"Our South African history probably is pretty lousy," he said, but added, "Heroism and inspiring tales happen all the time, all over the world in everybody's history and everybody's culture."  

Scroll up to see the full interview above.

Midway will be in SA cinemas on 27 December.

Read more on:    darren criss  |  movies  |  midway

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