How did Nicholas Denton get his start?
By the time he was studying art history at university in Melbourne, Nicholas Denton had worked “every job under the sun”—including gigs at a jeans factory, a call center, a video store, and a fish-and-chips shop. His true calling, though, was acting, which he discovered when he was asked to play an 8-year-old in a touring production of the children’s show Go Away, Mr. Worrythoughts! “I just fell totally in love with it,” he recalls, and he threw himself into writing and producing his own short films and theater pieces. This serpentine journey, he says now, “was kind of a blessing. It meant that I could go and make a lot of mistakes and do interesting things.”
How did he get cast in Dangerous Liaisons?
Just before the onset of the pandemic, Denton scored an audition for a reimagining of Dangerous Liaisons, originally a 1782 novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. After nine months and eight more auditions, he landed the part of the amoral seducer the Vicomte de Valmont—and he got the news in a very memorable locale. “I was going to the Temple of Poseidon outside Athens with a friend,” he recounts with a grin. “We were talking, and I was like, ‘I really wish I got that job.’ Then my phone rang, and I got this call from all my representatives.” Showing a candid snapshot from the moment on his phone, he adds, “[My friend’s] a photographer, and she was like, ‘Something’s obviously going good’, and she took that photo.”
How does the series reimagine Dangerous Liaisons?
The Starz series is more of an “origin story” of Valmont and his lover/adversary, the Marquise de Merteuil (Alice Englert) than an attempt to rival previous adaptations, such as the 1988 film starring John Malkovich and Glenn Close. “It’s not John Malkovich’s Valmont,” Denton promises. Shot in Prague over the course of nine months, the series flaunts lavish locations (opera houses, giant cathedrals) and even more lavish costumes—in Denton’s case, “tight shirts and jackets and waistcoats and huge wigs and white makeup and beauty spots.” Denton embraced it all: “If you want to make this character as real as possible, you have to deeply immerse yourself in the want—and where you are and where you’ve been,” he says. “You fall into the decadence, but you also feel very alive within it.”
While he’s unsure of where the next few years will take him, Denton’s determined to work in his home country as much as he can. “Anytime I come, I’m like, I just want to make something in this place,” he says. “It’s really interesting, the stuff that we’re doing. It’s important we realize and appreciate what Melbourne and Australia have to offer.” To wit, he’s continuing to make short films Down Under. The latest, Not Dark Yet, screened at the Melbourne International Film Festival in August and was a Vimeo Staff Pick, and he has another in the works. His mission statement is simple: “I’m just gonna keep writing.”