Dan Davies

Film Happy Birthday takes place two years after a major viral outbreak. We follow the daily routine of John, a man living in a remote cabin in the middle of the woods. He lost his entire family to the virus on his daughter’s birthday. Having never been able to let go of the events of that day, John repeats the same actions of wearing the same clothing, eating the same food and baking the same birthday cake. When another human shows up at his door step, John is forced to face that day and deal with the feelings he has been trying to avoid. But is this stranger a savior or a threat?


Interview with  Dan Davies, who plays the President of the United States in "Happy Birthday":

What initially drew you to the role you played in this project?

Initially, Ezekiel Drews and Joe Mauro asked me to audition to play the President of the United States in the movie "Happy Birthday". After our first conversation, I told them I usually just get attached to modest budget projects instead of going through the audition process...because of some of my past successes. I've been fortunate enough to have films on Netflix, Hulu and PBS and I've been in films that were shot in Ireland, Jamaica, Qatar, Nigeria, Ghana & Serbia. But I did go through the audition process. To convince me further, he said it's a really pivotal but small supporting role....a really cool role and I think you'd be great at it. So that was kind of the impetus behind it.

Can you describe your process for preparing and developing your character?
When I get a roll, I always try to obviously bring myself into the character because that's what you have to do and you always have to be true to yourself. So as the President of the United States I wanted him to be very articulate, very bright, very astute with a massive ego...so essentially all I was doing was playing myself...lol.

What was the most challenging aspect of portraying your character again?
Well he is an egomaniac, he's a megalomaniac and he is just a terrible terrible person. Those are always kind of fun to play but it's still taxing on you. You just have to play this character that knowingly puts people in harms way for the sake of the economy and more importantly to his ego, his re-election and his upcoming campaign trail. He is literally minimizing a pandemic that is going to kill, almost every single human in the world...so obviously that aspect was difficult yet oddly fun to portray.

Were there any particular scenes or moments that stood out to you during filming?
My character gives a speech to the press core of reporters at the White House and he's just filled with this B.S. He is literally spilling it out to all these reporters, knowing full well that all he's doing is essentially lying to them. That was difficult too because I still had to get it across that my character was sincere, heartfelt and earnest....although, in the end, it's just a bunch of political tropes, platitudes, clichés and lies.

Did you collaborate with the director and other cast members to bring your character to life?
The directors basically just said Dan we trust you...just have fun with it...we like how you're going with it. I was a great atmosphere to be a part of. With the other cast members, my interaction was pretty limited because the President does a lot of speeches, but I did a scene opposite of Ezekiel Drews. Ezekiel plays a big-wig at the CDC who knows this disease is going to kill everybody. This warning falls on my deaf ears as I stop him in his tracks and just tell him, Hey I'm running for re-election....so we can't have a pandemic. It was a pretty fun scene to do.

The atmosphere on the set was very loose, very fun and very laid-back. I love it when I'm on set and it's not too regimented.... where you have that creative license and leeway for the actors to really expand on the roles and really have fun with it and that's what it was.

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Did you encounter any unexpected obstacles or surprise as well filming and how did you handle them?
There were no unexpected problems or or things at all. It was a very relaxed and fun atmosphere throughout.

How do you personally relate to or connect with your character?
Again he's this megalomaniac, but he also has this misguided righteous indignation. He's pissed off even though he has an inkling that this pandemic is gonna kill many people. He's not using that energy or indignation in a positive fashion...he's using that energy and that anger towards the head of the CDC because he feels he might end up derailing his re-election goals.

What message or themes do you hope the audiences take away from your performance?
That absolute power given to one man absolutely corrupts. When your ego blinds you and makes you so myopic and you can't see past your nose because your ego is in the way. It becomes a death knell for the political process because of the impending worldwide pandemic which is a death knell to millions of people.

Looking back, what was the most rewarding aspect of working on this project as an actor?
Working with the two young directors Ezekiel Drews and Joe Mauro. They are both such super nice guys and are very talented. Everybody on set had great attitudes....it was just a good convivial and creative environment to be a part of.

Screenwriter and Director's BIOs:

Ezekiel N. Drews, after a twelve-year hiatus from acting, came back and acted like he had never left the scene. He founded Lucid Films, Ltd. Co. with Joseph A. Mauro in November 2022 after some heavy drinking and never looked back. In love with acting and filmmaking, Ezekiel has a number of acting credits he's working to increase and is looking to create a booming filmmaking community in the Midwest, where plenty of talent resides but is often overlooked. He wrote, co-directed, produced, and wore 40 other hats for the award-winning dramatic feature film "Happy Birthday" in 2023. His dream is to work full time in the industry and, perhaps, work with Tom Hiddleston in a Marvel work.

Joseph A. Mauro is a filmmaker based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Joe works as a director, cinematographer, and actor on local independent film productions in Wisconsin, but his full-time job is as a battery engineer. Joe has a passion for creating things for others to enjoy and is inspired by thought-provoking storytelling. He is currently taking courses in cinematography and acting online. Mauro directed the award-winning dramatic feature film Happy Birthday in 2023. Joe enjoyed his drama classes in High School but put his art on the back burner, finally rekindling his artistic spark. His dream is to direct an award-winning psychological thriller one day, and he is currently building his body of work as a director.