It’s a busy day for actor Matthew Delamater. He stops by the interview room to talk about everything from his role as Two-Face in Batman: The Tender Bar, working on Wolverine Dream Role with Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, and more.
Matthew Delamater Talks The Tender Bar, Working With Two Batmen, Wolverine Dream Role, and More. Matthew Delamater is a co-founder of the studio that produced The Tender Bar. He talks about his experiences working with two batmen, Wolverine’s dream role in a movie and more.
The Tender Bar is the narrative of J.R., a young kid who lacks a typical father figure in his life but finds a unique community of parental figures in the most unlikely of places. That’s J.R.’s Uncle Charlie’s neighborhood pub, and it’s here that he’ll learn critical lessons and get sound counsel from the variety of people that visit the cherished establishment. Joey D, played by the talented Matthew Delamater, is included in that mix, and I had the opportunity to speak with him about his role in the film, working with Ben Affleck and George Clooney, his Wolverine dream role, and being in the presence of two people who have brought Batman to life on the big screen at one point or another.
Joey D, played by Delamater, is one of the bar’s regular patrons and one of the persons in whom J.R. confides and learns along his voyage. J.R.’s father is still alive, according to Delamater, but he isn’t really active in his life, despite the fact that J.R. can hear him every day.
(Photo courtesy of Tadin Brown)
“The Tender Bar is about J.R., a youngster who is kind of nurtured by these gang of guys and by his mother, his single mother portrayed by Lily Rabe, and he’s looking for that substitute for the father that he can hear,” Delamater said. “His father is there in his life, but he is like a well-known New York radio DJ. As a result, he can hear him but never sees him. Because he is separated from his father, he is always striving to replace this image or idea of his father.”
Uncle Charlie enters the picture at this point. “Uncle Charlie, portrayed by Ben Affleck, is the proprietor of this well-known pub, and J.R. is able to get access to that world by performing errands for him,” Delamater said. “And he’s pulled into this clubhouse by a group of men, various sorts of men who work or frequent the bar, and one of those characters, Joey D, takes J.R. under his wing and teaches him the man sciences, as Uncle Charlie puts it. It’s a great way to experience these guys through the perspective of a little child, and then as a teenager later in the novel, and truly grow up with it. It was a lot of joy to portray that role and to be a part of that ensemble of fathers.”
(Amazon Studios photo)
Working with an actor like Ben Affleck or a director like George Clooney is a once-in-a-lifetime event in and of itself, but getting to work with both on the same film is even better. When the fact that both had dressed up as Batman was brought in, it took it up a level for Delamater.
“Let’s face it, every time you get to work with two Batmans, it’s quite wild,” Delamater said. “That’s a strange situation. If you don’t claim you’re pinching yourself, at least at first, you’re lying. But the amazing thing about George Clooney is that he is everything you want him to be and more. As a major admirer of his, and as many others do, he is everything you want him to be and more. He’s a wonderful person. He’s clearly gifted, and he’s a filmmaker who cares deeply about his work. He understands the actor’s experience, instruction, and subtlety since he is such a brilliant actor. He doesn’t go overboard, but he does help you discover the honesty that we’re all looking for.”
“Because it’s him, you believe every word he says, and I believe that having that connection, where you trust your director but he also trusts you and the decisions you’re trying to make, makes for a very fantastic collaboration on any film. As a result, I discovered it was all a dream. Working with him was an absolute dream come true “Delamater said.
(Amazon Studios photo)
While you learn about the bar’s regulars, such as Joey D, the emphasis remains on J.R. and how he interacts with them, and you learn about the world and its people via their talks with him. In a sense, it’s as if Cheers was based on someone growing up among the individuals who considered Cheers their second home rather than Sam.
“I believe there is more of it in the tale, certainly in the book, and certainly in the screenplay. When you see it in the movie, I believe a lot of those linkages are with J.R. in a lot of ways, because it’s a tale about him and his story and his character and his journey “Delamater said. “But I think it’s just the kind of family component of that place that everyone feels so comfortable in, that it’s like a home, but not a home, and so establishing that culture and that comfort zone that J.R.’s character can fall into, relax into, and be vulnerable in, as you said in Cheers. That, I believe, was the foundation for all of those personalities. Michael Braun and Max Casella performed two more roles with whom I collaborated. Bobo was portrayed by Michael, while Chief was played by Max. So the three of us, together with Uncle Charlie’s band of merry men to some extent, filled that cast of characters in that setting, and George always referred to us as the knuckleheads. There was a lot of that type of thing going on, with people playing off one other and razzing each other.”
“They make fun of each other, but we can be ourselves with each other. That seemed to be the vibe we were going for, to enable that and encourage each other in the way Ben was developing Tye and Daniel’s characters in the tale. So I felt that we had a huge part to play in that, in terms of supporting him “Delamater said. “Working with Ben was also a highlight for me, since I’ve long been an admirer of his work. He’s a generous actor who’s also really well-prepared. He’s clearly skilled, but he’s also a lot of joy to work with because he gives you just as much as he gives the audience, which is a fantastic situation to be in when dealing with someone like him “Delamater said.
(Photo courtesy of Tadin Brown)
“Well, that’s amusing.” We used to make jokes all the time. We got the fun outside sequences were we got to drive about in Uncle Charlie’s caddy, go to the beach, and bowl at a bowling alley. So I felt like we were constantly just hanging around, and either at the bar, which was the primary set, as it were,” Delamater recalled. “We’re in the center of COVID, sipping fake beer and smoking false smokes with a group of folks, including two Batmen.” As a result, it was like, ‘What?’ This is insane. ‘Life is strange.’
“Then Michael, Max, and I would get together since we were staying in the same spot. We had a lot of the same schedules, so on off nights we’d get together and have a rotating dinner, have drinks in each other’s rooms, or do whatever we wanted in our apartments, and it was fantastic to have that family off set. It was simpler and more enjoyable when we were in such sequences and had to act like best friends “Delamater said. “We were completely at ease. If you watch any of Clooney’s interviews, you’ll see that he’s a jokester. He’s a knucklehead. He enjoys making jokes. He enjoys giving you a hard time. That relaxed looseness worked extremely well in those sequences, and it was great joy to be a part of it.”
Fans will meet a likable cast of individuals that will assist J.R. in growing, learning, and adapting to the world around him. Delamater, on the other hand, hopes that people will take away the notion that you should absorb all of the advise and then apply your own intuition to it.
“Yeah. I really like what Tye and Daniel accomplished with the character, as well as what Ben did, and I believe that the message was basically, ‘Trust yourself.’ ‘Believe in yourself.’ Everyone, I believe, is constantly on the lookout for that mentor or guidance. ‘Tell me what I’m supposed to do.’ ‘Suggest something for me to do.’ And it’s really when you go within and say, “All right, I’ve got to figure this out on my own, I’ve got to take some risks, and I’ve got to be alright with failing.” J.R. Moehringer’s theme in his lovely novel, I believe, is that you witness JR’s journey, where he’s always looking for that flaw in his stars, but it’s actually him who produces the successes in his life and accomplishments with the cast of folks supporting and believing in him “Delamater said.
“I really appreciate that,” Delamater remarked, “about the family believing in one’s abilities and potential, but at the end of the day, you have to go for it.” “I really enjoy that message, and I feel that the many personalities who surround J.R. each have their own take on it. It was a pleasure to be a part of it “Delamater said.
(Photo courtesy of Marvel)
We couldn’t let Matthew go without asking him if there was anybody from the Marvel or DC universes he’d want to play on the big screen one day, and for him, it’s all about the claws.
“Yes, absolutely. Unfortunately, I’d have to depose Hugh Jackman, since Wolverine is my all-time favorite superhero “Delamater said. “It’s amusing. My nephews are 13 and 16 years old, and I told them I was going to speak to. I believe they were more enthralled by it than by any other film or production I’ve ever been a part of. They’re the ones with the knowledge, and I believe I need to brush up on the new ones. The Marvel universe is really rich, with a plethora of fantastic characters that we’re now getting to see come to life. That’s fantastic. My comic book experience was similar to playing the classic X-Men computer game. I believe Wolverine, because I adored him… He was invincible, yet he had a heart. He was a conundrum. That character is one of my favorites.”
I really like the original arcade game, and I believe that’s where my fascination with Dazzler originated. As for Jackman, he has said that he is stepping down from the part and is ready to hang up his claws, so the position seems to be vacant, however Delamater is also interested in playing a wicked Marvel character.
“Yes, sir. On these issues, they keep going back in time. I simply have to find that time period, that genre, that year for Wolverine, the 40-year-old Wolverine. I’ll also take Sabretooth “Delamater said. “That’s the other side of the coin. Even though he’s the bad guy, I like his wild instincts. Marvel’s badass persona is a fantastic character. Those guys are fantastic.”
So, if you’re going to play Wolverine, do you want to go with the yellow and blue outfit or the brown and tan suit?
“No, yellow and blue all the way,” Delamater said emphatically. “It’s simply that it’s permanently etched in my mind. I don’t think there’s any other way to look at it. Sorry for the inconvenience. I’m afraid I can’t.”
Many X-Men fans, I believe, will be right behind him.
The Tender Bar opens in New York and Los Angeles on December 17th, then statewide on December 22nd. On January 7th, it will also be available on Amazon Prime Video.
Are you looking forward to seeing Delamater as Wolverine in The Tender Bar? Let us know in the comments, or you can always reach out to me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB to discuss all things movies and comics!