Desmond Chiam is an actor all of us need to keep on our radar. This former lawyer turned actor has been building an impressive resume of work over the last several years.
Desmond has appeared in series such as Bones, NCIS: Los Angeles, Hawaii Five-O, The Shannara Chronicles and most recently the series Reef Break.
Now, he can currently be seen in the hit Disney + series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier playing the character Dovich.
We had the chance to sit down with the multi-talented actor and talk about his new role, working with the lead actors from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and the importance of representation in the entertainment industry.
Desmond Chiam – It wasn’t so much dreaming of being Captain America per se, because that’s the special thing about Captain America. His power is finely tuned to be aspirational. Thor is a God, Silver Surfer is a cosmic entity – those things are entirely unattainable. Cool, but unattainable. Captain America – his deal is that he’s peak human. Key word human – if he can do it, you can do it. And that’s what I wanted – I didn’t want to be Cap, I wanted to be like him, and his whole design made that entirely possible.
Pop Culture Principle – Can you tell us a little bit about how you landed the role of Dovich in “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier?”
Desmond Chiam – Jason Stamey and Sarah Finn run a really chill room, it’s super easy to do your work in the space. I hadn’t told anyone I was auditioning though, because I tend to keep that stuff close to the chest. I hadn’t even told my wife. She only found out when I got the call that I got the role, while we were at the gym. I guess you could say the next people to find out were the random bunch of gym bros when I had a total breakdown.
Pop Culture Principle – Was there much research involved preparing for the role or being a fan of the MCU, that world was something that you were already keenly aware of?
Desmond Chiam – Oh, it was something I was relatively aware of, but so much of it was hidden behind an NDA I really only had the broad strokes to go on. Code names for characters, and the like. But I did go hunting on YouTube for some of the old cartoons of Cap I used to watch – couldn’t find ‘em, unfortunately, but I know they gotta be out there somewhere.
Pop Culture Principle – Remembering that you wanted to be Captain America when you were a kid, what was it like for you personally to step on the set of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier for the first time?
Desmond Chiam – Wild. I mean one of the first things they do is take you for a costume fitting, and you’re heading in and seeing the shield and the uniform laid out in the booth right next to you, and it’s a hard thing not to freak out!
Pop Culture Principle – What can you tell us about your character Dovich and how he fits in the MCU?
Desmond Chiam – There’s not a lot I can say here without spoiling – Marvel fans are too good at finding even the hidden meaning between the words! What I can say is the Flag Smashers in general are part of the fallout of the blip and of Cap’s legacy, which is something Sam and Bucky are both wrangling with.
Pop Culture Principle – This character and the series must be somewhat challenging physically. Did this require you to up your game when it came to your workout regimen?
Desmond Chiam – Oh yeah. When I got that call at the gym, I figured we should just stay there for another four hours. Actually, in truth, I was already in relatively good shape before the series – again, Cap was a north star even before booking thing – but yes; it did make it easier to get up in the morning to hit the weights!
Pop Culture Principle – The series has a fantastic cast headed up by Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan. What has it been like working with those two actors?
Desmond Chiam – An absolute joy. It’s that same feeling you get from watching any master craftsman – there’s a calm to the energy, and the precision. Keep it relaxed, and everything else follows. I have to shout out my girl Erin here too though – she’s really easy to kick back with and that translates the same on-screen!
Desmond Chiam – The super strength. I highly recommend super strength. If you’re ever feeling bad about yourself, have Marvel special effects rig up some semi-trailers on hydraulics for you to lift, it really turns a bad day around.
Pop Culture Principle – It’s great to see multi-cultural people and characters in the MCU. For you, how important is this role for you being of Chinese Singaporean decent and having others like you see themselves represented on screen?
Desmond Chiam – You absolutely nailed it mate! Honestly, extremely important. And it’s not something you realize until you see it. I grew up surrounded by Caucasian faces on screen, and it’s not like it was bad – I loved movies and TV and it was like, ‘dope, these people are really cool, and they’re really fun to watch.’ If you’d come up to me then and been like, “hey, but what about representation” I’d have probably snorted and laughed it off like any number of other guys on the internet these days being like, “Why don’t you just put yourself in the character? I can put myself in any character.”
But then I watched – I think it was a Steven Chow film for the first time and something just felt special about it. Same deal – at the end of the day, it’s just a good movie, entertaining people, but something just felt good. It’s hard to explain if you’ve never experienced that shift. And it’s that shift that’s been a part of empowering our people around the world right now.
Pop Culture Principle – You will now forever be linked to the MCU. As an actor and that little boy from years ago, how does that make you feel?
Desmond Chiam – Contrary to everything I’ve been raised to feel about myself: special.
Pop Culture Principle – What can fans look forward to during your time on the series?
Desmond Chiam – Ah man, I don’t want to say too much here again because the sleuths are legion, and very, very sharp-eyed! But I will say we’re in for a treat as things escalate over the next few episodes! Marvel is not going to let you down!
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is currently streaming exclusively on Disney +.
**Feature photo courtesy of David Higgs**
**All The Falcon and the Winter Soldier photos courtesy of Julie Vrabelová/Marvel Studios**