Dan Stevens and the Allure of Kooky Characters

The kookiest characters onscreen this season may be the ones played by Dan Stevens.

This batch of charismatic weirdos joins the collection of peculiar roles he has amassed since the 2014 thriller “The Guest,” his post-“Downton Abbey” breakthrough. Stevens, 41, lands somewhere between leading man and character actor, and he revels in the mischievous tone required for these offbeat parts, some of which he describes as “funcomfortable.”

Right now in theaters he can be seen as a winning monster veterinarian in “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” and as a corrupt cop turned bloodsucker in the horror comedy “Abigail.” This summer, he will appear in “Cuckoo,” a sci-fi horror mash-up set in the Alps, in which he plays a German scientist whose welcoming facade hides a fascination with a bizarre endangered species.

Stevens with Rebecca Hall and Kaylee Hottle in “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.”Credit…Legendary Entertainment

Stevens, who is British, recently spoke with The New York Times over coffee in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. He wore a long-sleeved T-shirt bearing the defining image of “The Holy Mountain,” Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 1973 cult classic: a man seated and wearing a pointed hat, framed by two women.

During the interview, Stevens talked about his interest in genre movies and why his goal is always to make a director laugh. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.

I have to ask about your “Holy Mountain” shirt. That’s a great, trippy midnight movie.

I’m a huge fan of Jodorowsky. He’s a true visionary dreamer. I absolutely love filmmakers who present you with unforgettable imagery. He’s a common touchstone with a lot of great filmmakers I admire.

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