Meet the man who played “Vigorous Hand Job Guy” on The Leftovers.

An Interview With the Actor Who Played “Vigorous Hand Job Guy” on The Leftovers

An Interview With the Actor Who Played “Vigorous Hand Job Guy” on The Leftovers

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Slate's Culture Blog
May 17 2017 7:30 AM

An Interview With David Daradan, the Actor Who Played “Vigorous Hand Job Guy” on The Leftovers

David Daradan (L) on The Leftovers.


According to show co-creator Damon Lindelof, Sunday’s episode of The Leftovers was inspired by the writing of critic Matt Zoller Seitz and, in turn, it inspired a profound and moving dialogue between Seitz and Lindelof about God, man, life, and loss.* It also featured a character credited as “Vigorous Hand Job Guy,” played by Australian actor David Daradan!

Slate spoke to Daradan—who had not yet seen the episode—about his experience in the role of “Vigorous Hand Job Guy.” This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.


Matthew Dessem: What’s your favorite role you’ve ever played?

David Daradan: There’s a few. I did a short film called That’s a Wrap. It’s basically a behind-the-scenes look into how a film gets made, and I get to play this vicious egomaniac director—it’s a lot of fun. And the other one would be this feature film I did last year, which just won an award last weekend at the South Australian Screen Awards. The film is called Charlotte.

So let’s talk about The Leftovers. How was this role advertised?

I guess like any other role. I got a call from my agent to tell me that there was a casting happening for The Leftovers, this highly esteemed program, and it was being cast by Nikki Barrett, one of the top casting agents in the country. So regardless of whether I got a role, it would be a great opportunity to audition. And he asked me if I’d like to audition for this particular role. It was a bit of a shock, seeing the details of the character …


How did you get those details, what was the …

I had to shoot a self-test for it, which was fun.

I’m sorry, so you had to shoot a self-test specifically of giving, like, a vigorous hand job? Or what was the self-test?

Nothing like that! I’m not sure what they’ll show in the series, but I did have some dialogue. That’s why I’m in the actual credits, because I had some dialogue—I’m not sure if it was cut or not. But yeah.


What was the dialogue? If you had a line, I’m sorry to be the person to tell you this, but I don’t think it made the episode.

The dialogue is, whilst vigorously masturbating, I look over at Jovan Adepo’s character, and I ask if he wants to join in. Which he politely declines.

No, now it cuts away; at the end of the pan over to you two, it’s just a visual punchline now. Did the character have a name when you were auditioning?

When I read the sides it was “Vigorous Hand Job Guy.”


So no false advertising there. Did you know that that was going to be the credit?

Oh, yeah, yeah, I absolutely knew. It was written in the sides, a little writers’ note apologizing to the actor that was being cast in this role.

Is there anything you want to say to that writer?

Oh, thank you. Thank you. Please write another one for me!


Did you do any research for the part?

Well, I guess every male has done his own research for this role throughout their life. You know, I just used my life experience.

So you didn’t do, like, a De Niro thing, where you went off to prepare for it?

Oh, yes, I did, I locked myself away for about three months. There was vigorous research going on.

How long was it between the time you got cast and the time that you had to do it?

I actually don’t remember. All I remember is getting the self-test done, because my girlfriend filmed it for me.

How did she react to that?

Oh, it was interesting. It took a couple of goes because she kept laughing.

Did you tell her what the part was? I mean I guess it would be obvious.

I did. The whole thing—I’ll paint you a little picture. This all happened whilst my girlfriend and I were with my sister who was visiting for the weekend. And I got the call saying, “You need to tape a self-test right away.” I was in my sister’s hotel room, so unfortunately, I had to ask my sister to put on her headphones and turn the other way while I had to record this scene. My sister was in the room at the time, but she wasn’t watching it.

Are you worried about being typecast?

No, I don’t think so. And look, you know, if it means I get more work out of it, then …

So your tweet—have you actually told your mom about it?

Yeah, I have. She did know about it.

How did that go?

It went well. Unfortunately, I can’t say it’s the first time that she’s—maybe there has been some typecasting going on. I did a play that I produced at the Adelaide Fringe Festival two years ago. And it was a one-man show which—there was a part in the play where I had to perform the art of … I guess what we could call vigorously masturbating on stage. My mom was in the theater. So it wasn’t the first time she’s had to see her son playing that kind of role.

What was it like on set?

It was wonderful! Nicole Kassell was the director, very warm and welcoming when I arrived on set. The cast that were on set were exceptionally warm as well. Christopher Eccleston, Amy Brenneman, Jovan Adepo, and Kevin Carroll, all highly esteemed actors, great actors, and yeah, they were extremely warm, welcoming, respectful.

What did you learn from the experience?

For any actor, you just have to embrace whatever challenges come your way. I guess what I’m embracing at this particular moment is getting a lot of love from random people online. But embrace the moment and appreciate what you have, and count your blessings—that’s all that an actor can do, work a lot on themselves, on their craft, and be appreciative that they have the opportunity to live a life like this. That’s the way I see it.

*Correction, May 17. 2017: This article originally misspelled Damon Lindelof’s last name.