Anton Taylor as Darren is the ultimate ride-or-die
There’s no doubt that Tali’s Wedding Diary and Tali’s Baby Diary wouldn’t be as funny without Tali’s out-and-out craziness or the cocky swagger of the inimitable Rael Rosen. But Tali can only be that crazy and Rael that confident because they both know they have a ride-or-die partner in life and/or business who’ll always be there for them, no matter how many penis-themed weddings they organise or dodgy property purchases they make.
Tali just wouldn’t be Tali without Darren. And Darren wouldn’t be Darren without Anton Taylor, who’s just as much of a boet with heart as the character he plays.
Google Anton Taylor and you’ll no doubt find some photos of him living it up as a student at the University of Cape Town, hanging out with his mates – or maybe as the 2011 International Man of Movember. In short, the very things that you would expect to see photos of his character Darren doing in his younger, pre-Tali, pre-GoldProp days.
Chatting to Anton is like chatting to Darren himself – affable, open and friendly. You’d definitely consider buying some prime Woodstock property from this guy.
How did you land the role of Darren?
Julia and Ari [director Ari Kruger is married to Julia Anastasopoulos, who plays Tali] contacted me back in 2016, and said they had an idea for a show. It started with an eight-minute pilot, but we had to reshoot everything from scratch for the actual pilot because I’d lost 15 kilograms.
“In Season 2, Darren grows a bit of a backbone and I think he might surprise people. And he’s going to be the best dad.”
Tali was sometimes pretty tough on Darren in Tali’s Wedding Diary. What do you think of their relationship?
In Season 1, Darren was a bit downtrodden. I think in Season 2, he’s resigned to the fact that he’s married to a crazy woman. He’s her ride or die – he supports her no matter what. Even in her worst moments, he’s standing there with her. He’s just a good oke who loves her to bits. But in this season, he’s definitely less scared of Tali.
What’s in store for Darren in Tali’s Baby Diary?
Darren’s in a good space. He’s at peace with where he is. They’ve written a great story arc for him that’s been so much fun for me to play.
In Season 1, he could be pretty rude to Rael, but he’s really a nice guy. In Season 2, he grows a bit of a backbone and I think he might surprise people. And Darren is going to be the best dad.
People always come up to me and say, ‘I love Tali and I love Rael and I love Michelle, Tali’s mom.’ I’m the sixth favourite character but I’m at peace with that.
How do you prepare for the role?
In Season 1, I prepared so hard every day and then I’d get to set and they’d changed the scene! In Tali’s Wedding Diary, I get arrested and when Tali picks me up from the police station, I have to look really sad. I got to set at 11am and listened to my saddest music all day – Hootie and the Blowfish’s Time. By 5pm when we actually shot it, I was so depressed I couldn’t get the words out and ended up having to do a voiceover.
Now, if I need to cry in a scene, I just watch Chasing the Sun.
What’s it like on set?
The hours are long – but it’s the crew who really work hard. We have an all-woman sound crew, and the woman who holds the boom for hours on end is so tough.
In Season 1, it took us a little while to find our vibe, but in Season 2, we hit our marks from the beginning. The connections between the actors are so genuine. Darren has some great scenes, and everyone else is so hilarious.
We have had terrible problems with corpsing – where you laugh during a scene. Taryn (Kate Pinchuck) makes me laugh, but Tali’s mom is played by Kate Normington and she says lines and I have to exit. She’s hilarious. One of her lines was so funny that even though I wasn’t in the scene, you could hear me laughing in the background.
I’m so glad they gave her a bigger role. Everyone is more hectic and more crazy – Michelle is more Michelle and Rael has a great storyline.
Who else was on set?
There are some amazing cameos in Season 2, like Danny K. It was basically the pinnacle of my life when he tagged me in a pic of us on Instagram and called me his boy.
“I love the thought that people I’ve met in my life who don’t like me are forced to see my face on TV. Isn’t that what all actors are doing it for anyway?”
What have you been up to since Tali’s Wedding Diary?
Honestly, I’ve been waiting for Season 2! I’ve also been doing rugby commentating for SuperSport. While we were filming Tali’s Wedding Diary, there was an Idols-type competition to find a new commentator. I got into the top four, and when filming finished, I went off to Craven Week.
During the most recent Super Rugby and Currie Cup tournaments I did a weekly comedic wrap-up show for SA Rugby. It’s been really fun and exciting, as the stuff we’ve been doing is pretty unprecedented for South African sports content.
I used to play rugby – I wasn’t a super star but I played for UCT Ikeys so it’s a world I’ve been involved in for a long time. My Afrikaans is terrible though – I can’t even get out two words! My Xhosa is a little bit better.
I had a friend staying with me during lockdown because he was going through a rough patch. There’s a video of me running in to tell him that I’d got the call from Ari that there would be a Season 2. It’s the best thing in the world.
Fame and popularity come and go – I want unconditional love. In Season 1, I had all this attention and then people forget about you. It started to feel like an anecdote – “I was an actor” – so it’s great to get a second chance. I love the thought that people I’ve met in my life who don’t like me are forced to see my face on TV. Isn’t that what all actors are doing it for anyway?
In the past four years, I lost a whole lot of weight, was in Tali’s Wedding Diary, started working for SuperSport, finished my Masters and wrote a novel. In retrospect, I was trying too hard to just get the book finished, so it won’t be published. I want to write more fiction, but there’s so much crazy stuff happening in the world that I feel like I should write non-fiction instead.
Tell us about your background.
I’m a pretty typical Cape Town guy. I went to Bishops, which was a bit like Lord of the Flies, and then spent a few years studying at UCT.
I always wanted to be an actor in school – I was in all the school plays. Then I went to UCT and took Drama as one of my subjects, and it wasn’t what I had expected. So, I started doing some YouTube videos, and also did a web series called Jozi Shore. The aim was always to be an actor and I didn’t want my fate to be in the hands of some director who might not like the look of you.
It’s tough when you’re in your late 20s, sending your friends YouTube skits and saying, ‘Please share this,’ and they’re doctors and building things. I was dogged and determined about it and it all worked out.
My hope is that Neill Blomkamp watches Tali’s Baby Diary and is like, ‘I need a new leading man for my next movie.’ District 9 is so up my alley.
We hear you were chief COVID officer on set …
Season 1 I knew was going to do well, and I know Season 2 is even better. When I landed the role, I thought, I’m finally an actor after years of YouTube sharing – finally I’m doing something legit. I didn’t even worry about what was going to happen after. Now I’m having that experience again, I see how ephemeral it is. I was so worried about COVID because I didn’t want anything to mess up my dream. I’ve been like a monk all through lockdown, not seeing people.
What are you hoping for in Season 3?
I’m hoping something happens like in Breaking Bad, where he starts out a wimp and by the end, he’s murdering people. How’s that for a plot twist? Darren and Rael move to PE and start a drug syndicate.
What are you streaming?
I’ve been watching The Last Dance – I’m so motivated by how driven Michael Jordan is.