Sunday, July 14, 2019

Interview: De’Voreaux Sefas (Argyle in "Die Hard")

Yippee-ki-yay, moviegoer. 

You know the line I’m bastardizing. You know the 1988 film it’s from. You know the new kind of rush audiences got from Die Hard (#20 on Empire’s 2017 list of the 100 greatest movies of all time).

But you probably don’t know the man behind the wheel—De’Voreaux White (now Sefas), the actor who played Argyle, the limo driver/accidental hero and fan-favorite character.

You can fix that. Simply read on…with a vengeance:

What were you doing professionally prior to Die Hard

I started acting at the age of 10. To divert my thinking from the pain and PTSD of my mother’s [passing, on Christmas Day that year], my grandparents honored her wishes and got me into show business. My first three [bookings were] The Jeffersons, Little House on the Prairie, andThe Blues Brothers.

How old were you when you were cast in Die Hard

Early 20s [born 1965].

How did you get the role?  

Places in the Heart with Danny Glover and Sally Fields, which I was featured in, had received huge accolades for Oscars the year before. My agent pitched me to Joel Silver and Bruce [Willis]. They agreed to take on a meeting and a reading with me. By the time I got home that day, they called and offered me the role.

Did you have any input on shaping your character, or was he already fleshed-out by the writers? 

The director, John McTiernan, suggested that both Bruce and I just have fun with it, so we both basically made up some of the dialogue and let the scenes make artistry of themselves per se.

Any funny anecdotes about your Die Hard experience? 

Being spontaneous and quick-witted, which I learned by starting so young, helped tremendously. The first television show I guest-starred on was The Jeffersons. I will never forget the live audience and the comedic energy that prepared for projects like Die Hard.

Is there one story about your Die Hard time you tell more than any other? 

They were all memorable and a great learning experience. What an honor to work with the late Alan Rickman and Alexander Godunov. At that time, Alexander lived up the street from me in Benedict Canyon.

While working on it, did it seem like just another script to you, or did it feel like something special? 

All we knew is that it was an action movie to propel Bruce. I don’t think anyone had any idea of the miraculous impact it was going to have on the diversity and climactic genre of what cinema is today.

What was your impression of Bruce Willis? Did it change over time in any way? 

We hit right off. He’s a professional and so am I. Sometimes the public does not understand that we are there and hired for a job. At the same time we attempt to have fun at what we do.

Same question with Alan Rickman? 

My filming schedule was spread out over a three-month period and my scenes were not done all at once. I was not on the sets every day. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Rickman only a few times. Nice dude and very focused.

How often were you recognized on the street? Any funny stories about that? 

When the film started grossing a lot at the box office, the more people would see it [more than once]. I went with some friends to see [Die Hard] when it opened in Westwood, CA. Before the movie even started, people were turning their heads and saying “Hay! That’s him, the limo driver!” LOL. 

When was the last time you were recognized? 

Last week at Starbucks. Still happens three decades later.

What was your favorite acting gig? 

They all are my favorites. Gained so much experience at such a young age.

What are you doing these days? 

Wise investments and strong relationship with God has permitted me to have my own company in CA. I work in recovery, helping people with alcohol and drug addictions. I am also on the clinical staff [at my facility] and facilitate groups on self esteem there.

Where do you live? 

Newport Beach, CA.

If you have children, how many and ages?  

None yet…LOL.

It looks like your last name is now Sefas, not White. What prompted the change?

I am Ethiopian. My born name is Sefas. [After] my mother passed away, my grandparents (last name White) adopted [me].

Have you participated in any Die Hard-related events or appearances (reunion, convention, documentary, etc.)? 

Sometimes, when my schedule allows it. [I went to the] Die Hard 25th Anniversary at Burbank Studios.

Are you still in touch with anyone from the cast?

I reach out to Joel [Silver] and Bruce from time to time.

When was the last time you saw a member of the cast, and was it on purpose or by chance?

I saw Bruce by chance in L.A. I was driving my Jeep down Fairfax Boulevard and lo and behold, Bruce [drove past me] in his vintage corvette. I honked and chased him a bit. He looked over and we both busted up laughing!

Please tell me you pulled over and took a selfie.

No, I did not take a picture. No reason to. The moment was priceless. LOL.

When was the last time you watched Die Hard? How did you think it held up?

I never watch my own movies. LOL.

Do you have any mementos from the experience such as set photos, a script, or anything from the set?

No. However, I do have wonderful memories.

Do you have clippings from magazine/newspaper interviews/profiles published at the time?

No, that is my management’s department.

What did you think when you first heard from me?

I respect and honor anyone who reaches out to me.

A Brazilian fan.

How do you look back on your Die Hard experience?

It is always an enchanting reminder when anyone mentions [my] character [in] the film to me.

If the experience changed your life in any way, how?

This character allowed me to take my craft seriously.

Anything you’d like to add?

It was an honor and a wonderful experience that I will never forget.

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