Dakota Shapiro and Oliver Cooper in ‘Valley of the Boom.’
After making his US TV debut in the National Geographic docudrama Valley of the Boom Dakota Shapiro was thrilled when he landed a role in the pilot of The Lost Boys, adapted from Joel Schumacher’s 1987 horror comedy movie.
The Australian-born, LA-based actor had a terrific time shooting the pilot for The CW network, produced by Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars, iZombie) and directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Miss You Already, Miss Bala).
He played David, the sexy, dangerous and immortal vampire portrayed in the original film by Kiefer Sutherland.
The CW chiefs weren’t happy with the pilot scripted by Heather Mitchell and ordered a total reshoot, which retained just two members of the original cast: Shapiro and Medalion Rahimi, who played the carefree Californian Stella, David’s love interest.
However that hasn’t happened and the network’s hold on Dakota has expired so he is now busily auditioning. Such are the vagaries of working in Hollywood, he had to turn down several offers while he waited to hear if or when the recast pilot would be shot.
He much enjoyed collaborating with Hardwicke, not least as she regaled him with stories of working with Heath Ledger on Lords of Dogtown, her 2005 surf and skateboarding drama set in 1970s California.
Dakota was a finalist for the Heath Ledger Scholarship in 2017, which that year was awarded to Mojean Aria. “That was a huge turning point for me,” he tells IF. “I started being legitimately being considered for roles and I met a like-minded community and people who became mentors, such as Mojean.”
Dakota Shapiro in ‘Eye Without a Face.’
Thanks to Aria, he met writer-director Ramin Niami, who cast him as the lead in the independent movie Eye Without a Face. Now in post, the drama follows Dakota as Henry, an agoraphobic young man who lives with Eric (Luke Cook), a YouTuber and struggling actor.
The pair hacks the the webcams of young women, which leads them to suspect one woman is a a serial killer. “In the movie Ramin addresses a lot of things that are happening like technology, disconnection and isolating loneliness in the social media age,” he says.
Created by Matthew Carnahan, Valley of the Boom was set in Silicon Valley during the 1990s tech bubble. He played Stephan Paternot, who was an Ivy League undergraduate when he co-founded Internet startup/social networking service theGlobe.com.
Shapiro met Paternot and got on so well they became friends. “Stephan is a really intelligent, interesting guy,” he says. “He is still at the forefront of a lot of technologies which could revolutionize the entertainment industry. It was cool to play him.”
Paradoxically, he is one of the few LA-based Aussies who has not worked in the Oz screen industry. Born in Byron Bay, he went to study at the Idyllwild Arts Academy, a performing arts high school in the mountains of Southern California, when he was 14.
After graduating he spent a year at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, after which he moved to L.A.
Aged 24, he says: “I’m still a newcomer professionally. I’ve just started figuring out the landscape of actually being a working actor. It would be great to do some Aussie movies in my natural accent.
“I hope to do more independent movies that are original and that I would want to watch, and I am also interested in doing theatre, but I want a bit more chops before having a crack at that.”
He was christened Arun, a Sanskrit word as his South African father and American mother were married and lived in India, and he changed it when he was 14.