Since he was in first grade at Lord Baltimore Elementary School, Will Devokees knew that he wanted to be an actor.
“A lot of the teachers there would go around the room in first grade and be like, ‘What do you want to be when you get older,’” recalled Devokees. “Kids would say, ‘I want to be a fireman,’ ‘I want to be a policeman.’ I would say, ‘I want to be an actor.’ That was like blasphemy. My logic was, I wanted to be everything. I didn’t just want to be subject to one career. I wanted to be a policeman and a fireman. An actor gives you that privilege; you can be anybody you want to.”
Devokees, who grew up in Millville, participated in children’s theater when he was a young boy,
“I used to watch a lot of movies as a kid. One day my grandmother told me, ‘You know, people get paid for doing that’ and I was like, ‘That’s what I want to do…’ Movies looked like more fun. Theater is so serious — you have to be quiet all the time. So, I got my grandmother’s camcorder and I started making my own films. I was about 10. They were absolutely horrible,” he said with a laugh.
As a student at Sussex Technical High School, Devokees studied media broadcasting under Gary Conaway and began making short films with his friends. Recently he graduated from the Factory Digital Film School in Pittsburgh, Penn., as well as the Tom Savini Special Effects Program.
Devokees said that his acting career began to boost once he moved to Pittsburgh, and has so far been able to meet a number of well known actors, like Nick Nolte and even Tom Cruise while he was filmed as a featured extra for the upcoming film “One Shot.”
“They put me as a featured extra and he just happened to be there that day. He was a very nice guy, a very cool guy. He’s someone I’ve admired since I saw ‘Mission: Impossible’ when I was a kid.”
Recently, Devokees has been receiving some attention for fan trailers he’s released, in hopes of being granted an audition as the “man without fear,” Matt Murdock or Daredevil, in the upcoming Daredevil reboot movie.
“I’m a big fan of superheroes,” he said. “Everyone used to call me Tony Stark because I would build things in my room. I was a special effects artist. After the movie came out I built the chest plate. I asked my buddy one day, ‘Do you really think I’d make a good Tony Stark?’ He goes ‘No, no. You’d make a good Matt Murdock.’ At the time, I didn’t know who Matt Murdock was. Then he told me about Daredevil.”
Devokees’ friend then introduced him to the Daredevil comic books, and he was hooked.
“I had never read a comic book before; I had no interest in it. The character was so fascinating because he and I share similar qualities. He didn’t have any parents, I really didn’t have parents. Every loved one he’s had died, I’ve lost a lot of people. It’s very dark things, and I was like, ‘Wow, this guy, I can empathize with him.’”
Devokees knew that it would be a long shot to land an audition for the role, which many have suggested the likes of Ryan Gosling and Jake Gyllenhaal to star in.
“At the time they were just working on a script and hadn’t been green lit yet. My manager Chris told me, ‘If you really want to get in on this, they’re not going to audition you, you’re pretty unknown. Make them something tangible. They’re not going to take a risk on you unless they can see what you’ve done.’ It actually turned out a lot better than I expected.”
Devokees is willing to go to any length to show his dedication to the role of Daredevil.
“I’m actually working on another trailer for it and I’m going to end up doing this really dangerous stunt… I’m going to jump off a [12 story] building. I even lit myself on fire for this Daredevil thing, burnt myself severely — all for the love of the character. Some people might call me psychotic, but it’s a thrill. It’s fun to do your own stunts.”
The trailers have received mixed reviews, but Devokees is quick to point out they’ve been receiving attention nonetheless.
“A lot of people really liked it. A lot of people were shocked, because we made it with no money and a lot of people were like, ‘Wow, how did you get the outfit?’ ‘The mask looks amazing.’ The hardcore comic fans, if you work on something and it looks really good, they’re going to talk bad about it no matter what because that’s what people do.
“When we put it on this one comic site, a lot of people didn’t like it. ‘Ah, it looks stupid, it’s amateurish, kids made that.’ Well, yeah. I’m sorry we didn’t have the budget for James Cameron’s cameras, but I think for a bunch of kids just fooling around, it looks good.”
The Daredevil reboot is still in development, and is projected to be released in 2014. Devokees said he has yet to hear from the director, David Slade, but hopes that his hard work will get him the chance to audition.
“We’ve been sending things back and forth to him and Fox. We haven’t heard much from them but we’re going to keep trying. We will probably find out by the beginning of this year, maybe in February or March. I know a lot of other people who have seen it and who work in the film industry were very impressed, so I still think I have a chance.”
Devokees said that even though he has yet to hear about an audition for the new Daredevil film, his trailer has already helped him get more work.
“That trailer has gotten me a lot of other work. People want me for the Power Rangers. They’re making a new Power Rangers franchise, they were very impressed by that and they wanted to give me a shot so we did an audition for them and they liked it. Now we’re just waiting to hear back from them.”
Though he does hope to audition to be cast as Daredevil, Devokees hopes that no matter what the outcome, his acting film career will continue to grow and persevere.
“I hope to just act. I think, all that comes out of this, I hope to get the role of Daredevil. I think I’ve worked really hard for it. I’m not saying I think I deserve it but I think I deserve an audition,” he said. “Everyone told me not to do things when I was a kid. Not to be an actor, it’s not a stable source of income; you’re not guaranteed a job. ‘Why don’t you be a dentist?’ If you don’t try and do something, you never know how it’s going to turn out. That’s why I’ve been fighting so hard. It’s my passion.”
To learn more about Will Devokees, or to view his Daredevil trailers, visit www.willdevokees.com.