Darwin Del Fabro is all about queer power.
When the horror film “They/Them” debuts on Peacock on Friday, the 25-year-old Brazilian actor and singer wants viewers to feel empowered by their own “queerness and uniqueness” — and use that feeling to change their lives.
“Take me as an example,” Del Fabro, who stars in the film as the mysterious outsider Gabriel, told the Daily News. “I’ve always wanted to be an actor doing an international career here in America, and I’m getting those chances because I’m confident in who I am and [in] my queerness — and that’s my power.”
“They/Them” (pronounced “They-Slash-Them”), the directorial debut of three-time Oscar-nominated screenwriter John Logan, is a queer homage to ‘80s slasher films, in which the scary fictional narrative runs parallel to the very real horror of LGBTQ conversion.
The film — a mix of the slasher classic “Friday the 13th” and the queer classic “But I’m a Cheerleader” — features a group of young LGBTQ adults arriving at a Camp Crystal Lake-style site run by Owen Whistler (Kevin Bacon) who promises them a “new sense of freedom” by the end of the week.
Bacon — who played counselor Jack in the original “Friday the 13th” in 1980 — stars alongside six-time Emmy-nominated actress Anna Chlumsky (“Veep”), Emmy-winner Carrie Preston (“The Good Wife”) and a mostly queer cast of young actors.
Working with such seasoned actors was an “amazing” experience for the Brazilian newcomer who’s a “big fan of horror movies,” and who remembers watching Bacon in “Friday the 13th” as a kid. Working alongside him was nothing short of “magical,” he recalled, as well as an incredible learning experience.
“It was just a master class, just seeing [the veteran actors] perform,” Del Fabro told The News, adding that to top it all off, they were all “so nice with everyone in the cast.”
Del Fabro was born in the small city of Santa Maria in Brazil’s southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul, but moved to Rio de Janeiro as a young child to pursue a career in entertainment.
After his first major role in musical theater, at age 13, he quickly built an impressive resume on the Brazilian stage and also played some memorable characters on television.
However, about four years ago, after deciding that he wanted to take his chances on an international career, Del Fabro left everything behind, packed up his suitcases, and moved to New York City.
There was only one minor detail, however: He didn’t speak any English.
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His first real contact with the language happened at the Broadway Dance Center, where he’d enrolled in a musical theater program, taking 24 classes per week.
Even though it was challenging, the hard work paid off.
In less than five years, Del Fabro, who now lives in Manhattan, became fluent in a second language; performed at New York City’s 54 Below; did some Off-Off-Broadway work; released his third album, “Revisiting Jobim,” an homage to a 1969 recording of Bossa Nova icon Tom Jobim and Frank Sinatra; and landed his first movie role in the U.S., in a film written and directed by Tony Award winner Logan.
The role of Gabriel, in fact, was written with him in mind, as Del Fabro casually explained.
“I was working with John [Logan] in a play in New York for almost six months, but had to shut it down because of the pandemic,” he recalled. “I was like, ‘Oh my God,’ I lost the opportunity to work with John Logan,” he said.
“Then three months later he called me saying ‘I wrote this role for you in a slasher film, and I would love if you’re interested in reading it and playing Gabriel,” Del Fabro said. “So that’s how it happened.”