Keegan Dark, an extraordinary young man, has the uncanny ability to remember his life in vivid videographic detail. Played by Blaise Embry in writer/director Jody Wheeler’s latest film, a mystery-drama called The Dark Place, this intriguing individual returns home after a long estrangement from his widowed mother so that the two might reconnect.
Once he arrives, though, Dark is shocked to discover that she’s remarried and that he now has a stepfather and stepbrother, whom he quickly senses aren’t all they appear to be. Right by his side through it all is his devoted boyfriend, Wil Roelen, played by the remarkable Timo Descamps.
Recently released onto DVD, the picture is Wheeler’s directorial debut and also a reunion of sorts between him and Descamps, who played a villain in the LGBT film festival hit Judas Kiss, where Wheeler was a co-producer.
“When I was asked to play Wil, I was really excited because he’s a very fun character,” Descamps said. When he heard that Wheeler would be directing, he was especially eager to be a part of the project. “I liked that it was a gay theme, but not specifically a gay story, and I kept wanting to know what happens, just like I was reading a book or watching a movie. … I knew it was going to be a great project!”
Descamps, who grew up in Belgium, points out that as the role of Wil was originally written, he wasn’t specifically supposed to be Belgian.
“Initially the character I play was supposed to be Australian,” he said. “At some point (and this all happened before I knew anything about it), when they had decided that they wanted me for the role, they changed this Australian character to a Belgian one.”
He felt honored by the move. “It was such a compliment for me!” he said. “So after that, there was no doubt in my mind that I was meant to be in this movie!”
Descamps recalls his first brush with performing as a child in grade school.
“We had a lot of plays in my elementary school, including this yearly thing where we would invite all of the grandparents to the school and they would get to see a show performed by all the kids,” he said. “We would do either a sketch or a musical number, and I was always so excited about it all that they’d have to put me either in front or in the middle because I so wanted to be on stage!”
At age 14, he had his first taste of professional acting in a local theater production.
“I auditioned for a musical version of Aladdin,” he says, “and I was cast as one of the kids.”
When he was 16, he had his first TV role, and soon this gifted performer was tasting fame on the Flemish soap operas Spring and Familie. Then in 2011, he was introduced to audiences worldwide in Judas Kiss, co-starring as the gorgeous, but less than likeable Shane Lyons.
During this time, Descamps publicly came out when he announced his relationship with actor Danny de Jong. Although the two are no longer a couple, he says that they remain good friends.
“We’re still best friends — we still call each other even though he’s in Belgium and I’m here stateside, and we talk like twice a week. He’s been really, really great for me, too.”
It’s this same support and strong sense of connection that the actor drew on for his portrayal of Wil.
“I do think Danny’s been a bit like Wil for me in that sense,” Descamps says. “He’s definitely been ‘the guy behind the guy’ in many ways, and I will never forget it. … I think that’s why we’re still so close, because it’s really hard to destroy something like that.”
As Wil, Descamps himself joins a tradition of being “the man behind the man,” the supportive — and infinitely tolerant –partner that many dream of.
“It’s fun, but also a little bit scary to play a character like that,” Descamps says, “because when you read a script and feel that you have a lot in common with the character you’re going to play, it makes it a little easier because you can play it very realistically. But then it’s also a little bit scary, because if you put too much of yourself in it, you can start to feel a bit naked — you feel like there’s no protection. If people are going to hate the character, it almost feels like they’re going to hate you!”
He underscores, though, that Wil’s unflagging support of Keegan is necessary to the dynamics laid out in the film. “Otherwise their relationship would not work,” he said. “Wil is also more patient that I am and really is doing the right thing for both of them. In the end, he’s just an all-around good guy.”
Nonetheless, this, he says, is where he and Wil part company.
“If I’m in a relationship, I really try to be a team rather than just supporting someone else or have them support me,” he says. “I like it to be very equal, and I think if I were in a relationship like Keegan and Wil’s, that would not really work — it’s too much of a one-way street and I need more than that.”
In fact, Descamps says, “I personally feel that Wil needs to stand up to Keegan a little more. It’s not that he’s a total pushover, but I think Keegan could use a little more firmness!”
Either way though, Wil is so different from Shane, the arrogant and even malicious character that Descamps played in Judas Kiss, that the two performances demonstrate his talent, regardless of what side of the emotional spectrum he’s portraying.
“I always tell people I love playing the bad guy” he said. “It’s particularly fun in my case, because when I started acting I was in kids’ shows,” including a number of projects for Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel. “And I always was this nice guy or the little scatterbrained, goofy guy — but I was always a ‘good’ guy! Then, when I got to play Shane, I could be mean and bitch — that was so much fun!”
He does allow though, that for those not familiar with his more sympathetic roles, he’s delighted that The Dark Place offers him an opportunity to show that wholesome side as well.
“For them, this film shows that I’m actually not a mean and bitchy person and that I can do other stuff too, so it’s been great to show my range a bit more,” he said.
The Dark Place is now available at all major video retailers and on video on demand at Vimeo. For more information or to order online, go to TLA Gay or The Dark Place movie.