In The Mix

Soul Surfer

The adventures he experiences in Netflix’s Jessica Jones are nothing compared to Eka Darville’s real life.

John Griffiths
  • Rob Daly

In season one of Netflix's grim fantasy Jessica Jones, Eka Darville plumbed the depths of despair as Malcolm Ducasse, the drug addict neighbor who's both an ally and a liability for the title character.

"He's a very caring person who struggles with a deep sense of insecurity," Darville says, adding dryly, "I can understand. I'm an actor."

If you're jonesing for Jones's return, take heart: Malcolm is on the mend. Having found sobriety in last year's Marvel's The Defenders — the crossover miniseries that united Jess with fellow superhumans Luke Cage, Daredevil and Iron Fist — Malcolm is "stepping into his own power as a man." It helps that arch-villain Kilgrave (David Tennant), who delighted in enabling Malcolm's worst urges, has been vanquished.

Meanwhile, Darville has only human powers to deal with career and life challenges — which are sizable, considering that he and wife Lila have two sons: four-year-old Mana and a sleep-depriving six-month-old, Zion. Australia-born Darville copes by surfing near his home in Mar Vista, California, and heading to Burning Man, where he enjoys deejaying and dancing.

His free spirit flows from his mom, a marine biologist, and his stepdad, a "surfer-carpenter-hippie," says Darville, whose biological father is reggae singer Ray Darwin.

Growing up, he and his younger brother were plucked from their home in Byron Bay, New South Wales, each year to live in exotic Third World countries for up to four months at a time. Catching fish off a Philippine island, riding the bus with chickens in Zimbabwe — he says such adventures stemmed from his parents' yen to "live outside of the system."

To his family, pursuing film and TV work "was almost a conservative choice," Darville says, laughing. But he always knew he wanted to act. He excelled in high school drama class and easily scored small parts when Aussie series filmed in his seaside town. His big break: landing a lead in Blue Water High, a 2008 drama about competitive teen surfers.

From there, playing Red Ranger in a 2009 series reboot of Power Rangers (filmed in New Zealand) and three episodes of Fox's high-profile dinosaur tale Terra Nova (shot in Australia) ultimately led him to Los Angeles in 2012. Recurring roles on the CW's The Originals and Fox's Empire kept him busy until Jones came along.

"I try to take something from each role that can help me grow as a person," Darville says, before signing off in classic Down Under fashion: "I'm gonna go for a wave."

This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 2, 2018