Interview: Aunty Donna on joining the world of Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves; “We are not being used by Chris Pine. We are using (him)!”

There’s always room for Christmas Pud and, it would appear, time to join Dungeons & Dragons too.  In a casting decision that I’m sure even the most confident punters couldn’t have predicted, Australian surrealist comedy collective Aunty Donna – performers Mark Samual Bonanno, Broden Kelly and Zachary Ruane – have lent their voices to the career defining roles of Corpse #1, Corpse #2 and Corpse #4, respectively, in the forthcoming Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves, a playful and spirited adaptation of the legendary roleplaying game.

To coincide with the film’s forthcoming release and the exclusive announcement of Aunty Donna’s voice roles, Peter Gray spoke (loosely) with the group as they discussed their own connections to D&D and why they have an English romance with Hugh Grant to thank for their involvement.

Congratulations on being part of D&D fandom now, the lore of Dungeons & Dragons.  Were any of you, or are any of you, fans of D&D coming into this film?

Broden Kelly: So we are in the world of alternative comedy, which should just be called D&D World.  However, we’ve been on every D&D podcast and played it so many times.  But the best thing for us is we’re friends with people who live D&D, so we’ve had the joy in recent times of just going up to them saying, “Guess what we’re in?” And then see their heart break a bit.

Zachary Ruane: It’s what we imagine it would be like if we didn’t sign an NDA… (laughs)

Broden Kelly: Which we haven’t told anyone about.

Mark Samual Bonanno: We roleplay that sometimes.  I’ll just be in the office (and) Broden will text me and say, “Hey, can you just pretend like you’re a fan of D&D and we don’t really know each other that well?” and I’m like, “Alright.” He comes in and says “Guess what I’m in?”, and I have to (feint surprise).

Broden Kelly: Yeah, I paid him 50 bucks for that.  Michael Hing, from The Project, is a diehard D&D fan, and he texts me the other day saying that they’ve been offered me as an interview for D&D.  This is someone we know very well.  He says, “I think we’re going to ask for Chris Pine”, and I told him, “No, you need to talk to me, because I’m in the movie.”

Zachary Ruane:  I’m not actually that big of a fan.  Well, I wasn’t, so when I watched the film… it’s such a fun adventure of a romp.  It’s got a great ensemble cast, including Rege-Jean Page from Bridgerton, amongst other people, and I had so much fun watching this film that I think I am now a Dungeons & Dragons fan.

Speaking of the cast, I understand your appearances in the film is used for the Australian release.  Are you going to use flex that you’ve still technically worked with Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez?

Mark Samual Bonanno: We’re not being used.  We’re not being used…

Zachary Ruane: We’re using them!

Mark Samual Bonanno: And I want to make that very clear.  That they are under our thumb! And I refuse the narrative that we are being used.

Broden Kelly: Yeah, we tricked them.

Mark Samual Bonanno: Print that, and make that crystal clear.

That’s going to be my headline right now: “Aunty Donna is not being used by Chris Pine.” And Mark, do you feel any bitterness that yours is the only character unnamed?

Mark Samual Bonanno: I don’t feel much of anything anymore.  After doing comedy for 11 years and going through two big relationship breakups.  My heart and soul is as dead as the corpse I play in Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves.  In cinemas March 30th.  Please send help.

If there was any game that you could personally adapt into a film, would there be one in particular you would go for?

Zachary Ruane: I think it’s got to come from that amazing library of games from the Hasbro company.  I couldn’t say any one in particular.  But it’s got to be a Hasbro game, and it’s got to be a Paramount picture (laughs). That’s my opinion.

Mark Samual Bonanno: I would love to see an adaptation of this great board game that I really love, where you play as little animals, and you’re working your way through the jungle to the centre, and depending on what square you land on, animals come from outside of the board game.

Broden Kelly: Are you talking about Jumanji?

Mark Samual Bonanno: Yeah.

Broden Kelly: I think there’s a lot of potential in taking Dungeons & Dragons and turning that into a film.

Mark Samual Bonanno: Or maybe doing a movie about poker.  No one’s ever done that.

Zachary Ruane: Do you want to know how I got into the mindset of someone who was dead?

I’d love to know.

Zachary Ruane: I did Flatliners (laughs).

I’m very disappointed that all of this comedy isn’t in the film, from what I’ve seen…

Broden Kelly: It’s all in the credits.

Zachary Ruane: Legit though, the film is very funny.  We watched it this morning. It’s actually very funny.  There’s bits in it that are great.  Hugh Grant said it, and it was after he hit a high point in his career (like) six years ago, where he was just going to do whatever he wanted and “they’re going to figure it out.”  He’s having the most fun I’ve seen anyone ever have in my life.  It’s very funny.

How did it actually come about that you were going to be involved in the film?

Zachary Ruane: Hugh Grant is a good friend of ours.  We reached out to him, and they had already made it, but he could talk to the people at Paramount…

Broden Kelly: I met Hugh, and the guys met Hugh through me, (when) I was England for a film I was making.  I went his bookshop accidentally, picked up a book, and a person was robbing the store (so) I left.  By happenstance I bumped into him, and he spilled orange juice all over my blouse…

Mark Samual Bonanno: That’s Notting Hill.

Broden Kelly: And we went back to his house with the blue door.

Mark Samual Bonanno: To think that a movie is something that’s happened to you in real life is the stupidest thing

Zacary Ruane: And he wasn’t playing Hugh Grant in that movie.  In fact, he was playing the opposite.

Mark Samual Bonanno: Yeah, he was the Prime Minster of England.

It’s the meet cute we didn’t know we needed.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves is screening exclusive in theatres from March 30th, 2023.

Peter Gray

Seasoned film critic. Gives a great interview. Penchant for horror. Unashamed fan of Michelle Pfeiffer and Jason Momoa.