Much like Facebook revolutionized social media and Amazon doing the same for e-commerce, the Silk Road looked to do the same for the illegal drug trade. Now a 2021 biopic crime drama written and directed by Tiller Russell, based on the Rolling Stone article "Dark End on Silk Road" by David Kushner, chronicles the rise and fall of Ross Ulbricht played in the film by Nick Robinson. I spoke with Darrell Britt-Gibson, who plays Rayford, a partner of FBI agent Rick Bowden (Jason Clarke), the man who helped ultimately take down the site.
"I was introduced to the story probably about four years ago," Britt-Gibson said. "My brother introduced me to the Rolling Stone article and how wild this is, thinking it was going to be a movie. When I was offered the role, I was already familiar with the story. It wasn't until I met the director, who's such an easy person to talk to, that made my decision easier to attach myself to the project." The Barry star credits Russell for not only giving him a point of reference but also the creative autonomy for the character. "Somebody Tiller worked with the character is loosely based on, and I got to work with him to pick his brain about the life that he lived and the things that he did," he said. "Tiller gave me space and freedom to bring my own juice to it. It was a combination of things that worked into the Rayford you see on screen."
Britt-Gibson drew inspiration from those in his life to evoke through Rayford. "I wouldn't say it's just one person in particular," he said. "[Rayford] is an amalgamation of people I've either crossed paths with either by 20 minutes or knew for many years. Not what he does, but rather who he is as a person. I thought about 'who's the smartest person I know' or 'best at computers' and the way they carry themselves and bring their essence to the characters." The actor credits Russell for bringing the best out of his actors. "It's loose in the best way," Britt-Gibson continued. "He's so collaborative. He wants the input of his artist. He wants it to be the best it can be. It requires getting the best from your actors. He's so energetic and brings the best out of all of us. He lets you explore your characters every which way. He's incredibly easy to work it." When it came to his chemistry with the Pet Sematary star, he considered it one of the most enriching experiences of his career. "Jason is a cool dude to work with alongside," he said. "We built such a strong rapport together, and we worked off of each other so well. On the surface, Jason and I are such an odd pairing. Just when you think something might not be, we make it work beautifully. It was such a blast working with him. I learned a ton from him."
Clarke's openness caught Britt-Gibson by surprise. "He's been in the game for a long time," he continued. "He could be closed off, but I learned so much from him from his past experiences. Any questions I had, he had answered for me. I feel like we learned a lot from each other. When you open yourself up, you can get a wealth of invaluable experience. That's always an incredible feeling knowing that the relationship is being fostered on set." The Lionsgate film, which also stars Katie Aselton, Jimmi Simpson, Daniel David Stewart, Lexi Rabe, Will Ropp, Paul Walter Hauser, and Alexandria Shipp, is currently in select theatres, digital, on-demand, Blu-Ray, and DVD.