Topher Grace discusses the deep dive in becoming Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke in the new Spike Lee Joint Blackkklansman.

Being David Duke is a far departure from Topher Grace playing Eric Forman, the dorky suburban kid who ends up with the hottie next door on That 70’s Show. It required far more intense study than his try at Marvel’s Venom character in the original Spider-Man movies. When actors deep dive, they submerge themselves into becoming the character they seek to portray on screen. Actors like Denzel Washington (whose son John David Washington plays Ron Stallworth in the film) and Johnny Depp are praised for their ability to become completely different people on the silver screen. For Roman Polanski’s Holocaust drama The Pianist, Adrian Brody broke up with his girlfriend, sold his car and apartment, and studied Chopin for the role that ultimately won him an Oscar. Brody even admitted “I had to sacrifice large parts of my personal life,” in an interview with Indiewire.com.

So how did Grace transform from everyone’s favorite goofball into Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke? Determination.

Grace wanted this role. He wanted a role that would redefine his career and be a character no one would suspect him to tackle. But what was the fallout? Transforming himself into someone that history might regard as a monster.

In a quote for Vulture Grace had this to say.

“I told my agents I wanted to be in contention for that part and everyone went, ‘Huh?’ It’s not like something I’ve done before. When that happens, it’s incumbent on the performer to go in and give proof of concept.”

Even though snagging the coveted role cast by Lee was an amazing moment, becoming Duke was another story. Even Grace’s wife wasn’t a fan of the preparation for the new role. The couple had just welcomed a new baby into their family, so Ashley Hinshaw wasn’t too fond when she overheard her husband practicing his lines.

Topher went on to say, “Right before I started, we had a baby. I was walking around the house doing my lines, and she was like, ‘Hey, can you tone it down on the hate speech?'”

And in regard to studying Duke’s personality, Grace said, “I listened to a lot of his radio show, I watched ‘Donahue’ — because he was on that a lot — and I read My Awakening, his autobiography, which is horrible, he siad. ‘It’s like Mein Kampf.'”

From the 10-minute standing ovation the film received during the credits at The Cannes Film Festival, Grace’s deep dive definitely paid off.