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'Mickey Mouse' voice Chris Diamantopoulos finds 2 villain roles

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'Mickey Mouse' voice Chris Diamantopoulos finds 2 villain roles
Savvas (Chris Diamantopoulos, right) and his brother Nikos (John Ales) are the villains in "True Story." Photo courtesy of Netflix

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- Chris Diamantopoulos has been the voice of Disney's Mickey Mouse since 2013, but his latest acting roles in the Netflix movie Red Notice, out now, and Netflix series True Story, out Wednesday, show him in a more menacing light.

"They were certainly fun to play and definitely on the other end of the spectrum of Mickey Mouse," Diamantopoulos told UPI in a phone interview, referring to the Netflix roles.

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True Story stars Kevin Hart as The Kid, a standup comedian who murders a gangster who tried to extort him. Diamantopoulos plays Savvas, one of the gangsters looking for their missing comrade.

Diamantopoulos said the show's "horrifically violent scenes," such as beating a man to death, were challenging. The 46-year-old actor said writer Eric Newman, his costars and the crew discussed the safety protocols for those scenes.

"Everybody felt safe and everybody felt like we were doing service to the story," Diamantopoulos said. "So I was then able to be free and be this horrible killing machine."

Savvas speaks Greek with his brother, Nikos (John Ales). Diamantopoulos is fluent in Greek, as it was his first language growing up with immigrant parents in Toronto.

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"I do believe actually that one of the criteria for me being hired was being authentically Greek," Diamantopoulos said. "When we needed little things, just to up the authenticity, John and Eric would really use me as an opportunity to find the right stuff to say."

In Red Notice, Diamantopolous plays Sotto Voce, an Italian gangster from whom Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds' characters try to steal an artifact. Diamantopoulos said he and writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber developed a backstory for his character's soft spoken voice.

"His father strangled him because he was touching his dad's prized gun," Diamantopoulos said. "The gun went off while his dad was strangling him, he killed his father and became the new crime lord. But, his dad had done his damage and paralyzed his vocal cords."

Diamantopolous said most young Mickey Mouse fans, and even many adults, don't follow voice credits and would not know he is the same guy in Red Notice and True Story.

Diamantopolous said he strives to make his live-action roles as different as possible, too.

"I just love the notion of a chameleon or a shapeshifter," Diamantopoulos said. "It certainly keeps things interesting going to work in the morning."

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Originally, Diamantopoulous said, he worried that his voice was too low to play Mickey Mouse. He said watching an old interview with Walt Disney gave him some body language tips.

"Walt's voice, his speaking voice, and mine were rather similar, and I watched what he did with his face and his body," Diamantopoulos said. "I looked at his face, shoulders and chest."

Two years into his Mickey Mouse job, Diamantopoulos landed the role of tech investor Russ Hanneman on HBO comedy Silicon Valley. Russ only was supposed to be in a few episodes, but he reappeared through all six seasons, which Diamantopolous said became a showcase for his work.

"It was a creative turning point for me in the sense that I had done some work in the past as a regular on shows that I was proud of, but that not many people were watching," Diamantopooulos said. "It was a really good gig for me."

Even after 20 years of acting credits, Diamantopolous said he still auditions for roles. He said he submitted a tape for Red Notice and auditioned for True Story.

"It's what an actor does," Diamantopolous said. "It's not the sexy stuff. Learn the lines, become a character and show the producers and the director that there's one less thing for them to worry about."

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