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Adrien Brody and Walton Goggins Talk About ‘Predators’

Alice Braga, Walton Goggins and Adrien Brody photo from PredatorsAlice Braga, Walton Goggins and Adrien Brody in ‘Predators.’

© 20th Century Fox

Oscar-winner Adrien Brody (The Pianist) has been a fan of all things Predator since catching the original film in theaters back in 1987, and it’s still a bit surreal to him that he now gets to star in the latest addition to the franchise,Predators. At the Los Angeles press conference for the 20th Century Fox film, Brody recalled checking out the first film: “I was probably 14, opening weekend, smoking cigarettes in the front row in Queens. I remember the theater. I remember one of my really good friends who was with me, and probably the other two kids – my little crew. Whatever, we were there opening weekend and doing our Schwarzenegger impressions for the rest of the week. It had a profound impact on me as an adolescent.”

Joining Brody in LA to discuss the action thriller was Walton Goggins who plays ‘Stans’ inPredators. Together the two provided some insight into life on the Predators set and the lasting appeal of the franchise.

Adrien Brody and Walton Goggins PredatorsPress Conference

How did you get into Royce’s head, or was that inseparable from getting into him physically?Adrien Brody: “Thank you for, yes, pointing out there is more to it than physical abilities. You know they do go hand in hand. It is an interesting thing and it’s always surprising to me how much of it is an emotional, psychological transformation that ensues with the physical transformation. I experienced that with The Pianist. Obviously, if you feel strong and look good, your confidence level grows and vice versa. In addition to feeling strong, I had restricted my diet in a way, and my lifestyle, in an effort to harness everything that I had in my power to be ferocious and keep that contained. For the first time since college, I had lifted really heavy weights to put on size. I think that is a very different workout process than I’m used to, and that creates additional testosterone – your body chemistry changes. ”

“Again, I felt that that physical transformation was important. I spent a lot of time cultivating the qualities I felt Royce would possess, that put him in a leadership position. I poured over military manuals and field guides and even read… It is interesting. Walton actually gave me a book from Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist book. I was also reading Sun Tzu and another kind of eastern philosophy. Just as much as I could to kind of create someone who has a sense of control, awareness, awareness in the moment, and the ability to not let the fear that would naturally ensue to paralyze him, but to actually propel him into being a warrior. And the way you have that is from technical and tactical prowess.”

Walton Goggins: “Stans, on the other hand, he digressed. He just read Playboy – I just read Playboy – just sitting in prison. You know, it’s interesting. The thing about the physicality for actors, you have to think about it and once you get that down, then the rest of it starts to fall into place. For me, Stans is the guy who is incarcerated for the better part of the 20 years, and I didn’t really think about this until I got there. After having thought about his time in jail, there was one piece that I kind of missed. I talked about it with Nimrod the first day and I said, ‘You know, Stans hasn’t walked for more than six feet in one direction for 15 years, except for maybe once a week or something like that to be taken to the shower. You know, he is not socialized. He is not around people.’ And so, I guess my preparation was almost the antithesis of Adrien’s in that this is a guy who has never been in the woods, much less the jungle. He has Stan Smith, kind of high top Converse, prison-issued tennis shoes on. All of it’s weird. His walk is weird. You are walking for miles. I mean, that’s crazy! I was in a cell yesterday. This doesn’t make sense. So my physical preparation was the lack of physical preparation, which was really interesting for me as an actor. That had never happened before.”

By the time you start talking about how much raping you were going to do, the audience is waiting to see what sort of death comes to you from the Predator. Were you sort of building up to making the audience want that? Were you trying to create a character where the audience takes joy in how he gets it?

Walton Goggins: “You know, it’s funny that was your reaction. I think, for me, I’ve made four movies with my partner, so I’m very aware of what it’s like to take an audience through an experience being behind the camera. For me, what was so important about that scene in particular, from a filmmaker’s stand point and then from an actor’s stand point, was it was the first time in the movie where everyone’s kind of quiet and the people that are left are in a foxhole, and you are able for a minute to just let the air out and see these people – like observe these people – and I actually thought if I can make the audience think I’m going to say something sentimental and kind of lull them in a sense of, ‘You know, we are all in this together and I just can’t wait to get home and have a hamburger,’ and then he goes off, ‘I can’t wait to get home and do a bunch of cocaine!’ [Laughing] Because in his mind, he thinks, ‘You know what? I’m going to get off this planet and I’m going to be an even bigger celebrity when I get back home. There is no way they are going to put me back in jail.’ For me, I looked at it as a…”

Adrien Brody: “Delusion.”

Walton Goggins: “Yeah! And being a moment of comic relief for the audience to sit back and laugh for a minute, and to bring this team together in a very intimate setting. I’ll just say one other thing real quick. My struggle, or not struggle, but my blessing and curse as an actor has been from The Shield to a lot of things that I’ve done, has been to take someone on paper that the audience should hate immediately – you know this guy and you will not like him – and then kind of turn it around and make you feel for him: make you laugh, let you in, and paint him three-dimensional. Yeah, you look for your place in a movie.”

Adrien, we just learned you were up for a different role before you got this role. It also seems that your more recent roles are different. Are you trying to redefine yourself as an actor?

Adrien Brody: “It’s surprising to me sometimes when people are surprised at my choices. It seems that they are more surprised as of late. As an actor, I have made a conscious decision to do my best to not repeat myself so that I keep it interesting, the process, for myself and for the people that have seen my work. I have looked long and hard for an opportunity like this and it’s not something that I just decided upon lately. It’s a challenge, I think, when you establish yourself as a certain type of actor or an actor that has not has an opportunity to be seen in a physical role like this or an action film. And to win the endorsement of a studio, which I understand is making practical business decisions as well, and I am grateful that I had the support of Robert [Rodriguez] initially and then Nimrod.”

“There was interest in another role that didn’t appeal to me. I look at this as an opportunity to do something really special within a type of film that I love, and that I feel sometimes historically Hollywood has had an over reliance on physical brawn as a way to portray a strong man, but that strength has to come from within. I felt that it was very important, especially in today’s audiences with young people, we are all, unfortunately, very familiar with what young soldiers look like and they are not dissimilar to my build. I think military leadership comes from a tactical and technical confidence and skill set and an intellectual strength and a self-reliance, and all these qualities that do make him a leader. And, yes, I did feel like I had to make a physical transformation because I think on one level it is exciting for an audience to see that – and I like to see that. I like to see, even if the character is villainous, a heroic character look strong. But I didn’t want to rely on that transformation for me to convey what I feel is necessary in portraying a leading man in a film.”

“It’s a big coup for me. It’s a big deal for me. I’m very protective of this material because I’m a big fan of the original. I’m also respectful to fans and I wanted to give them what they wanted, and hopefully elevate the material as well.”

Adrien Brody and Alice Braga photo from PredatorsAdrien Brody and Alice Braga in ‘Predators.’

© 20th Century Fox

Adrien Brody and Walter Goggins Predators Press Conference

Was there a moment that was particularly challenging during filming?Walter Goggins: “I don’t know that there wasn’t a day that wasn’t challenging. Honestly. I mean, the movie started off in Hawaii and it was, you know, 95 degrees and 89% humidity, so we were all soaking wet for most of the day. Where we were filming, I think the biggest predators that aren’t seen in this movie are the mosquitoes.”

Adrien Brody: “Yes.”

Walter Goggins: “Which were enormous. And you can’t really sit down. Everybody is uncomfortable. It is very hard to work in a situation like that. And not just for the actors, but for the crew. It is very difficult to set shots up. Then we left Hawaii and went back to Austin where it was warm for two days and then it dropped down into the 40s, to the 30s, and to the 20s, but you have to match the movie so we were soaking wet. We would get sprayed down before every take when it is 20 degrees outside. It was very physically challenging, I think, for all of us. Adrien had it the worst.”

“Yeah, every day was tough. I will say that there was one day, speaking of what you just said about reading the script and looking at jumping over waterfalls, there was one day where that actually crystallized for all of us at the same moment and we were looking at the stuntmen doing high falls – like an 80 foot fall off of a waterfall – and we had the opportunity to just jump in the water and come up out of the water as if we just made the fall. And when we looked at each other we said, ‘This is really happening. We are really characters in aPredator sequel.’ We all hugged and jumped up and down and were screaming. It was a very unique experience as an actor to experience that with people who were in your foxhole.”

Were there any scenes you shot that might end up on the DVD release of the film? Also, is there any possibility of a sequel?

Adrien Brody: “Well, you know, I think a lot of that is determined by the success of the film and I don’t think that far ahead. I think the idea of reprising a role and going further into that character sounds interesting to me and isn’t something I’ve had the opportunity to do. It would be exciting to watch a character progress or deteriorate. That’s exciting for an actor, and I thoroughly enjoyed playing Royce. Again, part of the attraction is I’m often drawn to material that affects me on an emotional level and the characters are dealing with things that are challenging and that I would question and things that I’m not necessarily familiar with. What I loved about Royce was that he had this emotional hardness that most of the characters that I’ve played don’t come close to possessing, and that’s an interesting state of mind to cultivate and stay in.”

“As for deleted scenes, it is hard. I’m sure there is stuff that didn’t end up in the film. I’m sure there will be things. I’ve seen it once and I was kind of awestruck at both loving the film and simultaneously being so proud to be in it. I was so excited. It brought me back to being a child and watching Predator and being like, ‘I love this f–king movie.’ Then, ‘That’s me! In it!’ It was so, so exciting. It was a gift when I saw it, so I wasn’t dissecting it. I was looking for where we might screw up, but I didn’t dissect it.”

Walter Goggins: “You know there are casualties, scene casualties, in kind of everything that you do and things that you were pretty proud of on the day, and you may have seen a cut version of it that don’t make the film, but will be on the DVD. I think that was kind of across the board, scenes here and there. There was one scene for Stans that I was really disappointed that didn’t make it, but I understand why. It will make the DVD. It was a scene where Stans goes up to Alice Braga’s character and it’s very funny and kind of like heartwarming, and it just basically makes a pitch that, ‘We’re going to die, I know we’re going to die, and I haven’t had sex with a girl in a long time. Please, can I at least just kiss you?’ You know, and she just shuts him down and walks away. But, it was very funny.”

Adrien Brody: “But it was not as polite as he is saying. Believe me.”

Sometimes there can be a very fine line between action hero and camp and you have spoken a lot about characters that have a lot of emotional resonance. At any point, did you want to push it into the camp?

Adrien Brody: “Of course! It’s tempting under the circumstances. You have to really have a lot of self-control. Always, always as an actor you have to rein it in because sometimes, you know, even having a sense of humor about certain things can distract you from having a cleaner, purer character. Obviously, certain films require it and are fun. I did a very broad comedy called High School where I played this Francis Ford Coppola of the weed growing industry. That character is as broad as it gets. Again, I felt that it was important that that character be intimidating, as well, even though it was very comical.”

“It is a fine line. You have opportunities with certain lines that, you know, you have to be playful with, but for the most part you need to rein it in and be sincere. You can’t be an external thing or else it feels like an external thing, unless that’s the whole tone of something you are doing, but that hasn’t appealed to me just yet. I haven’t found a role that spoke to me like that.”

“Again, I think I explained at length what was important for me and also I want to create a character that young people today can relate to, that they can believe in, that’s not superficial and not a superhero, but someone who is flawed and tragic. This is a man who has suffered tremendous loss both of his own soul and of people who were dear to him in the path to get to where he is. Being a survivor is a very lonely, very isolated place to be. He has lost most of his humanity, but a little remains. For me to squander it by kind of goofing off would be a waste. That’s why I said earlier this means too much to me to kind of play with it. I take that responsibility and I take that very personally. Again, I feel it’s important for me to deliver that to the audience and for them to have that when they go see a film.”

Walter Goggins: “I think it is also a testament to you as an actor. I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of my heroes and I see the way they approach the work, and comedy is serious business, and drama is serious business. Whenever you are on location working, or whether you are at home working, you are there to do a job and that requires an extraordinary amount of focus. If you don’t take it serious, go home because there are a lot of other people standing in line that can probably do just as good a job.”

You know Arnold Schwarzenegger loved saying, “Hasta la vista, baby.” You know he did.

Walter Goggins: “Yeah. Absolutely.”

Adrien Brody: “It’s a tonal thing. I think this is a darker storyline. Like I said, there is room to keep things entertaining and there is room for moments of lightness and playfulness with the work. But again, the general theme here is to be rooted in reality and create a sense of constant threat level and constant looming over all of us. I think, you know, it’s not meant to be that.”

Walter Goggins: “But there are many one-liners in this movie, as well. Stan’s line, ‘Die you space faggot.’ You gotta say that and sell it! And, yeah, I had a great time saying it! [Laughing] I had a great time saying, ‘Your ass is awesome.’ Great time saying, ‘I can’t wait to get home and do a bunch of cocaine.’ But, tonally, it kind of fits in the story and you kind of pick your places, and hopefully you don’t wink at the audience unless that’s what’s required.”

One of the many things that stands out about this movie is all the blood, sweat, and grime. It is something you don’t see anymore in big, summer movies, like back in the ’80s. Can you talk about how grimy and sweaty you got?

Adrien Brody: “He got pretty grimy. There were bugs. I would stay away from him because there would be swarms of insects coming to the stage blood. That blood is sugar-based and he was covered in it.”

Walter Goggins: “Stans gets his ass kicked by pretty much everything on the planet. Look, you’re actors getting the opportunity to be on an alien planet and get chased by Predators. What greater situation can an actor find himself in? So yeah, I think there was a lot of joy in, ‘Let’s bring it on!’ This isn’t about looking pretty, you know? ‘Let’s get chased!’ I think we reveled in it. I think we – I did – I took a lot of enjoyment out of it.”

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July 9, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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