|Q&A With Gary (Part 1- Acting) - 6:00 pm, 10th Jun 2014|
What was it like acting on a movie for the first time? Were you nervous, or had your previous 'behind the camera' experience put you at ease?
Well, oddly enough I had always wanted to be an actor. Prior to doing fx that was my main dream and there were many opportunities for that to possibly happen with teachers at school applying for various grants and positions at some of the top UK drama schools, but these dreams were quashed pretty quickly, mainly by my Father who I suspect thought that wanting to act was just 'folly'. He was not a great fan or supporter of my dramatic endeavors... he once said to me 'If you want to be an actor come to work with me and act like an electrician'.
So it had always been on my mind, but then a situation on Dracula 2000 arose that got me in front of the camera. First of all Patrick Lussier gave me a little cameo as the dead ships Captain in the opening credits...but all I had to do there was not move or flinch despite pounding waves and a host of REAL 'nibbling' rats crawling all over me! But in that movie Van Helsing is played by Christopher Plummer, and Joel Soisson and Patrick had written an opening monologue for Christopher, he was to record later, but they wanted a temp track and asked if I would record it since I am English and can do a half reasonable German/Austrian accent...I think they assumed I would just walk in and read it verbatim...flat. But I took the dialogue, broke it down, worked on the intonation and emphasis of the parts, so when I came in to do it it was a pretty fleshed out performance...I wasn't trying to be 'an ACTOOOOR, I just did what I thought was the right thing to do. So I went into a recording studio, stood in the booth and started reading. I finished the first take and looked up at Joel and Patrick who were staring at me with a weird look on their faces...Joel clicked on the speaker and said 'You can act!' That was it really until we did Dracula: Legacy, and when they sent me the script they just said 'Hey we wrote a role for you in it!'...next thing I know I'm in Romania, in wardrobe standing next to Jason Scott Lee playing 'Tommy', a pretty nervous and cowardly camera man for the EBC!
Where were you when you first saw yourself 'on the big screen', what movie was it, and what was the experience like?
First time physically was Dracula 2000 with my little cameo, that was sort of a novelty moment, Dracula : Legacy was the first REAL on screen dialogue moment. I saw it at a Cinema in Hollywood. I was curious at first, and then as it went on I just found myself sinking lower and lower into my chair. I understand actors finding it uncomfortable watching themselves and I have a greater appreciation for what they do all the time.
Which of your acting roles do you consider your best, and of course, are there any which make you cringe a little now?
The next one hahaha..I hate all the previous ones, I just see the things I'm doing wrong :-)
Ive only done 'scenes' really, never a fully 'realised perfomance' with a big arc or anything...I think some of 'Tommy' (Dracula: Legacy) is a bit big, I think the Security guard in 'The Seeker: The Dark is Rising' is fun...although I would like to have seen the original cut, David Cunningham (the director) said it was cool...but people found it too frightening! I'm sure its 'heresy' to say this but I think my Pinhead in No More Souls is quite a nice and understated performance?...I love my 'nervous lumberjack' in Jack and the Beanstalk, although I didn't realize I was channeling 'Dudley Moore' until I saw it later!
Is acting something you'd like to do more of? Possibly in some bigger roles?
Yes I would and Mr.Jackson, Spielberg, Abrams etc, etc I am available if youre interested...I'm sort of hoping that as I get older and maybe shuffle out of make up effects I might be able to do a little more...we shall see.
You did a full body burn for Dead Island, when was the first time you did that, and how the HELL do you prepare yourself (physically and mentally) to do that for the very first time?
Ive been doing stunts and have been inspired by stunt people since I can remember and having ridden motorcycles my whole life and studied various martial arts (mainly Aikido) since I was about 12. It was a field I feel (if not for fx) I would have liked to have gone into. I was always pretty physical with a good sense of myself and I know (thanks to Aikido) how to fall and basically I always seemed to end up on set hanging out with stunt people and then assisting...be it moving mats or 'spotting' actors or stunt people (watching out for them, or basically being ready to grab or body protect them in case of danger)...over the years that became doing hits or small falls, driving, being jerked etc and then fire. Oddly enough fire work is something I'm VERY comfortable doing, fire work like most stunt work isn't about being a 'daredevil' or a 'risk taker' its all about 'risk elimination', taking something that looks and feels inherently dangerous and eliminating as much of the danger and chance for injury as humanly possible. With a burn that means layers of fireproof nomex underwear, a great barrier 'fire gel', good mask, rehearsal, a calm, controlled filming environment and a great, level headed back up team where everyone has one or two specific tasks and all eventualities are considered and prepared for...after that its just down to me, keeping a clear head, listening to my body (anything getting really warm, how long till I 'have' to breath etc) and trying to give a good performance. My biggest concern usually is just making sure the director gets what he wants, with a burn my only other concern (if its 'hold your breath' burn) is that I have to be aware that excitement kicks in, adrenaline starts pumping, your heart beats faster and so you burn oxygen quicker which may shorten the 'burn time', so I always try to stay as calm as possible and try regulate my breathing and heart rate as much as possible prior to being 'set alight'
Also like most things you 'build up' to a burn like that, you do partials first (hands and arms etc), learn how to move fire around and away from your body without panicking etc before doing a BIG burn.
Any 'close shaves' on a stunt, and any injuries?
Sure...broke my knee doing a 'tramp stunt' on Mimic : Sentinel in Romania, I was doing a trampoline bounce (in full creature suit) onto the back of a car, I'd done it about 3 times when they decided they could see a reflection off the metal on the tramp so they threw some black fabric over the trampoline, I didn't check it and when I did the next take my foot snagged on the fabric, stopped me getting any 'lift' and I smashed into the back of the car knee first (I wasn't wearing pads because of the creature suit :-( )...they took me to hospital and put a cast on me, I cut it off as soon as we got back to the studio since I had to work the next day :-) - I made a 'brace' I could wear and remove and I used that :-) The good thing about this story?...that last take was the directors favorite!, he liked the creature slamming into the side of the car!
Are there any stunts you've yet to do but always wanted a chance to do?
Truthfully?...I'm too old, for me that ship has sailed, I would like to have done a nice 'bike jump' on camera, but these days with the advent of freestyle motocross there are guys doing stuff that is WAY out of my league...even when I was at my peak of riding! I really enjoy the small stuff, helping out and I enjoy fire work..so I take what I can get when I can get it and I am MORE than happy to be a part of a team making sure someone else is safe.