EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Joseph Gatt
I talk J.J. Abrams' Star Trek sequel, Alan Ball's Banshee and more with an actor you'll be seeing a whole lot more of in 2013. Plus, some quick insight into his busy voice-over schedule.
Recently I was able to speak with Joseph Gatt who has some exciting projects coming down the pipeline for 2013. A self professed geek like most of us here on the site, he's been living the dream with roles in many sci-fi, horror and comic book films and television shows. He's enjoying his career as the "bad guy" and will be kicking ass and taking names next year in 'the-still-untitled' Star Trek sequel and the original Cinemax drama, Banshee.
Mark Julian: You've been in a number of films and television shows near-and-dear to the geek community. Out of said projects, which one was the best experience you've had so far as an actor?
Joseph Gatt: You are so right! I have been so lucky and blessed to have been involved with such awesome projects of the type you mention... because I'm as much a geek as anyone else, I feel like I'm being paid to fulfill two dreams at the same time. Every project I've worked on has had it's moments and positive aspects for me. All have been great opportunities and tremendous learning experiences. Saying that, STAR TREK 2 was such an amazing pleasure to work on. The cast and crew were such tremendous fun, so full of energy and love for the work. But, overall, my favorite experience, purely as an actor, has been BANSHEE. It was, by far, the most demanding thing I've done emotionally and physically, but also, the most rewarding. It was an amazing team, kind and generous and also passionate to get it right and do the best job possible!!
MJ: You have a unique, piercing look that works quite well for playing villains or bad-asses. Do you ever find yourself saying "Gee, I wish I could be the good guy for once?"
Gatt: There was a time when it did piss me off and I wanted to play the good guy. The guy that gets the girl, the hero, etc... but now? I'm enjoying playing the bad guy so much that playing a good guy seems boring. The bad guys are always written with much more depth these days. Also, it's a much more interesting challenge to make people "empathize" or "like" you as a bad guy. As an actor, you always need to find the truth behind anything your character does, no matter how crazy, violent or ridiculous. So, to find the real and good inside a very deranged and evil human being is an amazing challenge. I said to myself, every day on set of BANSHEE, that if I can make one person feel sympathy or empathy for my character, then I've done my job!! By-the-way, I was also thinking that I have to be everyone's worst nightmare come to life...
MJ: You have an as yet undisclosed role in one of 2013's biggest movies, the Star Trek sequel from J.J. Abrams. What can you say, if anything, about that project?
Gatt: [Smiles] Not much! But I can say that I don't wear a RedShirt and this is going to be one hell of a movie [laughs]! J.J. and his team are very big on secrecy, and I fully understand why. The best way for the fans to enjoy a movie like this, is to enter the theatre without conception of whats going to happen and just enjoy the ride... surprises and all! And I fully advocate that! Everybody feels the need to know everything before they ever see it. Where's the fun in that? Speculation and tease are great... but the fun is in the unknowing. I can't even stand it when TV shows have those damned previews of the next episode right before the end credits! It drives me insane. I have to snatch the remote and press delete before I see ANYTHING that might give any plot points away!
MJ: Are you playing a bad guy again?
MJ:What was it like working with Abrams and the rest of the cast?
Gatt: It was a dream gig working with such passionate and talented people! J.J. is so amazing in so many respects. The main, is that he is just so full of passion and energy for his work! The next is that he LOVES it so much that he surrounds himself with only the most amazing people who believe in the work as much as he does. This means, no matter how long the day, or how hard the shot, no one grumbles and everyone pulls together to make it work! And I can testify, that there were some VERY long days and some VERY tough shots [Smiles].
The cast were all awesome. Everyone from the leads down to the background all did great! Chris Pine, Zach, Zoe, Anton, John etc were very friendly to the new cast members. There was a very special camaraderie between them, but they welcomed us into their "house" and the Star Trek family expanded! After a week on set I felt like I'd made 3 movies with them. It was one big happy family on a mission to make a seriously great movie, but still have a ton of fun while doing it. J.J. even made a point of making sure, on some of those extra long days, that outside entertainment was brought in, to entertain the cast and crew during lunch and between shots!
MJ:Were you a Star Trek fan growing up?
Gatt: Are you kidding? Star Trek: The Original Series and The Next Generation where my faves. I lost interest in the movies after 4... But 2009 regained my interest! I am a very lucky person, and, because of the kind of work I'm doing, I'm also getting to meet some of my childhood heroes... and apart from my father, I don't have too many. On THOR, I had the immense pleasure of many tea sipping moments with Tony Hopkins. Last weekend, I was signing at Space City Con in Houston, TX, and got to meet and befriend Nichelle Nichols. I already loved her... and now I just think she is an amazing pioneer and all around wonderful person!! Truly a gem in Hollywood!!
MJ: A lot remains unknown about Banshee at this point. What are some current shows that you would say are similar, if any?
Gatt: Well, the fact that ALAN BALL is the creator and executive producer give some clues. It's not a soap and it's not a kids show that's for sure (laughs). It's more like, if TRUE BLOOD, STRIKE BACK & FILM NOIR had a love child, BANSHEE would be it! It's a super gritty show, with a lot of VERY dark humor, great action and very sexy characters!
MJ: I know from reading a few of your past interviews, you're a big comic book fan. What are you're thoughts on the types of superhero movies being made today? That is to say, do you prefer your comic book movies fun and light-hearted or dark and serious?
Gatt: I used to love my comic books as a kid, and as a whole, I generally like what I'm seeing. Although to me, nothing compares with the original SUPERMAN movies with Christopher Reeves. The problems I am seeing regarding the NEW superhero movies are that they are very indecisive about choices. If you are going to base a character on a comic book which has been in print for 30 or 40 years, don't then just change and rewrite his story for the movie as it pleases. Either stick to the original or just write something totally new that has nothing to do with the original. Also, if you're setting a vibe or location for a movie then keep it there. The first IRON MAN did a great job with this. I just would like to see more thought on where these characters come from and what the fans would like to see, instead of a "Let's just have as many stars as possible and spend as much money as possible on CGI and it'll look so pretty" approach. I would rather go back to wires and green screens if we could bring back well written scripts. Just my two cents.
MJ: What does the future hold for you, any upcoming projects you'd like to announce?
Gatt: There is so much amazing stuff happening over the next few months. STAR TREK 2 will be opening on May 17th, 2013. BANSHEE will be airing in the new year also, on HBO/Cinemax. The voice work on Star Wars:The Old Republic is ongoing. I've just booked another great voice gig on "THE ELDER SCROLLS" (a secret role I cannot mention), and, of course, "GOD OF WAR: ASCENSION" is on the horizon, with more of my KRATOS performance capture work. The next few months are going to be very exciting!
BANSHEE is an upcoming drama television series created by Jonathan Tropper and David Schickler, who serve as executive producers along with Alan Ball, Greg Yaitanes and Peter Macdissi. The series is set in a small town in Pennsylvania Amish country and features an enigmatic ex-con/martial arts expert posing as a murdered sheriff who imposes his own brand of justice while also cooking up plans that serve his own interests. It will air on HBO-owned Cinemax and is produced by Your Face Goes Here Entertainment. Banshee is part of Cinemax's attempt to expand its original programming content, and it will join Strike Back (co-produced with BSkyB), a television version of The Transporter film series, and Steve Kronish's Sandbox. Banshee is scheduled to premiere in January, 2013.
Star Trek 2013 is a sequel to 2009's Star Trek, directed by J. J. Abrams. The science fiction action film is currently untitled, and began filming in January 2012, with a scheduled release date of May 17, 2013.
That's pretty much all we know....
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