EXCLUSIVE: Revealing Interview With THOR And Wonder Woman Star, Joseph Gatt!
The actor who plays Frost Giant Grundroth in THOR and John O'Quinn in the upcoming Wonder Woman TV show takes us into great detail about his work on both of those as well as video games such as the God of War series and Star Wars: The Old Republic, plus much more...
Fans of the amazing God of War III on Playstation 3 should already know who Joseph Gatt is. Familiar with motion capture, he's not only brought Kratos to life in that video game, but has also done the same with leading characters in other hits such as Lair and Killzone: Liberation. Now, after a successful career acting and modelling in the UK, Joe is making a name for himself in the US, and has already nabbed tow fantastic roles in THOR and Wonder Woman. As many of you know, I've done quite a few interviews for CBM, but I can honestly say that this is the best (and most interesting) yet. Enjoy reading the in-depth interview below, and then to learn even more about Joe, check out his site by clicking HERE.
What can you tell us about your role as "Grundroth" in Thor?
"Grundroth" is a frost giant from the realm of Jotunheim. Together with the other frost giants, under the orders of our King Laufey (played by the awesome Colm Feore), we set out to retrieve a very special weapon that was stolen from us. This in turn leads to consequences that cause a huge war between the Asgardians and the Jotuns, thanks to Thor's arrogance. If I tell you any more... there will have to be major spoiler alerts.
Could you take us through how you got the role and what it was like being a part of such a big movie?
I got the role very much the traditional way. I received a call from my management, Ballistic Talent, saying that Randi (Hiller casting) had asked for me to come in and audition for a secret "warrior" role on the new Marvel movie. I was ecstatic and couldn't wait. I knew it was for the movie THOR, and had been a huge THOR comic book reader while I was growing up. THOR is a much more popular Marvel character in Europe then it is here. About three days after the initial audition, my manager called me telling me that I had been offered the role, and that they wanted me to come to the production offices immediately to sign the contract and go to get 3D scanned, cast, and measured for my costume. Getting that call was a dream come true! Once on set, working on this movie was like nothing I've experienced before as an actor. It was amazing to be on a set surrounded by so many major Hollywood luminaries, both in front of and behind the camera. A lot of them are people I have admired and wanted to work with for many years. But it was also very evident that we were small cogs helping a very large machine work. This production was huge!
Did playing a frost giant mean a lot of motion capture, make-up and stunts?
I didn't do any MoCap for this role, but I understand there was a little done by stunt guys during some late reshoots.
The make-up was extensive. The six of us (Josh, Richard, Darren, Justice, Colm, & myself) were each very thoroughly cast and measured, from head to toe, at the Legacy facility in Burbank. It took nearly a whole day just to complete that process. Then life-sized foam replicas were made of us, onto which artists and sculptors would design and sculpt our custom fit, very specific, individual character costumes. From those, our full body suits and face prosthetics were made. It took Legacy about 8 weeks to create them. We had various days of fittings and testing of the suits and make up, but it wasn't until 8am on the first day of principal photography that we actually would go through the entire 6 hour process of getting into full costume and make up. Seeing "Grundroth" coming to life, stage by stage, was incredible. The Legacy Effects Team, led by the amazing Shane Mahan, and the team of make up artists, led by the Academy award winning Ve Neill & Greg Cannom, did such an amazing job, day after day, and were such a pleasure to work with, even under some very stressful conditions!
Most of the scenes we would be shooting would involve action, and lots of it, so we were immediately sent to stunt rehearsals with the stunt team, where we rehearsed for nearly 3 months before shooting began. "Grundroth's" main moment is a fight sequence with Tad, who plays "Hogan". I loved learning all the physical stuff, as I'm a very physical person in my real life, and all of it payed off, because, in the end, even though I had a stunt double, Kenneth (Branagh) loved what I was doing and had me do the actual fight sequences with Tad for the camera. We were all, actually, very physically capable actors, so our stunt doubles didn't have to do a huge amount. It was a treacherous set, but LOTS of fun!
Which cast members did you work closest with? What were your experiences with them like?
Most of my time on set was spent with Chris Hemsworth, Tony Hopkins, Ray Stevenson, Jaimie Alexander, Tom Hiddleston, Colm Feore, Tadanobu Asano, & Josh Dallas... But I guess I spent the most time with Tad and Anthony. Tad and I spent a huge amount of time together rehearsing our action choreography, and he is a great guy. So humble and friendly and super talented. He works so hard and is so appreciative of everything and everyone around him. He was so generous to me during rehearsals and on set. I met Anthony on his first day on set, about 2 weeks into principal photography. I was in full "Grundroth" gear, when he came up to me in his matching three piece tweed suit and matching hat, shook my hand, smiled, and said "Hello, I'm Tony". From then on we really hit it off and became tea drinking friends, chatting away between shots and during breaks. We have a lot in common, both of us coming from working class Briton, and spent a lot of time chatting and comparing notes on our adventures in acting and moving to America. He also developed a long distance friendship with my partner, Mercy Malick. I told Tony that Mercy was a huge fan of his work in the movie "The World's Fastest Indian", and he asked (via me) for her opinion and thoughts about the movie. He would then keep suggesting movies for her (us) to watch and would always come to find me to ask what her reviews and thoughts were. He was just the sweetest man, ever generous, always smiling, and so happy to be there. It was also very exciting to watch him exercising his craft, in the flesh. He was deceivingly dynamic and could switch from mild mannered Tony to powerful, ruthless, angry ODIN at the flick of a switch.... then, when Ken would shout "cut", he would instantly be back to the sweet Tony! Magic! One of my favorite stories to tell people is that, every morning, he would arrive on set, come and find me, take my hand and smile and say, "Isn't this wonderful! I'm so happy to be here!" He may have once had his demons, but he now shines a bright light for young actors to follow, in how to love and appreciate the gift of being able to be an actor for a living.
How was Kenneth Branagh as a director?
Just as I had imagined. I had been a fan of his work for a long time, and when I finally got to work with him, my expectations where not disappointed. He was incredibly thoughtful, highly intelligent, and very generous. Whenever his assistant would make him English tea (PG Tips was always available for the Brits on set), he would always ask if I wanted one as well! Even through all the make up, he'd recognize me every morning and greet me with a handshake and "Hello Joseph, how's it going sir?" He gave the actors everything they needed, and then let them do their thing... and he always had plenty of patience for those who had more trouble with dialogue and accents...Anyway, I'm just looking forward to the opportunity to work with him again in a much bigger role.
Any plans to work with Marvel Studios again on any of their future projects?
Not right now... but who knows? The universe is so huge, and I'm right for so many characters, and there are so many movies already planned... But right now, I'm excited for the THOR premier, and for my friend DAMION POITIER who is about to start shooting on "Avengers".
How about NBC's new Wonder Woman show? What are you up to as "John O'Quinn"?
"John O'Quinn" works for Veronica Cale (Elizabeth Hurley). I don't want to be too specific about my character because I don't want to reveal any script details or give away any spoilers, but I'll say that, once again, I'm operating on the wrong side of the law, and I get into a few entanglements with Wonder Woman =)
There was a mixed reaction to the Wonder Woman costume when it was first unveiled, followed by a far more positive one when the set pictures showed up online. You've seen it in person. How does it look?
It was interesting to be reading articles and hate that was being spoken about the show, casting, and especially the costume. Having worked on comic book movies and TV shows, and also being a big comic book fan since a young kid, I know that comic book fans are very passionate folk, and we like to say what we feel in no uncertain terms. The thing is, having worked as an actor on these productions, people tend to forget the "practical" side of these costumes, and the difficulties of bringing some of these amazing 2D comic book creations into the living, breathing, 3D world. Have you ever tried running or fighting in a cape? OMG!! I have no idea who the first superhero was to wear a cape, or who decided he should, because they'd clearly never actually worn one themselves! Likewise, if Wonder Woman's outfit was made the way it was in the comic books, she would be in terrible pain every time she moved, because it would be so tight and would probably cut into her in unmentionable places. Also, she would have been falling out of it every time she took a glass of water, let alone chasing down a bad guy on Hollywood Blvd! Anyway, when I went for my fitting, I met the costume designer and complimented him on the costume, but I did mention that I wished the boots had been red. He was super nice and told me that that costume was something they hashed together really quickly, because the press was pressuring them to send out something, anything, for the fans to see! When I got onto set and saw Annie (Adrienne Palicki) in costume for the first time, my first thought was, "This looks awesome!" They'd replaced the shiny pants, and the boots were red again! There are also some detail differences in the cuffs, head band, top etc. Then, when I saw the Wonder Woman costume (part 2) for the end of the show... I knew fans would be extra happy. Especially the hard core Lynda Carter fans. They have done a great job of bringing the comic book costume into the real world and making it look like something someone could actually wear while chasing down bad guys and jumping in and out of super jets, or maybe just to the gym!
Could you give us an idea about your experience on the set and working with the cast?
Working on Wonder Woman has been the most exciting, fun, pleasurable, and rewarding experience I've had as an actor since moving to LA. As you can imagine, there is a lot riding on this show working, and it was a very stressful set... but, saying that, EVERYONE, from Jeff Reiner (the director), Bill & Tommy (the producers), and everyone down the line, made this one of the most fun sets that I've ever been on. Everyone worked super hard and was very passionate about making this show awesome. I worked very closely with Adrienne (Palicki) every day, and she was a total pleasure. That woman deserves every success she's ever had and many more. I don't think I've ever seen an actor throw themselves into a role so energetically. Even though she had a great stunt double (Shauna Duggins), Adrienne wanted to do as much of the physical stuff as she could. I even saw her get into a harness and wire rig with only 30 minutes of practice and do a scene! She chased me down Hollywood Blvd, tackled huge guards, and ran at live firing weapons. Totally selfless in her pursuit of getting it right... Throw into that, she's gorgeous, in great shape, and also a REALLY good actor! I had the opportunity to do some amazing action sequences myself, running down Hollywood Blvd, leaping over cars and being lassoed around the neck, (with the help of my awesome stunt double Brandon Melendy), and I also had some very emotional acting scenes. I hung out with Pedro (Pascal), and he's a lovely guy. Meeting Carey Elwes was great. He (and Tracie Thoms) visited the Hollywood Blvd location to say hi and show support, and we chatted for a while. It was so cool meeting "Westley"! I have high hopes that this show gets picked up, because to have the opportunity to work with these people again would be awesome! It really was one of those moments when, after I was finally wrapped, I thought to myself what a privilege it really is to be paid to do something I would happily do for free! Experiences like that are the reason I'm here.
Now you've had a fair bit of experience with comic book characters, are there any other heroes or villains you'd like to play?
Ever since I was a kid, one of my favorite comics was X-Men... and I always wanted to be Charles Xavier. Unfortunately, I wasn't a big enough name in time for the movie, and James McAvoy beat me to it, but he's an awesome actor and I'm sure will do a great job. Other then that, there is a great character, almost mythical, called Judge Holden, from the book "Blood Meridien". It would be a true acting challenge to play a character so evil. I would have to contact my new friend Cary Elwes, and ask him how he was able to play Charles Manson! I have also been keeping an eye on progress for the "God Of War" movie, as I would, obviously, love to play Kratos in a live action movie one day.... or maybe a role on the new season of True Blood!
You've done a fair bit of work for video games as well, most noticeably perhaps as Kratos in God of War II and III. Could you take us through what that's like?
I love doing MoCap (motion capture). It is a huge amounts of fun! It is just the same as regular acting, the only difference being that after all the work, you end up looking like a CGI character... and sometimes a character that bares no physical resemblance to your real self... especially when you are playing creatures, monsters, or even mechanical vehicles! One of my best friends, TJ Storm, did the mocap for the mechanical walker that Colonel Miles is driving during his fight with Neytiri towards the end of Avatar. MoCap also tends to be a lot more physical, requiring stunts, action, fighting etc... but sometimes, it really is just learning a scene with dialogue, rehearsing it, then shooting it. Just like working on a movie or TV show.
And how about your secretive role in Star Wars: The Old Republic?
That has been a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I can't really say anything about that role, as it hasn't even been announced yet... but it's one of the largest of the companion characters, and I get to fulfill a childhood dream and say say some very "Star Wars" dialogue. I will say that the character looks AWESOME! The director told me that one of the reasons I was booked was because of my look and physical resemblance to the character. I was very flattered to be told that I looked like...actually, sorry, I can't tell you ; )
What else can we look forward to seeing you in?
Well, aside from "Wonder Woman", "Thor", & "Star Wars: The Old Republic", if you'd like to see a slightly different and fun side to me, keep an eye out for "Easy To Assemble - Finding North". I play a hilarious character who's a cross between Mick Jagger and Russell Brand in the second season of Illeana Douglas's multi award-winning, star-studded web series, due to air this summer. I'm also really interested in the role of Frank Martin in the new "Transporter" TV show... I'm from London, I have a bald head, I drive a black Audi, and I like to take my shirt off... I'm perfect! All joking aside, I'm ex military, and a trained precision driver, so that would be a fun role for me.
With an all-star cast which includes Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Thor is set to be released in the UK on April 29 and shortly after in the US on May 6, later this year!
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