Interview: The Star Of Almighty Thor Cody Deal, Plus 2 New Stills
EXCLUSIVE: Cody Deal speaks in detail about his experiences making Asylum's Almighty Thor. We also have two new stills from the movie..
Chris Hemsworth ain't the only God Of Thunder in town! I recently got to chat with the star of The Almighty Thor, Cody Deal. In the following in depth interview Cody speaks about the movie, getting started in the business, the comic characters he would like to play in the future and so much more.
CBM: So I have never heard of you... who the hell are you?
Cody: *laughs* That's great! I have been in L.A. for 22 months at the start of April. I'm originally from a small town in southeast Kansas, population 1,152. Me and my twin brother were two of those 1,152. Basically was born and raised there. How I ended up in Hollywood is interesting.
I moved to Vegas first when I was 21. Lived there for 18 months to try to get into modeling and/or acting. I dressed up as a Centurion at Caesar's Palace on the weekend to help pay the bills. Really how I got my start... it was acting, being in character the whole time, and I ended up doing a lot of random gigs. The Hangover, The View, The Today Show, all of them consisting of me decked out as a roman soldier either standing there, or carrying or escorting a celebrity off stage. Really big moments, let me tell you.
So who did you carry of stage?
Well, I escorted Sherry Shepherd out on The View, I carried Sheryl Underwood off stage in my roman gear for Laffapalooza, and I was picked by Nick Cannon to carry Mariah Carey downstairs even though I didn't get that sport when I booked the music video. He picked me. But, at the very last second, because of time, Nick cut the scene and apologized. When he introduced himself, I called him, 'Mick.'
Haha, You called Nick Cannon "MICK?"
*laughs* I didn't recognize who I was talking to. He tapped me on the shoulder, said "What's up man, I'm Mick." And I said, "Hey, what's up, Mick. I'm Cody." He then said, "No, no, man NNNNiick!" Then I realized who it was, but didn't state the obvious fact that I just did something really retarded. I was fresh from Kansas, though, so give me a break. In Kansas, you're so far from it all that meeting people in person didn't seem real either.
Great stuff. So how did you end up in Los Angeles?
Another guy who did the Caesar's gig with me told me he was in some acting classes. Getting on those sets, it made me realize that this underlying passion I had as a boy making films was something I wanted to pursue.
Underlying 'boy' passions?
Making films. We used to make our own pay-per-view wrestling matches with everything: music, commentary, promos, you name it! Then we got older and made short films that were horrific! We just did it for fun; we didn't take it serious--
You don't mean the hardcore backyard wrestling type stuff?
No! We were the 8-12 year-old-kids who just pretended. We didn't hurt one another. Later, we started using mom's bake wear to hit each other over the heads with, but it never really hurt, for the most part. My friend Jeremiah was the best at commentary. He would sound like the actual commentators from WCW or WWF. In fact, he's the one who got me really interested in fantasy, superheroes, Magic: The Gathering, D&D [Dungeons & Dragons), fantasy wrestling, and everything else. He was my best friend growing up.
Thor is a true GEEK!
*laughs* No joke about it! When I was a teenager, it was hard to pull me away from Final Fantasy on Playstation or Age of Empires on the computer.
Well, I'm sure there are many on CBM who can relate to that! But you mostly come from a sport's background?
Yeah, was a jock in high school, but also a geek. I broke the mold. *laughs* Played Magic: The Gathering during the lunch break and shot hoops at night.
Did you hear about Thor before auditioning for SyFy's Almighty Thor?
Actually, yes, and no. I didn't know much about Thor before I auditioned for Marvel's Thor.
You auditioned for Marvel's Thor, too?!?
It's what brought me out to L.A.
What role did you go in for?
What role do you think? *laughs* Thor!
Wow! And you obviously missed it.
Yup, I really did. I auditioned back in March of 2009, just two months after starting beginning acting classes. I was way too green, so I don't blame Marvel for not choosing me. It was me; not them. But it was a life-changing experience, never auditioning for anything in L.A. and coming in to read for the lead role of a major blockbuster film with a budget of $150 million. That was a dream come true in of itself. I could have hung up my boots then and said, "I MADE IT," moved back to Kansas and been content for the rest of my life.
But you didn't?
No, it actually pushed me to L.A. It showed me that if I could go in to read for something as such then, what might happen if I move to L.A. and take this business seriously. And I did, and I became so passionate about not just being a successful actor, but a great actor.
So what did you do when you got to L.A.
I immediately started studying. I come from a sports background and played football and basketball in college, and with sports, you practice every single day to become great. So I applied that same attitude to acting. I spent the first 12 months in L.A. just doing classes and feeling out the city. I literally only went on one audition that whole year and that was for Conan.
As in "The Barbarian"? Let me guess, you read for Conan himself?
Yes. It was six months I was living here. I met an agent and he hip-pocketed me for a minute and got me in to see Kerry Barden. In fact, he sent me a text after the read saying Kerry called him and thought I was a great actor.
What ended up happening?
Didn't get it... One of the hardest things is getting the shot; the other is getting the shot and booking the role. Six months in L.A. and booking that role would have been a dream come true. But I was passed over again, and I moved forward. I still waited another six months before I went out on anything else or got my agent. But the feedback from Randi HIller, Thor's casting director, to Kerry Barden's feedback, it was evident I was growing as an actor and I wanted to continue growing before I read for any other major roles.
Smart. Have you read for anything else worth mentioning?
Well, interestingly enough I quit my full-time job literally the day after my one-year in L.A. and said that I was going to commit myself fully and go after this passion I had. It was all or nothing. So I quit my job and lived in my car for 7 weeks, got my agent, and during that time, I read for Spartacus: Blood & Sand, because they were recasting Spartacus because the actor who was playing him, Andy Whitfield, ended up fighting a real-life battle with cancer.
Man, that sounds pretty tough. Perseverance paid off though.
I know. It sounds like the one of those cinderella stories. I put every fiber of being into that role. Instead of paying my rent, I spent $800 on private coaching lessons to learn an authentic British accent, even before we secured a read for the role. My agent knew a manger who was having the casting director, Paul Weber, speak to his clients, and asked if my agency had any actors who wanted to pay $20 to listen to him. He was in the middle of casting Spartacus. So I went, met him, told him I would be interested in reading for the role. You could tell he was looking me up and down trying to get a feel for me. He mentioned in the interview that what was throwing off most Americans for the role was the accent. I told him afterwards privately that I was already studying with a top dialect coach, in fact Djimon Hounsou' dialect coach for all his films. And it impressed him enough that he called me in. He called my agent the next day after my read and gave a rave review, and talked about the unexpected level of confidence I brought into the read. In the end I was too young-looking for the role. But, that next month I read for The Asylum's Almighty Thor and booked the job.
So you did come out on top then, Cinderella Man.
*laughs* I guess you can say that!
I have to admit you paying for acting classes instead of your rent is pretty bold.
I'm not saying people should do that. I am saying that I had no responsibility but my own well-being. It was what was in my heart, to not get a 9-6 job to pay for a roof over my head, but give myself the flexible schedule I needed and use my extra money for on-going classes or private coaching. It took a strong vision to not pay attention to where I was sleeping every night. And to be honest, not much has changed since then and booking Thor. People think that if you star in a film going to a network that you are making bank. But it's not always true.
So you didn't make a lot of money with the title role?
I made a $100/day. *laughs* $1200 in total to be the star of a film. And I would not trade the experience for the world. Everyone has to pay their dues. If it was handed to me, it wouldn't be making me the man I am turning more into every single day.
Well, it's certainly inspiring to hear this type of thing.
Thanks, man. I just always want to be real with people and about this industry, because the valleys are just as important of steps as the mountain tops. Coming from such a small town, I drive so hard for this because I want to be an example for anyone in America, or in the world, that dreams do come true, that we can reach the impossible, that we ALL are superheroes and I'm willing to fight more and more every single day to make people believe that.
Love it! And speaking of 'fighting', Richard Grieco plays your nemesis, Loki. And Kevin Nash plays your father, Odin. How was it working both of them?
Kevin is so down-to-earth. He was like me. When we ate lunch, he didn't go back to his trailer, he ate with the crew and the extras. He was just a humble guy, and hilarious! I told him as long as he didn't try to convert me to a wrestling superstar, we could be friends. I was the kid who had every single pay-per-view at his house with 20 of his buddies. Watching Diesel was normal. Actually, I wanted him to power-bomb the *@!% out of me and we had it all planned and was going to get it on video, but the speed of this shoot was so ridiculous that we just didn't get the chance. I mean, how many people can say they've been powerbombed by Kevin Nash? *laughs* Told you I'm just a kid at heart. I'm also a pretty big guy, especially for an actor, I am huge. But Kevin makes me look normal! He's 6'10"! The guy is a A+ material.
And Grieco was cool, man! I like what he brought to Loki; his own interpretation. During a wire-stunt I was doing with him, it went terribly wrong and I plummeted to the concrete from a very high height. It was horrible and could have been so much worse than what it was. The Screen Actors Guild shut us down for two days. We wrapped early that day because of it and Richard came to my trailer and asked if I was okay. You could see how genuine he was being in his eyes. He gave me a hug and said he was glad I was okay. He didn't have to check in on me. And after that point, I held a high-respect for Richard and felt like we bonded for the rest of filming.
Because of the obvious tight-budget, the film isn't taking itself TOO seriously, which is part of the charm of these movies' imo.
*laughs* The best way I can explain our film is that, yes, you actually do want to take it seriously because it chronicles Thor coming of age. You watch him go from Thor to the God of Thunder. But going into it, there needs to be an understanding of how the film was made. We didn't get $50 million to put into titillating visual effects and have six months to film. We had two weeks. Visual effects had three weeks. With that type of time, you have to go in with a level of fun and adventure, and be that little kid watching with innocent eyes, instead of the adult who doesn't falls out of the story because something didn't look right.
How does SyFy's version differ from Marvel's version, or is it pretty much the same, and have you been keeping an eye on the other Thor?
They're two completely different films and stories even though they are based on the same character. I hate competition, and try to eliminate it when I can, and don't feel people should watch one and not the other. I think if you are a Thor fan there should be absolutely no reason why you wouldn't watch both? Some will feel ours is crap. Some will love it, because these low-budget films are almost now becoming cool.
Our story is about about how Thor becomes the God of Thunder. Thor is only 20-years-old, and as a God, I interpret that as still being filled with the air of youth, innocent, and not sure as to who he is. Not only this, but his family feels he is not ready for the mantle of leadership, and in fact, his brother, Baldir, is more highly revered as a warrior than Thor. And certain circumstances leaves Thor in his youth, and somewhat of a passionate arrogance, finding himself to be the only hope to save the world of men and the world of gods.
I have to say, I am really looking forward to checking it out.
*laughs* Good! I think Thor's story runs parallel with our own. He has to become who he really is much sooner than he really wants to. He gets glimpses of who he is, but is knocked down again and again. I feel all of us has something greater inside ourselves that we struggle to embrace, and if we could just tap into that strength, our divinity, we become heroes. I gave Thor many challenges and weaknesses. Just because he is a God, I didn't want to make him immune to struggle. So I found as many obstacles for our hero to overcome, which in the end makes him find his true strength.
What would you say to the person who knocks this film because it's a mockbuster or maybe think you're just trying to bank from the bigger-budgeted, Thor.
I'd tell them to watch it before they knock it. I'd tell them that people worked just as hard to make this film as the big film. I would tell them that if they just gave it a chance, went into it with the little kid inside them that I spoke about, I truly don't know how they would come out disappointed. In fact, I hope to leave them inspired... to move forward in a direction that is hard for them in their personal life, to jump over something they personally weren't able to before, because they saw their hero do everything possible to overcome his adversity, and it inspires them to do the same.
Mockbusters aren't spoof films. It's just like when volcano movies erupted in the late 1990's and early 2000's. It was a hot topic, no pun intended, and studios competed and made one after another. The Asylum's business model is no different, and the beautiful thing is, this gives me, an unknown actor, a platform to show if I can carry a film or not. And it will be those people who feel we are knocking off Marvel the ultimate power to give me that chance or not. They are some of the most loyal fans. I auditioned for their film, I wanted to be their Thor so bad, but I couldn't because it wasn't in my cards. But I hope they can see how much I fight for them in this film, how much I desire to have them care as much about this film as their own version.
No doubt you are going places dude. I can't wait to see you in action. And we could go on with you forever but let's finish with one last question: Are you a fan of comic book movies in general? And are there any other superhero roles you can see yourself doing?
Great question! I am in love with superhero movies, period! I grew up with a He-Man sword! And I was in love with the Power Rangers growing up. I loved Tommy, the Green Ranger, and it blew my mind when he was revealed as the White Ranger! Every week in junior high, I would run home and watch Dean Cain portray Superman! That is why I am so moved by being able to book a couple Sci-Fi conventions coming up just around the corner to sign autographs for fans. I just know how loyal of a fan I was to these actors. And that is why I can't wait for kids to watch Almighty Thor! Thinking that kid might be inspired by what I do in this film as I was watching Dean Cain or Tommy, makes me feel amazing inside. What I particularly love about comic book fans is they are some of the most loyal fans in existence!
In regards to roles, I personally would have loved to portray Captain America on screen. I just know how perfect I would have been for that role. Or Superman, which is probably the superhero I loved the most. I missed both! But after obsessing over Thor after I read for him the first time, it was dream come true getting a second chance to book the role and finally do so.
Huge thanks to Cody for such an honest and in depth interview. Almighty Thor is directed by Christopher Ray and stars Cody Deal as Thor, Patricia Velásquez as Járnsaxa, Kevin Nash as Odin and Richard Grieco as Loki. The airs on SyFy May 7th, and then gets an international standard dvd release DVD May 10th and hits Blu-ray May 27th
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