Fabrizio Zacharee Guido – World War Z (DVD)

September 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

Sure, actor Fabrizio Zacharee Guido might’ve unwrapped a video game console or football jersey on his 13th birthday last year, but it wasn’t the most exciting surprise he got that day. That distinction goes to a phone call he received from his manager who had some amazing news.

“[My manager] called me and told me I got the part,” Guido, now 14, said about how he learned he would star in “World War Z,” the 2013 summer blockbuster zombie movie alongside actor Brad Pitt. “I was really excited. So, we celebrated my birthday and also celebrated that I got the part.”

In “World War Z,” Guido plays Tomas, a young boy who is separated from his family during a zombie attack and fights to survive by uniting with former United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Pitt) and his family.

This is the first feature film of Guido’s career. He will also star in the new NBC comedy “Welcome to the Family,” which premieres Oct. 3. “World War Z” was released on DVD/Blu-ray Sept. 17.

I know your mom is an actress, too. Is that what got you interested in acting?

Yeah, I would just watch my mom in the theater when I was younger. Then her friends started doing more films and wanted to know if I wanted to be in them. I started acting professionally when I was seven.

What grade are you in now?

I’m going to high school – 9th grade.

Do your friends know that you’re an actor? How do they react?

They do. Well, some of them don’t know, but a lot of them are happy for me. Most of my friends have seen [“World War Z’].

So, what did you like about your character Tomas?

What I like about him is that he’s a really strong boy. He’s very protective of his family and then becomes protective of Gerry’s family. I just think he’s a really cool character.

We don’t get to see what actually happens to your family in the film, although we can guess that they probably didn’t survive the zombie attack. Did you ever wonder how your character was able to escape when no one else did?

Yeah, I did. Gerry’s family struggled a lot to get out, so I started thinking if Gerry killed all the zombies before I got out, then he just cleared the path for me.

Did you watch zombie movies before you were in one?

I love zombie movies! When I got the news that I was going to audition for one, I was thinking, “Oh, I have to get this part!”

What was it like being on a movie set where there were more than 1,000 extras at any given time?

There were a lot of extras! But it was super fun being on set. Everyone was like family. I was in the middle of the action, so I was a big part of it.

Tell us about your character in the TV series “Welcome to the Family.”

I play a boy named Demetrio. He’s really lazy.

Does your mom give you any advice now that you’re a big-time actor?

Yeah, she coaches me for every audition. She helps me with my lines. She is a great support.

Who do you look up into the industry?

I like [actor] Michael Peña and Brad [Pitt]. Brad really inspired me on the set.

What did he do specifically?

Just the way he would carry himself when he was acting. He would put a lot of detail into his character and would make it better.

What did you think of the movie when you finally saw it on the big screen?

I liked it. I thought it was really good. It was surreal because for so many years [acting] was a dream. When it comes true and is in front of you, it’s the greatest thing.

Marc Forster – World War Z

June 21, 2013 by  
Filed under Interviews

In his 2001 independent drama “Monster’s Ball,” director Marc Forster didn’t have a scene that had more than a few actors. It was a small, intimate film with a modest budget of $4 million. Forster, for the most part, was stress free. Twelve years later, Forster is at the helm of one of the biggest potential blockbusters of the summer, the zombie thriller “World War Z.” With an estimated $200-million price tag and scenes involving 1,000 extras, Forster is having a few nightmares (and they’re not about the living dead).

“You want to know what gave me the most nightmares during filming?” Forster, 43, told the Current during a phone interview. “It was waking up and thinking about having to shoot another scene with 1,000 extras and having multiple cameras on the ground and choppers in the air.”

During our interview, Forster, whose other films include “The Kite Runner” and “Stranger Than Fiction,” talked about the pros of making a big studio-financed movie like “World War Z,” adapting an un-adaptable novel, and the post-production problems on his film that have been reported in the trades over the last year.

You’ve gone from making intimate films like “Monster’s Ball” and “Stranger Than Fiction” to more blockbuster-type films like “Quantum of Solace” and “World War Z.” How does your process as a director change when the project you’re working on is bigger in scope?

You’re under more pressure because there’s more money involved and the pressure to succeed intensifies. The pros are that there is a big machine behind you that markets your movie. With the little movies, you don’t have that kind of power behind you. You’re left with having a word-of-mouth type of existence.

Can you tell me what the initial conversations about this film were like with the studio? Did they tell you that you had free reign or did they tell you how to incorporate or not incorporate the original book into the film?

No, basically it was just me and Plan B [Entertainment] developing the screenplay. They did say the movie had to be PG-13. So, early on, I designed the movie to be an intense ride instead of a gory one. I wanted to make the intensity extremely real. I felt Max Brooks’ book was written like that. I felt the movie had to feel the same.

Speaking of Max, what was your take on what he went on record saying about the film? Can you empathize with him since he is the original writer?

When I met Max he was very enthusiastic about me directing [“World War Z”]. Any writer who writes a best-selling book and sells it to a studio must have an awareness that things will change, especially for a book that has like 54 storylines. That particular book can’t be adapted the way it was written. I’m sure he was aware that he would have to be open to interpretation.

Was adapting a book like “World War Z” similar in any way to adapting a book like “The Kite Runner?”

No, it was different because “The Kite Runner” was a more linear story. I was very faithful to “The Kite Runner.” But in “World War Z,” I wanted to capture the essence of the book. If I had been faithful to it, it would’ve been more of a documentary. It would’ve been a different kind of movie.

As the director of the film, do you worry about what fans of the book are going to think of the changes you made or would you hope they understand the film and the book are two separate things?

I think it’s important to understand the film is a companion piece to the book. They both exist in their own right. For fans of the book, they have their own movie in their minds already. But I’d hope they could enjoy the film on a whole new level.

Over the last year we’ve heard a lot about the problems your film was experiencing during post-production. Every film has its problems. Do you think news about your film was exaggerated?

Honestly, once people heard we were reshooting the ending they thought the film was in trouble. The reason we redid the ending is because there was a massive battle at the end. Like in a lot of blockbuster films, you try to have the third-act set piece be bigger and louder than the rest of the movie. The rest of the movie was already big, so it was very hard to make the third act even bigger. Once we did the battle scene, we never tested it. So, instead, we decided to redo it with a more intimate ending. For me, that was very important because it’s what I had done in a lot of my other movies. I felt it was much more interesting to create this haunted house kind of idea with only Brad in the space instead of having another huge battle where you could risk audiences having battle fatigue.

During those little hiccups in production, was there something specific that frustrated you about the filmmaking business?

Apart from the ending, the production itself went really smooth. I shot the movie in the allotted days I had. I didn’t let things get out of control. As a filmmaker, there are always things that frustrate you. Sometimes you have to compromise. For example, here I had to shoot for weeks after weeks with 1,000 extras. I got to a point where I just wanted to shoot a scene with two people having coffee. You always get to that point. But while I’m making a movie, I am always so passionate. I have this vision and I need to complete that vision. Once you finish it, you’re so exhausted. You hope everyone else will share your enthusiasm for it. Sometimes that is the case and sometimes it’s not. I hope it is the case with “World War Z.”

You’ve worked with some amazing actors over the years – Heath Ledger, Halle Berry, Johnny Depp, just to name a few. Can you break down the type of actor Brad Pitt is?

He’s a very instinctual actor. His instincts are extraordinarily acute. He was a producer and actor in this and he did both very well. As an actor, he was very professional and had very clear dialogue and communication with me. When we wrapped, he became a producer and wore a very different hat. He really differentiated those two roles very well. He’s open to direction. He listens. He has his own ideas as well like every big movie star. You’re always trying to figure out different nuances, but it was a really great collaboration.

Do you think most fans of the zombie genre are interested in movies that make you think on a more complex level about things like politics and social issues or do you think most just want to see cool kill shots?

I’m sure there are both kinds of fans out there. That camp is very divided. I think you have a lot of different splinter groups. You wouldn’t be able to satisfy all the hardcore fans. Ultimately, it was all about making a film I felt satisfied my vision. For me, it never was just a zombie movie. It was way beyond that genre.

If there was a zombie attack in real life, are you the kind of person that would follow the “Zombie Survival Guide” page by page or would you try to survive you own way?

(Laughs) I definitely like Max [Brook’s] “Survival Guide.” I think that would definitely help me survive because I’d be lost without that book.

Can you talk a little about the zombie pyramids you created in the film? I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that in a zombie movie before. Was it important for you to find different things to do with a zombie story?

Yeah, I really wanted to create my own zombies. That imagery came from my childhood. We had this anthill behind our house. I was fascinated with the ants and how they crawled on top of each other. I felt that image was so powerful. It’s like, “This is the end! We can’t escape them!” I thought the swarms would be the perfect metaphor to use.

James Badge Dale – World War Z

June 21, 2013 by  
Filed under Interviews

During his 23-year acting career, James Badge Dale (“Shame”) has fought Japanese soldiers (TV’s “The Pacific”), man-eating wolves (“The Grey”), and even savage military school cadets (“Lord of the Flies”). Now, he must go up against hordes of angry zombies in “World War Z.” In the horror/thriller, Dale plays Capt. Speke, an Army Ranger at the center of a zombie Apocalypse.

During our interview, Dale, 35, talked about what it was like working on a set filled with actors in zombie gear, his thoughts on the post-production problems that have been reported since last year, and what actually keeps him up at night.

We’ve gotten at least half a dozen Apocalypse-themed movies over the last couple of years. What do you think it is about this type of story that has such staying power?

Ever since we could write, we were always writing about the End of Days. We’ve always gravitated towards the question: What would happen in the Apocalypse? It’s part of our culture.

The survival story has actually been part of your career since the start. Your first film was 1990’s “Lord of the Flies.” Then you’ve done other projects like “The Pacific” and “The Grey,” which are also stories of survival. Does this theme feel like part of your acting DNA in some ways?

(Laughs) I really like stories that go outside the realm of what we deal with in our normal, day-to-day life. I do gravitate to stories with extreme scenarios.

How does the survivalist narrative change when what you’re trying to survive against isn’t based on reality? I mean, in “The Pacific” Japanese soldiers are trying to kill you. In “The Grey” you’re dealing with wolves and the natural elements. But here we have zombies.

I just have to say, zombies are surreal. It was so surreal to be at work and have one of these things run after you. (Laughs) I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life. You know what the word is for it: cool. I’m a bit of a nerd, so it’s kind of a dream come true. A lot of the men and women playing these zombies were dancers. They spent months rehearsing how a zombie would move and came up with all these incredible kinds of movements. We were all having a lot of fun. It was cool. I actually think there is a video of me dancing with the zombies. I might’ve been doing a little Michael Jackson dance or something; a little “Thriller.”

Are these surreal moments something you can leave on the set or were you having nightmares about zombies chasing you?

(Laughs) I left this one on the set. I’ve had other jobs where I’ve really taken the character home with me, but this one I tried to leave it. But I’ve seen the film and there are moments in the film that have kept me awake.

Another Apocalypse-themed movie that is coming out this week is the comedy “This is the End” where actors like James Franco and Jonah Hill play themselves. How would you react to an end-of-the-world scenario? Let’s say a pack of zombies are at your front door. Would you survive?

(Speaking sarcastically) Oh, yeah, piece of cake. I’ve had training. Anything I can do in movies I can do in real life. (Laughs) Nah, I’d be the first to go. Why wait? Why prolong the inevitable? Zombies are at my front door? I’ll be right there. Let me just put on some pants.

In this film we’re dealing with a zombie pandemic. We’re always hearing in the news about these new viruses that mutate and can spread across the world and kill everyone. Do reports like that worry you at all or do you think it’s just how the fear-mongering news media works today?

I do think there is fear mongering, but rightfully so because it’s frightening. If you want to talk about something that keeps me up at night, there’s a game for your iPad called Plague Inc. Basically, you’re a virus and as a virus you have to figure out a way to spread. I mean some of these viruses mutate and change. Who knows if medicine can keep up with it? It’s happened before in history. These plagues come along and could wipe out half the population. It just shows us how powerless we are to a lot of things. (Laughs) Eh, but I try not to worry about it. I’d rather just play the plague videogame.

This really is your first horror-type movie. Were you a fan of the zombie culture before you came into this film?

I’ve always been a fan of films like George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead.” That is a genius movie. Also, I like Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later.” I like the genre, so to actually get to be in one is a gift. In acting school you don’t take zombie class, so it’s new territory for me.

Red flags always go up for entertainment news media when we hear of films experiencing production setbacks. We really start to worry when a film’s release date is pushed back like with this film. As an actor, how do you handle that kind of news? I know a lot of it is out of your control, but I’m sure you want your name attached to the best product possible.

The odd thing is nothing happened on “World War Z” that was out of the ordinary. The only thing that was out of the ordinary was that [producers] were honest about it. I don’t think I’ve ever done a project that hasn’t had reshoots. It happens all the time. It’s just the natural process of things. It’s just hard on the filmmakers. I was talking to a director once and told him my job was easy. I show up for production and then I go home and sleep well at night. The director is up all night for another year or two in a dark room in post-production arguing with producers, money guys, studio heads, executives, lawyers. It’s a massive undertaking. But I think we really have a great film on our hands. I’m really proud of this movie.

I’m sure you’re sleeping well, too, because you don’t have zombies on the brain.

(Laughs) Yes, I’ve moved on! I’m about five movies past that now.

We’re also going to be seeing you later this year in the film “Parkland” where you’ll be portraying Robert Oswald Jr., the brother of Lee Harvey Oswald. Did you have to have empathy for the Oswald family to get what you wanted out of this character?

Absolutely. I didn’t know the story about this family. I did know the story of Robert Oswald and Lee Harvey Oswald and growing up with Marguerite Oswald, who is played by Jackie Weaver. I have to say, she is brilliant in this. It was a very complicated family dynamic. I just found it fascinating. You always have to empathize with your character even if the character is someone everyone else will call a terrible human being. You can’t think like that. You can’t judge them like that. You have to find a way into their lives and empathize. Everyone is doing the best they can in this world.

I’ll be remiss if I didn’t ask you about what was one of my favorite films last year, “Shame.” I was shocked when I woke up the morning Oscar nominations were announced and didn’t hear Michael Fassbender’s named called for Best Actor. What did you think?

I was pretty shocked also. He is just so talented and gifted and he works. He works! He is just so dedicated and I had a great time working with him. I thought he deserved it. Hopefully there’ll be another opportunity in the future for him. I love that movie. I loved working with [director] Steve McQueen and Michael and Carey [Mulligan] and Nicole [Beharie]. It’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.