Comic-Con, 2009. San Diego is abuzz as usual.
“Pandorum” looks the business. As far as science fiction horrors go, there are few that can actually go down in memory. Of course, Ridley Scott’s “Alien” is the top dog in this category, setting a benchmark for all in the combined genres.
Christian Alvart is an effective filmmaker who hails from Germany. He has little experience but certainly knows the horror genre with his “Antibodies” (a.k.a. “Antikörper”) project which enjoyed strong user ratings.
Ben Foster takes the role of Bower, a man who awakens aboard a spaceship with no knowledge of how they are and what his mission is. Also in the cast is veteran Dennis Quaid, upcoming star Cam Gigandet, German actress Antje Traue and MMA star Cung Le (“Fighting”).
Quaid didn’t make it out to Comic-Con for either of his films (the other being “Legion” with Paul Bettany).
Foster has quickly made a name for himself as a very talented actor in multiple genres from comedy, drama, western, horror, action and thriller with roles in “Hostage,” “The Punisher,” “Alpha Dog,” “X-Men: The Last Stand,” “3:10 to Yuma” and “30 Days of Night.” After this, he can be seen in “The Messenger” with Woody Harrelson.
Cung Le is a world-class martial artist and fighter who bested Frank Shamrock for the Strikeforce title. He talks about his transition from fighter to actor and says “Acting is an art and if you don’t come in prepared, you’re gonna get knocked out like a fight. So for me I just took the same work ethic that I put into my fights and I studied and practiced my acting and it worked out pretty good for me.”
Foster’s asked about the nature of his character in the film and what attracted him to the film. “I had just finished a movie which required a lot, called ‘The Messenger.’ I was pretty burnt. I had read the script about five months previous to this and I wasn’t gonna do ‘Pandorum.’ Then I finished ‘The Messenger’ and they said ‘well, they’re still interested in you doing this film.’ Then I read it and it reminded me of the first time I read it which was that it was really exciting and it felt like a really unpretentious throw-back, seventies thriller that takes place in space.
It required different things that I imagined it would require when I thought why not go to Berlin and shake off ‘The Messenger’ or attempt to and…go play a bit. And I was really in over my head actually when I got to Berlin because it’s your standard par for the core. People on a spaceship waking up, don’t know who they are, don’t know where they are - these basic fundamental nightmare qualities. And there’s something chasing you – these nightmares that we all have as kids or maybe even as adults. And when I read it, it still scared me and it moved really fast and there were a lot of twists and turns. I liked the idea of the negative space of identity – not being able to recall the past, to form a personal narrative for yourself.“
How long did this shoot for?
“‘Pandorum’ shot for four months in Berlin,” says Foster.
I ask Foster to elaborate a little more on the sleep chamber and the creatures and he says “On a basic, technical level and I can’t give you a nice line for it. If you’re in a sleep chamber, you have tubes in your arms to feed you, to keep you alive. So this chemical has an enzyme that seems to have had a negative effect and it creates and devolves the people that are on the ship into a state of what you might call a high-level warrior but more specifically a pack of animals that need to feed. So these are basic things that we all go to the movies for.”
Cung Le talks about his character and says “My character doesn’t speak any English, I only speak Vietnamese and I when I teamed up with Ben it was definitely a hard time communicating and I would say one thing and he would agree to it but not knowing what he agreed to. So those are the kind of things that definitely put the twist on this whole ‘Pandorum’ movie.”
Foster adds “In a survival environment with people from many different cultures, when you don’t know where you’re going, what you’re running from, it becomes very primitive. So the fun things are to play with language barriers, trust barriers, identity and past barriers. Yeah, it’s not to get really heavy about. It’s a scary movie. There are a lot of twists and turns that support these moments that we go to the cinema and we want to eat popcorn and hold our breath. There are all those tools and tricks that support and aesthetically interesting film.”
Foster’s asked if he enjoys working in the horror genre “I enjoy elements of it,” he says. “The same way that I enjoy elements of shooting a low-budget drama or a character piece. There are things that turn you on and really turn you off.”
Would you like to do a comedy?
“Fuck yes! Please!” says Foster happily.
Cung Le talks about the stunts and his contribution “I’d say about eighty percent real props, twenty percent green screen. I mean me and Ben were about to start a scene and was like ‘hey Cung, we’re standing in a space ship.’ ‘Damn right we’re standing in a space ship! Holy shit! What’s that lurking over there?’”
He’s asked whether he choreographed any fight scenes and says “You know, I never try to step on any toes but I mentioned a few things that definitely got in there and I felt that if I had mentioned more it would have got added in a lot more. So all the films after ‘Pandorum’ I was like ‘hey let’s do this, let’s do this, let’s do that!’”
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