Battle: Los Angeles star Noel Fisher discusses the alien invasion drama, his roles on The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn and Shameless, and much more
At just 26 years of age, Noel Fisher has amassed over 50 credits spanning over film and television. After a string of smaller movie roles and guest-starring spots on a number TV shows, he played young Cael Malloy in the critically-acclaimed but short-lived FX series The Riches. While he currently has a recurring role in the new Showtime series Shameless, and an upcoming role in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, Noel Fisher can next be seen in theaters this weekend in the highly-anticipated action-adventure Battle: Los Angeles. He portrays PFC Shaun Lenihan in this upcoming adventure, which opens in theaters on March 11. I recently had the chance to speak with this busy and talented actor over the phone. Here's what he had to say.
I was actually on the set back in December 2009.
Noel Fisher: Oh yeah. That was a little while ago.
Yeah, it's cool to finally see it come out now. The trailers look amazing.
Noel Fisher: Yeah, don't they? That song is so cool.
Could you first talk about your initial thoughts about the script and your character?
Noel Fisher: Lenihan, he's like the rookie of the platoon. I think he might be the only member of the platoon that hasn't seen combat yet. When I first read the script, there's this really cool introductory period where you get to meet the characters and learn about their lives involving the Marine corps and their families. Then you get thrown into this whirlwind of action that just doesn't quit. It's a very fast read because you just have to get through it and you want to know what happens. It's all very mysterious and trippy. It was a good read.
One of the guys we talked to on the set was Jim Dever, your trainer. Can you talk a bit about your training?
Noel Fisher: Yes, Sergeant-Major Dever. We had a three-week boot camp in Shreveport, in the summer heat. It was just a blast. It was really hot and sweaty, but it was really fun to learn all these different kinds of things that brought a lot of realism to the film. We really learned how to do all these different things, like assault tactics, what to do when ambushed, all these things that real Marines do. That was really helpful and learning how to handle a weapon was really helpful. You have to develop a very specific kind of strength. You can be gym fit, but it's a totally different thing to be thrown out into this stuff. I had to develop a callous on my middle right finger, because that's where my weapon rested most of the time, little things like that, which, for the first couple days, are quite painful, but it really helps bring the realism and knowing how to handle things and do things effectively.
When I read the email for the set visit, I wasn't sure if I read it right, because it said Battle: Los Angeles... in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Noel Fisher: Yeah, we shot in Shreveport for two months and Baton Rouge for a few months. There are actually a couple of scenes where they copied Robertson Boulevard, or a lot of different things on Robertson Boulevard, in the middle of this empty area in downtown Baton Rogue, which was pretty funny. I used to live in Santa Monica and you know the stores, walking down the street and I'm going, 'Wait a minute. I know that shop. I've seen that shop before.'
It was cool when they showed us some of the houses, and it was amazing how authentic it was for a Santa Monica house being in Baton Rouge.
Noel Fisher: Yeah, they did a really good job with all of that. Actually, that's one of the really cool things about the movie. The atmosphere, everything that went into the atmosphere of the movie, is very well-done. There are a lot of scenes where there is all this wreckage and mangled vehicles and all these elaborate things. Every day you go to set, and we were mostly outside, but no matter where you were, I was blown away by how visually real they made it. It looks like Los Angeles. It completely looks like Los Angeles.
You guys all seemed like you had a great rapport together. Can you talk about working with and bonding with this wonderful cast?
Noel Fisher: The cast was actually the thing that was really, really wonderful about the boot camp. A big thing about being in the Armed Forces is protecting the person next to you, they have your back and you have theirs. It's very much a family and, beyond looking like we knew what we were doing and having the training to do that, we also became really good friends. This movie is very much a family. Cory (Hardrict) invited me over for his 4th of July barbecue, we all see each other, every birthday we have, we get together. We had Neil Brown Jr.'s birthday together and my birthday, Gino (Anthony Pesi)'s, we all get together. That was a really special part of it, because we all went through it. It's a very physically demanding shoot. You have to put in perspective what Marine's must actually go through. We had foam grenades on our chest and no actual Kevlar in our vests, but it was very physically demanding. When you go through that with people, you come through it with tight friendships, and that's what happened.
Jonathan Liebesman has directed a few movies before, but this really looks like his big break-out. Can you talk about his style on the set and what you thought of him as a director?
Noel Fisher:Jonathan is a lot of fun to work with. He's South African, he has this great accent and he's just very playful. He jokes around a lot and he makes it all very fun and part of the family. His directing style is really quite perfect for this movie, in particular. The way that we shot it is documentary-style and it puts you right there. It very much has that Black Hawk Down kind of feel, where you're all in the middle of this going down. Because of that, he really encouraged us to be in the moment, to throw out improv lines. It goes back to the training also, because we knew what we would say. There was the script, and he always wanted to make sure we got that, but then also, have those moments of our own to add those little things. That was really good.
Is there anything you can say about your role in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2? I see you're playing Vladimir. Is there anything you can say about that character and your experience on shooting that so far?
Noel Fisher: Well, I can tell you a little bit. Give me another year and I'll tell you all about it (Laughs). But yeah, he's Vladimir, he's one of the only two remaining Romanian vampires from the Romanian coven, who were the rulers of the vampire world before they were kicked out by the Volturi. They ultimately destroyed their whole coven and now he's out for revenge. That's pretty much Vladimir.
Are you still filming that then?
Noel Fisher: Yes. I have two weeks in Los Angeles now. We're done with the Louisiana portion and we're going to go to Vancouver to shoot the rest. It's funny because I spent four months in Louisiana for Battle, and then I went right back for another two months.
It's a great area.
Noel Fisher: Oh yeah. Louisiana is a lot of fun. Baton Rouge was great. I got to do Halloween last year, for Battle. We all drove down to New Orleans and that was a lot of fun. It's such a culture of dressing up and there are these amazing parties like Halloween and Mardi Gras. I've never been to a place where, literally, the entire city dresses up in really elaborate costumes. Think about the most elaborate costumes you've ever seen for Halloween, go to New Orleans and everybody is dressed up in costumes like that.
You also have been appearing on the new Showtime series Shameless. Will you be on future episodes of that and can you talk a bit about your character?
Noel Fisher: Yeah. I play Mickey Milkovich, this crazy neighborhood bully guy. I have a nice little recurring arc on that for the first season. I got to go to Chicago for the first time ever. I love Chicago and I really hope I get to go back again. Hopefully they'll bring me back.
After Twilight wraps, is there anything else that you're looking to sign up with that you can talk about?
Noel Fisher: I don't have anything right now. I'm just looking for good work. I just really love acting and I'd like to jump on something that's really exciting for me. The last couple of years have been really blessed for me, with something like Battle coming out and this great series Shameless, and now Twilight. I mean, what more can I really ask for, you know?
Awesome. Finally, what would you like to say to anyone who might be curious about Battle: Los Angeles, about why they should check it out in theaters on March 11?
Noel Fisher: I think you should check out Battle: Los Angeles because it really is a sci-fi movie, but it's not. It's not like anything you've seen before. The best way to describe it is it's a war movie that happens to have aliens as the enemy. It's very, very realistic. There's no secret laser gun that we have to go off and find. It doesn't have that Independence Day/Area 51 spaceship that will save the day. It's not that. It's done in a very realistic sense and I think that adds a whole new layer of grit in this genre of movie. It literally is, what would happen today, if this started going down. I think that's really interesting and I think audiences are really going to love it.
Noel Fisher: Thank you so much.