Ron Eldard discusses J.J. Abrams Super 8 coming home on Blu-ray and DVD November 22nd
The film revolves around a group of young teenagers who capture a terrifying secret on their Super 8 camera while making a home movie. Ron Eldard stars as Louis Dainard, a character that serves as a key piece to this mysterious puzzle. In anticipation of the movie's impending home release, we caught up with Ron to learn more about the film, and how much of it still remains a mystery to him.
Here is our conversation.
When Super 8 came out in theaters, it had such a mystery wrapped around it. How much did you actually know about the storyline before embarking on this adventure? Were you only allowed to know your character's beats, or were you privy to the whole arc of these children and the alien at the center of Super 8?
Ron Eldard: I didn't even know my character's beats. I didn't read the script. You're not allowed to. This was the most secretive job I have ever done. Because of Lost, particularly, J.J. Abrams's fans are all over his stuff. Very easily, they could have, willingly or unwillingly, messed up and ruined surprises in this film. I only read the script the day I landed to shoot the movie. When I auditioned, I was only given my sides. I had to go over to Bad Robot, J.J.'s offices, to read the stuff they gave me for the audition. If you got two steps close to the door, a guard would stop you. They would grab you by the arm and say, "You have to come over here." You could not walk outside with the script. It was so very secretive. I didn't read the full thing until I got on the set. Until then, I didn't know what the story was.
That sounds a little bit Dangerous. Sure, J.J. Abrams has a great reputation. But not everyone is perfect. You could have landed to a horrible script. What if you didn't like it? Were you happy with the material after you'd gotten a chance to read it all the way through? Or were you sweating a little bit?
Ron Eldard: Obviously, I am a fan of J.J.'s. He was very clear when I met him about what we were doing. But he didn't give me the overall idea of the story. I remember the first time we were rehearsing...He was directing me, and I said, "Uh? J.J.? I don't know who this character is...Is this my daughter?" He was like, "Oh, yeah...You haven't read it. Let's work this out." He explained quite a bit of stuff during rehearsals. While I was rehearsing with the kids, and the daughter, I could tell that there was cool stuff going on. But no, I'd never taken a job before where I hadn't read the script. But this was being produced by Steven Spielberg, and J.J. was directing, and he had this group of actors there, for the audition. I had never been in a room with that many cool actors. There were so many. There were about forty of us in the room. These were really beautiful actors, so I thought, "What's the worst this could be?" The track record these guys have is pretty good...
How blown away were you by this group of kids? Especially Elle Fanning, who plays your daughter?
Ron Eldard: First of all, these kids are all cool. There was no ridiculous kid actor behavior. None of these guys had acted before. None of them had done too much. And Elle Fanning is really, really special. She is a great person, and she is very cool to be around. A real genuine person. She was natural. And beautiful. I was particularly taken with her. And she was so nice. I have worked with a lot of kids. Most of them have been really lovely. But there are a lot of trappings. It's difficult to be a decent person if you are an adult actor. (Laughs)
How did you feel about the clothes, and the hair, that is required of you in bringing Louis Dainard to life?
Ron Eldard: I think the movie takes place in 1979. I had just finished a film a few months before, where I play a Roadie. He's this guy that has been a Roadie since he's been out of high school, for Blue Öyster Cult. I had the long hair, and the facial hair. I hadn't cut it. It was by coincidence that I showed up to the audition with that particular look. That was the look I'd been sporting, not knowing that's what they wanted. I loved that look. I loved it. I thought it was great. They didn't tramp it up. It was very honest.
I'm looking at the pictures from Roadie right now. It looks like the perfect companion piece to Super 8. This is what Louis was doing before he came back to live with his daughter...
Ron Eldard: Yeah! The tone of the two films is quite different. (Laughs) But, yeah! It was a total accident that I walked into my Super 8 audition looking exactly right for the part.
That's too funny. I'm guessing that sitting down to watch this movie was as much a surprise to you as it was to everyone else. Everyone wanted to know what the monster at the heart of the movie was. What were your impressions when you first watched the movie, and you got to see the monster side of this coming of age story?
Ron Eldard: The first time I saw it...J.J.had shown me some mock-ups to give me an idea. But, really, they were working on that up until the deadline. And they were very secretive. I actually had no idea what it looked like. I played all of those scenes where I have to look up, and I do see the monster. I had to ask, "Well, what's he look like?" J.J. would go, "He might look like this, or he might look like that..." When I finally saw it, I thought it looked really cool. It has a little bit of Alien, there is a little bit of E.T. in the eyes. It is a very J.J. monster. I thought it was perfect. What's better is that you don't see it for so long. The first time I saw it was at the premiere. I thought the movie was a blast. I thought, "Wow! This is a great popcorn film."
You have to be proud of the fans. While it was in theaters, they didn't really give too much away. Its still retained its mystery for those who haven't seen it yet, as it comes to Blu-ray and DVD.
Ron Eldard: J.J. has these huge fans. And I think this time, they really got the message. That he did not want you to ruin this film for people. Even out of joy. Don't say anything. He was so secretive, the fact that the movie was a secret became a 'thing'. The way he spoke, the online advertising, this iPhone App that they did...It was all very clever. It became a party to stay quite. It was fun to stay on that end, and not give it up. His fans have such love for that dude. They got it. The idea was to not give it away. The critics? They didn't give it away either. That doesn't happen often. My agent and my manager...We were not allowed to say anything. You couldn't Tweet...If you put anything about the movie on Facebook, Twitter, any of that, you would have been found out. We were told very clearly, "Do not talk about this movie! Do not give anything away!" And, unlike other certain projects, the managers and agents were also really excited. They were like, "Do not tell me what is going on!" I'd say, "I'm not telling you anything!" I wanted it to be a secret. Everyone put their heart into it, and everyone had fun with it. This is very rare. You're usually trying to put out fires. Here, it became this whole movement about keeping quite. And it was done in a fun way.
I'm a huge fan of Men Behaving Badly. ¡Rob! Just got announced as part of CBS' new mid-season line-up. Any chance that we'll see a mini-reunion on that series between you and star Rob Schneider?
I did, but I'm sorry to say, I liked your guys' version more. Blasphemy, I know...
Ron Eldard: No, no, no...Look. I love Rob. I had a great time working with him. And I would love to come play. I have to say...Justine Bateman may be the most underrated sitcom actress ever. I don't mean that in such a way, that she's not a great actress...But that is very difficult job....To be a real sitcom actress...3 cameras, one camera wide, serious actress...She is such a beautiful actress in that form. It's not easy to do. And I feel she is incredibly underrated.
I feel the same way. She's one of the reasons I enjoyed that series so much. You guys weren't on very long, but those episodes stick in my head. I loved all three of you on that show...
Ron Eldard: Thank you, that is so great to hear. I did a show called Bakersfield, P.D. That was one of the best things I have ever done. If it had of come along three years later, we would have been a giant. If you like weird stuff, it was way ahead of its time. That is a show people have to find. It has such a great cast. Its not at all like Men Behaving Badly, but when I do interviews, those two shows always come up. About a quarter of the press goes, "Hey, I own every episode of Bakersfield." Or, "Hey, I own every episode of Men Behaving Badly." It's very interesting. I appreciate it.