Carla Gugino Discusses Race to Witch Mountain

Carla Gugino talks about working in this new Disney remake

Carla Gugino is just part of the all-star cast that made up Race to Witch Mountain, which hits the shelves on DVD and Blu-ray/DVD combo pack today, August 4. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has passed along a brief chat with Gugino talking about her role in the film, and here's what she had to say.

What attracted you to Race to Witch Mountain?

Carla Gugino: For starters, I was a big fan of the original films. I had a motor home for many years as a kid, so I always related to the children in the original movie - although I didn't really relate to the alien part of their life. I thought the script was really good. Plus, I'm a big fan of [director] Andy Fickman, so when we sat down to talk about it, I decided we had to work together after only three minutes of conversation. I really wanted to do it - especially as I am a huge fan of Dwayne Johnson's, too. It was a really natural fit for me and I fell in love with the character, so I had to be involved.

What can you tell us about your character in the movie?

Carla Gugino: I play an astrophysicist named Dr. Alex Friedman. She's been discredited from several universities because she has decided that there is enough hard data to prove that there is alien life. That wasn't a popular notion for the respectable university she used to work for, so she's relegated to lecturing at a UFO convention in Las Vegas.

How did she end up lecturing at conventions?

Carla Gugino: Well, she's hoping that she'll get some support down there, but all the people want to talk about is crop circles and kooky theories. She's pretty much having one of the worst days of her life when Dwayne's character - Jack, a cab driver who drove her from Las Vegas airport to the UFO convention - walks in and says, "Hey, these two kids are aliens." She's thinks, 'Great, now I'm being made fun of.' But then she comes to realize that they are in fact aliens and it's the most exciting thing that's ever happened to her. It's the thing she's been waiting for her entire life and then she's swept away to help on the journey to save the world - or two worlds in this case.

You've played a lot of intelligent, scientific women in the past...

Carla Gugino: I've played an astrophysicist, a neurosurgeon, a rocket scientist and a contingency analyst - but what I love about playing Alex is that she is also a total goofball. I like the fact that when we meet her, she has gone from lecturing at Harvard and Stanford to speaking at a UFO convention in Las Vegas, but only because she truly believes in her information and findings. She believes in life on other planets, even if that makes her a pariah of sorts. I don't think she sees aliens as little green men - or even as two children - but she does believe there is life out there in the universe.

How different is this character to the scientific character you played in the television series, Threshold?

Carla Gugino: There's a totally different vibe to Alex. When I sat down with the director, he admitted he was a big fan of Threshold, but he wasn't looking for the same character. Tonally, this movie is very different and my Threshold character, Molly, was much more serious than Alex. I would say Alex is almost like Molly gone berserk. I think they could definitely be sisters, but they were extremely different to play. Much more so than I thought they would be.

Is Alex a bit of a nerd?

Carla Gugino: That was one of the things I really loved about playing that character - the fact that she is smart and she's got her act together to some extent, but when she's confronted with something that blows her mind, she becomes a kid. I definitely relate to the nerd in her.

How much of a nerd are you?

Carla Gugino: Well, I'm an incredibly gullible person. I'm so bad that when I admitted this to a friend of mine, they said, "You know 'gullible' isn't even in the dictionary, don't you?" And I said, "Really?" As soon as I said it, I realized what was happening. I realized I was being even more gullible than usual - but that's how bad I am.

How much fun did you have shooting Race to Witch Mountain?

Carla Gugino: I had the time of my life with this film. Making a good movie is a lot of hard work, but it's easier when the creative connections are immediate - and that's what happened with this movie. It's a movie that appeals to all ages and there are some great characters involved. As soon as I read the script I knew there would be some great comedy in putting this discredited astrophysicist and an ex-con cab driver together to explore their two different perspectives on the world.

What was it like to work with Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson?

Carla Gugino: Working with Dwayne was a joy. There was no ego involved for each of us, so we could just settle down and have fun with the shoot. Our two characters are very different, but it's true when people say opposites attract. There was a lot of great energy to play between the two characters because of their differences and we had a lot of fun with it.

What made Andy Fickman the ideal director for Race to Witch Mountain?

Carla Gugino: When I first met Andy, I realized he was such a wonderful collaborator and creative force. He was already extremely well versed in UFO culture and the paranormal, which gave me a strong point from which to build my character. He was perfect.

What did you think of Fickman's approach to using more practical special effects instead of computer-generated special effects?

Carla Gugino: With this movie in particular, there's something great about the authenticity and the fact that it's a little bit messier. It's done really, really well. You can see that in the fight scenes, which are amazing and much more realistic because he went for a different approach.

You've had roles in Spy Kids, Sin City, Watchmen and now Race to Witch Mountain... What is the appeal of these sci-fi movies?

Carla Gugino:Watchmen, my character was someone who starts at 25 years old and ages to 67 with full prosthetics. I remember thinking, 'Are you kidding?' I jumped at the chance to be involved because it sounded so wonderful. You know what? It's funny that I've ended up in two graphic novel - or comic book - movies like Sin City and Watchmen, but it hasn't been intentional. I just fell in love with each project.

Are you a big sci-fi fan?

Carla Gugino: It's funny because I was never a graphic novel or comic book person. For me, it's about a good story and good characters. When I signed up for Sin City, I had already worked with Robert Rodriguez on Spy Kids and I was really up for the challenge of doing a completely different character. I think it always comes down to how I relate to the character, who I'm working with and the vision of the director because that is ultimately what you're serving.

Did you do any alien research for Race to Witch Mountain?

Carla Gugino: The director was a great source of information on UFO culture, so he was a lot of help. It was also a lot of fun to meet the people during the UFO convention scene because many of them were real UFO enthusiasts.

Were there some colorful characters there?

Carla Gugino: It was very interesting to say the least! One person said to me that they are going to reveal on television the fact that we have found an actual alien. I said to him, "Wow, have you found it yet?" And he replied, "I can't speak about that right now, but I will tell you next year." I was like, "Okay... Great!" I hope he appears on television soon as I'd love to see his proof. I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

You can see Carla Gugino alongside Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, AnnaSophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig and Ciaran Hinds when Race to Witch Mountain hits the shelves on DVD and a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack today, August 4.