Axel Wedekind discusses his latest role in the new 3D sci-fi film
Every fall, over 8,000 industry leaders head to Santa Monica, California for the American Film Market. AFM is an eight-day event that allows investors and studio heads to screen over 400 films that are seeking distribution and bid on purchasing them. One of the films that was featured at AFM this past week was director Stephen Manuel's Iron Doors 3D. The film stars Axel Wedekind as a cocky, young investment banker who wakes up, trapped inside a locked vault. We recently had a chance to speak to the film's star, Axel Wedekind, at AMF and asked him about the new film, preparing for his role, the choice to make it in 3D, his co-star, eating maggots and the movie's ambiguous conclusion. Here is what he had to say:
To begin with, you spend a lot of time alone in the movie acting by your self, can you talk about preparing for those scenes?
Axel Wedekind: So basically, the director is one of my best friends so we have been planning this thing for many years to do something together. I produced this as well. The company belongs to Stephen (Manuel) and me so we were both producers on it. Basically, for a movie like this you have to feel safe as an actor, I think. So with him I feel safe. We have done many movies before and he is a good friend so he knows what to do to get the performance out of me that he wants.
When you are doing those scenes alone with just the camera, are you actually acting with Stephen in a way?
Axel Wedekind: Maybe, but that is not the correct way to say it. I know from little things that he does what he wants. We have like a blind understanding of each other. I prepared the role in a way that I would think it would make sense and actually it was a really good script so I was able to follow it well.
What was it that you liked about the script when you first read it?
Axel Wedekind: We came across the script and we were looking for a script like that, that was a doable movie as well. Something with few locations and few actors because we financed it ourselves, we had to be careful of our budget.
The film features some fantastic visual effects towards the end, were you conscious of trying to spend the money in the right places?
Axel Wedekind: So basically we saved money on production so we could spend it on post-production and all that to make it look good. To make it look like a movie that was so important to us. What I usually like with movies is to take something out of the movie and to be entertained. Those two things are important for me with a movie. When I read the script I could totally see the metaphoric value of the film and it is still funny at times.
Was the character the way he is in the movie in the original script or did you add a lot of elements to your performance?
Axel Wedekind: Half and half, I mean I have to give it to the writer. The character you see in the movie is pretty much what he had in mind. But obviously you have to fill that role. So it's partly what I thought of the role and to then giving his script what it deserves to make him the character that you see in the film.
Was the script designed to be produced in a modest way and how were you able to make it on your limited budget?
Axel Wedekind: Well we were originally thinking about making it in 3D but we didn't have the money, quite frankly speaking. We finished it in 2D and we found a company in San Diego that liked the movie so much that they became partners with us and converted it to 3D. It cost a lot of money and a lot of manpower.
In the last year or so there has been a big debate about films shot in 3D vs. films that are converted for 3D, how do you feel about it?
Axel Wedekind: Absolutely because there are so many bad examples like Clash of the Titans. We have, I think, with this movie it's not a 3D that throws things in your face. It's not the type of movie that is throwing things in your face. It's not that kind of an action movie where stuff is flying all over and there are big effects or something. This 3D is rather subtle; it just gets you closer to the characters. It makes you feel like you are sitting in the room with them, so it's a different 3D.
Claustrophobia plays a big role in the story within the film, do you think that the 3D adds to that element?
Axel Wedekind: Exactly, thank you for saying that. That is the way that we wanted to use it as well. We tried really hard to make it subtle. It helps the story rather than being the story. There are movies out there that I don't want to put down but its like it is all about special effects and that is not our movie. We wanted to tell a story like every good movie. You get closer to the characters in our film and you can build a relationship with them. I think that is what makes a movie, either good or bad. If you are able to get the audience to feel what the character is feeling then the director has done a good job.
You're character eats maggots at one point in the film, did you actually eat real maggots and what was that like?
Axel Wedekind: They taste like chicken, no they don't but I was really eating them on screen. In different cultures it's a delicacy, but yeah, I did it. We could have had me eating something else but the audience might have seen it and known that it wasn't real. We thought to make it real, I took the method approach and I was not eating at the time. I lost like fifteen pounds in like two weeks and it came to a point where people began to become concerned for my well being, as you could imagine, but I think it added to the role. I took it really seriously, like I said I didn't eat. I just drank a little bit so I wouldn't dehydrate and I would do pushups between takes to get even more worn out. As I can imagine, if you are in a situation like the characters in the film, with no food, no water and you have to physically work in there than you'll be worked out. I see some movies and they use make-up to do stuff and I'm not so sure about that. You still, of course, have to act the drowsiness, the fatigue and all that but in my opinion you can still add to it if you really get the weight down. So that is how I approached the acting.
Can you talk about working with your co-star in the film, Rungano Nyoni?
Axel Wedekind: Oh she was cool. We cast her in London. We had chemistry right away. We read like three scenes and she was my first choice. It was a tough role for her to play as well. She had to speak a different language, which her mother taught her all the words that she is saying in the film and it means something. It actually means what the subtitles are saying. It is not something that she would regularly act in, so it was like being someone from somewhere totally else. She is a London girl but what she portrays is something different, obviously. But she did a great job and she is an amazing person.
Finally, the conclusion of the film is open-ended, do you have an idea in you head about what really happened?
Axel Wedekind: I do totally but I'm not going to tell you. That's what I like about this movie as well. If you go home, maybe it pops up in your head again and then maybe you will think about what it is all about. It's something that you could put some thought to and maybe find some parallels to what you might do or not do in your own life. I really thing that the film is a metaphor for life, I mean do you know why you are in this world? Do you really know? That is what the film is really all about in my mind and audiences can decide for them selves.