Dennis Quaid talks about his role in Christian Alvart's upcoming sci-fi thriller
From the creators of the Resident Evil film franchise comes Christian Alvart's Pandorum, a terrifying thriller in which two crew members wake up on an abandoned spacecraft with no idea who they are, how long they've been asleep, or what their mission is. The two soon discover they're actually not alone. And the reality of their situation is more horrifying than they could have ever imagined. In the film, Dennis Quaid plays Payton, one of the few surviving crewmembers. What, exactly, does he and co-stars Ben Foster, Cung Le, and Antje Traue confront out in the deep recesses of space? We recently caught up with Quaid to find out, and this is what he had to tell us about the film:
Payton is one of the few remaining crew members on this abandoned space ship. What role does he play on the ship, and what sort of relationship does he have with Bower and Manh, the other two crewmembers who wake up in hyperspace?
Dennis Quaid: Payton and Bower, played by Ben Foster, both wake up from Hyperspace, to find out that they've been asleep for years. One of the affects of hyper sleep is that you can't remember who you are. We wake up, just the two of. There was no one there to wake us up. We don't know who we are, we don't know what we are doing there, and we don't know what our mission is. We are locked in this room. Because of the uniform in my locker, I assume that I am the commanding officer. We find a way out of the room, and then all hell breaks loose from there. It asks the question, "Who are we?" We find out who we are along with the audience as the movie goes along. As well as what happened to us.
What element of horror are we dealing with here? Does this have to do with some crazy alien creatures, or is it more along the lines of a metamorphosis?
Dennis Quaid: I would have to say that it is more along the lines of a metamorphosis. But that's all I can really say.
What was it about Payton that set him apart from some of the other characters you've played in the past?
Dennis Quaid: The script really drew me to the role, because it had such a unique storyline. It was very original. Somebody like Payton is starting out with a blank slate. Because he doesn't know who he is. He thinks he knows. But what he finds is quite terrifying.
Can you give us a hint of what he does find without giving any of the surprise elements away? I've only seen the trailer, and I'm not quite sure what we're dealing with here?
Dennis Quaid: That is a hard thing to do. All I can tell you about Payton is that he's not who he thinks he is.
This is your first sci-fi movie in quite sometime. Is it difficult to find worthy science fiction films, and what was it about this script that attracted you to it?
Dennis Quaid: It is hard to find any movie that is worthy. A lot of these scripts out there are so derivative. When I read a script, it is the only time I get to be an audience member. It's the first time I am dealing with it. I thought to myself, "Wow." I read it in one sitting, and I couldn't put it down. I didn't know what was going to happen until the very end. And it had such a great twist. It surprised even me. It is original, and unique.
How intense was the action on this film? It seems like Alvart really put you guys through the paces?
Dennis Quaid: Ben Foster is really put through the paces here. Its very intense physically and psychologically, this film. We do a lot of running around, and there is a lot of stunt work involved. It's not a quiet film.
Pandorum has some fantastic looking sets. Was it hard not to get lost or consumed by such a rich atmosphere when you were on set, developing this character?
Dennis Quaid: No, it wasn't hard to stay focused on the character. That happens due to the script itself. The script really focuses on the human aspects of Payton. Christian had a very deft vision. He knew exactly what he was doing, and was very focused. The director is the storyteller, and Christian did a very good job of that.
Even with some of the more genre related projects you've starred in, your films are generally grounded in a true sense of reality (with the exception of maybe G.I. Joe). Is that true of Pandorum, and why is that element of truth so important to you in the projects you pursue?
Dennis Quaid: I am very interest in the human condition. That is what I love about acting. I like studying different people and their psychosis. I like discovering what makes them tick. I always find that with any character I play. I need to find out what makes them tick. With Payton, I really had to start off with a blank slate. Because he doesn't know who he is. Then he thinks he knows who he is. Then he finds out something else, and he is in denial about it. Denial has a lot to do with this character. It is one of his qualities as a human being.
What role does Cam Gigandet play...I am sorry, I can never pronounce his name right.
Dennis Quaid: (Laughs) Yeah, we all have that problem with his name. It was an issue on the set. No one could say it right. Gigandet!
I get a sense that your two characters have a lot in common. That he has more to do with your past than what is being let on.
Dennis Quaid: You are on the right path with that. But I can't say anything beyond that without giving more of the film away. That's all I can say about that matter. I don't want to ruin the twist.
With Ben Foster and Cung Le, you have two very different co-stars from two very different schools of acting. What was the experience like working with them together?
Dennis Quaid: It was great, because this was a very diverse cast. Antje, the girl in the film, is from East Germany. Which makes for a diverse playing field of performances. Ben Foster has a lot to carry in this movie. He is a really great actor. He can carry a film, he has the chops to do that. Working with such great people only makes me better.
Cung told me that you two have a pretty intense fight sequence. Were you able to hold your own against this World Champion fighter, and did you have to prepare any certain moves?
Dennis Quaid: I just brought my old school! I did it up old school, man!
You just went to your old school bar brawling fight moves?
Dennis Quaid: Yeah! I took him down!
I heard that he came pretty hard at his co-stars in some of these fighting scenes. That it was pretty dangerous with him coming from a real world fighting background.
Dennis Quaid: No. I was lucky. I didn't actually have to fight him.
He told me you guys had a pretty extensive fight sequence. What, is this guy lying to me about the movie?
Dennis Quaid: (Laughs) Well, I don't remember fighting him. He might have told a fib.
I guess he is just pulling tricks on me. With Pandorum, G.I. Joe, and Legion, you've recently starred in some very fun genre films. Was it a coincidence that these three films happened so close together, or were you consciously looking for projects that specifically aimed at the genre audience?
Dennis Quaid: It was just a coincidence, really. I don't have a grand strategy for my career. I just look for good material, and good stories. I look for good scripts. That was just a coinky-dink.
G.I. Joe was a surprise hit when it came out. What was your reaction to it being so well received, and what can you tell us about part two?
Dennis Quaid: It wasn't a surprise for me. I can tell with most movies if they are going to be fun or not when I am making them. I knew what the tone was going to be, and what the feeling was going into it. It was a lot of fun to make, and Stephen Sommers certainly knows what he is doing. I liked the script. I read the script. I felt really good about it while I was doing it. I don't know what G.I. Joe 2 is going to be. I am signed up for it if they make it. Now, I have told you everything "I" know about it.
Pandorum is set to scare audiences this Friday, September 25th, 2009.