Actor Ryan Kwanten talks Griff the Invisible, shooting in his hometown of Sydney, Australia, Knights of Badassdom, 7500, and more.
Australian actor Ryan Kwanten is best known for portraying Jason Stackhouse in the hit HBO vampire series True Blood. The actor got to step outside the vampire world and into the superhero genre with Griff the Invisible, which arrives on Blu-ray and DVD November 15. Ryan Kwanten stars as Griff, a meek office worker who is hassled by his co-workers, but at night, he is Griff the Invisible, who hits the streets in search of crimes to stop. I recently had to chance to speak with Ryan Kwanten over the phone about Griff the Invisible and much more. Here's what he had to say.
Could you talk about first cracking open the script and your initial reaction to it?
Ryan Kwanten: Yeah. Reading the script was very much like going to the movies. When you go to the movies, you probably only see a good handful of films in a year, in terms of those which really affect you. You sort of go in, sometimes, with a cynical 'this is not going to rock my world' kind of attitude. This one, straight out of the gate, rocked my world. I continued to read, expecting it to fall into some kind of formula, or being able to predict what was going to happen, and it never did that. It just continued to get better and better. I remember I started to read it in my kitchen, and I never left the kitchen. I was still standing when I finished reading it. Then, I said to myself, 'Whatever I have to do to get on this film, beg, borrow, steal, kill, I'll make it happen.' I ended up putting myself on tape four or five times for the director, and yeah, I either convinced him through talent or just sheer tenacity. I'm not sure.
Well, whatever works.
Ryan Kwanten: Exactly!
(Director) Leon (Ford) was an actor for many years. I've talked to a lot of actors who worked with directors who have acted before, so can you talk about how that background helps you, as an actor, with a director like Leon?
Ryan Kwanten: Yeah, I really felt like the character, in and of itself, was the character of a lifetime. I rarely get to play someone like that, and to have an actor like Leon, was a great vote of confidence. He knew the processes that an actor has to go through, not just getting into character, but staying in character, and making little tweaks along the way. He was very sensitive and very open to my suggestions. We really had a great, symbiotic relationship.
Did you delve into any kind of superhero research before you started playing Griff, or did you just want to craft your own version of this kind of character?
Ryan Kwanten: It's definitely our version of a superhero character. It's like a nice amalgamation of a few different ones. Spider-Man and Batman were some of the bigger influences, and there were some manga characters in there as well. Then it was all about coming up with what would be in Griff's head, what he would imagine. I felt it was a shout-out to those superheroes, I guess, but there was also a unique element to it as well.
Can you talk about working with the rest of the cast like Maeve Dermody and others. Did you have a lot of time to get to know them before shooting began?
Ryan Kwanten: No, I had actually just come straight off another film, onto Griff. There was very little bonding time before this, but it sort of worked to our advantage, because Griff was sort of this awkward kind of a character, and very much a loner. Leon sort of set up, even in pre-production, we had a couple of days of rehearsals, Leon set up these, I guess I would call it like a treasure hunt. Maeve, the actress playing Melody, she was on one side of the thing and I was on the other, and we'd get these little pieces of the puzzle, and we'd find ourselves in the heart of the city. We all had to find the right kind of clues and sort of get there. There were little things like that which really helped us find the characters and find each other.
I believe you went home to shoot this, back in Sydney. What was it like to go home and work on a movie like this?
Ryan Kwanten: Yeah, to get to go back home and work on a quality project like this was a blessing in disguise. It was shot in my home city, which is very rarely captured on film, so it was a nice privilege to be running through the streets of Sydney at 2 in the morning in a superhero outfit. It sounds ridiculous, but I guess I was living out that fantasy of saving the city.
There is this sort of new movement about these actual guys who dress up in superhero outfits in a couple of different cities. Were you familiar with all of this before you started shooting?
Ryan Kwanten: No, in fact, in the weeks preceding the shoot, the Rolling Stone article came out that went into the lives of one of these guys. It didn't paint them in a crazy light. These guys are, in their heads, doing their best to keep the city safe. I felt like that's how we were approaching Griff, in that some people would see him as having some sort of mental disability, but we never saw him like that. He's just a dreamer.
Ryan Kwanten: Oh, that's interesting. I have just seen little snippets here and there. I'm probably just as amped as all those Comic-Con people are to see it. I know they're probably looking at midway through next year to release it, but the experience it self was great. To get to work with great actors like Peter Dinklage and Steve Zahn was extraordinary. We actually had this real melting pot of modern-day character actors and comedians working on this film. We got very lucky and I'm very curious to see how it actually comes together.
Yeah, we saw the trailer before they showed it at Comic-Con and then the scene where Steve was reading from the book and the succubus appears. It was pretty damn hilarious. I can't wait to see the rest of it.
Ryan Kwanten: Oh, that's good! Sometimes, obviously you can imagine shooting that stuff at the time, you really have to suspend disbelief and think that you are in that world. Sometimes, when you watch it back, you hope the audience is with you, but that's great to hear.
I know you're also in a new movie that just started shooting called 7500, and that looks really interesting as well. Can you talk about who you play in that?
Ryan Kwanten: You're actually talking to me on my lunch break for 7500. We're six days in, and it's going sensationally well. It's a film that's set pretty much entirely on a plane, a flight from L.A. to Tokyo. It turns out to be the flight you definitely don't want to be on. Anyone who was scared of flying before, will not want to go anywhere near an airport. We're in the hands of Takashi Shimizu, who did The Grudge, and he's definitely got an eye for knowing how to scare people.
It is hinted that there are supernatural forces on the plane. Are those all going to be practical, or will they be done in post?
Ryan Kwanten: He's sort of notorious for doing most of it practical. That's just how he likes to work. One of the most scary things about the film is that it's based on an actual event. There have been quite a few documented cases of planes going down, which we allude to in the film. All will be revealed.
What would you like to say to anyone who didn't see Griff the Invisible in theaters, about why they should pick up the Blu-ray or DVD this week?
Ryan Kwanten: I think it's the kind of film that will stay with you, and how often can you say that about a film. It's going to inspire you and make you laugh and think. You'll come out of it, at least wanting to assess your life in a good kind of way. I feel like that was my reason for doing the film, and everyone who has watched it has seemed to come away with some sort of positive experience. That's about as good as I can do.
Excellent. Well, that's my time. It was great talking to you, Ryan.
Ryan Kwanten: OK, thanks so much, Brian. I appreciate it.