Quint's onset chat with THE THING's Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje about paranoia, monsters and even Mr. Eko!
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with another interview from the set of Universal’s THE THING, a prequel to John Carpenter’s flick which covers the events at the Norwegian camp that MacReady investigates in the 1982 film. There has been some confusion as to how there are English speakers at this camp. Hell, I was confused at first, too. But what we have is a small group of Norwegian scientists that discover something in the ice and they call for an even smaller group of experts including an American Paleontologist (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) as well as Norwegian and British scientists. It’s a workaround, for sure… If the studio were supremely brave they would treat this as a foreign film, but they like to make money so now we have English speakers. When this new group arrives at the Antarctic hub their ride doesn’t show up, so they sweet talk a pair of Navy pilots to take them up to the Norwegian camp, which introduces us to Joel Edgerton and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Onset interviews are odd. Sometimes they’re stilted and weird because the actor hasn’t had time to fully wrap their mind around their character, sometimes they’re preoccupied with a difficult scene… hell, sometimes they’re just pooped. I’m essentially talking to them at work. But sometimes that can also lead to a fresh chat. For a great many of these people, this is the first time they’re talking about their character to someone outside the crew, so it’s not as rehearsed as press junket interviews tend to be. When I walked into Adewale’s trailer this was the first time I met him. He apologized up front about his shifting accent as he was trying to keep his American accent in place as much as he can between takes, but that he might slip back into his natural, British accent. Being the fanboy I am, I of course start the interview talking about LOST. As you’ll see he kinda rolled away from it, but I had to bring it up. I hope you guys enjoy the chat!
Quint: I have to say, man, I missed Mr. Eko in the church.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: I know there’s a lot of fans that…
Quint: I’m sure you heard about it.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: Yeah, you know it’s unfortunate I couldn’t hook it up, but the great thing is on to other bigger, better, and more cult mysticisms and monsters… (laughs)
Quint: It seems that’s your bag. That’s your calling.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: To tackle monsters for the rest of my career. I hope they are not going to be slapping me around, but yeah this is a great one. This is really good. So, how is everything going with you? How are you enjoying your experience?
Quint: I told them when the option came up and I’m like “Listen, you’re not talking to just somebody who’s coming in with no baggage. When it comes to THE THING this is really important to me, so I’m like “Just to let you know, I’m coming in with a very critical eye on this movie.”
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: Oh, so you are an original hardcore fan.
Quint: I’m a big fan of that movie, so I think it’s much to their credit they had the faith in the project to still let me come check it out. And I’m seeing why that they seem to be okay with it.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: Well that’s good, you’ve go to represent for that demographic because it is enormous. Everybody that I mention the film to, whether in the industry or outside, will have some connection to the John Carpenter cult. A lot of people grew up with that. It’s always tricky doing one of those.
Quint: It’s a benchmark movie, but I think having had a chance to read the script, I think what’s really cool about it is they are finding ways to hit similar beats, but making it it’s own thing. Your character’s relationship with Joel’s character is very much Childs and MacReady, Keith David and Kurt Russell, but it’s slightly different. It does feel like it’s their way of being able to reboot it without having to copy anything that came before.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: Yeah, I think it was smart to do a prequel. That kind of gets you out of a lot of murky water. It gives you a bit more latitude. I think it really gives them a lot more latitude and creative license to create something unique. Obviously like you said they do pay homage to some of the elements in the JC movie, but it’s definitely it’s own thing and me personally, I don’t normally mess with horror. I’m a very superstitious kind of guy and I don’t do vampires, horror… I’ve just never been taken with it, but when I read this what appealed to me was the human element, the paranoia, the distrust. When you are all out there together and all of a sudden you know that one of you or some of you are possessed with this demonic thing…
Quint: It’s taking a classical approach. It could be an Agatha Christie story. It could be a murder mystery, a Whodunit.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: It just happens to be this (laughs) “thing,” but you are right, the structure of it and the drama. We don’t actually see… It’s funny, because while we were shooting, it’s been like any other film and we really did not know that we were shooting like a horror film until maybe two weeks ago when we started to see The Thing and to see blood. Until that point, it was relationships, people building, doing work, just like any other movie and then it just switched. It’s like “Oh, okay… Arms falling off… We’re in a horror (movie)!”
Quint: Yeah, but that’s the difference of a slasher movie versus a SILENCE OF THE LAMBS isn’t really that great in terms of… There’s stuff in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS that would out Jason to shame, but it’s just the fact that they take it very seriously from a character perspective. It’s the reason why I have so much love for John Carpenter’s movie; I like those guys. If that was a drama about guys trapped together in the Antarctic over a winter, I would have liked the movie just as much. Of course I love Rob Bottin’s work in there, but the fact is that I like those characters enough to where that would have worked.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: I think you are right. That’s definitely something I think that this film has. It really does. I don’t need to blow smoke up it, but really I’m very critical and that’s what appealed to me about it and we’ve made a lot of tweaks in the first draft, especially in my character. First of all you don’t want to be the first, you know a black guy always dies first, so I tried to prolong it as best I could, but more to the point is to really establish a relationship between Jameson and Carter, some kind of back story, so that when either of us depart there is that sense of loss and I think as with John Carpenter’s like you said, there’s a lot of guys to service in that, but he does it and you like all of them and I think you really feel the same here. I think the other dynamic that you have here, which JC’s didn’t have is the Norwegians. That gives it a whole other dimension, because it’s foreign and they are talking in their native tongue, which for an American audience immediately suspends the surrealism because it means you have to apply yourselves “What the hell are they saying?”
Quint: It ratchets up the paranoia too because there is suddenly another element that you don’t know.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: And it makes it quite real, because “Okay, these are foreigners…” It’s not like a “movie” movie then.
Quint: With it being Norwegian, it’s not like Spanish where most people have some kind of rudimentary understanding with it. Do you know what I mean? They could pick up words with stuff like that, but this is such a foreign dialect to most people.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: Half of the people probably have never heard of Norway. (laughs) Do you know what I mean? So we are going to be educating quite a few people with this movie on a cultural tip. I love that element and it’s funny because you’ve got everybody. You’ve got the American, the Norwegians, and funny enough I think there’s only one real American here, because I’m actually British, but this accent is not mine, it’s Jameson’s and Carter is Australian and…
Quint: And Mary is Canadian, yeah.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: Mary is Canadian and Juliette (Kim Dubbs) is French-Canadian . I actually don’t think we have any Americans in here! So, it’s really a foreign film. (laughs)
Quint: I don’t think Universal will be selling as such, though.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: (laughs) No, no…
Quint: We are probably not going to see any Norwegian speaking in the trailer…
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: That’s funny. You probably won’t! But no it’s a joy and it’s funny, because I’ve watched movies, I’m sure you have, horror films and you know you always see them screaming and having to fake fear and I was like “Wow, all of that screaming, that must be like…” You hear my voice hoarse and I’m just like “Here I go with this screaming.”
Quint: I saw the takes earlier and what I liked about what I saw was that it captured a lot of what happened in Carpenter’s movie where it was just suddenly chaos, like something happens and then there is just people shouting over each other, there’s not like one distinct line heard. It’s like what would happen in those situations? You see somebody disintegrating, arms falling off in front of you and you know what that means. You are not going to be waiting for the next person to talk. You are going to just be shouting over each other. You are going to be… tempers are going to be up, everybody is going to be stressed…
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: “Kill that fucking thing,” whatever. There’s the cool factor and then there’s the real factor because in movies you’re always tempted to go for the cool factor “I’m not scared, I’m going to slay the dragon.” No, no, no… Like you said, “What would you really do if you saw this fucking thing jumping, thrusting out of somebody’s chest?” The shock level, you’d probably piss yourself and just be silent at first and then when you see it swishing around, and then the panic would just… I mean, you would probably claw each other trying to get out of its way. You would probably injure each other, you know? Throw somebody in your way “Take him!” You know what I mean? That’s the interesting thing.
Quint: And you guys are part of the Navy in this, right?
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: Yes.
Quint: What’s interesting is that you guys are pilots; not necessarily soldiers. It’s another thing that I love about Carpenter’s movie, it’s the same thing I love about ALIEN, the first movie where it really does feel just like blue collar guys out there doing their thing. I like that even though you and Carter represent the people that would know what to do in a situation, you don’t really because you aren’t a soldier. Neither one of you are soldiers.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: No, I mean there was a hint that we went to Nam, but it’s so far off. Sure, more than the average dude we know firearms and we may have seen a little bit, but this is so far out of the spectrum. What you see in that scene is us taking over because we were imprisoned and we busted out and it’s not like “We are John Waynes,” we are just infuriated, “Fuck it, hey we aren’t one of them and we don’t know what they are going to do with us, they are going to kill us, probably toast us. If it wasn’t for Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), we would have been toasted,” so we want to get out of that and…
Quint: And you also don’t want to be in a situation where you are trapped alone. At this point you guys have seen what The Thing can do, yeah? So you know that shit is going down and you know that it can obviously mimic people, so it’s like you know that you are up against something crazy and you don’t want to be isolated.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: No, you want some allies. I think that’s where it’s set and we can’t get off of that thing now because the damn plane is crashed and you know the other element that I like is you really don’t know if we are or not.
Quint: That’s kind of a very central theme. There have been debates since 1982 about “Okay at the end, was MacReady a thing? Was Childs a thing? Was one of them? Definitely Childs, because he disappears. Where did he go?” I love that aspect and on the commentary for that DVD, Kurt Russell talks about how there were discussions all the time amongst the actors on “Would you know if you were taken over? If you were a perfect imitation of yourself, do you know that you are a thing? Until it’s threatened and it takes over, maybe not” or “Are you just the alien and you know it?” or “Is it hiding in the back of your mind? It mimics personality, so you may not know.”
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: There’s a lot of questions. So, when we come back… It’s hard to believe that anybody is going to survive three days coming across the fucking Antarctic form the plane crash, so you know understandably they want to toast us because we could rightly be the thing and I hope that that comes across in the movie that “Hmm… Are they?” You want to believe that they are the heroes, “They are American, they’ve got to be!” (laughs) But if it’s played right, I think the dubiousness, the duality of every character, really, is what’s going to pull people in because you want to engage them in that dialog, which also continues the legacy of John Carpenter’s because like you said for years people are still talking about it and you want that same dialogue. “Was he? When was he? How did he?” You know what I mean?
Quint: The ambiguity is one of the geniuses of the story and the fact that it’s so rife with paranoia, ambiguity, where you question motivation, you question everything and that’s such a key element that I could see easily overlooked, which is one of the things that I’m happy about. I can see that when they are not sprucing up the effects to such a degree where it’s all going to be people in green suits holding up reference balls. I like that it feels like a tonal partner to the Carpenter film.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: Yeah and they have done a fantastic job with the (puppets), you know. That really helps you when you are acting because I don’t know if you have seen or if they have given you a demonstration…
Quint: I haven’t seen it work; no I haven’t seen it move. I’ve just seen them stationary.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: Dude, once you see that shit… It’s freaky.
Quint: I’ll love it.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: He’s like “rawr” and his face is contorting… So when you get that, that really helps you as an actor. Like you said, the reference balls and green screen… I don’t know. I mean I personally having seen what I’ve seen, I think it’s going to be received extremely well.
[A PA walks in “Ade, they are going to need in you in five minutes for off-camera.”]
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: You’ve got it, dear.
Quint: But I think that it’s smart from the very beginning of setting it as a prequel and it adds so much, like we were talking about earlier with the Norwegians and having the different languages spoken. There are people in the movie that don’t speak a word of English.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: And there’s a great scene that really captures that, when we are in the rec room and they celebrate in their discovery and they are singing this Norwegian song, which is the most bizarre… It’s really funny. It’s not meant to be funny, but it will be funny, just because it’s so foreign and they dance and stuff. I’m loving it and I like that pretty much most of the cast is unknown because then you can really invest yourself in the story.
Quint: They seem to be casting a lot of people that you can buy as real people, like even one of my notes and I almost had to explain it just in case any body was reading over my shoulder, so I even over-noted it, just going “I love how plain Mary is,” because she is a gorgeous girl and she’s beautiful still here, but I think it’s prettier when she’s not overly made up in all of that stuff.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: I couldn’t agree with you more.
Quint: I love that they made her real. She’s not the supermodel playing a scientist. She looks like a pretty grad student who was interested in paleontology. You buy that.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: I agree with you and just to add to that, the realness of it, I remember when… There’s only one gun killing in the film and we had talked about that, me and Matthijs, like “How do we do that?” and he was like “I don’t want it to be like in an American movie where you shoot someone and they get up.” He said, “This has to be a really shocking thing just to even see a gun,” because this is 1982, he really wanted to bring humanity to the story and I remember when we rehearsed it, the shock value he’s shooting and you will see that Jameson is actually… Even though he had been in the Army or whatever, he’s still really moved that he shot somebody.
[The PA returns and tells him he is needed.]
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: Thank you, Eric! I hope you were able to get something!
Going back over the interview I realized just how much I talked this time out. Forgive my wagging at the mouth, but when it comes to The Thing I’m a jabberjaw. I just can’t help myself.
There are nice little nuggets in there and I hope you enjoyed the chat!
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Nov. 11, 2010, 1:38 p.m. CST
by vic twenty
Nov. 11, 2010, 1:38 p.m. CST
by vic twenty
Nov. 11, 2010, 1:42 p.m. CST
by Nice Marmot
. . . supposed to be the first cornerback taken in the next NFL draft?
Nov. 11, 2010, 1:51 p.m. CST
The Thing is a classic, that is something we all can agree on. In rewatching it recently, I was amazed how well it holds up, and the effects rival anything you will see today. The effortless cool of Kurt Russell and Keith David, The music, the bleak ending...it is just so good. Since the first time I saw it, I had the same questions...what did the ship look like inside? what did the thing look like when they found it? Over all, what happened at the camp? Was it one big slaughter, or a one by one like Alien? The great thing here is that these questions can be answered, and the original film remains unscathed. we know how it needs to end, with the dog being chased, but with this cast and the norweigian elements remaining, I am frankly curious as hell.
Nov. 11, 2010, 1:51 p.m. CST
And as popular as "Gigli".
Nov. 11, 2010, 1:53 p.m. CST
by Col. Tigh-Fighter
after this interview. <p>But they have miiiiighty big shoes to fill!
Nov. 11, 2010, 1:59 p.m. CST
by not being an arrogant greddy douche.
Nov. 11, 2010, 2 p.m. CST
Why the hell is it so hard for people to just say its a remake of the 50's version. Which Carpenter directly said his film was a sequel to?
Nov. 11, 2010, 2:03 p.m. CST
Nov. 11, 2010, 2:05 p.m. CST
by Rebel Scumb
but within the logic of the show, it actually makes sense that Eko wasn't in the sideways universe. He resolved all of his baggage before he died, and even if not, he would of wanted to be with Yemi, not Jack and Kate whom he barely knew or interacted with. Right after Eko died in season 3, they cut to him and Yemi as kids, walking off into the sunset, and then faded to white. I'm not in any way suggesting it was planned from the beginning, but you could interpret that scene as Eko's sideways moment, and him moving on/letting go.
Nov. 11, 2010, 2:11 p.m. CST
I loved OZ, but if this guy is the lead in this movie then I'm out. But I do hope he'll wear that retarded fucking little Chilly Willie stocking cap he wore on OZ. That would be fucking sweet.
Nov. 11, 2010, 2:21 p.m. CST
Or is it going to be something like "The Thing: Genesis"?
Nov. 11, 2010, 2:34 p.m. CST
Think Is time for another trip back to outpost#31 myself.
Nov. 11, 2010, 2:34 p.m. CST
Nov. 11, 2010, 2:36 p.m. CST
i dont care how much great and worthy sequel of the original is going to turn out.it will still wont touch not even the hair from the big balls of Carepenter's masterpiece.<br /> <p>british scientists.and a chick.and a brother.really? but since it will have practical and not cgi effects then i guess it will be a great cinematic experience,yes? right..
Nov. 11, 2010, 2:37 p.m. CST
Outpost#31 in this movie. Someone will mention the American camp in passing comment. My words my friends.
Nov. 11, 2010, 2:38 p.m. CST
I'm rooting for "De Ting"
Nov. 11, 2010, 2:47 p.m. CST
you know it.
Nov. 11, 2010, 2:52 p.m. CST
The black guy does not always die first, has never always died first, and will never die first. Where the heck did this myth start? I want to kill whoever started it...as long as they arent black that is.
Nov. 11, 2010, 2:53 p.m. CST
I was wondering what this thing (no pun intended) was going to be called. Perhaps "That Old Thing" or something.
Nov. 11, 2010, 3:06 p.m. CST
but it wont.
Nov. 11, 2010, 3:10 p.m. CST
I'm serious...one of the funnest romps of the 90's! It's a hell of a lot better than anything from Michael Bitch or Asshole Abrams!
Nov. 11, 2010, 3:13 p.m. CST
Brilliant idea...but the studio probably doesnt think people would make the connection..and sadly they are probably correct.
Nov. 11, 2010, 3:42 p.m. CST
We already have a THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD, THE THING and THE THING video game(sequel to Carpenter's film) so call it something else.
Nov. 11, 2010, 4:19 p.m. CST
Aside from the ridiculous black man always dies first was the fact that he said with the prequel they had the ability to explore more and they had creative freedom or something to that effect. It's a prequel...there is no creative freedom with a prequel because we already know how it ends.
Nov. 11, 2010, 4:24 p.m. CST
by The Marquis de Side 3
"First of all you don’t want to be the first, you know a black guy always dies first, so I tried to prolong it as best I could, but more to the point is to really establish a relationship between Jameson and Carter, some kind of back story, so that when either of us depart there is that sense of loss and I think as with John Carpenter’s like you said, there’s a lot of guys to service in that, but he does it and you like all of them and I think you really feel the same here." -- Adewale <br> <br> Am I reading this wrong? Cuz it sounds like they get knocked off...
Nov. 11, 2010, 4:27 p.m. CST
I think its safe to say they all die lol. I mean...the first one kind of spelt it out for us that the last people to encounter it...didnt end up so well.
Nov. 11, 2010, 4:30 p.m. CST
by The Marquis de Side 3
Really!?! I kind of thought they just hung out, were like, you know, pass me that drink till rescue arrives, and that's it. The Dark Horse Comic books had them survive.
Nov. 11, 2010, 4:31 p.m. CST
youve confused me. he didnt spoil either one.
Nov. 11, 2010, 4:40 p.m. CST
So does having a hot female lead hurt the original? No way Kurt Russell and Wilford Brimley (smooth talker) aren't flying over to the Norweigen base to double team her first chance they get.
Nov. 11, 2010, 4:49 p.m. CST
There was no reason for him to be in the Church.
Nov. 11, 2010, 4:50 p.m. CST
That should be the title.
Nov. 11, 2010, 5:52 p.m. CST
It would have been impolite not to invite Rose seeing as Bernard made an honest woman of her.
Nov. 11, 2010, 6:15 p.m. CST
by vic twenty
Nov. 11, 2010, 6:25 p.m. CST
Nov. 11, 2010, 6:31 p.m. CST
Nov. 11, 2010, 6:49 p.m. CST
Although I prefer the more Aliens/Predators like sequel Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead.
Nov. 11, 2010, 8:32 p.m. CST
then the original
Nov. 11, 2010, 10:20 p.m. CST
Isn't it past your bed time.
Nov. 11, 2010, 11:58 p.m. CST
...really should be played out like a foreign movie, an all Norwegian cast, with subtitles, - fucking producer$ have no style or vision, and the director has no ball$ or integrity to oppose them, - the title should be TINGEN (Norwegian for The Thing), ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I DESPAIR ---------------------------------------
Nov. 12, 2010, 12:03 a.m. CST
by Gwai Lo
Nov. 12, 2010, 12:49 a.m. CST
Just use the full title of the original 1951 classic, "The Thing From Another World". First there was "The Thing From Another World", then there is just simply "The Thing". Makes sense to me. Promblem solved. Won't even be all that hard to alter the poster art. Just put smaller sized font saying "From Another World" underneath the existing title. Can't just call it 'The Thing', though, that'd be retarded, and confusing as hell. It's not a remake. Considering the current title, perhaps the suits plan on marketing it as the newest "re-imagining"?
Nov. 12, 2010, 6:38 a.m. CST
are gonna get iced, BIG TIME.
Nov. 12, 2010, 6:41 a.m. CST
we get to find out the back story of that damn Mutt Huskey in the begining of the first film.
Nov. 12, 2010, 12:23 p.m. CST
by Vulcan Deathgrip Productions
Nov. 12, 2010, 12:23 p.m. CST
by Vulcan Deathgrip Productions
Nov. 12, 2010, 7:40 p.m. CST
setting, not one that requires a parka!
Nov. 12, 2010, 7:46 p.m. CST
by Billy Goat
Things<p>One More Thing<p> First Things First<p> And Now for Some Thing Completely Different<p>Things Are Tough All Over<p>Jane, Stop This Crazy Thing
Nov. 13, 2010, 8:24 a.m. CST
feel like I have an idea about what this movie is going to be. Granted, I haven't look too much shit up regarding this and hadnt even seen the image of Eko and I guess that's the new MacReady. Any ways, you got him to talk a lot about the plot and the tone. I don't know how the crew and everyone involved views it, but this guy seems to get it. And I guess Eko wasn't at the church because...? That was the place "they made for each other" and they didn't want any black people there? Because some of the principle cast DID form a relationship with Eko so...oh well, is that supposed to mean he's in hell for what he did? Hadn't other cast members done things that should have sent them to hell instead of Lost Heaven? Or is Lost Heaven not so much a place you go when yuo die but a place in time far in the future and at the point we know Jack died...and my head explodes.
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