To celebrate the release of the trailer for Studio ADI’s practical effects creature feature Harbinger Down we’re unleashing some special Thing-fan exclusives kicking off with an interview with one of the stars of the film.
Keep an eye on our site, The Thing Legacy facebook page and the mighty Outpost31 for exclusives all weekend including interviews with Director (and practical effects legend) Alec Gillis and the star of the film Lance Henriksen as we countdown to the trailer launch this Monday 9th June 12PM (PST) at harbingerdown.com.
Edwin H. Bravo
So, let’s ‘get underway’ with an exclusive interview with Edwin H. Bravo (who you might have seen in Pirates of the Carribean, Harry’s Law, Hawaii Five-O and Sons of Tucson) who plays Atka – one of the doomed vessel’s crew – in Harbinger Down.
Tell us about your character? Are they fight or flight? Are you like them or completely different?
Atka is the guy on the ship whom nothing ordinarily really bothers or affects him, he’s an easygoing type of guy who likes to laugh. He goes about his day with a smile on his face. He’s somewhat of a joker and he has a really strong connection with Captain Graff. He’s a “fight” type of guy as is most of the crew members, we have to be. Each of us has had their own difficult path that led them to Captain Graff and the Harbinger, however when the creature shows up, it’s a different story, especially for Atka who’s an Inuit native, because it touches him deeper than any of the other crew members. To him it’s ethereal, something that comes from the spirit world, something that is all powerful and deeply imbedded into his people’s soul, also a world that he is possibly trying to run away from. I see a lot of myself in Atka, as an actor, it’s difficult to NOT bring a part of yourself into a character.
Did your character have a back story or did you make one up for them? Does this process help you get under their skin?
Atka, if you just read the script, kind of feels like just a small ancillary character, there wasn’t really much to go on as far as dialogue. However, after speaking with Alec, he’s a pretty major part of the crew and the lives of everyone on the Harbinger and provides an anchor or an alternative point of reference to the creature and what’s happening. He kind of represents mother nature’s point of view, a point of view that’s been discarded or neglected in the modern world of science and mathematics, a point of view that is still respected and revered and even feared in the more traditional or “ancient” ways of men. So to answer the question, yes, I had to create a backstory for Atka within the parameters that Alec gave me. In fact, the first day of the table read, it was Lance Henriksen that really helped brainstorm the relationship that Atka has with Captain Graff and we came up with some really great stuff that helped me get a grasp of who Atka is, in relation to the Captain and the rest of the crew.
Lance Henriksen and Edwin H. Bravo in Harbinger Down.
What’s it like working with real monsters on set? Did you get scared? Is it totally different from green screen/digital work? Does it make it easier to give a realistic performance?
Working on set with real monsters, real practical FX was mind blowing! I’ve never worked in this genre before, so I didn’t know what to expect. I was like a kid in a candy store, my jaw was open for most of the time because I was in awe! It really sank in, i’m working with the guys that created the best monsters in films that I watched growing up (Pumpkin Head, Aliens, Monster Squad…)!! Any actor will tell you that they prefer to work with something they can react to. The worst thing you can do to an actor is tell them to look at a dot hanging from a c-stand and tell them to “act”. The goal for any actor is to give or get a reaction that’s as close to or is, the real emotion, and having monster goo splattered all over you or this huge super life like thing with claws and teeth come out from the dark, makes it highly more probable to get those reactions.
Actors love to improv and add little things that aren’t scripted into the mix. Did you get a chance to improv in this way on HD?
Yes! and it was fun. Now, how much of it actually makes the cut, that’s another story. Alec was really great at letting the actors get their “flow”, but it also has to fit within the parameters of what the scene or characters are about and we as actors have to respect that. Maybe we’ll see some of it in the gag reel or something. LOL.
Was this your first time working with Alec and Tom? What are they like to work with?
Yes, this was the first time I’ve ever worked with Alec and Tom and hopefully not the LAST!! I loved every minute working with these guys. It’s rare that I get a chance to work with people that are at the top of their industry. What made it great for me was that they were some of the most genuine people I have ever met. They open their arms and welcomed me into the “family”. Never once was I made to feel like I was just the “talent”. It was great to see them be as excited to be on the set as I was. There were so many times when, Alec pulled me to the side and said, “Hey Edwin, check this out! “, and it would be one of the creatures that they just finished and you can see the complete dedication and passion in his eyes and hear it in his voice to this project and to his craft. It was like two kids hyped on candy. ME – “Dude! That’s so f*ckin cool!” ALEC – “Ya! Isn’t it! Check it out…” and both of us are giggling, in an adult kind way. LOL. There was no way i was NOT going to give them %110 effort on this project.
Lance Henriksen and Edwin H. Bravo in Harbinger Down.
What’s your lasting memory of working on HD? What moment won’t you ever forget?
It was by far the best set I’ve ever been on. The talent on the set was top notch. The set designers (Calder Greenwood, Wilson Brothers, etc..), the monster makers (Tim Reed, Yuri Everson etc…), the make-up crew (Mike Spatola, Patricia Wang, Brittany Avalon etc..), Producers (Tom Woodruff jr, Jennifer Tung, Hadeel Reda), and the entire crew blew me away! If I can raise my level of talent to where they are in their respective crafts, i would be extremely gifted and thankful. The dedication and hard work of every individual on that set was clear from day ONE, and to do what they did with humility and kindness was absolutely beautiful! If there’s anything that I can take away from being a part of this film, it’s FAMILY. There’s not one thing that I can point out because that would kind of take away from the entire experience of it all.
Other than HD (of course) what’s your favorite creature feature? What makes a good scary movie? What scares you in real life?
The Exorcist is probably my favorite horror film, but my favorite creature feature film would be: “John Carpenter’s :The Thing”, The entire “Alien” franchise, Predator, Pumpkin Head, Prophecy (1979) Too many to name!
What makes a good scary movie is real suspense, all the tension built before the “reveal” or “kill scene”! The tension that makes the viewer create their own fear in their head before they even see the “monster”, and of course the actors. The actors are the conduit for the electrical activity that create the fear in the brain. If you can’t believe the actors, no one will be scared.
What scares me in real life?… Dropping a line or missing my mark, haha! BIG HAIRY BUGS scare the shit out of me. People, in this day and age scare me. Quitting, scares me. But physically, big hairy bugs or nasty worm-like parasites!!! Oh, and demons and stuff like that, anything you can’t punch, kick or shoot… Oh, and being eaten alive… by a monster of course, or another animal with sharp teeth.
Michael Estime & Edwin H. Bravo on the set of Harbinger Down.
Who is your favorite character (or favorite scene) from The Thing (either version) and why?
My favorite character was “Childs” in John Carpenter’s The Thing, played by Keith David. There was such an honesty about his paranoia and fear that made it funny and real. People always forget the “funny” in creature films. When people are scared, they make the funniest faces, and if the camera can catch that, they’ve caught gold, because it’s an honest reaction. In the face of fear people can “laugh” or “cry” and I feel people nowadays choose “cry” because it’s the easy way out.
My favorite scene in the film was when MacReady tied everyone up to test thier blood with the hot wire. The tension in that scene was soooooo thick and Carpenter let the air out of that scene so fast, only to nonchalantly “smash” you right in the face with the screaming alien blood! The reactions from Keith David and Donald Moffat were priceless, the way they were trying to jump out of their chairs. I never had a heart attack and laughed so hard at the same time in my life!
Is Childs The Thing at the end? Do you know your The Thing if your The Thing?
That’s the beautiful question… I don’t think he was, but he did disappear from the camera for a while… You never know and that’s what makes it great. I definitely think that if you’re “The Thing” you KNOW that you’re The THING!!, but you have to convince everyone else that you’re not… hehehehe
Do you think we’re alone in the universe? Does the thought of contact with an alien species excite you or fill you with dread?
I really hope we’re not alone and I don’t think we are. That would be a really lonely existence and extremely arrogant on are part to think so. I would like to see or experience other alien species, minus any “probes”. Whether they come to us in peace or war, it would be quite an adventure, just don’t let our governments do the talking for us.
Got any special message for the Harbies? Or anything you’d like to add?
I just want to say THANK YOU for making Harbinger Down a reality!!! and know that we as viewers and fans, we do have a say in what we want to watch.
The trailer for Harbinger Down will be unleashed THIS MONDAY June 9th – 12PM PST at www.harbingerdown.com. Keep one eye open on the following sites too for more info on the film and all sorts of Harbie-related mischief.