Charlie Day Interview For Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘Pacific Rim’
When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju.
On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes – a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi) – who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse. Set for a July 12th 2D, 3D and IMAX release, ‘Pacific Rim’ also stars Idris Elba, Rob Kazinsky, Charlie Day, Ron Perlman, Max Martini, Clifton Collins, Jr., Burn Gorman, Larry Joe Campbell, Diego Klattenhoff, and Brad William Henke. Oscar nominee Guillermo del Toro directed the sci-fi action adventure from a script he co-wrote with Travis Beacham.
Your character in ‘Pacific Rim,’ Dr. Newton Gaiszler, he’s a bit of odd guy….
Charlie Day: He is (laughs). He’s obsessed with these monsters, the Kaiju. I believe I’m the foremost expert on them and I become obsessed with getting my hands on a living brain of one of them. In the future the way that we operate these Jaegers is having two people share a mind space, so I’ve got this hunch that I can possibly share a mind space with one of these Kaiju and possibly understand the world a little bit better and perhaps end the war. So he goes on a crazy adventure trying to pursue that.
Newt faces some interesting quandaries. One: the potential end of the world. Two: a lab partner who is constantly contradicting him. Three: being the smartest man on the planet and trying not to sound arrogant about it, but, hey, that’s who he is (laughs). Let’s face it, he’s a nerdy scientist, but he resents the nerdy scientist stereotype, so he rebels against it with his tattoos and leather coat.
How was it bringing some levity to the story and comedy relief – particularly with the dynamic between Newt and his lab partner, Gotleib?
Charlie Day: Gottleib, played by the brilliant Burn Gorman, is my lab partner and he’s sort of the bain of my existence (laughs). He and I don’t see eye to eye on science. He’s very by the book and by the numbers while I’m more about wild theories and taking crazy swings. We butt heads a lot . But yes, certainly myself and Burn provide a little bit of much needed levity, it’s a break from the monsters and the guys fighting. But then the character gets thrust into the story in a way that his life is seriously at risk and it becomes a little more action oriented and a little more horror movie-esque. So, he kinda bounces back between being humorous and also being real. He’s not funny in the way that the guys from ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ or ‘Horrible Bosses’ are funny, because he has to be real. In the movie you have to buy the monsters and buy the world and you don’t want to be taken completely out of it.
For me, Newt’s sort of the “everyman” of the movie. Because the rest of these guys, they look really good in their suits and they’ve go abs (laughs), they can kick and fight and punch. Newt is sort of the “everyman” and he’s flawed and he’s arrogant.
What was it like working on these fully realized sets that Guillermo and his team built?
Charlie Day: One of the most amazing things was that almost nothing was green screen, which was fantastic. Guillermo reconstructed four city blocks of Hong Kong for some of the sequences. I’d walk onto set and I’m supposed to be running from these creatures and there’s 500 extras and they’re carrying chickens and there’s dogs running in the streets. The sets were incredibly detailed, and monsters would be flipping cars over as it moves and the team would rig these cars on springs that would be flying over me – it was wild! I think I saw a green screen once during filming.
I think at one point we were doing a scene on the Hong Kong streets, it was pouring rain, and we cut and I just walked into one of the restaurants that they had. And even down to the blue stained fingerprints they had on the menus, because the people have the blue Kaiju blood on their hands, and stuff like that (laughs). So the amount of detail really blew me away.
How was it working with Guillermo del Toro on the film? He seems so passionate….
Charlie Day: He has the spirit of a big, little kid. I think he really enjoyed his monsters and robots (laughs). He works incredibly hard as well, and he doesn’t sleep, he edits when he’s not filming and he works on the weekend…. I think he must sleep an hour a day. But working, he’s in the middle of his war and he keeps a good attitude and a great love for what he’s doing. You get really invested because of that and you go for the ride. I think Guillermo will go down in cinematic history as one of our more talented, visually brilliant directors. I really believe that, he’s incredible
Did you he give you room to improv?
Charlie Day: He actually did, which was surprising I think. He’s very collaborative. There were times for it and there were times where it didn’t make sense to do it. I had a lot of technical jargon here and there so you can’t really improvise what these creatures are made of. But there were times when I was reacting to Ron’s character or Burn’s character and we could be a little loose with it. But he doesn’t discourage it, he’s very secure with what he’s doing so he’s completely open if someone comes up with something in rehearsal or something like that.
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