On day two of Comic-Con, Campus Circle was invited to sit down with the director and stars of Resident Evil: Retribution for extensive interviews. One-by-one, the stars of the film shuffled between tables to answer our questions.
BORIS KODJOE (Luther West)
Q: How do you feel about NOT being killed off in a Resident Evil film? Most new characters in the franchise die pretty quickly.
BK: Well, that really doesn’t mean anything in the Resident Evil franchise. You can get killed and come right back. But I thought the way [director] Paul [W.S. Anderson] did it last time was clever because everybody assumed I was dead, and I came back to save the day.
Q: Talk to us about working with some of these lovely ladies.
BK: Well, Milla [Jovovich] is a sweetheart. She’s just lovely inside and out. We’ve had nothing but the best time together. We’ve become really close friends. She’s a true team captain! You know, when you have a star who’s so giving, it transforms a set. So, it’s just a great experience.
Q: Does Milla sing a lot around the set?
BK: Oh, of course, yeah! We sing, we record videos while we’re waiting for the next shot... We have a great time. She’s a prankster.
Q: And Michelle Rodriguez?
BK: Michelle is hysterical. Her personality is one-of-a-kind. She’s very strong and stoic, but she’s also a walking encyclopedia of random things that no one would ever think about. It’s always fun to be around her because she quotes these authors and philosophers. She loves to start discussions about things that come completely from left field.
Q: Speaking of coming back at the end of the last film, Afterlife, can we expect to see you involved in the big battle scene that Anderson has promised for the beginning of Retribution?
BK: Well, I appear in the tunnel and watch the airships come in, but you’re going to have to see the movie. It’s very interesting to see how it unfolds.
Q: Have you seen the finished film?
BK: I’ve seen the rough cut, but I haven’t seen the finished film. I can’t wait to see it because it’s so epic. It’s like nothing you’ve seen before.
Q: Since Afterlife was the first film that you shot in 3D, was it any easier in Retribution?
BK: Well, it just takes longer for set-ups. In terms of acting, there’s no difference, but the outcome is so much more dramatic. It’s incredible!
Q: Were there any stunts that you didn’t want to do?
BK: There were a couple of stunts, where I was like, “Um, I have two kids”... But you don’t want to punk out when Milla is jumping 20 feet in the air.
Q: How long were you on set?
BK: We had fight training for six weeks, and I was on set for four months.
Q: How did it feel coming into the franchise after three films?
BK: Well, you know it’s basically Milla and Paul that make up the nucleus of that franchise. Again, we became fast friends. They’re such amazing people; it was an instant connection.
MILLA JOVOVICH (Alice)
Q: Tell us about the videos you and Boris Kodjoe were filming on set.
Milla Jovovich: Well, we actually had this really cool video where they set a car on fire while we were in it –and it got really big! I was like, “I thought you said just a little bit of fire!” But they ended up setting the whole car on fire! It felt like I was back in the L.A. riots again.
Q: Boris said you were really good at making the set a family environment, and from keeping him from wimping out on his stunts.
MJ: Yeah! I think we’re like a big support group. It’s so nice to come back to this family environment, because it really is [like a family]. Everybody knows everybody on the set. It’s hard to look at it on a daily basis as work. There’s never a dull day, that’s for sure.
Q: Do you feel like the leader of this group?
MJ: Well, after so many movies, I have a definite sense of responsibility to the cast and crew. I’ve already been through so many of these films, and I just want everyone around me to feel comfortable. I think there is a danger that because you’re working with so many of the same people, new people coming in might feel awkward. I just want to make sure that everyone felt accepted and part of the team.
Q: After each movie wraps, do you feel relieved, or are you ready to start the next film?
MJ: Well, no, after a big action film, you’re always happy to wrap, and I’ve taken this year off. I knew I’d be doing promotion during the summer, and I wanted to work on music and do things for myself. I wanted to be with my daughter and take her to school.
Q: Does your daughter watch the Resident Evil films?
MJ: No. Sometimes, she’ll see the trailers, but she’s friends with all the zombies anyway! She would help put the blood splatters on, which for the “corridor of light” scene were actually stickers! So, my daughter was like, “Oh, stickers!”
Q: Speaking of the “corridor of light” scene, the stunts looked extremely difficult. Can you tell us about some of them? Did you find any of them particularly difficult?
MJ: The stunts are always tough. I remember feeling nervous because I knew there was a big flip that I had to do, and kick the zombies while in the air. I was so nervous! I guess I imagined it was real, and that my kick would really affect him. When you get to a set to really do a stunt, it’s so different than rehearsal! In rehearsal, you’ve got your sweats on... Suddenly, all these things come into play that you don’t expect.
Q: It seems like badass girls are coming into play a lot more in movies and television right now. However, there seems to still be a stigma attached, and there is a lot of criticism coming from the online community. What do you have to say about that?
MJ: When you start listening to people on message boards and stuff, you have to be super careful. These people spend so much time, and can write huge essays on why you suck and why you’re the worst thing to ever happen to mankind. I’ve read it before. It’s hilarious! I would get really upset, but Paul pointed out that it’s usually the same people just regurgitating the same stuff over and over again. And with a female[-centric] franchise that’s done this well, it’s really hard for me to listen to people who don’t agree. There’s never been a better time for women to be in action films. You can’t listen to naysayers. If I had listened to them, I would have done nothing but model. When I was a kid, people would ask why I was acting and singing –I was “just a model.” I mean, look at “Game of Thrones;” there are a lot of powerful women!
Q: Are you a big fan of “Game of Thrones?"
MJ: Yeah. (laughs)
MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ (Rain Ocampo)
Q: So, how does it feel to be back?
Michelle Rodriguez: I am really psyched about this one. I got shot in the head [in the first Resident Evil film], so when I got that call, it was really something.
Q: How was the training for this film? Do you have a lot of action sequences?
MR: Ahhh, no man! You know who has all the action sequences is this crazy girl [Milla Jovovich]. She just hit the ground running. I don’t even know how she does all of that stuff! I just trained for two weeks for a fight sequence that was pretty long, but when I looked at what she was doing, I was like, “haha!”
Q: So, that sort of scene doesn’t appeal to you?
MR: Of course it would! But you know, if Michi ain’t gotta work too hard, she ain’t mad at the situation. [laughs] But there’s “good Rain” and there’s “bad Rain,” so the personalities vary.
Q: We’ve heard that as “good Rain” you have to dress up and wear heels. How was that? Are you wearing heels right now?
MR: Hell no! (holds up heel that she’s switched for sandals) I haven’t got it down yet. She [Milla Jovovich] can run around in heels, and do all the ass-kicking stuff –I need my boots.
Q: So, you’re not a fan of heels.
MR: At ALL. You know what it is? I have these “Popeye” calves, so when you give me some heel action, they want to explode. My calves are just too muscular for that sh*t.
Q: What was your favorite place to shoot on Retribution?
MR: The Racoon City set was interesting. It was like The Stepford Wives! All the houses look alike.
Q: Was it difficult for you to play “bad Rain” and be Milla Jovovich’s enemy, seeing as you are friends and you were on the same team in the first film?
MR: It’s always easy for me to go mechanical. I mean, I pretty much made a 13-year career of doing it. It’s either that or try and be sexy, and I didn’t like the sexy thing too muc., so I just chose c*nty b*tch.
Q: Well, people love watching it, and you’re great at it.
MR: Thank you! It was my way of getting away with being strong and independent without making a big fuss about it. But it’s evolving now, and I think people like Milla prove that you can be strong and sexy at the same time. It’s freaking beautiful! She doesn’t have this stigma that you have to act like a man to be strong. That’s what we need to be right now in 2012. That’s the example we need to set! Either that, or people in third world countries are going to keep popping out babies like there’s no tomorrow. We have to give them that example: go get a job, get a life --it’s not all about having kids and being a wife.
Q: When the first film ended, were you disappointed that you died?
MR: Hell yeah, of course I was!
Q: When did you find out that you were going to come back?
MR: He [Paul Anderson] just gave me a ring while I was filming Machete.
Q: How was it coming back to the Resident Evil family?
MR: Oh, my god! Everybody’s got kids, they’re married... Everybody’s all grown up, they’re all adults now. Boo! (laughs) No, I love it. We built such rapport with each other, and we can look at each other’s faces and just be happy to be around each other. That’s hard in this business because people are so fickle and shady a lot of the time. There’s lots of politics behind the scenes –especially in Hollywood. You don’t deal with that kind of stuff with Paul and Milla. I am grateful for that.
ODED FEHR (Carlos Oliviera)
**Exclusive interview with Campus Circle
Campus Circle: How much training did you have to do for Resident Evil: Retribution?
Oded Fehr: You know, there’s a certain level of readiness that you always have as an actor. I’ve done this a while – action and shooting weapons – so we did some weapons training, and we worked out. But you know, I don’t actually do too many huge action scenes.
CC: No jumping out of helicopters on this one?
OF: No, no jumping out of helicopters on this one, that’s mainly for the women. Sienna [Guillory], Bingbing [Li] and Milla [Jovovich] –they do a lot of really crazy fights.
CC: What can we expect from Carlos as a character in Retribution?
OF: You know, all that I can tell you is… he is back.
CC: What can we expect from the zombies this time around?
OF: Oh, they always get worse and bigger and scarier. There’s a lot of stuff that you’ve seen, because Paul [Anderson] kind of pulled in a lot of characters from the past movies. It’s a lot of fun for people who have been following the franchise. It’s just a beautiful film. Paul has done an amazing job of making this an art movie, almost.
CC: We hear it’s on a much more epic scale than previous films in the franchise.
OF: Oh, it’s huge; it’s worldwide. His ability to use the 3D and make it beautiful –it sometimes blows your mind.
CC: Were you disappointed when you died in the third film?
OF: No because it’s the coolest death scene ever! It’s a huge hero moment when you sacrifice yourself for your friends, so it was a great scene. I try not to work on films with the thought of a sequel, I just try to work on a film and enjoy the film for what it is. When I did The Mummy, the director was talking to me about a sequel, but I never thought of a sequel. I love working with people I love, so when Paul was talking to me about doing Retribution, I didn’t really care so much about what’s going to happen. I was excited to work with everyone again.
CC: Have you ever played the "Resident Evil" video games yourself?
OF: I just played the one that Carlos was in when we shot Resident Evil: Apocalypse because if I play the video games, I will never do or achieve anything else. (laughs) When it came out on iPhone, I have to admit I played it. I get very easily addicted to these games. I try to be a good dad and spend time with my kids instead of playing video games. (laughs)
CC: When you played the video game, did you feel any sort of obligation to live up to the video game fans’ expectations of your character?
OF: I think when we did the second movie, we really tried to bring the character to life. But once we moved into the third movie, and once the movies evolved, you’ve created a new character. Carlos becomes its own entity. But for Bingbing [Li, who plays Ada Wong], there was. She’s creating her character from the video game for the first time.
CC: Were you ever disappointed that the romance between Alice and Carlos was not more developed in the script?
OF: I was satisfied with what I saw in the script. I think if you delve into things too much, you might lose your audience. It works well when it’s just suggested.
PAUL W.S. ANDERSON (Director)
Q: It seems like when we talked to Milla [Jovovich] and Michelle [Rodriguez], they said you like to foster a family environment. Do you like having the same team to work with every time?
Paul W.S. Anderson: I do! Milla sort of christened it “Camp Evil.” She said it feels like going to camp. We do change things up obviously, but the main creative elements have remained the same. I think that’s a pretty rad thing, to have all the same actors, writers and producers working on the film. I’m in a groove right now where I’ve made the last three movies with the same crew because they’ve done 3D movies, and I want to pull from the experience they had. So, now without a doubt, I think I have the best, experienced 3D crew in the world.
Q: Would you ever consider an Underworld/Resident Evil crossover?
PA: It’s an interesting idea. I’ve never heard that before, I must say.
Q: Is Retribution even scarier than the first Resident Evil film?
PA: Yes. I’ve watched Retribution with audiences, and even some people who’ve worked on the film who know what’s going to happen. I’ve never made a movie that’s made people scream so much. This has more and better scary jumps. So, on the one hand, I’ve really tried to make the scope of this movie as epic as possible, but at the same time, I’m trying to combine that epic scope with the fact that it’s super scary.
Q: Why do you think you were able to create a successful video game adaptation when almost no one else can?
PA: I approached it as a fan; I immersed myself in the world of “Resident Evil.” Of course, there will be fans who will tell you that I’ve ruined “Resident Evil” five times; some people are like, “Why wasn’t Jill Valentine’s skirt right?” Even though they may not follow the exact story, they feel like the games, and I think the gamers respond to that. But also, I’ve crafted a story that works for the gamers, and an audience that doesn’t know anything about the games. That’s a fine line to walk. In order to get a successful movie, you have to have both.
Q: Part of what makes these movies successful is that you don’t try to do the exact same thing over and over again.
PA: Well, I like to think I give the game fans something fresh. I love the games. I started playing “Resident Evil,” and I wasn’t horrified when I opened the box of “Resident Evil 2” and realized it had different characters in it. This is not a crime against humanity. That was actually a strong thing for the video games. I remember when we were doing Extinction, some people were saying that we couldn’t do Resident Evil in a hot, bright environment. Sure enough, when “Resident Evil 5” the video game came out, where are they? So, we try and stay true to the games in terms of the feeling and intensity of the games. Every director of photography who had worked for me has watched the video games. They know how the video games are shot, so that when he shoots it, in his mind he’s seeing the images from the games.
Q: So, loving the source material is the key to success?
PA: I think so. I mean, I’m shocked when filmmakers go, “I never played the video game.” I’m like, “Are you kidding me?” You’re going to make War and Peace and you’re not going to read the book? It’s so disrespectful. Also, if you don’t understand what people like about the video games, how are you going to understand what to put in your movie?