Wrath Of The Titans Star Toby Kebbell Talks Big Monsters, Digital Effects And Green Wood
Weíve still got massive monsters, powerful gods and a ton of epic battles, but director Jonathan Liebesman and company are making big changes with their Clash of the Titans sequel, Wrath of the Titans, and one major step in the right direction is the inclusion of some comedic relief courtesy of Toby Kebbell.
Kebbell steps in as Agenor, the forgotten son of Poseidon and, therefore, Perseusí (Sam Worthington) cousin. When the mortals stop praying to the gods, they lose their powers, leaving them helpless against the Titans. Now the safety of the world lies in Perseusí hands, but in order to find the location at which he must start his journey, he needs the self-proclaimed Navigator, Agenor. Along with Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), they trek through Cyclopes territory and on in an effort to find a way to keep the Titans and Kronos from ravaging the earth.
Sure starring in a major motion picture sounds glamorous, but in Kebbellís case it involved being covered in mud, wearing tiny costumes in cold weather, having to hit marks perfectly for the sake of visual effects and more. However, as a guy who prefers to be on set even when heís not called, making Wrath of the Titans was a pleasure for the actor. Read all about his experience in the interview below.
Toby Kebbell: [Laughs] Stays dirty and gets bloodier, yeah.
How was that? Are you literally just rolling in mud with your makeup team?
I wish it was as sweet as that. Unfortunately, what it is is they paint you every morning with a cold sponge. And youíre wearing a skirt so it goes right up to your underpant line. So, yes, I had to be very sweet to my very sweet young makeup girl because there were some mornings when I didnít ever want to see that sponge again, especially in the Welsh Mountains when itís ice cold already and I was covered in mud.
It was cold when you were shooting this?
In Wales, yeah. In the Welsh Mountains Iíd say it was maybe 4 degrees, the wind chill makes it feel about zero, centigrade that is. It was freezing. If you watch the film closely, youíll see all the stuntmen are wearing big robes, all my soldiers, my troops in the final battle. I, however, am shirtless with underpants and a scarf covered in mud.
Thatís what you get for getting a leading role in a swords and sandals movie.
Thatís exactly it! The glamour disappeared very quick.
So whatís your preparation process when you get a new role? Over the years have you established any sort of routine?
Always my routine, whether it be a play or a TV episode or a helping young kids audition for a workshop, is you gotta take that piece out of yourself so that youíre not thinking about it, youíre not trying to perform. What always agitates me is when youíre watching actors perform and thatís perhaps because Iím not an artist. I donít come from that artistic place, but I believe in pretend. I totally understand what Sir Laurence Olivier was talking about. I also feel like I understand what Daniel Day Lewis and all the method chaps are talking about, but I really feel like that has to come from within yourself. Itís like writing. Itís like write what you know. Thatís why thereís a ton of characters Iíll turn down because Iím like, I have no clue about this. Iíve either not matured to this level or Iíve never experienced this or Iíve just got no interest in playing this very dull moment in human development. So yeah, to stop being an arty farty brat, [laughs] I accentuated my already fevered ego to play the demigod side and tried to add a nuance to it. The reason heís cocky and arrogant and blasť is because heís scared and disappointed. It gives me a journey to go on a little bit.
I like to work that way. Very quickly, when I sat with Jonathan, I realized that all of the Greek mythology I read wasnít 100% relevant. It did give me a couple of bits of backstory so when Iím trying to argue my point I had the beauty of Greek mythology to back me up and go, ĎWell, actually, in Greek mythology.í But Lieboís brilliant. He just sort of cut me down a little bit and said, ĎJust please help me make a good film. Thatís all I want you for.í [Laughs] I had a great friendship with him and with Sam, and we worked very hard to sort of alleviate the pressure of what was on the page in a sort of clichťd expositional process, well written, by the way, into something that we enjoyed to do and something that we felt was more character based.
And then how about the filming process? That was a bit of the opposite. It lasted four whole months. Were you on set that entire time?
I was there everyday. We took Sundays off, but we did a lot of six-day weeks and thatís 14 hours a day. But I enjoy it. I actually enjoy it. Iím terrible; I had one day off yesterday and I didnít know what on earth to do at all. As soon as my friend turned up I was like, ĎLetís sit and chat!í Iím terrible on my own. [Laughs] I think I have a perpetual hatred of feared loneliness. But I enjoy it; I really love being there and even when Iím not shooting, I stay on set. So if itís not my scene or itís not my thing, I just like to stay around because I like to be there. And I feel like Iím lucky to be there. What was the question? What am I not answering? [Laughs] Iím just blathering on!
[Laughs] The long production process.
Yes, I was there the whole time and thatís actually useful because then it really gives you that amount of time to ponder on the decisions youíve made that you think are brilliant in the morning and then youíre like, ĎFuck, does that even work? Does that even figure out? Yeah, that figures out!í Or, ĎNo, shit. That doesnít figure out. Maybe we should do this as well.í So yeah, I was just very lucky to have such a nice team of Jonathan and Sam, working together with them. Yeah, we shouted, but weíre all chaps and I think luckily we had the delicate nature of Rosamund and when she didnít feel like being there, I think she hid in her tent. [Laughs] So it was nice, but yeah, I think we all enjoyed to shout at each other in our dresses.
Yeah, there is a lot of practical stuff. In the underworld, the labyrinth, they were all practical sets, moving sets. Theyíll be added to, definitely, to give them the scope and the scale, but they were moving sets and they moved at pace. The crew we had, the special effects crew, is incredible. Not only were you working for Jonathan to make a great film, he gently made it clear that weíre trying to do this for the VFX guys, so yes, you are holding a piece of green wood in your hand, not the American terminology. [Laughs]
[Laughs] Good thing you clarified that.
Yeah, there wasnít a troll on set. [Laughs] I wasnít holding his wood. There was holding a piece of green wood in your hand, but, you know, youíre doing this for the VFX boys and I think having watched and loved Jim Carreyís films, you realize how important it is to just go wild and let yourself loose in that moment because then the VFX boys can make it cool and look really powerful, but if you sort of go, [grunts and mimics stinted fighting movements], then itís like, what can I do with that? You have to engage your fevered ego for one side of your character and let it go in order to pretend the green stickís real.
And how much of this stuff are you really doing? Iím thinking of that cage scene and it gets pulled up into the trees pretty damn fast. Are you actually in there?
Yeah! And hopefully theyíll have on the DVD some of the extras that show you me in that cage. I did all of my stunts and in fact my stuntman was like, ĎItís perfect for me, bro, because youíre doing really well.í I was like, ĎThanks man. Thatís really kind.í Heís like, ĎNo, no, I can put them on my show reel because no one will be able to tell itís you!í Especially in Wales when my headís all scarfed up and Iím running up that post to swipe. Let me tell you, there are 11 stunts going off just before, so boom, I run out of the hole, I run back, Iím watching one, two three, four, five, stick up, run up the stick and then swipe and I had to get that sword Ė the shot is from here, so I run up that spike and I have to swipe, remembering Iím jumping off and thereís a trench right in front of it, and I have to swipe. [Laughs] What really caught my aggression was when the dude was like, ĎYeah, but youíre like three inches off swiping his neck.í I was like, ĎWhy donít you do it?í And I was like, ĎI want to do this, so why am I being such a baby about it?í But yeah, it was tricky.
No, because everyoneís realized from HD and from fantastic directors like Steven Spielberg, if thereís nothing going on in the background and you have to VFX that later on, people are like, ĎUh, thereís all those things just moving unlike human beings.í You can try as much as you like, but the way people flip is so unique. Theyíre like snowflakes, magically, so you have to fill up the scope of the background and unfortunately when youíve decided to do that shot of me running up the post, youíve got the whole battlefield.
Howíd the 3D come into play? Did that affect your work at all?
No, not at all. The 3D is just the same as the visual effects. But I know everyone was really excited about the 3D on this. They had it just right. They were figuring it out so every now and again you had to move your body incorrectly, if you like. But, no, basically, it was exactly the same. You have to sell it as much as you possibly can in that moment so that theyíve got something to do with it. And thatís why the sword had to go exactly where it had to go.
What happens from here? Assuming all goes to plan, youíll be making a third one.
Yeah, that would be Ė but itís someone elseís plan. I have zero plans unfortunately. Iím a solider, so I have to Ė Iím not a solider, but you know what I mean in the sense of that Iím a troop and I sit around waiting until Iím told where to go. I would love to do a third one.
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