Subscribe To Topics You're Interested In
I've already subscribed
If you're worried Bruce Greenwood has a screw or two loose after accepting a role in a straight-to-DVD movie with the silly title Cyborg Soldier, don't worry: he's in on the joke. One of the first things he told me when we talked on the phone earlier this week is that he took the role for the campy factor, recognizing it as a throwback to the action movies of the 80s.
In Cyborg Soldier Greenwood plays the head of an agency that creates a cyborg (UFC fighter Rich Franklin) out of an ordinary man, and is put on the line when the cyborg escapes and tries to discover his real identity. Cyborg Soldier was released on DVD October 7. Read below for Greenwood's thoughts on the movie and a lot of other parts of his career, including his young Star Trek co-stars and filming his latest movie amid China's Olympic preparations.
What made you interested in the role to begin with?
What made me think it might be fun to do is it seemed like a bit of a throwback to an 80s kind of action movie, but there was kind of a campy element to it. I thought if I chewed some scenery [it would be good].
Do you see a redeemable side to your character?
No. He's a smug self-impressed bad guy.
You get some fun wicked monologues near the end, right?
There's a couple of a monologues. They were all kind of fun, actually. The guy's basically kind of spewing nonsense. It's fun to spew nonsense.
What's it like doing a movie like this as opposed to something more serious?
You don't take it nearly as seriously. You try and make it interesting, and because the situations are so absurd, you can't lose too much sleep about being believable. [...] This kind of movie, you're shooting seven or eight scenes a day. The general vibe of the set, although it's high energy and good, it's "mush ahead." You don't get to sit around for 20 minutes like you can on Capote and discuss what the two and three subtextual levels are.
Do you try to vary between silly roles and the more serious ones?
I like the chance to do the kind of thing where you get to sit around a ruminate about what the movie's about on a thematic level, what the relationships are designed to represent thematically. but those are few and far between.
How were fight scenes that you had with Rich Franklin, who's a professional fighter?
Fortunately the character that I played doesn't have to get too beaten up. I do less [of my own stunts] than I used to. I used to do as much as I possibly can. I don't think I realized until halfway through my career, if you take a stunt away from a guy, you've taken money out of his pocket. If they can do it, they make you look good, and do their job, make a paycheck. Why do it yourself.
Did you have any advice for your first-time actor co-star?
I wouldn't have offered anything unless he'd asked. I can't actually honestly remember if he asked. The most I would have said is just relax, and listen. That's all you can tell a first-time actor anyway. The environment is so strange for people who have never been on a set.
What about the actors on Star Trek? A lot of them are fairly inexperienced.
Chris Pine and Zach [Quinto], they're so good. Chris is the real thing. He's the real deal. It was really fun to work on that.
Is there any sci-fi reason for having the cyborg character in this movie looking human, rather than like the traditional machine cyborg?
Anybody with any sense would realize that this cyborg looks a lot like a human because it's a low-budget movie.
Have your past roles as a President given you any insight into politics this year?
No, the closest I've ever been to a President, I had an interesting conversation with John Kerry one night. I voted early this year, but I haven't gone to rallies and stuff like that. I'm not a political creature per se.
You've been making a lot of movies overseas. Is there a difference in that experience?
There is actually. You get to work with people whose working styles haven't been formed in Hollywood. There's not only one way to make a movie.
What's coming up next for you?
I've got a really cool one coming up, called Mao's Last Dancer. We finished shooting that this summer. It's based on a book. It's the story of a kid who's brought up in rural China, in a dirt-floored hut. During the Cultural Revolution, Mao sent out people to reach out into these rural communities [...] They pulled them sort of ad hoc into Beijing, and put them into boot camps where they were forced to be musicians and dancers and what have you. But some kids did have natural ability, and this is the story of one of those children who happened to have incredible natural talent. Even though he was ripped from his family at the age 12, he became a wonderful dancer.
What did you learn about China working on this movie?
I of course did a lot of research about China's evolution as a country, ending up this capitalistic society. And then going over there, being thrown into the middle of that pre-Olympic frenzy was quite something too. The city was crawling with people building and digging in trees.You couldn't swing a cat without hitting someone putting in a tree.
Are there any roles that you haven't tried that you'd like to play?
I'd love to play a guitar player, I'd love to do something in German.
Subscribe To Topics You're Interested In