Exclusive interview with Joseph Gatt
May, 2013 | The charismatic british actor Joseph Gatt is part of "Star Trek Into Darkness" but many know him as Grundroth from "Thor" already. In the Cinemax action show "Banshee" he also portrayed the villian The Albino with an impact the viewers won't forget any time soon. In our interview Joseph Gatt gives some very nice and detailed insight into his work on these three projects.
1. You play the cybernetic-humanoid Enterprise Starfleet Bridge Crew Member 'Science Officer 0718' in the new "Star Trek Into Darkness". What can we expect from this character?
0718 is one of the new officer additions to the primary Enterprise bridge crew. I'm an augmented human, in a way that increases my intelligence & reduces my emotions, sort of like an artificial Vulcan. My main job is to work closely with the science & engineering systems in a role that shadows Spock's position.
2. J.J. Abrams said in an interview with his reboot of the "Star Trek" franchise he wanted to bring optimism back to science fiction movies. Would you say this is also the premise in "Into Darkness"?
I totally agree with J.J., and he's definitely succeeded with "Into Darkness". Speaking for myself and a lot of people I know, we are totally bored with dark, depressing movies which end in misery and death leaving no hope for the hero or mankind. In these movies the earth is a dark, bleak, and depressing place full of very bad people who never look beyond the ends of their selfish noses and kill and hate indiscriminately. With "Into Darkness", J.J. has returned to what made "Star Trek", the original series, so compelling in the first place. It's about hope, exploration, trying to do the right thing for friendship, love, and ultimately humanity. There are many strong political and humanitarian morals to this movie, and after 132 minutes of tears, laughter, tension, and surprise, you leave the theater with a sense of happiness and pride in humanity and our future. That is very rare for a modern movie or TV show.
3. Abrams also said you don't need to be a "Star Trek" fan to enjoy this movie. Would you agree and what does this mean for the movie in terms of is it more action/drama, less "technobabble" or something like that?
This is a movie that a total "Star Trek" first timer will love, as well as a hardened Trekkie! There are so many moments that relate and pay homage directly to previous movies, and especially the original series, that only Trekkies and fans will understand and appreciate, but you don't need to understand their origination to still feel the humor, tension, sadness etc. It's a very well-crafted script.
4. What was the best part of working on "Star Trek Into Darkness"?
It's difficult to single out any particular thing, because the whole experience was so wonderful. I walked onto that Enterprise Bridge set every day for nearly 6 weeks, and it never got boring. There was always a lump in my throat every time I put on that Blue shirt and the prop girl stuck the Starfleet badge to my chest with double sided tape. Meeting the awesome team, Chris, Zach, John, Anton, J.J., etc., and sharing jokes and fun with these people will always stay in the memory. Probably my proudest moment, though, was watching the movie for the first time. I walked out of that screening at Paramount with my head held very high with immense pride at being blessed with being able to be part of this incredible movie!
5. Are you a little bit of sci-fi geek yourself? A fan of "Star Trek" and "Star Wars" or even other sci-fi shows? If so, who is your favorite captain and why?
I am a massive geek. I have been ever since I was a child. I got my first Millennium Falcon on my 8th birthday and still have it to this day in mint condition. I have a massive "Star Wars" (original figures) collection of action figures and vehicles. I also have a tribble, a 2009 Enterprise model, as well as several blasters, phasers etc., & the list goes on. I used to read comic books, also, and THOR was one of my faves! I'm currently totally geeking out over "Battlestar Galactica". I met Aaron Douglas at a convention in El Paso, TX, and he convinced me that I would like it. So I took his advice & watched the miniseries, and now I'm hooked. EJO is amazing as "Adama"! As far as favorite Captains go (of The Enterprise), this might be a controversial answer. I always liked Bill as "Kirk", but I loved Sir Patrick as "Jean Luc Picard". He was bald, British, and always calm under fire, almost like a space "James Bond". But since working on "Into Darkness" and watching him work up close, Chris is an amazing actor and really embodies everything about "James T Kirk". He's great with the humor and light banter, but he also knows how to really work it when the heavy stuff is needed. So #1 Picard, and #2 Kirk (Pine).
6. Landing the role of the Frost Giant Grundroth in "Thor" was an important step in your career. What was working with Kenneth Branagh and Anthony Hopkins like?
Ken was delightful. He was so charming, but very professional and businesslike. He is an actor's director and really knows how to communicate with every actor in their own language so that he can get what he needs from them. Very similar to O.C. Madsen, who directed my episodes of "Banshee". I'm very lucky to have worked with these people. As with J.J., they are very inspiring people! Sir Anthony Hopkins, or Tony, is just the most magical presence to be around. He exudes such a wonderful aura of knowing who he is & what he's about. He walked onto set every day and greeted me by saying, "Joseph, dear fellow, how are you today? Isn't this wonderful? It's so wonderful to be here". Then he'd get into make-up and transform into Odin, and we'd have a cup of English tea and talk about how much we love living in America. Stunning man.
7. Playing Grundroth probably involved spending a lot of quiet time in make-up? But on the other hand some action with stunts, too?
Grundroth's days usually started about 6 hours before camera-ready time, which usually meant 2 and 3am call times for a 9am start. It was a serious process involving a full, foam latex, bespoke, body suit. Then the prosthetics would be applied to my face and head. This, together with the painting/airbrushing would take about 4 hours. While the two awesome SFX makeup artists worked, I would try to sleep. After that, the finishing touches would be applied. The armor, feet, boots, and ice and snow. Scleral full-eye contact lenses would be put in by an expert lens tec right before shooting, because they were incredibly uncomfortable to wear. It was a lengthy and uncomfortable process but resulted in an amazing final creation. It was funny, sometimes we'd be in makeup for so many hours that we'd forget what we looked like until we looked in a mirror. When I was on the red carpet for the premiere, I wanted to say hi to Tony (Hopkins), whom I'd been speaking to almost every day for the 3 months of shooting, but then I remembered that he'd only ever seen me as "Grundroth". He had NEVER seen me without the make-up, so I didn't think he'd recognize me. Luckily, I was wrong. He came up to me on the carpet, took my hands, and said, "Joseph, my dear chap. How are you? It's been so long. Isn't this wonderful?" and he proceeded to introduce me to his entourage.
As frost giants we rehearsed for three months before shooting began, to learn the complicated fight sequences and to get used to moving like a frost giant. Mostly we rehearsed with the stunt team, but for the last few weeks we rehearsed with the other actors. My big battle as "Grundroth" was with "Hogun", Tadanobu Asano. He was amazing to work with and a great guy. We were all given stunt doubles, just in case we needed them for the difficult stuff, but in the end, most of us did almost all of our own fight choreography, and the doubles were hardly used. It was a real testament to our conditioning and hard work during those rehearsals. Not all actors twist an ankle the minute they try to walk and talk (winky face).
8. Antony Starr from "Banshee" just recently said in our interview that your character The Albino is his favorite villain in season 1 and he was a huge fan favorite, too! Were you surprised the character made such an impact? On paper he really is one scary villain!
That was a very sweet and kind thing for Ant to say. He's awesome, & it was a really great pleasure working with him. Regarding the fans' reaction to 'The Albino', yes, I was extremely surprised. I knew he'd be impactful, but I thought it'd be in the kind of way that would have people spitting and jeering at me in the street. I had no idea people would LOVE this guy. I mean, he's one really mean, nasty, messed up MoFo, but fans have really taken to him, and still now people tweet and facebook about how they'd love him (me) to return to the show and that my arc was way too short. Astonishing.
9. The Albino's undertones, the sublime speech, his code of honor, the nose nuzzle, all different aspects that combined to an exceptional yet vicious villain that we hate to love. How do approach playing such a character?
After my initial horror at the script and booking the role, I really took some time to sit with 'The Albino' and figure out what I wanted to do with him. I could've taken the easy way out and just played him as an angry, two dimensional, one note bad guy whom you've seen a million times before portrayed by bored or incapable actors. But what I really wanted to achieve was empathy. I wanted this person to have real reasons for doing the things and behaving the way he does, and ultimately they are sad reasons leaving him in a do-or-die survival situation. He's behaving the way he does because he has to, and by doing these things he has created a comfortable world for himself to feel like a worthwhile person, which is something he probably never experienced in the outside world. I gave myself a sort of goal, that if I could make just one person empathize and so in turn sympathize with this totally evil character, then I've done my job... and I think I did!
10. What character facets would you like to play that aren't in your repertoire yet?
I would like to try playing someone weak and uncertain. It's something that's a very difficult sell with me due to my look, physicality, and demeanor, so I'd like to give that a try one day.
11. Since myFanbase is an online magazine about U.S. television shows, do you have one or more favorite show(s)?
As I mentioned earlier, I'm currently watching "Battlestar Galactica" and thoroughly loving it. I'm also enjoying "Game of Thrones" and totally LOVE "Strikeback"! Other faves my girlfriend (Mercy Malick) and I like to watch together are "Grimm", "Homeland", "Episodes", "Castle", "Elementary" & "Modern Family". Oh, and let's not forget "BANSHEE"!
Thank you, Joseph, we wish you all the best for your future projects!
Nicole Oebel - myFanbase
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