This weekend sees the release of mega blockbuster “Battle: Los Angeles.” We sat down with the cast, including Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez and Ne-Yo to discuss exactly what it’s like to shoot an alien invasion picture in such an unconventional manner, utilizing documentary-like shooting techniques. And we learned, of course, that some took it more seriously than others.
Aaron Eckhart spent the entire shoot in character.
“They put us up for three weeks, there were bunks, we took showers with the Marines,” says Eckhart, detailing the meticulous planning that went into shooting the project. “I yelled at them a lot, and they yelled at me! Ever since we started boot camp, I was on these guys. I was the character. So anything they said about Staff Sergeant Nantz, they were saying it for real. I pushed ‘em."
“So when we were doing that scene, the way those guys were feeling about me,” Eckhart sighs. “I don’t think Lockett [Cory Hardrict] was acting, I felt like he had a lot of issues with me. I feel like he’s a good actor, and he really took that seriously, he knew what I was doing… I was staff sergeant. I’m not their friend.”
This approach vexed other cast members, including Michelle Rodriguez (who claimed she didn‘t “meet“ Eckhart until shooting wrapped) and Ne-Yo. “I had heard of method acting, but I never experienced it before,” says the platinum-selling musician-turned-actor. “At lunch, I go, hey Aaron, what’s going on, and he’s like, [deep voice] LEAVE ME ALONE. And they’re like, 'Oh, he’s still in character' and I was like, 'Damn, why didn’t someone tell me?' I can imagine that’s dangerous! What if you’re playing a serial killer? Do you have the mentality of a serial killer? I mean, it’s like, 'Honey, I love you, but you might wanna go stay at your momma’s for three months.' I couldn’t do it.”
“Battle: Los Angeles” was almost entirely practical.
“This film was shot practically,” confirms Eckhart. “The props for the most part were real. When you see a burnt-down freeway, when you see overturned cars, when you see marines firing, that’s all real stuff, so it makes the experience for the audience more tactile.” In regards to the set, he says, “People were hurting themselves every day, knocking their teeth out. I broke my arm. Lots of marines just yelling, trying to communicate. It was rough.”
Aaron Eckhart says Harvey Dent is dead.
“Harvey Dent is dead,” confirms Eckhart for the umpteenth time. But when asked if he had any involvement in the next film, he replied, “How can I possibly answer that question? That would be career suicide.” When asked if he’s had conversations with Christopher Nolan about the next film, he re-iterated, “I won’t say that, but I will say Harvey Dent is dead.” If we had to guess, we'd say the character's legacy might be mentioned but the actor himself won't be in the film. And while fresh word keeps cropping up about Eckhart having a possible cameo, everyone seems to forget that back in December the actor revealed that Nolan told him directly he wouldn't be featured in the film.
Michelle Rodriguez thinks the alien reveal in 'Signs' wasn't believable.
Michelle Rodriguez had a deeply academic approach to taking the role. “I would not do the movie if I didn’t know what the aliens looked like, or what their planned reveal was, or if I didn’t know what the style of shooting would be,” said Rodriguez, saying she was blown away from the test footage director Jonathan Liebesman used to get the job. “After doing ‘Avatar,’ I felt like you have to up the ante a bit. I met up with [Liebesman], and asked what would separate this from every other alien movie, and what the reveal would be. Because that’s what makes or breaks your alien invasion movie. I mean, ‘Signs’? There are some examples there of what can happen when you reveal an alien inappropriately, or if the alien just doesn’t work."
“I can’t imagine a being that could travel at light speeds or even blink in and out of other dimensions,” Rodriguez continues, when pressed about alien trivia. “It had to resonate at a higher frequency than humans. And I think that humans are primal in their own ways, and that violence is something we make up. Unless they had our DNA, and if that’s the case, why haven’t they attacked before? There are all these questions looming over and I’m just like, 'What, a planet just popped up next to us that we haven’t seen in our Hubble?' I have my own theories about the subject."
“But James [Cameron]? This guy, he gets it. I think if aliens ever showed up, if there ever was an alien invasion, I think he’d be the first person people would look at and be like, 'Wow, you really tapped into that. What were you tapping into, man?'”
Aaron Eckhart is inspired by Denzel Washington
Eckhart claims he sought inspiration in the attitude and approach of the two-time Oscar winner. “When I see something he does, he’s really the guy I look to when doing this sort of a movie. You see him, and there’s no question whether he takes it seriously or not.”
Michelle Rodriguez is planning a film sabbatical to go save the environment.
Rodriguez has been active in working with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a marine wildlife conservation organization. “I joined them to help promote the cause, raise some money,” says the actress, who has a prominent appearance on the Sea Shepherd website. “I basically did their training course because I plan on joining them soon when I have enough funds to take off for three months.”
Michelle Rodriguez will be in every sequel ever.
When asked about a potential appearance in “Fast Five” despite her character meeting her doom in “Fast And Furious,” Rodriguez could only cryptically respond, “You know, it’s interesting, you never saw a body…” Sadly, she still has no information on “Avatar 2,” though, again, she passed on in the original. “He’s so cryptic and I hate it!” she says of Cameron. “He says, nobody in a sci-fi movie ever dies. He always used to say while we were shooting, 'Let’s immortalize this.' So, is he talking about anyone who’s in a sci-fi movie doesn’t die, because people will watch it forever? Or does he mean, we can always bring you back, because of the tree of souls or whatever?”
She did confirm her next project, the horror pic, “The Home," about a haunted nursing home saying, "More likely than not I’ll be doing that this summer....they’re getting production set up now.” 'Home' was first revealed earlier this year and Dimension Films is also behind the project, penned by Eric Vespe (aka Quint at AICN) that follows "a firefighter who is nearly killed during a failed rescue that leaves him physically and emotionally scarred. To recuperate, he is taken to a secluded nursing home where the elderly residents appear to be suffering from delusions. But after witnessing a violent attack, he soon realizes that the screams behind the walls are caused by more than hallucinations, and the residents are being preyed upon by twisted, monstrous nightmares that lurk within the home itself.” Brian Cox, Cloris Leachman, Louise Fletcher, Louis Gossett Jr., Ed Asner and Fionnula Flanagan were initially announced as part of the cast but no word yet if they're still on board.
Rodriguez is also pursuing her passion for screenwriting. “I got into the business to write ten years ago, and I never had the balls to do it. Finally, ‘Sex Drugs And Rock And Roll’ is gonna be my first script. It’s about sex drugs and rock and roll in New York. I’m gonna be in it, it’s the only way to get funding. It’s about that music, social scene and the different music social scenes of New York, the socialite versus hipster scene vs. the house music scene and all the drugs they self-medicate with. And it’s just sick to me. It’s like a ‘Pulp Fiction’ sort of vibe, but not as crazy or Quentin or Robert, a little more real."
"Battle: Los Angeles" is in theaters now.