Our very own reporter, David Krisor, interviewed Latino actor Jose Pablo Cantillo about his experience working with director Neil Blomkamp and Die Antwoord in the film CHAPPiE.
Here’s what Cantillo had to say:
Q: Blomkamp is becoming one of my favorite directors, what makes him different than working with other directors you have worked with?
Jose Pablo Cantillo: It doesn’t seem like you are working on a big movie with him… it feels like working on an indie (film.) It feels like we’re doing something very important. He believes in collaboration. He doesn’t keep any secrets, he tells you exactly what the scene is, what’s important. He spends time with each actor in the rehearsal process. He likes to collaborate and asks, ‘what do you think Yankie would wear?’ He gives you that type of responsibility you have been waiting for your whole career.
Cantillio also described Yankie as a fun loving happy go lucky guy who may or may not go off at any second (the character has a tattoo of a heart wrapped in a bomb) whom may or may not have been a banger in Echo Park, but had to leave for unknown reasons. Blomkamp allowed him as an actor to explore whom he saw the character as.
Cantillo went on to comment that Blomkamp is one of his favorite directors and that his films are grounded in reality. “That is the magic trick that not enough people give [Blomkamp] credit for.” I went on to agree with Cantillo and say that unlike films like Avatar which to me was very cartoonish, Blomkamp’s films have a real world feel. Cantillo added that, “We filmed in extreme areas that are very real and neglected” referring to the rougher areas of Johannesburg where the film was shot and that’s why they feel more grounded more real than other recently made sci-fi films.
Q: What was the most memorable scene for you from the movie?
Jose Pablo Cantillo: When I was teaching CHAPPiE in the old abandoned power station, Die Antwoord’s lair, and CHAPPiE is saying he is not going to go on this mission [he] is not going to participate. For Yankie this moment clicks. There’s a different tactic that can work here only big brother (Yankie is like CHAPPiE’s big brother in the film) can enlist. That was a fun day. I tell CHAPPiE, ‘Hey man you can be actually helping people’ (when he is actually stabbing people.) It’s really manipulative.”
Cantillo’s character has an “extreme cholo mustache and mutton chops with a little steampunk thrown in.” Cantillo sees this as an homage to the Daniel Day Lewis’ character Bill the Butcher from Gangs of New York, a character whom you never knew what he would do, whether he would hug you or kill you.
The other memorable moment for Cantillo is where Ninja, Yolandi and Yankie suit up by attaching all kinds of weapons to themselves. They line up and then walk out for battle like an 80’s action movie in slow motion.
Q: How was it working with Die Antwoord in their first feature film?
Jose Pablo Cantillo: Different. They are very authentic, themselves. Authentic is the word. They are playing themselves.
They took Cantillo on a field trip to where they lived and filmed some of their earlier videos in the rougher more impoverished areas of Johannesburg. “They got this barbecue going, this is where we shot all our music videos and it was sort of the initiation into being one of us now. It was a trip. They are big characters in real life and they are big characters on the screen”
Cantillo sees Die Antwoord as “having a real positive effect on the movie.”
Q: Your character is the only one whose “self” was not revived as a Scout Unit, how do you feel about that?
Jose Pablo Cantillo: Yeah they didn’t even bury me. They didn’t take the time to bury either half of Yankie. I was a little disappointed but that’s what’s so much fun. Maybe you will see Yankie’s legs show up somewhere or maybe his top half shows up somewhere. It happened in Crank, just my head made it to the sequel. Maybe a body part of Yankie will get revived into a Scout. You know it didn’t bother me to be honest. I unfortunately do die in a lot of my projects if you are going to die and go out with a bang and go out memorably. I have to say that Neil took me out in a way that was fun to do. It’s fun to watch.
I ended the interview by saying that I hoped to see him in the next Blomkamp movie, which he thanked me for. So Mr. Blomkamp please take Mr. Cantillo out in the most gruesome acid soaked fun in the next Alien movie!!!