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DEAD RISING : WATCHTOWER’S Jesse Metcalfe on Stunts and Zombie Apocalypse

dead-rising-watchtowerThis weekend at Wondercon in Anaheim Ca., I had the opportunity to take part in some roundtable interviews with some of the cast and crew of Crackle’s new Dead Rising: Watchtower. Among the cast was the star of the film Jesse Metcalfe, who plays Chase Carter in the film. In this interview, Metcalfe talks about doing his own stunts and what he would do in a zombie apocalypse.

Q: You wanted to play an action hero and they were just happy to have you on board. Were you just like a kid in a candy store going ‘thank God I get to do this’?

Metcalfe: Yeah absolutely. Truth be told, when I first auditioned for Dead Rising, I really didn’t think that much of it. I threw it on tape because I was out of town at the time, I was in New York and like a week later I got a call saying they wanted to hire me. So I was like ‘well I better find out what Dead Rising is,’ (Laughs) which I did. I logged in a lot of hours, I watched a ton of gameplay, I played every installment of the game, all four installments. I mostly focused on ‘Dead Rising 2: Off the Record’ cause that’s the game that our producers really drew most of the source material from and it was also their favorite game. I just kind of emerged myself in that world and got crazy addicted to it. Obviously the combo weapon aspect of it is just like really fun. It’s kinda like a little fantasy thing. I mostly wanted to be a part of this because I wanted to be a part of the genre and I wanted the opportunity to come to stuff like this, Wondercon, Comic-con.

Q: What did you think when you heard people like Dennis Haysbert and Virginia Madsen were going to be co-starring with you?

Metcalfe: I was like ‘wow! That’s awesome!’ To get that caliber of actors it goes to show you, one, the popularity of the genre, that’ it’s attracting successful and seasoned actors. And two, they probably were just like me, they wanted to come to the cons as well but also I think it also points to the direction of digital production and streaming and that being the way of the future and kind of wanting to get on board with that and be at the forefront of that. Then when I heard who was involved, Sony Crackle and Legendary, I was like ‘wow, that’s nothing to scoff at.’ So however this thing turns out, at least I can make some nice relationships there but obviously, I was super pleased 0n the way the movie turned out. I think we achieved our goal, which was to bring this popular Capcom video game to life and make a successful live-action adaptation, which there’s not many of them. You know, a lot of these adaptations have been total failures (laughs) and have been really rejected by the gaming community and we wanted to create something they could be proud of.

Q: The movie was a really fun movie and was very close to the game. I think it’s the most successful game to movie adaptation, in my opinion. They told us you did your own stunts and it looked like there was so much going on, which stunt was the most hard and fun to do?

Metcalfe: Okay well, my usual answer to this case it was the most fun was the ‘oner’.When Chase comes out of the pawn shop up until he closes the gate and he has his run in with Bonzo in the alley but that whole sequence, was very demanding. I mean a lot of fun but the oner from the pawn shop to the closing of gate, that was over a five minute long shot, continuous shot without any cuts or edits and we shot it seventeen times. So at the end of every take I was literally gasping for breath and dumping sweat. I mean from an actors prospective, at least for me, there’s nothing that brings you into a world. I’m a very physical actor, so when I have to do something super physical like that, I’m not acting you know? It just kinda brings me right into that world because you can’t act, you have too much to do, you’re too busy doing something to like start vamping for the camera. And everything that went into that, from the props, the special effects, rigging, the choreography and the camera work, I just thought it was amazing the way it turned out. Now the scene where I was tied to the forklift, I thought that really came out well in the movie. I really liked my performance in it. The desperation and stuff like that, I thought it was a lot of fun. I put my body on the line for this movie. The rope burns I had around my wrist, were gnarly. Even when the forklift blew up, we had our stunt guy doing that final leap onto that asphalt, and I was sitting behind the monitors and I was like, ‘that doesn’t look good.’ And I walked out there and was like ‘hey man, I appreciate the effort but I’m going to take it from here,’ and I did that fall. A six foot fall onto the asphalt. Sure you have elbow pads and kneepads on but it still hurts. I think it was all worth it. There’s not a single moment in the movie where you’re like ‘that’s not Jesse’ cause there isn’t one. I seriously challenge anyone to find one.

Q: What do you love most about the zombie genre?

Metcalfe: I love the zombie genre cause it’s very layered. There’s a lot of different perspectives on why people love the genre, why people relate to the genre, the symbolism that’s a commentary on our own humanity. I think that monster movies sort of evolve with the times. Whatever humankind is most afraid of at that time, seems to be at the core of what they’re afraid of in the movies. For us in this movie, it was really about government control and also about infectious disease, like a plague, ebola or something and how the government could use that to further their control. I think that made our story unique. But there’s a lot of different explanations as to why we rate to zombies . I think people just loving movies about post-apocalyptic worlds because there’s so much freedom there, you can just kinda like do whatever the hell you want. If you want to go loot, you can loot. If you want to kill someone, you can kill someone (laughs). Obviously there’s a lot of fantasy fulfillment there. I think people get a kick out of that. You can go on forever about why people love zombies. I think the most accurate depiction is that it’s a commentary on how we’ve sort of destroyed our own civilization and it’s about saving that civilization and coming back to caring about one another.

Q: Really quick, you wake up tomorrow, there’s a zombie apocalypse, what’s the first thing you do?

Metcalfe: (Laughs) ummm…wow, the first thing I’d do? Hmmm….

Chris Salce: You’re already dead, you’re thinking too much. (Laughs)

Metcalfe: (Laughs) I know right? Uh…build a weapon I guess. (Laughs).

Dead Rising: Watchertower is  now available for free on Crackle. The film stars Jesse Metcalfe, Meghan Ory, Virginia Madsen, Dennis Haysbert, Rob Riggle, and Keegan Connor Tracy. The film is directed by Zach Lipovsky and written by Tim Carter.

Stay tuned for more interviews with director Zach Lipvosky, actor Dennis Haysbert, writer Tim Carter and producer Tomas Harlan.