A wonderful interview, but beware spoilers for Resident Evil: Retribution.
Oded Fehr RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION Set Visit Interview
by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub
If you saw Resident Evil: Extinction, you’re probably wondering how Oded Fehr is returning as the character Carlos Olivera in Resident Evil: Retribution. It’s an easy answer: cloning. However, before you start to think that his character is going to be a good guy that teams up with Alice (Milla Jovovich) to kick some Umbrella ass, it’s not that straight forward of an answer. As Olivera told a group of visiting online reporters last month on set:
“The interesting thing is, I come back as two different guys on this one. There’s a dynamic to the relationship with Milla’s character, and then there’s the other side. He’s working for the Umbrella again.”
Hit the jump for more.
As I said, last month I got to visit the set of the fifth Resident Evil when the production was filming in Toronto and participated in a group interview with Fehr. During the interview he talked about when he first found out he’d be returning to the franchise, what it’s like to play two versions of the same character, if he gets to fight himself, working in the 3D format, the action scenes, and so much more.
Before going any further, here’s the official synopsis from Retribution and the just released teaser trailer. Resident Evil: Retribution opens September 14.
The Umbrella Corporation’s deadly T-virus continues to ravage the Earth, transforming the global population into legions of the flesh eating Undead. The human race’s last and only hope, ALICE (Milla Jovovich), awakens in the heart of Umbrella’s most clandestine operations facility and unveils more of her mysterious past as she delves further into the complex. Without a safe haven, Alice continues to hunt those responsible for the outbreak; a chase that takes her from Tokyo to New York, Washington, D.C. and Moscow, culminating in a mind-blowing revelation that will force her to rethink everything that she once thought to be true. Aided by newfound allies and familiar friends, Alice must fight to survive long enough to escape a hostile world on the brink of oblivion. The countdown has begun.
Oded Fehr: Now I hear you’re shooting [Resident Evil] 5 without me? What the heck’s going on? And she was so cute. She was like, ‘Blah, dah, bah, bah, blah.’ You know? ‘We’ve got to call Paul [W. S. Anderson] right now.’ She didn’t want to say anything because she knew already that they were bringing me back in. So we met up with Paul that night, I think. And we had dinner that night. And he was like, ‘Yeah. We’re bringing you back in.’ So, I came back from the dead.
How? How are you brought back from the dead? Obviously you’re not the only one. We’re seeing characters from the first film being brought in as well.
So if I posed it as, ‘Are you going to get to continue your relationship with Milla [Jovovich]’s character, as they were alluding to in Part 3, or are you on the side of evil?
Fehr: Well, the interesting thing is that in a way I do, and in a way I don’t. See, because I kind of come back twice on this one. I think you had a hundred Millas on the last one. So obviously, you can have more Carloses and more Ones and more Rains. The interesting thing is, I come back as two different guys on this one. There’s a dynamic to the relationship with Milla’s character, and then there’s the other side. He’s working for the Umbrella again. So the answer is both.
So that allows you to have some fun with the character.
Fehr: Yeah. It’s great. I get to play two different characters. It’s fun. Two opposing sides.
Do you fight yourself in the film?
Fehr: Do I fight myself in the film? No. I’m not that lucky.
And you’re getting to work with Paul as a director this time, too. Because the last two that you were in—
Fehr: Yeah, but you know, number three he was there the entire time. I think there was a time where the director was out sick for three or four days, so I actually ended up working with him then. And he was so closely involved that it felt like you were working with him anyway. He’s a great guy. He’s a lot of fun. Really nice. It’s a great atmosphere on set. He’s got a good eye and knows what he wants. It’s fun.
How’s the 3D process on this movie for you?
Fehr: It’s complicated. The funny thing about it is, I always look at the steady-cam guys. When the steady-cam was still young, in the early days of steady-cam, I was in the beginning of my career. And I remember these guys carrying these big cameras—film cameras. They were not yet made for the steady-cam. They were big and heavy, and they were lugging these things around. And then, cameras became smaller and more compact. And then, boom! We moved into digital. Digital came in., and it was all big, and wires, and everything. And now, digital went so compact—it’s amazing! All of a sudden, steady-cams…they have an easier life again. And bam! Now we’re 3D, and they’ve got two cameras set up, with two sets of lenses, and two everything. And it’s heavier than it’s ever been.
Literally, it’s like we went back to the 1920s. But it’s amazingly complex and really cool. And as a guy who loves tech—a techie kind of geek—it’s a lot of fun to watch, and it’s really fascinating and interesting. I don’t know if you guys sat on set and saw…the guys constantly with a laser beam going on the screen to see the depth. It’s a lot of fun. It slows everything down a little bit. You get a little bit spoiled with the digital—shooting TV with digital—all of a sudden, a reload takes about [snaps] forty-five second. It’s done, and you can go and go and go. And now…you have to kind of stop and slow down and wait. It’s interesting. The whole ‘checking the gate.’ When we think about rotary phones, or things like that, or rolling down a window, and [how] our kids will never know what ‘to roll down a window’ actually means…it’s the same thing every time they say ‘checking the gate.’ There is no gate to check. It’s like ‘rerun the video.’ It’s kind of cool. It’s [one of] these things from the past that you know you experienced, and nobody else will. These young people won’t.
Can you talk a little bit about working with Paul? How he approaches the material and talks to you about characters? And how serious he is about this story that comes from a videogame series?
Fehr: I think these movies…they’re not the highest on deep drama and backstories and all the rest of it. They’re a popcorn fun ride, where, if they can stick some romance in it, and suggestions, and things like that, it’s a lot of fun. It’s just a fun movie, and I think that’s his approach about it. He’s extremely open to any kind of suggestions you might have, or anything like that. And he really concentrates on keeping the fun in it. Having the different characters. Having Rain, who Michelle [Rodriguez] plays. She plays Bad Rain and Good Rain, which is really funny. She’s like this tough girl, weapons specialist killer thing. And then, on the other hand, she’s this tree-hugger, Prius-driving, sweet girl. You know what I mean? So, he brings all that fun in there. And I think that’s his approach while filming as well. He loves keeping the fun and the spark in it. He surrounds himself with people he loves working with. Most of the people that are here are people he worked with on previous movies. So it’s a really great, nice set to be on.
Fehr: No, I think Michelle’s character and myself are the only ones that—I want to make sure that I’m saying it correctly—yeah, we’re the only ones that have the two characters. Sienna [Guillory]’s character has that spider thing stuck to her chest, which kind of controls her thoughts, as you saw in the last movie with Ali Larter’s character. So, she is a good person caught in a bad person’s body, kind of thing.
Have you seen any of the 3D footage assembled together?
Fehr: No. I haven’t seen the 3D assembled together. We see the 3D immediately while we’re shooting, so you can go and see the back-plays with the glasses, and everything. I’ve seen scenes that they were cutting together while we were doing second unit, and we had to find what it is that we had to add, or what’s missing. So we’ll see the little sequence and know what it is that we need to add in there. But that’s never in 3D. That’s just 2D. Just from one of the cameras.
Where do we first meet you in the film? Where do we get introduced?
Fehr: We get introduced to Carlos’ Todd in a very simple suburbanized home. And he’s just the husband. Just a dad and a husband, and a regular ol’ nice guy.
So are we getting prequel elements to this story? Is this kind of a prequel sequel? Eh? Or is this an Umbrella Corporation Home?
Well…[Makes noises] Uh…neh…nuh…yes. And no.
Is this film building to sort of a climax for the franchise? Or do you see it continuing on past this?
Fehr: I don’t know. I think so. I mean, I think the idea is to do—there’s one more movie that I know Paul definitely has in mind. [He] has this idea of this huge crescendo, a beautiful thing. But you know, when we did the third one, I thought that would be a huge crescendo beautiful thing. It just seems that people love watching the movies. Especially number four—it was more successful than number three. It’s like, ‘Well, if people like it, we’ll just keep bringing it back!’ It’s interesting working with Colin [Salmon]. Because Colin keeps saying [how they] shot this little independent movie in Germany, and nobody imagined that it would be so successful. And it is. I think it’s one of the most successful franchises. Right? People love it and it’s a lot of fun. It’s great. It’s interesting; I saw the movies to refresh myself with the series, and it’s like you’re watching Milla grow from a young kid in the first movie into this gorgeous woman in number four. This elegant, older, more mature woman, whereas in the first one, she looks like a kid. It’s kind of cool.
How does this film top the other entries that you’ve been in? Does it allow you to do anything new, action-wise? Is there anything that you’re really excited to see?
Fehr: I think the fact that I get to play the two different characters is the main thing. The movie is like anything else: once you’ve got a big enough ensemble, it spreads out. So there’s not as much…I’m not nearly as involved on this one as I was on number two or number three, really. So, I’m kind of more a part of the gang. And then I’ve got the sequence in the beginning that we talked about. But it’s the fact that I get to play the two different characters, which is a lot of fun.
Do you get to do any crazy wirework or fight sequences, or is it all guns blazing for you?
Fehr: This time, it was mainly more guns blazing. There’s a lot of concentration on the women fighting each other. So us guys, we get to be just tough guys shooting. But I got hung on the wires here and there. It’s fun.
This is a fifty-five day shoot. You obviously have some downtime. What have you been doing in Toronto?
Fehr: I’ve been traveling home quite a bit when I can. When I can’t, I’ve driven to Montreal. I love Toronto. We shoot Covert Affairs here as well. We shot number two here. So I’m back and forth to Toronto a lot. I’ve got to admit, I watch a little bit of the UFC fights. But what I love about Toronto, I love walking in Toronto. I just walk all over all the time. I absolutely adore the city. There’s a restaurant that I go to—every once in a while I’ll have the driver stop for me and pick up food from there. And every time I say, ‘Yeah, I walk here a lot. I walk to get my lunch here,’ and they’re like, ‘It’s an hour away!’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, it’s great!’ [Laughs] I love it. It’s a college town. It’s a beautiful town to walk. A lot of people are walking. It’s gorgeous. And when you come from a place like Los Angeles, you really appreciate walking.
How has it been working with some of the cast members who you haven’t seen in a while? It’s almost like a big reunion tour.
Fehr: It’s great! It’s really lovely. It’s a really nice, lovely bunch of people. I think Michelle—I missed it!—I think Michelle deejayed here on Saturday, which I missed because I went to Montreal. I’d never been to Montreal. I’ve been here, like, a million times, in Toronto. I’d never been to Montreal, and I decided, ‘That’s it. It’s my last weekend here. I’ve got to get out and go to Montreal.’ But yes. [They’re] the nicest people. We laugh a lot. We go out a lot. Eat a lot. It’s fun. It’s really lovely.
In Extinction, you guys were up against, kind of, new ‘super-zombie’ things in the desert. There were new creatures.
Fehr: Wasn’t that Apocalypse?
Fehr: Extinction…is that Number Three?
Fehr: [Laughs] There you go.
When you guys are in Vegas.
Fehr: When we’re in Vegas! Yes! Absolutely!
The effects teams did some really cool ‘super-zombies,’ where they were holed up in these big boxes, or something like that. Do you guys go up against anything new in this one, in terms of a creature or creature effects?
Fehr: Yes. Now, that’s a complicated question for me. The problem is that we never…I’m on the bad guys side. So we are the ones who are unleashing them, more than having to fight with them. So, I get the description, but it just goes right over my head, to be totally frank with you. It’s like, ‘Oh, so what do we got? Something coming out of the face? And claws? Oh, this one is up in the chamber, and he’s kind of a super-licker-something, jumping across the thing? And he’s got them in a kind of a cocoon thing?’ Which is very cool…but I’ll wait until I see it on the movie screen, because I have no idea what they’re talking about. So, because I’m on the bad side on this one, I don’t have as much interaction with them. To be totally frank with you, when we were in the desert, and you would have asked me, I would still have gone, ‘So, there’s something really big and scary coming out of that box. I’m not entirely sure what it is because I can’t see anything. But I really have to try and kill it and shoot it.’ I’m not a huge gamer. I think people who really play the games can recognize it and know what the characters are. But I really haven’t played the games since the second one.
You mentioned that you play two different versions of your character, and also that Paul is thinking for one more film. Do either of your versions survive? And as Paul said, ‘If we make a sixth, you’d be around.’
Fehr: I can’t say things like that! Do either of my things survive?
The Resident Evil movies are known for killing off characters. As you are familiar with.
Fehr: That’s a very good possibility. But I shouldn’t tell you. Should I? I shouldn’t tell you what happens!
Even if both of them die, you could come back. As Paul said to you, ‘If we make a final one, you’d be around.”
Fehr: Of course, but I don’t think anybody knows one hundred percent. He has an idea of what he wants to do. All I can tell you is that I love Paul and we have a great time. He found a way to bring me back on this one, maybe he will on the sixth one. I don’t know. I hope there will be a sixth one. I have no idea. We’ll see.
Which of the two do you like playing the best? Do you have a favorite of the two?
Fehr: That I did? Or the characters?
Fehr: Oh, it’s difficult to say. I think the good guy, because he’s almost like a throwback to a 1950s kind of character. It’s very un-Resident Evil kind of scenes. Very sweet.
Are you in pastels, and is it all campy?
Fehr: Yeah, maybe. It’s really nice. Very relaxed and nice. And then everything goes wrong.
Does the ‘50s version of your character have kids in this thing? Or is it just you and a wife? How is that?
Fehr: Yeah. We have a kid. Played by Ariana, who is very sweet. Little girl. Very sweet little girl.
How much of that do we get? That character. The good one. How much of that is in the movie.
Fehr: Oh, I don’t know. Not too much. There’s enough. Not too much. We’re not taking the movies and flipping them on their heads, and going into the 1950s. But it’s fun. It’s nice. Hopefully it will take the audience on a journey they didn’t expect.