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INT: Michael Landes

04.28.2002by: The Arrow

The Arrow interviews Michael Landes

"Final Destination 2" star Michael Landes recently took some time off from his on-set hockey game to slap some FD 2 info our way. I honestly had never heard of the man (he played Jimmy Olsen on TV's "Lois and Clarke" for the uninitiated) but I had fun talking to the dude. He came across as a cool, stand up hombre. Check out what he had to say.

ARROW: What’s your favorite horror movie?

MIKE: What’s my favorite horror movie…jeez…I don’t know if I have one…[laugh]…I’m looking at my wife here (she whispers something)…. oh yeah! The Shining! The Shining!

ARROW: The Jack Nicholson one?

MIKE: Yeah…

ARROW: Good choice, good choice. So how did the audition process go down for Final Destination 2?

MIKE: I think somebody dropped out at the last minute, I then got a call on a Thursday morning to go to an audition. I hadn’t read the script and I had never seen the first movie. I just went in and did two scenes and hoped for the best. They sent my taped audition to the director in Canada and they hired me the next day. It went so fast.

ARROW: Wow!

MIKE: I flew up to Canada that Sunday and I had just done reading the script and getting my bearings…so it was kind of an awkward way this one went about.

ARROW: What did you think of the script when you read it?

MIKE: Well, I then also viewed the first movie and I saw why these movies are so interesting and entertaining to people and why they have such a strong following. This sequel has a lot of the same things…like the way they set up the deaths are very clever and very exciting, you know what I mean?

ARROW: Yeah…

MIKE: They’re surprising and all of them are very different. There was a nice variety. It seemed potentially very exciting to me. Like the opening scene for example is a heck of a lot cooler, faster and scarier than the one in the first one.

ARROW: Can you give us some insight on your character? What’s his position in all of this madness?

MIKE: I play a State Trooper. The movie opens up with a huge car accident and all the characters that you meet in the movie are on this on-ramp. I save the girl that has the premonition (Arrow Note: the A.J. Cook character) from the wreck and then together we try to solve what's happening with the few people that have survived. My connection to the first movie is that when the boy was decapitated by the train (Arrow Note: Sean William Scott’s character in FD), my character went to the scene of the crime when he was killed.

ARROW: Your character investigated his murder?

MIKE: That’s my character's connection to the first movie and that interested me. When this girl says she’s had a premonition and everybody around her says she’s full of shit, my character is more intrigued than anybody else.

ARROW: Does a love interest eventually surface between you and the lead?

MIKE: It's kind of a protected relationship, more like a brother/sister thing than a love interest. They didn’t want to go there, I guess. They did go that way in an earlier draft of the script but they didn’t want it to seem like the cop is like lascivious or something. So what they have now, hopefully, is a little bit of chemistry and you get the idea that through tragedy something good will come. So it ends in an optimistic way, that maybe they can be together but there’s no real love story.

ARROW: Have you been involved in any extensive prosthetic applications for the role?

MIKE: I had to do a body cast because in the premonition, my character dies, It’s so funny, they just shot it yesterday, they had my dummies that are made out of wax on set.

ARROW: How creepy was that to see?

MIKE: It’s a trip, you’re laughing, looking at yourself and it's like you’re at the Hollywood Wax Museum.

ARROW: Are you a claustrophobic person?

MIKE: When they did my head cast, all my senses were closed down, my ears, my nose, there was a moment there for a minute or two that got pretty claustrophobic. But the guys are really cool; they’re the number one shop here in Vancouver, so I think they tried to make it as pleasurable and quick as possible.

ARROW: How was it being directed by David Ellis? Was he open to input? Did he let ya improvise?

MIKE: He’s been very open minded from day one and, in fact, this character was so underwritten that he wanted me to bring as much personality and input as I wanted to. He also set this nice environment where everybody’s guards are down. He’s so nice and so accessible so he set this tone for everybody to be able to work in a comfortable environment and I think that’s how you get the best out of people.

ARROW: Did any of the horror on set follow you home at night? Bad dreams perhaps?

MIKE: No, but it's funny, we have a dog and we’re shooting in a little alley where the cars go back and forth constantly, so we started to get freaked out for the dog [laughs]. You do end up thinking a little more about things…not really about death because they shoot this stuff so out of order and in so many different set-ups that a lot of times you’re not acting with what’s going to happen. You don’t go there, it’s not set up to really scare you while you’re making it.

ARROW: What has been the highlight of the shoot for you so far?

MIKE: We got to do this underwater sequence. ** SPOILERS ** At the end of the movie, the girl tries to kill herself and crashes an ambulance into a lake. I run after her and dive into the lake to save her. We shot part of it at the lake where it was 37 degrees cold, which is beyond an ice cream headache. And the second stuff we shot in a big huge tank where we filmed all the underwater sequence, that was in a 93-degree pool. It was really cool to spend the whole day underwater, shooting the scene and watching how that filmmaking process works. It was a really fun day. I think the sequence is also a very cool sequence.

ARROW: Do you do all your own stunts then?

MIKE: The water stuff was very safe for us to do. We took a couple of lessons with a scuba guide to be comfortable being underwater and breathing off the regulator. The stunt guy here, the guy that doubles for me always jokes about it, he feels he hasn’t done a lot. All of the running and the physical stuff is simple and with Dave being an ex-stunt guy, we’re in a safe environment.

ARROW: On a personal note, do you have any other ambitions in the movie business than acting?

MIKE: I produced two independent films but I think I just want to act for now. I spent ten years doing television and this is my second studio movie. So I want to keep acting and do more things but ultimately, you never know.

ARROW: In your opinion, what do you think is going to differentiate FD2 from all the other sub-par sequels we’ve been getting?

MIKE: I don’t know enough about the genre, but what makes this movie cool is that you’re not having like a guy in a mask chasing you, it's this idea of death that’s invisible, so I think it makes it more of a thriller movie and a horror movie rather than just a horror movie. I also think the action and the stunt sequences in this are A) being done by the number one guy in the business and B) I think they’re structured a little better on this one than in the first. Just from the script and what David has accomplished, I think it will bring it up above the average sequel. That’s my personal opinion.

ARROW: I gotta tell ya...it sounds good. Everything I’ve been hearing from this movie is selling me.

MIKE: [laugh} It's selling you…yeah! I don’t really follow these kinds of movies and I’m like this is so cool, when they kill people and crash cars, you feel like you’re a kid all over again, it's very fun.

ARROW: It sounds like a very groovy set to be on. Any other projects coming up for you in the near future?

MIKE: Well, this movie is coming out next March, so I hope it will lead to another movie.

ARROW: That’s it for me, Mike!

MIKE: Thanks so much for your time.

ARROW: No problem, thank you!

MIKE: Bye…

ARROW: Take care.

I'd like to thank Mike again for doing this interview and I wish him much success in his career. It's always cool on my end to interview easy-going personalities. I've been lucky so far on my Final Destination 2 interview foray, no a-holes yet... :)

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