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INT: Mike Vogel

05.04.2006

When it came time to make a pivotal career choice, POSEIDON star Mike Vogel decided to anchor himself to a sinking ship. A year ago the promising young actor was offered roles in two potential blockbusters – not a bad dilemma to have to face – and opted for Wolfgang Petersen’s remake of the 1972 epic disaster film. In this version, Mike stars as part of an impressive ensemble that includes Kurt Russell, Richard Dreyfuss, Josh Lucas and Fergie from Black Eyed Peas.

We first interviewed Vogel last September as part of our set visit and just last week, I sat down with Mike at the Regent Beverly Wilshire hotel for a one-on-one interview, where he talked candidly about often grueling experience of making POSEIDON.

Mike Vogel

You’re wearing a Texas belt buckle. I take it you’re from there?

No. Born and raised in Philadelphia Bucks County , right outside of Philadelphia . I just love Texas . I spend a lot of time down there – I have several buddies that have ranches and everything. It’s a lifestyle that I can relate to, that I love. It’s working hard and relaxing. The skies down there are second to none. It’ll be a second home someday, hopefully.

You’ve been in the business for a few years now. While making Poseidon, did you look to Kurt Russell as a mentor of sorts?

I did. You get in a movie like this and you want to bring those actor-y moments. You wanna get real emotional and get that extra thing, and Kurt’s just like, “Kid, it doesn’t have a place here.” You quickly learn you just need to lose yourself in the fact that your in hell – and believe it. It’s completely different from any training you do or anything.

I think Kurt started when he was six. I always want everything now, now, now, and the thing to remember is: ok, I’ve been here for five years, but in the grand scheme of things, that’s really not all that long compared to how most people have been trying to do it. Especially the other kids that I’m up against out here that have been born and raised out here that have been doing this since they were born. Getting to talk to Kurt – and Richard Dreyfuss too – just hearing their stories of how the business has changed.

Kurt’s stories of going out drinking with Lee Marvin and all those guys, when he was half their age, and them leaving him in their dust. It was just a different time, a different cast of characters. You see how much the business has evolved. And I think we’re kind of at a weird point now, where movies don’t perform the same as they used to. No one quite knows where the future is heading, with DVD, with this, with that. So there are a lot of unknowns. I just want to be a part of whatever that next wave is.

And the Poseidon shoot was, quite literally, hell.

It was pretty bad. I didn’t get beat up as much as Josh or some of the other guys did, but I did fight through pneumonia and swimmer’s ear. Having to go down 20 feet underwater and blow your eardrums out, it just feels like your brains are exiting through your ears. It was rough. And everyone was like, “Did you read the script?” Yeah. But you never anticipate what that’s like, day after day. When you read the script, it all happens that fast [snaps fingers]. You don’t realize that it’s day after day, hour after hour of sitting there in the water.

And I didn’t realize they can only heat the water to something like 82 or 83 degrees, because above that temperature bacteria starts forming and you can get hypothermia. I’d never thought about that. All the safety divers were in wetsuits, and I was sitting there thinking, “You guys are just pansies. Come on, the water’s warm.” Cut to three hours later and you’re shivering with your teeth shaking out of your head, because it brings your body temperature down. And several people almost hot hypothermia. It was really a hard experience, but it’s a rewarding one at the end of the day. You feel like you did something.

When you went home at the end of the day, did you have countless nightmares involving water?

The week before I finished shooting, I had a photo shoot for a magazine, and they were like, “So here’s the shots we want to do. We want to put you here and here, and we have this great shot in the pool.” And I said, “F*ck no, dude. You are not getting me in that water.” I definitely stayed away from the water, from the shower, from anything like that for a while. Also because my ears were so shot that I couldn’t deal with the pain anymore.

If you’re stranded on a sinking ship, Emmy Rossum’s not a bad person to be stuck with.

Not a bad choice to have to go down with. No pun intended. Emmy is gorgeous, talented, and was just an absolute blast to work with. She jumped right into it. The girls especially had a tough time of it, but they were all such troopers, just jumping right into it. “You want us to hang on a line 50 ft. in the air? Ok, cool.”

Being the young guy of the cast, did you feel like you had to prove yourself to Kurt and Josh?

It’s a weird dichotomy. Everyone says to me about the character I play in the movie, “You’re not taking the lead. You’re not barking instructions. Doesn’t that frustrate you?” As a person, it frustrates me, but I like to give respect where it’s due, to people who have gone before me, to people that know how to do this. And I put myself in that situation in that boat. If I’m stuck in a situation where I have to get the hell out of the boat – in the movie I’m 20 years old, do I really know how to get out?

But there’s definitely a macho thing that goes into it. When everyone’s like, “I’m hurt, I can’t do it,” I’m not admitting my pain while we’re shooting. “No guys, I’m fine. Let’s do another one.” [Laughs]

Were you familiar with Wolfgang Petersen’s work?

Yeah. The Neverending Story was like one of my favorite movies of all time. So the one thing that I expected going into this was that we’re not gonna do the big, dramatic actor’s piece here. But it’s gonna be a damn good action film, because that’s what he does. And that’s what came out of it. The same day I got offered this movie, I was offered X-Men 3. So having to decide between the two on that day was a rough choice, because you have something that’s proven, and then you have something that’s a remake, but it’s Wolfgang Petersen and there’s just a lot more meat to it. So at the end of the day, that’s what I went with. And you just gotta trust him. He has that entire movie in his head. The entire thing is planned out in his head. It’s not so much about the acting; it’s about making sure everything orchestrates correctly. So it’s just a different ballgame.

When you were offered X-Men 3, was Brett Ratner attached at the time?

It was Matthew Vaughn, back when he was still attached.

So in hindsight…

In hindsight, I’m satisfied with the decision that I made. Brett’s a great director, but I looked at that movie and I thought, if you’re gonna do a third installment of something, it would be rad to see a really fresh take from and indie director like they were gonna do with Matthew. I thought that was great. And then I heard rumblings that he might not be staying, and I said, “That kinda sums it up for me.” Because it might be interesting to be a part of something like that with his take on it, but once all that fell through, having an opportunity to work with Wolfgang, it was pretty much a no-brainer.

What’s next for you?

I did a British film called Caffeine. I got to play a British character, which I’ve wanted to do for so long – I grew up on Monty Python. But next, I may regret it, but I’ve turned down a bunch of stuff. I’m waiting for the next movie that feels right. I just want to position myself in a way that, as I move up in this and get my shots, that I’m taking the right shots, to make sure that I’m in a position to do this for the rest of my life.

Questions? Comments? Manifestos? Send them to me at thomasleupp@joblo.com.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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