Set Visit: The Thing - Meeting the Cast!

I've already given you a brief tour of the set of Universal's THE THING prequel, now let's meet our cast. At least, our English-speaking cast. (Alas, all Norwegians are out of pocket on this particular day.)

I suppose if there's a huge change in terms of THE THING prequel in relation to the 1982 John Carpenter film, it's that there's some estrogen on the premises this time around. In fact, we have a lady in the lead; Mary Elizabeth Winstead, most recently looking out at comic book nerds with bedroom eyes from a SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD screen, plays Kate Lloyd, a paleontologist who joins a Norwegian scientific team in Antarctica after they unearth... well, you know.

While taking a break from wielding a flame thrower on the set ("It's mostly awesome," the actress says about the weapon), Winstead is gracious enough to chat with a group of journalists (yours truly included) about how her character fits into the film. And what it's like being around so many manly-men.

"It’s mostly like Viking-like men too," Winstead laughs, referring to the predominantly Norwegian cast. "Also, of course, Joel [Edgerton] and Eric [Christian Olsen] and the other non-Norwegian male cast members are all fantastic as well, but the actors from Norway are just really awesome to have around and it feels like a really cool and unique experience to get to work with them because it’s so rare to have such a diverse cast."

Yes, but doesn't having a woman suddenly in the midst upset their boy's club? "I think having a woman brings that different dynamic from the get go. It’s kind of an interesting thing I think to have, in 1982, a young girl coming into this scientific environment in Antarctica and the way that they would all react to her. Everyone would have an opinion about her being there because it would be a rare and different thing for them all to have a woman coming on to the base."

Just don't expect much heat to develop between her and the male lead, Joel Edgerton (something of a Kurt Russell/MacReady surrogate), while submerged in this snowy nightmare. "Their connection is that they find some sort of level of trust within each other and that’s just one of those things where you meet someone and you feel like you recognize something in them that you find you can trust. That’s really all it is. They form this bond and are able to stick together through the whole thing where everything else is starting to fall apart."

Indeed, it's a pet peeve of many sci-fi fans when a (lame) romance is shoe-horned into a plot like this. Edgerton sees things much the same way, saying, "Look, I’m a big enough fan of the movie to be a little bit sensitive to what the real fans are saying out there. I think you’ve got to be sensitive to that, and I was well aware that there was a little bit of a murmur, 'I hope they don’t turn this into some naff romance kind of thing, while the aliens trying to chomp people, two people are trying to kiss in a corner.'"

Edgerton hails from Australia, and he's just the latest in a long line of Aussies who find themselves walking in an American's shoes. A running joke on the set (at least among the journalists) is it always seems that when a rugged American is needed, Hollywood goes to Australia. Edgerton is somewhat unsure of what to do with this. "I can’t answer that question. I dunno. I always think the same thing. I always wonder why people cast me in anything."

Edgerton, who has made vivid appearances in indie thrillers such as THE SQUARE and ANIMAL KINGDOM, actually came to the attention of THING producers when he starred in a production of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE opposite Cate Blanchett. He admits he knew, at least a little, that the seminal role would draw eyes toward him. "Yeah, in a way, I was just hanging on for dear life, ‘cause it was stepping into the shoes of that role, and the whole shadow of Marlon Brando, but working alongside Cate. I sometimes have an awareness of the opportunistic side of choosing certain roads, but I think moreso, my choices are about what I’m going to get out of something artistically or what satisfaction I’m going to get out of something, so I wasn’t really doing “Streetcar” wondering where it might lead me."

Perhaps more recognizable than anyone else in the film is Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, the UK-raised thesp whom "Lost" fans remember as the tragic "Mr. Eko". Akinnuoye-Agbaje plays Jameson, Carter's right-hand man who, not unlike Eko, finds himself trapped in a foreign land with little hope for rescue. The actor went into some of the backstory his character shares with Edgerton's Carter: "Me and Carter, who's my buddy, we used to be in Nam together and after Nam, we couldn't really fit into ordinary society, so we figured we'd go and try to make money at what we knew how to do best, which was fly choppers. And this was probably at that time the best bet, coming out to the Antarctic. We could make some dough here ferrying bods back and forth. So that's kinda how I land on this piece of ice, ferrying people."

Like everyone else involved with the prequel, Akinnuoye-Agbaje knows that there's a seriously devoted fanbase watching their every move. "Cults, you don't mess with them, man. You don't mess with them. And I think if you do, it's with a lot of respect. And I think that's the movie. I think it will make people happy. It's differently. There's always gonna be some people griping, but I think on the whole, it's gonna serve it. I think they were very smart making a prequel, because I think it gives us creative license to tell a story in your own way. But I think, still, fans are gonna love it. It's very much in keeping with JC's."

The final actor we're given access to is the only genuine Yank playing a Yank: Eric Christian Olsen. Mostly known for comedic roles in flicks like NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE, FIRED UP, as well as in NBC's hit "Community", Olsen here is tackling a much different character in THE THING. When speaking about Adam, the junior scientist he portrays, Olsen proves he's obviously given much thought to the role: "In life, simplistically when you study biology, with people in a situation there’s – whatever the catastrophic events are – there’s fight or flight and my character is flight. He doesn’t think about it, its just self-preservation, it’s weakness. I think that he’s the fish that goes under the shark because it can’t fend for itself, it can’t maneuver in the water, it can’t navigate on its own, so it finds something more powerful than itself and aligns with that which I think puts him in an even more weak position because when all the alliances fall apart and he doesn’t know who to trust he’s swimming on his own for the first time."

That's all kids, just a quick and dirty "How's it going, nice to meet ya" with our new leads in THE THING. You'll get to know them a whole lot better when the film comes out on APRIL 29, 2011.

Source: JoBlo.com



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