MAN IN THE MOON
Patrick Wilson seeks to save mankind in Moonfall
Introduce us to your character Brian. What makes him the right guy for this mission?
As in every good disaster movie, he is a little bit of a disaster himself, trying to salvage his relationship with his son. You see he has a broken marriage. He’s clearly skilled at what he did, but now he’s lost. We meet him at a low point in his life, but you realise this maverick/outlaw astronaut was up there the first time that this event happened; that he saw this alien form take his friend. Nobody believes him. His friend and co-worker, Jo Fowler, it felt like she sold him out. It’s easy to disregard a guy that doesn’t have his shit together.
Why do you think that disaster movies resonate with audiences?
First and foremost, movies have to entertain. As the scope of movies in theatres has narrowed, whether it’s through superhero movies or horror films or the disaster subgenre, it’s become an escape. There’s nobody who does it better than Roland Emmerich. Nothing ever fazes him. He’s such a big-picture guy. He can understand the scope of what he is doing. And, not unlike a horror film, no matter how catastrophic it is, usually you come out on top, even if it’s emotionally devastating and everything has been physically annihilated.
When you sign on to a Cgi-heavy blockbuster like Moonfall, how difficult is it to wrap your head around what the final product will look like?
Luckily, these days, you get a pre-visualisation that looks like a bad videogame version of the end result. I would imagine before all that you just had to say, “There’s a big thing coming at you. Now be scared.” These days, because of the technology, you are able to see a rough idea. It is a much different beast. You still have no concept of what it’s ultimately going to look like. And never do you feel more foolish than when you are fake flying. It’s easier to act like a ghost is there than it is trying to manoeuvre a spaceship!
Moonfall features big set-pieces, with even bigger moments of mass destruction. What scene really blew your mind?
Listen, when all that water comes rushing in, we are in a lobby. I’ve done enough of this stuff, between Aquaman and other roles, where you talk to the director and you say, “Okay, what’s going on in this scene?” “Well, this water comes in. It’s rushing by. You go here. You go there.” But, as the actor, you are going, “Right. But physically, what am I doing? Am I just on a greenscreen and I have to act like that?” I remember on-set that it was, “This water is rushing in and it’s going to knock you back. We’ve made sure that all these railings are padded, but there’s not a whole lot we can do, so be careful. We have divers around.” You feel like, “Alright. It can’t be so bad.” Of course, you do one take, and you are thrown around like a ragdoll because it’s millions of gallons rushing past you. That sequence was very real, because there’s no way to fake that. You want to put yourself in the line of fire, because you have cameras on you, and you want to make it look good. But you are dealing with water. You aren’t on a wire gag, where they’re pulling you back into a padded wall.
Looking ahead to Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom: director James Wan posted a picture of you and him together. In it you have a Cast Away vibe, with long straggly hair and a beard. In what ways has Ocean Master changed since audiences last saw him?
He was clearly taken to jail, and they didn’t have any razors or scissors! What happens to a king when he is dethroned and put in jail for several years? That’s what you get.
Were you excited about the direction they’re taking Orm in the sequel?
James had that idea even when we were finishing the first one. He said, “I have this idea about how I want to see you in the next film, when we catch up with you.” All I could think is, “Shirtless? Okay. When do we shoot?” It becomes working backwards and training the right way for it. I did all this training for the first film and was covered up the whole time. I didn’t have to get into any kind of crazy shape. I was just trying to keep the weight on. It’s hard to eat right on a set and keep exercising.