They’re at it again. Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and star Norman Reedus are joining forces again for the movie AIR, which tells the story of two workers (played by Reedus and Djimon Hounsou) who are tasked with maintaining one of the underground bunkers set up to preserve the human race after the air outside has been rendered toxic. The bunkers are filled with sleeping tanks housing individuals seen as providing the best chance for rebuilding civilization.
AIR will be directed Christian Cantamessa and released in the spring of 2015, but we’ve got your exclusive first image from the film right here. In it, we see Hounsou (as Cartwright) and Reedus (as Bauer), who have been awoken from their sleeping tanks for their two hour shift—which occurs every six months—in the decommissioned missile silo. We commissioned Norman Reedus to tell us more about the movie, so he called in from the set this past spring and did just that. (Click on the Full Size magnifying tab to see a bigger high-res version on the photo.)
EW: Okay, Norman, how would you describe AIR?
NORMAN REEDUS: It’s a psychological thriller. It’s a story of two people who are pretty much the last people on the planet. They run a facility that has all the best of the best that’s being held in sleep tanks that will be re-awakened to populate the earth, and one of them thinks of their job as the scientist and the other thinks more of their job as a janitor. And the position is kind of in between both of those. But one of them discovers that the other has a secret, he’s holding onto the secret and that secret is that he’s trying to keep a certain person alive. And through the character I play, his past is such a dark one, and the guilt of what he’s done weighs so heavy on him that he sort of substitutes his real family for this other person in his mind, and he sort of looks at him as a brother in this way that’s a little too close for comfort. And what happens is he ends up forcing the action to take place against the other person’s will. So it becomes this thriller, this mindf— of a movie of convincing this other guy to do something he doesn’t want to do.
So your character has secrets, he’s haunted by his past?
Quite a bit so.
What’s this underground bunker going to look like?
It takes place in an abandoned missile silo. It’s kind of a mixture of high tech and low tech. It’s sort of an analog frequency on high tech machinery. It’s a nice mix of the two. There’s the high tech equipment with sleep tanks and so forth, and then there’s also stuff that’s bound together by duct tape. It’s not a half-assed operation, it’s a last minute operation, and then obviously the sleep tanks are the Four Seasons, and ours are the Ramada Inn.
Is there sort of an isolating feeling? Is it a claustrophobic feeling? What’s the vibe?
It’s very isolating, very claustrophobic. Even filming in it it’s very claustrophobic. I remember reading the script and my manager and I were going through it and I was like, “What do you think?” and she was like, “I love how claustrophobic it is, I hope they keep that element there,” and after talking with Christian multiple times before I came here, that was one of the main questions I kept asking — “Can we keep it as claustrophobic as this?” As dire and as end of the world as the script reads right now, we’ve kept it all. It’s a very claustrophobic feel just shooting it. There are moments in it that are…they’re terrifying and you feel very alone and you feel very f—ed over on many different levels by other people, and you know, by the world as a whole, by the people that put us there. It has these sad elements to it, but it also has these uplifting storylines as well. One half is going down the rabbit hole, and the other half is climbing back up it.
I imagine so much of this relies on your relationship with Djimon. What’s it like working with him?
He’s great. He and I hit it off right off the bat. I’d seen his work before and I knew how good he was, and I’d just watched Blood Diamond right before I came here, and he was so good in that movie. It’s interesting, you know, because he’s such a big, good-looking guy and he’s very soft and gentle and there’s sort of a hope that’s naturally in his face. He radiates this sort of hope and I’m just sort of basically trying to wipe it off of his face.