“You should see the look on your face right now!”
Norman Reedus talks about what it was like working with Djimon Hounsou on Air.
Last week we brought you the first exclusive image of Norman Reedus and Djimon Hounsou from the upcoming film AIR (which is directed by Christian Cantamessa and produced by The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman). And then we told you how Norman Reedus broke his toe during filming with an “unmanly move.” Now Reedus Nation will once again be in a frenzy as we present another exclusive image from the upcoming film featuring The Walking Dead favorite. In the photo, we see Reedus as Bauer, one of the two workers (along with Hounsou’s Cartwright) whose job is to maintain an underground bunker filled with sleep tanks set up to preserve the human race after the air outside has been rendered toxic. Naturally, complications arise. Reedus shared his thoughts on the film with us already, and now Robert Kirkman tells us how the movie came together and what to expect when it hits the big screen in the spring of 2015.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, you’ve conquered TV, comics, and now movies…
ROBERT KIRKMAN: I don’t know if conquered is the right word. I like all forms of entertainment, I hope to get into musical theater later.
EW: Tell me how you came involved in this project.
KIRKMAN: Christian Cantamessa, he worked on Red Dead Redemption, and so I kind of knew who he was, and he had done this zombie short film that I saw, which was really good and kind of in my wheelhouse because I do The Walking Dead. So that’s how I found my way to it. Then I found out he had this script he was looking to produce, and so I got my hands on it, read it, loved it, and ended up coming on board to help them get the thing made.
EW: Describe to me the story in your words.
KIRKMAN: Two guys who have a very strong bond stuck in a bunker together and things go wrong.
EW: They always do! Whenever there’s a bunker in there, things are going to go wrong.
KIRKMAN: And cool stuff happens.
EW: How did you get Norman on board?
KIRKMAN: I don’t like to be away from Norman. It’s a problem that I have, so during the off season when we’re writing scripts for the next season and all that kind of stuff I go through a thing I call “Norman Withdrawal.” Anytime I have any kind of projects going on in the off-season I’ll try to pack it with as much Norman as possible. But Norman just seemed like the perfect guy for the role and I didn’t know if he’d be interested in doing it but I ended up calling him up and talking to him about it and thankfully he seemed really into it. It was actually a fairly casual process. But he’s brought so much to the part and to the project and I couldn’t thank him enough for coming in and deciding to spend his off hours working on this thing.
EW: What about Djimon? How did he get into the mix?
KIRKMAN: Djimon is one of the best actors in Hollywood. He’s actually a pretty funny guy, which I didn’t expect, but we really wanted to get somebody with some power and some gravitas and some authority to offset the silliness of Norman Reedus. And so we thought that Djimon would be perfect for that. I think honestly it’s really just the power of Christian Cantamessa’s script — everyone that read that thing was champing at the bit to get on board. It was actually a pretty easy process bringing in actors for this movie just because of the quality of this script.
EW: What’s this underground bunker going to look or feel like?
KIRKMAN: It’s definitely claustrophobic, it’s definitely isolated, but one of the cool things about it and one of the things that got me really excited about the project when I talked to Christian very early on was this idea of not making it look modern or fancy or polished. It’s very industrial and it’s very realistic and it’s almost a throwback to the science fiction movies of the ’70s and ’80s. It’s definitely a sci-fi atmosphere but it’s much more the first Alien movie than it is J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek — which I think is a really cool look, a really cool visual and definitely adds a lot of mood to it and definitely something we need to see more in sci-fi stuff.
EW: You mentioned the first Alien movie; is there going to be that sort of horror element at play?
KIRKMAN: There is definitely a horror element to it that kind comes into play and the environment certainly lends itself to that. If we were doing a comedy set in this place it would still seem a little scary.
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.