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G-LOC stars Stephen Moyer, Casper Van Dien, John Rhys-Davies talk franchise futures in COVID era
After going from outer space to a digital space thanks to their Comic-Con@Home panel, the team behind the upcoming Lionsgate sci-fi film G-LOC are giving fans another look behind the scenes at the making of the movie.
G-LOC is an immigrant story, with a man fleeing Earth through a mysterious portal that's opened up above it — only to face humans from an established colony on the other side (where time travels much faster) that want nothing to do with him. Space combat, philosophical discussions, begrudging friendships, and plenty of flashbacks ensue. Written and directed by Tom Paton, G-LOC stars Stephen Moyer (True Blood), Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers), Tala Gouveia (Scream Street), and John Rhys-Davies (the Indiana Jones and Lord of the Rings franchises).
Reuniting after their panel that explored everything from the film's pivotal scenes to Rhys-Davies' private study, the cast members sat down with SYFY WIRE to talk more about the creation of this epic sci-fi adventure, Van Dien's engagement, and the uncertain future caused by the coronavirus.
Stephen, the last time we spoke, you mentioned an immigration documentary that writer/director Tom Paton was influenced by — did you get a chance to watch it, or did you do any other current events research to get in the right headspace for G-LOC?
Stephen Moyer: No, because one of the things that happened was that when we had met, I was asking him what had made him create this film and about his research documents he'd needed to create this story. He told me when we were already about to drop and we were doing long hours, but he did explain it to me. It was at that time last year when the Trump ban on Muslims coming into the country was happening, so we were all reading about that.
This particular documentary was about a particular group of asylum seekers who were traveling from Syria, all the way through South America, to Mexico — and not being allowed the final piece. That was [Paton's] idea, that there was a framework here in order to tell an interesting story.
John, I know you delivered an emotional speech in the film that was improvised and last-minute. Where do you draw that kind of thing from?
John Rhys-Davies: I draw from my fellow actors. The script and my fellow actors. The function of a minor character actor like me in a thing like this is to serve the script and to serve the leading men... and to serve the director and the employers now that you mention it. There are times when you feel, "This is going terribly well and what we need now is a way of putting into words, concisely, something that will really put the nail on the scene." And if you can do that once or twice, then you've done some service to your fellows.
Moyer: When John and I were doing that scene, the sun was going down. We had to be finished at 7 or 7:30 and we were only starting that scene at 4:30 — and we had two other scenes to shoot. It was an absolutely crazy day and John got one go at that speech. It was amazing.
Rhys-Davies: You're being awfully generous. I have no recollection of what I said, whatsoever. And I haven't seen the damn thing, anyway, but I'm happy to bask in the sunburn of your approval.
Moyer: It was an amazing day. This doesn't happen in high budget stuff, because if you miss the scene, you just come back the next day and shoot it. You get another go at it and you'll get another go at it. Working with Kubrick, you get 150 goes at it. But sometimes with low-budget stuff, that magic happens because of the nature of having to do it. It's one of the reasons I love the cobbled-together energy indie moviemaking has.
Rhys-Davies: I didn't work with Casper at all on this, but you're both actors that I love and enjoy, and I learn from.
Casper Van Dien: I got engaged in Ireland to my wife four years ago and John was there. And one of the most memorable things about getting engaged over the cliffs in the highland is John talking. He is one of the most eloquent, kind, loving, knowledgeable, and entertaining people I've ever met. Our engagement was blessed even more so because he was a big part of that experience. He was the first one to congratulate us. He's just that kind of person, but when you see him on film — like Stephen said with that speech: He just gave it — you get to see a grandmaster do something that profoundly affects us.
At what point when you arrive on set do you realize "OK, I can trust my scene partner enough to improvise?" Or do you have to go in with that mindset of trust?
Rhys-Davies: The more you give, the more you'll get back. When you're a young actor right out of drama school, you're thinking, "How did he get that film? I'm every bit as good and I've got to go earn eight pounds in repertory." We all have felt those pangs, but in the end — if you survive long enough — you love the ones that are with you and survive as well.
Moyer: The longer you're doing this job, the less chance there is of you doing something else.
Van Dien: As quarantine has proven!
Moyer: So you better bloody stay in it! If somebody tells me, "I can't do this anymore," I say that is absolutely your right, but a you-shaped hole drops out at that point and gets filled.
The longer you stay, the better you get at it and the more opportunity you get. The more you do this, the more you get to play with people who know what they're doing because they've stayed. There's a lot to be said for just the experience of being around people who know what they're doing.
Final question: Anything in the mix for your iconic genre franchises? Any new Starship Troopers or potential Lord of the Rings cameos in the future?
Moyer: I'm working on two or three things, but it's a couple of things that were supposed to go before quarantine. Hopefully, we'll get those at the end of the year. And one really exciting thing that's probably going to happen next year, but they're not part of the [True Blood] franchise or the sci-fi world.
Van Dien: I've got a whole bunch of different things: I'm still working on All-American... I have a couple other things coming out like The 2nd with Ryan Phillippe, but I don't have any franchise things coming out right now. But hopefully, I can do something with Stephen and John.
Moyer: Lord of the True-pers.
Rhys-Davies: I've just lost two films on the grounds that they can't get insurance for older actors against COVID-19. I'm just at the bottom end of that 75 to 90 [age] range that has apparently got three-quarters of a foot in the grave — or actually up to the knees in the grave. There is a tiny little bit in the back of my mind that's thinking, "It could be over." When I'm hearing concert organizer friends of mine say, "We don't expect to be doing anything until 2022," I take that to be some sort of measure as to what might be happening in the film world.
Moyer: I think the film world has slightly more opportunity, purely because we don't have to have an audience. But I appreciate that. It must be very difficult for you, John. The problem that we have is getting bonded. Films are getting to the point where they've been created and cast, but they can't get bonded in case somebody gets ill.
Van Dien: I just got a job where I'm only working two weeks on it, but I have to go out two weeks before and stay quarantined in a hotel room. Couldn't see my kids or anything like that — can't see anybody. I have to stay in a room completely by myself for two weeks and then they have to film and do all the tests, so I have to weigh out the pros and cons of it.
Rhys-Davies: You have to make the risk-reward calculation. You're both young and healthy and I'm guessing COVID-19 would probably rock you a bit, but not really do permanent damage. But you can't actually know.
Moyer: John, you're going to be fine. You're going to be amazing.
G-LOC is available on digital, on demand, and DVD on Aug. 11.