Best known for his roles in ‘Thor’, and the TV Series ‘Banshee’, and video games such as the ‘God of War’ series and ‘Star Wars: The Old Republic,’ Joeseph Gatt has a mile long filmography and other projects to boot. If you ask us, he has the magic touch, as everything he is involved in pretty much succeeds. Joseph recently completed shooting on J.J.Abrams’ STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS, which is sure to be the movie of the summer based on it’s already strong opening numbers. We catch up with the busy Mr. Gatt to literally discuss everything under the sun. Read below for the full Q&A…
Having worked for films for both U.S./India, Videogames, television, and more, how do you find an identity in what you do? Most people become pigeonholed, but you seem to have broken the mold. How did you achieve that?
Joseph: Wow, that’s an interesting question. To be quite honest, acting and playing a role is what it is, and all that I’m doing is being given the opportunity to work in many different media forms. I’m very blessed this way, because, it is true, a lot of actors do get stuck (in a way) into a certain type of media form. But I also believe that a lot of actors do this on purpose. They make a choice as to their preference because of certain reasons, whether it be money, comfort etc. With me, when I was struggling as a young actor, I took whatever work was offered. I wasn’t snobby or picky about the format. On top of this, I am a true lover of all media technologies. I love film, television, stage, gaming, and feel unbelievably lucky that I’ve been given the opportunities to work at a high level in all of those fields. When I’m at a convention signing and I look at my most famous/popular roles, I’m so proud of the fact that they span all of the popular medias. One minute a fan wants an autograph for doing the motion capture for “Kratos,” then someone will follow right after who’s a fan of my work in the movie “Thor,” immediately followed by someone wanting my picture for being on TV in the hit show “Banshee,” etc.
It also seems that everything you touch turns to gold – Thor, God of War, Star Trek. Are you just lucky? Or do you think carefully about every project you undertake?
Joseph: In regards to this I have to defer to good old fashioned blind luck / good fortune, or whatever you’d like to call it. The only part I play in skewing that luck a little is simply by the way that I look. With my Alopecia and my physique, I’m never going to be cast in the kind of blend-into-the-background shows or roles that are most actors’ bread and butter. I’m always going to be in something that makes a mark and stands out a little. It’s inevitable. I didn’t quite picture this trip, though! =)
A while back you starred in Pulse, which was a remake of a very popular Asian film. Did you experience any pressure being involved in a project that already had such a cult following?
Joseph: At the time, a lot of Japanese horror remakes were happening, and I was cast and flown to Romania so fast I didn’t really have too much time to think about it. We did have one SFX makeup test day in Hollywood before flying out where I spent a lot of time with director Jim Sonzero and the producers watching clips from “Kairo” (the original Japanese movie) to try to bring a sense of the gracefulness and energy of the original to what we were doing. The original was a brilliant piece of filmmaking, and Jim really wanted to not lose the vibe and feel of the original, but to just add a little extra. I think that, even though it wasn’t a super successful movie at the box office, it was a very well-made movie and worked well. It was certainly a huge amount of fun to shoot.
Speaking of which, what are some of your favorite Asian films?
Joseph: Four immediately jump to my mind. “Battle Royale” (we all know that “The Hunger Games” would never have happened without this movie), “Zatoichi,” “Mongol,” & “Ichi the Killer.” Do you notice a connection between the last three? Tadanobu Asano (Creative Spotlight #54). I was already a fan of his before working with Tad on “Thor” because I had already watched “Zatoichi” & “Ichi” a few times a piece. But while working with him, (we spent a lot of time talking, as we had a huge fight to do together between “Grundroth” and “Hogun”), he told me that he loved the movie “Mongol,” so I decided to go home and iTunes that movie. I thought it was amazing! He is an incredibly nice guy and a wonderful actor. But you already know this, because you’ve interviewed him already!
Tell us a bit about Star Trek: Into Darkness and how you came to be in the film?
Joseph: It was pretty straight-forward, really. My manager at Ballistic Talent called and said that I had a meeting with casting for an untitled movie. I went in and read and was called back three times over the space of a couple of months. By this time, using reasonable thinking, we had figured that it was the new “Star Trek” movie. The movie was so secret that we weren’t even given the actual script when auditioning. We auditioned with pages from “Fringe” and the previous “Star Trek” movie. Then after a short wait I got a call from my manager saying that the deal was done. I don’t think it really clicked in, though, until I first stepped onto the bridge of NCC-1701! That was a tearful geek / actor moment, but don’t tell anyone!
What was it like getting direction from J.J. Abrams?
Joseph: Very different to anyone I’ve ever worked with before. J.J. acts more like your best friend on set as opposed to your Director and boss. He’s very fluid about the way he works, and even though he has very strong opinions and ideas, the most impressive thing about him is that he isn’t afraid to change everything at the last minute. Sometime the VERY last minute. But he leads with boundless energy and commitment and won’t leave anyone behind. It’s one for all and all for one.
In regards to God of War, I knew initial reports claimed the series was ending but then they came with Ascension. What is it like being a part of such an iconic series and how did this games work ethic differ from past titles?
Joseph: After finishing work on GOW3 I was also told that that would be the last game, but then the calls came for “Playstation Allstars” & “Ascension.” I was so excited to pick up the swords of chaos again! I booked “GoW” when I first arrived in the US and didn’t have a clue what I was in for. I had worked on a lot of video games and done a lot of motion capture in the UK and just took this in stride. But as we shot I started to realize just how special this character was. It wasn’t until GoW3 came out that I realized just how huge this game was, and that ‘Kratos’ was this international hero whose name is almost as well-known as Lara Croft. Once again, my luck had brought me into this hugely popular franchise, and I’m even recognized in the streets because of it. People are watching the “Making of” documentaries on the DVD’s and recognizing me as ‘Kratos.’
When shooting “Ascension,” we really tried to figure out how to differentiate the pre-ghost Kratos from the other games. I tried really hard to make him even more natural and human and less big. Even the actual scenes were more down to earth, dealing with his family and friends, using more real levels of performance and emotion as opposed to the heightened feelings we used in the previous games.
What is the main difference between film work and television work and motion capture? Do you have to adjust yourself mentally as an actor or is it all the same?
Joseph: For me, acting is always the same, no matter what the format. The type of methods and depths I choose to use depend more on the type of role as opposed to the media format. Doing a big action role would require the same prep whether it be for motion capture or film; I would just spend less time in hair and makeup before a mo-cap shoot. The thing I do change, though, is the delivery method. Technically, each format requires very different ways of interacting with the cast, crew & equipment for optimum efficiency and performance. They all have their different forms of terminology. They all shoot at different speeds and pace. How much you have to give and when, and also the way you receive feedback is different in all formats. Then, to complicate matters, sometimes one is shot like it’s something else. I’ve worked on MoCap shoots where we’ve rehearsed and shot like we were shooting a TV show. I’ve also worked on a TV show where they’ve shot very slowly as if it was film. I’ve also worked on films where they’ve shot so fast you’d think it was a cheap TV shoot! So you do the prep, and then you decide what to do when you get onto set. Sometimes when you’re working with the same team or director again you know what’s coming, but most of the time, it’s a total adventure!
After Star Trek, what can fans expect from you in the coming months?
Joseph: There are a lot of things going on right now. Scripts are being read and people are talking, but it’s nothing I can talk about at the moment. Once again, those secret projects have to be kept just that… for now. But I will say that the opportunity to work with J.J. Abrams again is something I wouldn’t turn down.
Lastly, any advice for any actors or creatives out there that might be struggling?
Joseph: Be totally honest with yourself. If being creative is something you must do, then you have to keep going. Be intelligent about your path and the way you walk it, and keep building that career block by block. Stay positive and always remind yourself how blessed you are to be in such an enviable position to be able to be paid to do what you truly love. The careers which are built the most carefully are generally the ones that last the longest.
Stay up to date on all of Mr. Gatt’s ventures by following his cookie crumb trail below:
Header image photography by: Diana Ragland