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Interview: Actor Adrian Paul talks ‘War of the Worlds: Goliath’

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The Chico Movie Examiner recently conducted an over-the-phone interview with actor Adrian Paul, who lends his voice for the new animated feature, “War of the Worlds: Goliath,” which will release to limited theaters, VOD, and iTunes on March 7. Paul is best known for his work on the hit television series, “Highlander.”

War of the Worlds: Goliath” takes place in an alternate universe, 15 years after the ending of the classic H.G. Wells novel. World War I is approaching but is soon interrupted, when Martians invade Earth again. This time, the human race is better prepared with its international, planetary army known as A.R.E.S.

With their steam-powered, tripod battle machines; iron-clad zeppelins; and heat ray biplanes, the young crew battles to save the planet from the tripod known as Goliath.

Paul talks about his role as Corporal Patrick O’Brien, whom he describes as a “very outspoken, very outlandish, very loud Irishman.” He also discusses his years on “Highlander,” and what he has in store next.

Check out the full interview below.

David Wangberg: I know that for live action films, whenever it’s a war film or a military-related film they do combat training in order to get into character. How does it work for an animated feature? How did you get into this character when the film is animated?

Adrian Paul: You kind of work on the same assumption as you do with a live action, except you don’t have the physical part of it. They do that in the editing room. But I read the script, and I talked to David Abramowitz and the director, Joe Pearson, about what they wanted and how they wanted it. So, it was really a matter of performance that had to be worked on before I got into the studio to record.

David Wangberg: Did you draw from past performances? I know you did a couple of war films before doing this one. Did you kind of draw from those, or did you do something completely different?

Adrian Paul: No, this was different for me. [Patrick] was a very outspoken, very outlandish, very loud Irishman. To me, that kind of brings back memories of being loud as a kid. I think he’s the type of guy who’s very shy inside but very loud outside, and he has a sensitive side to him. So, he was not smart to speak his mind in certain circumstances. Playing that was fun.

David Wangberg: The character looks a little different than you do. He has red hair, you have black hair. When you first looked at the character, did it take you a little bit of time to fully get a sense of how you’re going to play him?

Adrian Paul: No, not really. I mean, you’re right, he doesn’t look like me. All of a sudden, looking at him, he’s a character who just gave me a side of who he was, and [you’re] looking at his predecessors and trying to gain a sense of who he was. So, you really have to look at that and not really think about anything else in a sense, and just individualistically create a character you hope is going to be fun and remembered. That’s really where we took it. It was fun to play – had a great time in the studio. It was almost easy to do, because it was easy-going without having all the stresses of going to the set and having to spend days or weeks with working on a film. You’re there for an afternoon, you do your part, and you go home.

David Wangberg: I really enjoyed the look of this film and how it was a blend of 3D animation and cell-shade animation. I think rotoscoping is what they call it. If it had stuck with either just the 3D animation or just the 2D animation, do you think the film’s impact might be a little different, or might it be the same?

Adrian Paul: I can’t remember the version I saw, to be honest. I saw it back in July last year at a screening, and I think it was rotoscoped. It wasn’t a finished product when we saw it, and we were still working on it. This film has a great style. I mean, I love the 3D animation they put on it. It gave it a very interesting, different type of look to it.

I think it would have been different, yes, because it’s a world full of [an] interesting mishmash of technologies that kind of need to be hung up in different ways.

David Wangberg: When I was younger, the one animated movie my parents would not let me watch was “Heavy Metal,” and for obvious reasons. And this film was somewhat reminiscent in terms of the style and everything. Even though this is a PG-13 film, it’s still pretty violent, and there is some language. Would this be an animated movie you would show to your children, or would you show this when they’re teenagers?

Adrian Paul: I’ll show them when they’re a little grown up. My kids, now, are four and one and a half. I won’t show them the movie yet; maybe when they’re 10. Again, some of the things that were in the original may have been cut out now, because there was a love scene between Elizabeth Gracen’s character and Peter Wingfield’s character. So, I think that was cut out to make it a PG-13. The violence in it isn’t a problem.

What I always find strange about people’s mindsets, especially in the U.S., is that it’s OK to show violence and killing. Take “Spartacus” or any of the new series on TV now. And yet sex is terrible. You can’t talk about it; you can’t show it. Things have changed. When I did “Highlander,” it was voted the most violent show on TV.

David Wangberg: Before you took on the “Highlander” series, you were in a television adaptation of “War of the Worlds.” I was kind of wondering what would happened if we switched the characters. How would John Kincaid do in “War of the Worlds: Goliath,” and how would Patrick do in the TV version of “War of the Worlds?”

Adrian Paul: I think Patrick would have been like a bull in a china shop. He might have made a lot of foolish mistakes. And Kincaid is a little bit more lulled and probably would have been the savior of the group. That would have been the difference between the two characters.

David Wangberg: There’s a scene where Wells goes through the amount of people and machinery lost in a battle. And the general considers it a victory, but Wells doesn’t, because they lost all those people. As an actor, when you are working on any film or a TV show, and the director yells “That’s a wrap!,” do you think that there could be more to explore with the story and your character, or do you just move on because the director said “That’s a wrap!”?

Adrian Paul: If you have you ever heard the analogy, “You do it best when they call and then come to the audition,” it’s the same thing.

Once you’re finished and actually have done your part, you’ll think about it afterwards. It’s the kind of feeling people get, and they’ll go over what they did, and then think, “Oh, maybe I should have changed that.”

David Wangberg: In a sense, this is an altering of H.G. Wells’ novel. What other classic literature do you think could work with a futuristic, steampunk kind of look?

Adrian Paul: I think that the story that all action and all scripts are taken from today is “The Count of Monte Cristo.” That would be really interesting in that [setting].

David Wangberg: That would be interesting. That’s a good answer.

Adrian Paul: Yeah. And I actually have a script – several scripts – based on that.

David Wangberg: If H.G. Wells were still alive today, how do you think he would react to seeing this movie?

Adrian Paul: I don’t know. Obviously, at his time, when he did this [story], he was thoughtful in putting the concept forward, [but] he didn’t have the original effects. I’m sure he was a man that was open to exploring the possibilities of being in slightly different times, and what that would actually accomplished.

David Wangberg: A lot of the people who worked on this were also from the “Highlander” television series. They were either actors, producers, or something else. Which one of your co-stars from that series, who was not in this movie, would you like to see get the animated treatment?

Adrian Paul: Stan Kirsch, Richie, was always a big part of that [show]. And I think he would have been interesting. He’s gone on into a career as an acting teacher.

David Wangberg: And then I’ve got one more question for you. It’s related to “Highlander.” I know they were trying to do a reboot or a remake of it, and then they put it on hiatus, since they don’t have a lead [actor]. Have they tried to call you to make a cameo appearance or to be one of the supporting actors?

Adrian Paul: Nope!

David Wangberg: Nope? [laughs]

Adrian Paul: [laughs] Nope. I think my role in the “Highlander” universe has been so large in defining the character that I play. It seems they’re rebooting the very first film itself and taking liberties with it. Actually, they’re going into a slightly different world, I’m guessing. To pull me into that as part of that world would possibly baffle some of the previous fans who have already seen the series and the films, and it may be problematic for them.

I don’t know the answer to that; that is just my assumption.

David Wangberg: All right. That’s all the questions I have for you, unless you wanted to add anything about “Goliath,” “Highlander,” or anything else.

Adrian Paul: If you want to follow me, and I should have mentioned this before, you can follow me on Twitter. And I’m on Facebook. I’ve got my radio show each week, Peace Fund Radio, where I bring a bunch of celebrities in to talk about kids’ issues around the world from autism to homelessness to everything. We’ve got a very good following right now. We’ve got a paintball competition coming up for the end of the year. We’ve been doing a lot of work on that; it’s been a lot of fun doing that. And [I’m] writing and directing.

This concludes the interview, but the Chico Movie Examiner would like to thank Adrian Paul for taking the time to talk about “War of the Worlds: Goliath.”

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