In Joe Carnahan’s survivalist thriller The Grey, Joe Anderson plays loudmouth oil rigger Todd Flannery, who always manages to rub his co-workers the wrong way with his less-than-appropriate comments. However, once their plane goes down, Flannery and the rest of the survivors – played by Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney, Dallas Roberts, Nonso Anozie, Ben Bray and James Badge Dale – are forced to work together to endure both the harsh wintry terrain where they landed as well as a pack of deadly wolves whose feeding grounds the group unknowingly stumble upon.
Dread Central recently caught up with Anderson to talk about his experiences working with such a brilliant ensemble of actors on The Grey, his thoughts on his character Flannery and how nothing can ever prepare you mentally for the kind of shoot they endured alongside filmmaker Carnahan. Anderson also briefly chatted about his next project on the horizon, ABC’s upcoming found footage horror series “The River”, which was created by Oren Peli and Steven Spielberg.
Anderson, a classically trained actor, discussed how he first learned of Carnahan’s work as a director and what his first impressions were of the script for The Grey.
“The first time I learned of Joe Carnahan was while I was in drama school,” explained Anderson. “They showed us his movie Narc, which is this incredibly brutal cop story that was so dark and haunting. But there was this one shot that always stuck with me, and it was Jason Patric standing in the shower, holding his child, and that’s not the kind of sensitive moment you see very often in that style of storytelling. Who would have thought a handful of years later I’d be working with him and on something just as brilliant as Narc was when it was released?”
“The Grey has that kind of sensibility to it that Narc did ten years ago. When I first read the script, I realized that this story could be done a dozen different ways, but only one way would be honest to the story being told and thankfully that was also the route Joe took. There’s certainly a ‘hero’ aspect to the story, but that’s not the only thing going on; there’s also the brutality of the conditions, the lives of these men and their will to overcome insurmountable odds,” added Anderson.
Of course, the up-and-coming actor knew it was going to be bitter cold when he set off to shoot The Grey last January; however, Anderson discussed how nothing would ever be able to prepare him for what it would really be like once he arrived in British Columbia. “I was blindly gung-ho about going to make this movie in the middle of nowhere; sure, I knew it was going to be cold, but I figured it couldn’t really be THAT bad since we’re shooting a movie there. Little did I know- basically making The Grey was akin to an Arctic expedition, and I don’t know if you can ever really prepare yourself mentally for something like that. There’s cold, and there’s what we endured while making The Grey.”
Anderson went on to talk more about his character Todd Flannery and how it was integral to the success of Carnahan’s story that everyone add their own touches to each of their respective characters.
Anderson said, “Flannery is a young and ignorant guy; that ignorance breeds fear within him. He’s got a lot of mouth and is always saying the wrong thing, but he’s not necessarily a bad guy for it. Ultimately, he’s scared and that’s his reaction to the situation he’s thrown into. I would say there’s a little bit of Joe inside Flannery, but I think I had to do that so he’d feel natural in the film. There’s a naturalness to The Grey so playing him any other way would never have worked. He needed to be himself but in a way that you still want him to survive by the end, too, so I never would have made him this over-the-top type of character.”
“We had such an amazing cast all around, really,” added Anderson. ” Liam is fantastic as always, and both Dallas (Roberts) and Dermot (Mulroney) really blew me away on set; they’re these rough and tough kind of characters, but when their characters begin talking about their families and lives, you just get lost in the softness that is lingering below the surface, and I think what they did in The Grey was brilliant. It was such a fantastic experience getting to work with all of these guys and Joe on this.”
With The Grey coming out this weekend, we asked Anderson about another big project on the horizon for him: ABC’s “The River”, in which Anderson stars alongside Leslie Hope, Bruce Greenwood, Eloise Mumford and Paul Blackthorne. Anderson explained the irony of working on these two vastly different projects back-to-back. “We were joking on the set of The Grey that our next projects had to be in Hawaii so we could enjoy a warm climate for a change- then, a few months later I get offered “The River”, which was filming in Puerto Rico and eventually Hawaii, so I thought that was pretty funny how everything worked out.”
“But working on “The River” was pretty extraordinary, so unlike anything I’ve ever filmed before. When working in movies, you get used to shooting in front of one camera, maybe two, and that’s that. With this show there are cameras everywhere, and we’re pretty much knocking down the fourth wall, which is a bit of a challenge to adapt to as an actor. It’s sort of like acting in the round, but after a few days I got used to it. “
“I think fans will really enjoy it, and I’ve been surprised by how scary the show is – and I worked on it – but with so many cameras you just never know what’s going to make it when you’re shooting. I’ve only seen up to Episode Four so far, but I’m really proud of our work on it,” added Anderson.
Open Road Films will release the highly anticipated, action-packed survival thriller The Grey (review here) in theaters nationwide on January 27th, 2012.
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