Tom Everett Scott and Ryan Merriman Talk Independence Daysaster’s Action Scenes, Playing the President, and More
On June 27th Syfy aired Independence Daysaster, with an encore scheduled for August 8th; and along with the film’s trailer, we have the highlights of a recent Q&A with co-stars Tom Everett Scott and Ryan Merriman.
As a somewhat interesting side story, fans of Syfy Original Movies (yes, they’re out there) took to Twitter to express their displeasure with the network for moving the film to Thursday from its usual Saturday night timeslot, opting to DVR it and watch it together en masse on the 29th instead. So many did, in fact, that #syfydaysaster was a trending Twitter topic! Huzzah! Power to the people!
Now, on with the Q&A.
Q: Can you two talk about filming the different action scenes?
Tom Everett Scott: It’s interesting when you have to pretend that there are things flying around and chasing you, but you always have to do the same kind of stuff [anyway], you know? It’s pretty exciting. I thought that, Ryan, you probably had more to do than I did in terms of action, right?
Ryan Merriman: Yes, I think a lot of yours was driving, right? I don’t know how many times I dove and grabbed somebody to save them, but that was fun. And it was the first time I got to do some driving. It was nothing crazy, but we were doing a lot of kind of fast driving, swerving in and out. I got to drive a fire truck.
But, yes, they did a lot with the camera and foam cannons and a lot with wires and stuff. So everybody got a little piece but, yes, me and Tom didn’t get to do too much rolling around, getting crazy.
Q: So, Tom, in the film you get to give one of those big Presidential rally speeches and everyone’s familiar with Bill Pullman’s iconic speech in Independence Day. How did you go about making that your own?
Tom Everett Scott: You know, it’s really not a very interesting story. I rehearsed in my hotel room, and when I got on the set, we had maybe 15 minutes at the most to shoot it because we were running out of sunlight and the pressure was on.
And it’s just a matter of being able to memorize. Ever since I had to memorize the 50 states and their capitals in sixth grade, I’ve known that I’ve had this gift. And so I just rattled it off and I’m just lucky that it actually went well.
Q: And your character, he gets lots of these fun reactions as people realize they’re standing in front of the President. Did they ever happen to either of you guys in real life? When fans recognize you, do you get this weird reaction from people?
Ryan Merriman: Yes, though nothing like the President. I don’t think we ever pull that much respect, but I get some squeals and a free beer every once in a while.
Tom Everett Scott: My friends are the ones that usually notice people recognizing me. I don’t usually notice.
Q: For Tom, how did you go about preparing to play the President of the United States, especially in such a disaster type scenario?
Tom Everett Scott: I don’t know; I have no idea. It’s not even interesting. I didn’t do any ride-alongs, right, so… (laughs) I don’t know; it’s play pretend. It’s like what I’ve been doing with the kids in my neighborhood since I was a little kid – just pretend. I don’t know how I got this job.
Q: And Ryan? How did you prepare?
Ryan Merriman: I’m from Oklahoma; [we had a] very big Midwest city fire department, one of the most prestigious fire departments in Oklahoma, and I actually have three or four buddies that I grew up with that are firemen. And we have a vo-tech that you can join and go to school early. It’s kind of like sheriff’s department, fire department or become a homebuilder when you’re from Choctaw, Oklahoma.
So I had a lot of experience just from my friends and stuff like that. But the script really was written very well for me… the interactions with Tom and the kids. It was more about my character in the situations. It wasn’t, like, a lot of fireman talk. If you’ve seen the film, you know it wasn’t really about that, but I guess I was kind of lucky because I grew up around it.
Q: What were the most difficult parts to shoot?
Ryan Merriman: For me it was just imagining all the exploding [stuff] and the ships flying over and to visualize all of that against a blue sky or against a field that is perfectly tranquil and beautiful. You want to make your reactions as organic and real as you can, but it’s a fine line. You’ve just got to really trust the cameraman and the director and what they’re trying to really make it look like I guess.
That was the hardest part – and the drive every morning. I don’t ever want to set my alarm clock for a 4:00 a.m. wake-up again; I think that’s unnatural. No one should have to wake up before 5:00.
Q: Had you done a lot of green screen before?
Ryan Merriman: No, other than Final Destination 3. That was quite a bit of green screen, but that was more like the surroundings, you know what I mean? We were actually on the roller coaster or acting with each other, but our surroundings were all being altered where this was actually acting to nothing.
Q: Are either of you fans of the Will Smith version, and did you think about that when you were going to make this?
Ryan Merriman: Oh, yes, that’s what I tell people; I’m like, “Okay, listen; it’s called Independence Daysaster,” and they’re like, “What?” I say, “Yes, but I’m kind of like the white Will Smith in this one. You know, I get to save the world; I’m a firefighter.” I love that movie! I love that character. He was obviously a little cockier, got to have a little bit more fun, but yes, I love the premise, and it’s a fun sit down and have a good time [popcorn flick]. It’s a good movie.
Tom Everett Scott: Yes, [we were] just watching the trailer with all the finished effects and everything, and it looks great. It looks amazing. I still haven’t seen the whole film yet, but… we look like a big budget movie. I’m pretty impressed.
Ryan Merriman: I think we had like a week of prep and three weeks of shooting or something like that. It was crazy.
Tom Everett Scott: Yes, but we worked it out.
In Independence Daysaster, an alien invasion cripples America’s conventional defense forces. When the President’s helicopter is shot down, his brother (a small-town hero) and a renegade scientist must find the aliens’ weakness and defeat them.
Independence Daysaster stars Ryan Merriman (Final Destination 3), Tom Everett Scott (“Southland”), Emily Holmes (Snakes on a Plane), and Andrea Brooks (“Supernatural”). Independence Daysaster , a production of Cinetel Films, was directed by
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