Tuesday, August 12, 2014

SDCC 2014: Zachary Quinto and Hannah Ware Yield Nada about "Hitman: Agent 47"

Since Red Dot Diva does not hold any kind of major journalistic cred nor title, she was blocked out of most of the press conferences at SDCC - more so this year than in previous years. Oh well, what's new? (-sigh-)

Luckily, fellow Red Dot Islander and super-kind soul Jedd, who was covering press duties for local movie mag F***, came to the rescue. Having scored an entry into the press conference for 20th Century Fox's slate of movies, he was able to contribute this wonderful press con transcript, and many yummy photos of Zachary Quinto and Hannah Ware who were there to promote "Hitman: Agent 47".

As many might know, "Hitman: Agent 47" was partially filmed in Red Dot Island a few months ago, and many of the crew and cast members, including Rupert Friend, Zachary Quinto and Hannah Ware, worked here for a couple of weeks in the sweltering heat. (See more stories on this at RDD's other blog here - Part 1 - Part 2)

Due to this, Red Dot Diva was particularly interested to find out more about the movie. Details about the film have been few and far in between, but based on the transcript, it still seems that the two actors were coy about revealing too much about it. In fact, there wasn't anything very noteworthy mentioned during the press conference at all.

Here's Jedd's transcript on what transpired at the press conference on 25 July:

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I’m sorry I must start out with a tough question but you must know Paul Walker was attached to this film before we lost him. Very glad you guys are continuing the film, but were there any major changes that had to be made to the concept or the characters?
Quinto: I…don’t know the answer to that question. I know that it was a really tough moment because they were pretty close to production when that really tragic happened and I am grateful to be a part of carrying something on. Obviously, everybody knows that we’re facing a great loss so I would direct that question to the producers and the writers.br />

Can you speak about the characters you play in the film?
Quinto: Sure!
Ware: I play a character called Katia van Dees. Not allowed to say too much without giving away things I can’t give away, but just to sort of speak in a general but hopefully informative way, Katia’s not who you initially meet. There’s more to her than you would think when you first meet her. Sounds very vague but…
Quinto: I think in a way, it’s hard to talk about projects like this obviously because you want to preserve the experience for the audience but we also want to give you guys something you can actually write about [laughter from audience].
Ware: Which I just failed at! [Laughs]
Quinto: Not, not at all! Basically, the story is a very large-scale, high-stakes action film which is rooted in the relationships and the dynamics between these three characters played by Hannah, myself and our third and most important ally in this, is Rupert Friend who plays Agent 47 himself. He’s obviously shooting "Homeland" in South Africa which we’re all very excited to see, but it prevented him from being here with us today. So it’s a real triangle, basically Katia is searching for someone and my character John Smith presents himself to her in an effort to help her find who she’s looking for but nothing is what it seems with these people, all of us are serving agendas that are sometimes at odds with what we’re presenting. It’s tough to be more specific than that, because then the experience becomes jeopardised for the audience.

I’m from Singapore and "Agent 47" was the first major Hollywood film to be shot in Singapore.
Quinto: Yeah boy!

That's a building in Singapore's financial district in the background!

Hello! Could you talk a little bit about the experience of shooting in Singapore and what that was like compared to shooting in Berlin, which was the other major location in the film?
Quinto: We shot the first two-thirds of the movie in Berlin then we moved the whole thing to Singapore for the last three weeks. We were in Berlin for about two months then we moved to Singapore…you couldn’t really get more different [Ware: yeah] as far as cities are concerned, in terms of lifestyle and architecture and it was an amazing experience to be in both of them and to bring to life, to capture as well as they [Agent 47 filmmakers] did.
Ware: Yeah, both cities in the right way are integral to the plot and it’s really, really interesting. Literally, just like Zach’s saying, they couldn’t be more different. That really helped us as actors, it just really drew you into it and you are filming in the places where the story is placed.
Quinto: Both of them were written into the movie and that was the coolest part about being in Berlin [and Singapore]…
Ware: It wasn’t pretending to be somewhere else as somewhere else, which is…annoying.

For movies based on a book or a TV show or a comic book, there is so much material. But some characters from video games, from shoot ‘em ups, how hard was it for you to prepare for these characters based on video games?
Quinto: The character that I play in the movie exists in the video games but in a peripheral way, so for me it wasn’t about playing the video game to understand the character and Hannah’s character’s not in the games…  
Ware: My character doesn’t exist [in the games] so I was free in that respect but there are other elements of the character. She has a heightened awareness of survival and again, I can’t really talk about it without... [nervous laughter] but that influenced what I did in terms of preparation. Both are very physical roles so we had training and stunt work and I’ve never done that before. Zach obviously has. 
Quinto: Rupert actually really did go into the game a little bit and explore the world through the game because he is the titular character so it made sense for him in a way. Prep for a movie, for any role, is just very different but I think for us especially the physical aspects of the characters became very important to how they present themselves to the world. What really makes it different were all the action sequences. Stunt training, prep work, it was great fun actually. It was really challenging but we had to throw ourselves into it and that’s always a good thing when you’re forced to do that.

Zachary Quinto as John Smith

Can you talk about the stunts that you did and which ones were the most challenging for you? 
Ware: There’s a particular stunt that I do which I never thought I would and I have seen it in concerts that pop singers do [Quinto laughs] and it involves ropes [laughs]. I’m not going to say what it is without giving away some part of the story. 
Quinto: You were suspended quite a bit. 
Ware: I was tied up and I was suspended. 
Quinto: We started training in the same place in Berlin and I remember I showed up to start my training, which was much more traditional hand-to-hand combat and gun work and stuff and I knew Hannah was coming in a little bit later so I was like working and doing and at one point I turned around and she was literally like just hanging upside-down… 
Ware: …Cirque du Soleil style. 
Quinto: A lot of Cirque du Soleil stuff. For me I think the most challenging stunt sequence we had in the movie is one where it was close-range gunfire. It was really interesting because we used actual guns. It was closer than you and I are right now, with the gun going off in my direction. I have shot guns before and been shot at but I’ve never worked so intensely with handguns and I’m not really a big fan of handguns or weapons in general, which is ironic considering the kinds movies I’ve done and stuff sometimes [Laughter from audience] but that for me was definitely the most interesting challenge on the stunt side. 

Hannah, I don’t know if this is too specific, but is there a femme fatale element to your character?
Ware: Is there a femme fatale quality to my character? There could be [Laughs], God! Yes, there is. I think that Katia appears to be of stronger constitution than one might think she is. She is presented as being quite an ordinary…well, she’s never presented as ordinary but a waif-like character roaming Berlin in search of someone that she can’t find. And soon enough, you find out that she has strengths in other ways and abilities in other ways and what’s really exciting is that she discovers that while the audience is discovering it, she goes on this journey and she’s sort of finding this out for herself and there might well be some femme fatale qualities. 

At Comic-Con, who would you cosplay as? 
Quinto: Cosplay… 
Ware: Cosplay? 
Quinto: I don’t really know if Hannah really knows what that means, I don’t know if I really know what that means… 
Ware: I don’t know what that means. 
Quinto: Why don’t you tell us what cosplay is? Dressing up as characters. 
Ware: Oh, God! You’re looking at me like... I like Batman actually. Yeah! When I was in school, when people asked me what God looked like, I always imagined Batman [laughter from audience]. That sort of chiselled man with some sort of spandex over his head. And then I realised I was actually imagining Batman. 
Quinto: If Hannah is going to be Batman, then I gotta be Robin. 

How is the movie with respect to 2007 version, with the same writer [Skip Woods] as well? 
Quinto: Yeah, I think it’s eight years on since they made that movie (Agent 47 has a 2015 release date) and technology has evolved in a lot of ways. Visually, there’s a scale to this movie, a dynamic to it that is… a new sleekness to it that is separates it from that film. But again, times have changed, attitudes have changed, people have higher expectations for visual effects and special effects and that’s what this movie is trying to pursue at the same time as trying to produce something rooted in character and relationships. 


Zachary, I have a question for you. For adaptations, be it of video games or Star Trek, what’s the biggest challenge for you with adaptations versus other film or TV roles? 
Quinto: Yes, I guess I feel like my approach to that kind of thing is to try to set myself aside from expectations and comparisons because if they’re re-imagining something or adapting something or evolving something from the point of its original concept or its original execution, then they’re doing that or we’re doing that because we wanna take it into a different landscape, so for me, I just try to let myself really focus on the work ahead of me and what my job is and I how bring something to life rather than… that’s a fan-based thing, that comparison, that’s what fans do, that’s why fans exist, they believe in something and connect to that. They have passionate feelings and connections and opinions about stuff and so I hand things over for that debate to be held by people besides me. My job is not to engage in that debate so much as it is to give them something to debate about or discuss or have a reaction to. 

And that was that. Kind of an awkward way to end a press conference, but there ya go.

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Thanks SO MUCH again to Jedd for the article and photos.
Do head to his blog "The Movie and Me" for more geeky goodness! There are many articles and interviews there that are worth reading!



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