"Don't look up." That's the tagline of the new science fiction thriller, Skyline, which opens tomorrow in theaters. The movie stars Eric Balfour as Jarrod, who recently sat down with Jamie Ruby of Sci Fi Vision and Media Blvd. for a private, exclusive interview.
Balfour is probably best known for his work on series such as Six Feet Under, 24, and more recently his role as Duke Crocker in Syfy's Haven. He however has also appeared on the silver screen, in films such as What Women Want, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Spirit.
Balfour's fans will be happy to know that he and the rest of the cast and crew will resume filming Haven in April with an airdate scheduled for the end of June. He and his costars are excited to get back to filming.
Balfour's favorite episode of Haven was the season finale. "[It] really captured what the show is going to be moving forward. And it's got like the first episode where we really connected with everything we wanted this show to be." According to Balfour, in season two, "You're going to see a lot more character development; you're going to see a lot more of how the afflictions and these troubles affect the three main characters."
Before he can think too much about the future of Haven; however, Balfour is eager to talk about his new role in Skyline.
The film makers and Balfour are reluctant to reveal too much about the plot of the movie, but Balfour does tell us some of what it's not. "The biggest thing is that one of the things that the film makers were really adamant about was not giving away the plot line of the movie in the trailers. And the reason being is because they're fans of films, and there's nothing worse than going to see a movie and feeling like you saw the whole movie and not needing to go see it once you saw the trailer. But what I can tell you is, yeah the trailer's a concept of the world, and yes there are 800 visual effects shots in the movie; all of that's there. But this movie really is going to live or die by watching this group of people in this disaster situation, which really could be an analogy for anything...Although there's a lot of these sort of fanboy kids out there who think that this is some new version of Independence Day or War of the Worlds, but the fact is, it's not. That was a misdirect, really, in the trailers, so that, you know, yes, obviously you've seen it in the trailers and it's there and it's in the movie, but this movie takes a much smaller look at what it would be like to survive it and to deal with making these decisions in a life threatening and world ending scenario. You know, you think about when you hear about miners in Chile stuck in this hole, or people who have been stuck in disaster areas when there's been earthquakes or tsunamis, or, what if you're stuck in a war zone? And the story really in a lot of ways doesn't focus on the idea of humanity fighting back against the aliens. That's obviously an aspect of it, but really what the story focuses on is this small group of people, who in some ways are not connected, and are forced together in this situation and have to survive, and I hope the audience is going to walk away going, "What would I have done in this situation? Would I have gone for it? Or would I have just tried to hunker down and hope that help comes?" Because we've all seen that. You think about it all the time when you hear about somebody who's getting carjacked or kidnapped, and you hear about the person who fought their attacker and ran. And sometimes that pays off, and it was the best decision they could have made, and other times you find out that that probably cost them their life, and so I hope that people walk away and are really asking themselves these questions."
Balfour does however talk a bit about his own character. "The catalyst of the larger picture for my character is really just a moment that forces him to decide if he is ready to become a man. You know, I think [when] we meet him at the beginning of the movie he's really a young, starving artist. He's trying to figure out his way in the world, trying to make decisions about his life, his career, and his family, and he doesn't have the answers, and this huge event is what really is going to force him to decide if he's ready to become a man and take charge, or if he really isn't capable of that. And it's a pretty intense ride trying to watch him go through this...I guarantee everybody that the twists that happen in this movie, nobody expects, and the story is really, really compelling and really about humanity. It's really not about aliens; it's really about human beings."
Skyline is an independent movie, not a big studio production; however, the people involved could do more with the budget, because they know what they are doing, therefore, filming the movie wasn't as restrictive. "It has some of the best visual effects artists in the world who made this movie. What this movie is, is this is an outlaw production. That's the best way to describe it. It's not that it was just made with no money; it was made with a business model and a spirit that was built and designed outside of the studio system. Obviously Greg and Colin Strause and Hydraulx, you know, they're not starving artists, but I don't care who you are; it takes balls to say "I'm going to take my own money; I don't care if it's $100,000 or if it's $5 million," to go, "I'm going to take my own money, and I'm going to gamble on myself, and the reason I'm going to gamble on myself is because I have a vision, and I want to make it my way, and if it fails I want it to be my fault." And that was the coolest part about this movie. There were five people making decisions on set. There were the two writers, the two directors, and our producer, and us actors, basically. And that was it. If we didn't like something, we reshot it. If something wasn't working, we rewrote it, and you'll know it when you see the movie; it's not your Disney alien movie. There's no happy ending. It's gnarly, and it's hard core, and it was made by guys who love science fiction, who love this genre, and wanted to do it justice."
Balfour loved the way the production was handled. "I loved that we...were in control. And it's scary because, you know, yes, if it fails, it's all on our shoulders, but you know, if you're going to do something and you want to take a risk, this is the way to do it, and so I couldn't have been more happy about it. I mean, we were very fortunate to get the best of both worlds. I mean, to have Relativity Media and Universal and Brett Ratner and Ryan Kavanaugh come on board and support the movie the way they have, and believe in it? Huge, huge. So we've kind of been spoiled to have the best of both worlds."
One of the surprising things is that, even though the movie obviously has a lot of special effects, the production didn't involve any green screen. "These guys are way beyond green screen...This is a whole new way of doing things. I mean, everything was shot practical and then all of the CG effects were added in later. But the way that we did that, to make that possible is, because people have tried to do it before, what happens is, is that they shoot it, not realizing where their visual effects are going to go, and they try to paint them in later, and there's either no room for them or they can't make them work right, or the angles are wrong. Basically, they previsualized the entire movie before we ever stepped on set. All of the locations and the shots were already made, so we literally - all of the special effects and all the CGI effects - we would come in, watch the previsualized version of the scene on computer, and then be able to copy what we already knew was going to be. Like if we knew that something was twenty-five feet to our left and ten feet above our head, I knew exactly where to be looking, or reaching, or running from, or grabbing, so that was how they made that work; it was really cool."
Even though it's not a big studio production, Skyline has been getting a lot of buzz. Balfour, however, does not think that it matters whether or not you know how it was created. "Honestly, for us in some ways, it doesn't matter, because I think we all believe that the movie stands on its own. So whether you know the story of the movie and how it was made, it only makes it better, but people are going to walk in this movie and they're really going to get taken on a ride, and I think the relationships between the characters are what really are going to make people invested in the story, and I think it just it really is going to stand for itself and speak for itself. All the other stuff is just bells and whistles. But the thing about it is, yes, I'm excited about the people who are already excited to see the movie, but in some ways I'm more excited about the sort of hardcore sci-fi guys who are going, "Oh, this is just another Independence Day or another War of the Worlds." Well, the fact is, it couldn't be more wrong. They have no idea what this movie's actually about. All they see - and to be fair to them, yes, that's all Universal's showed them so far in the trailers is big aliens, big ships, big bombs, and explosions and fighter jets, soldiers and - but that was by design. There was a lot of misdirect so that people would be surprised when they actually walked into the theater, because the film makers really, they're fans, and so I'm excited for the fanboy crowd to go see this movie and to realize that they had it pegged all wrong."
Balfour and the cast got to do their own stunts, which he enjoyed. "We got to do all of our own stuff, it was fun! We got banged up a lot, you know, it was scary getting hung by wires over a...thirty story building, and you know, you're hanging off of wires over the edge of this building, just getting tossed around and whipped around and thrown up into the air, and we got to do a lot of fun stuff. We got to have a really fun, fight scene with an alien and it was cool."
After Skyline, Balfour has some new movies in the works to be released sometime later in the year. For now, he has some ideas of what he'd like to do in the future and who he'd like to work with. "The guy that I would probably right off the top of my head, that I would go, "I'd love to work with," would be Danny Boyle. I just think he's an incredible film maker and that is definitely a dream of mine. I just think he makes incredible, incredible films and tells such unique stories in such unique ways. And as far as roles, one of my favorite characters growing up and one of the first movies that really inspired me was The Exorcist. And I loved Father Damian Karras. I mean, I thought he was just so cool and strong and conflicted, and if there was ever an opportunity and anyone would ever want to do a real remake of The Exorcist, I would want to play Father Damian Karras."
Meanwhile, in his time off, Balfour supports causes and charities that he is often vocal about. "Beyond just the specific organizations that I work with, I think my generation has a responsibility to change the course of the world we live in. And if we don't do it now - this isn't one of those subject matters where you're talking about our children or our grandchildren, we're talking about the quality of our life and the world that we live in now. So the organizations that I work with, and specifically, the Surfrider Foundation, which protects our oceans and beaches, with the NoH8 Campaign, which is a group that advocates for equal rights, and for everybody, not just anti-gay groups that are out there. This is about equality for everyone and about granting "beingness" to people. And all the other organizations I've spent a lot of time working with. [There] is an organization called Falling Whistles that is out there advocating for children in war affected countries who are forced into militias and forced to fight on the front line. And you know all of these different aspects, and there's all kinds of organizations in the world that do amazing things, and these just happen to be the ones that spoke to me personally, and I just think we, you know, whether you're a celebrity, or an actor, or an artist, it doesn't matter; if we don't all start getting together and pitching in and helping, the world's going to be a really sad, dark place, you know? Forget about aliens taking over and destroying us; we're going to do it on our own if we're not careful."
Read the review of "Skyline"