Exclusive: Cody Deal Talks "Almighty Thor" and His Journey to Success

Fandom Access: Exclusive Interview with Cody Deal  - 5/5/11
Interview by Jamie Ruby, Karen Moul, and AJ Grillo
Written by Jamie Ruby

Cody DealThis weekend marks not just the release of the highly anticipated Thor in theaters, but also a smaller budget version of the Norse myth called Almighty Thor, premiering May 7th, on Syfy. The Marvel version may have a much larger budget (Almighty Thor was shot for around $500,000 and in an impressive twelve days), but Syfy's version has something that Marvel's doesn't. Cody Deal, an amazing new comer, whose enthusiasm and charm are enough to make Almighty Thor, a different take on the myth, worth a watch.

Deal was born in Oklahoma. After only a few years he and his family moved to the small Midwestern town, Sedan, Kansas. He graduated in 2004 as valedictorian as well as a 1st-Team All-Star athlete.

Deal was an athlete for most of the early part of his life and had a desire to play in the NFL, and went to Butler College in El Dorado on scholarship in both basketball and football. Unfortunately, his sports career camed to an end when he fractured his hand and forearm during football and also sustained other injuries from his other hobby of free-diving.

It was then that Deal and his brothers began creating short films, a step up from their younger years of filming their own 'Pay Per View' wrestling matches. His mother suggested at this point that he should take acting seriously, but Deal did not take her advice and moved to Wichita, and later, to Las Vegas to pursue a modeling career.
Photo Copyright Syfy
During his modeling, Deal landed several roles as a Centurion on shows such as The View and Today. He later played a Roman Soldier in the movie The Hangover as well. Deal was enjoying acting and decided to start acting lessons in 2008.

Deal's acting coach at the time submitted him for the title role in Marvel's Thor. Unfortunately Deal was too young for the role, but it helped propel him into his acting career as it prompted him to move to Los Angeles where he would continue to study.

After a year Deal started auditioning for other work where he landed a few roles, including the upcoming film Superseeds, where Deal plays the villain, Mark Hardon.

There were other roles that Deal did not get, but his time was coming, and he read for the starring role in the lower-budget version of Thor, Almighty Thor, for The Asylum. This time, Deal got the part in the film, which would later be picked up by Syfy.

The movie premieres tonight, and in preparation for its release, Deal has been promoting his work as much as possible and recently sat down with SciFi Vision for an exclusive interview during their live podcast, called Fandom Access.

Deal may be new to the business, but is learning fast and it didn't take long for him to make his mark in acting. "I've been out here for twenty three months now. Two years June first, I'm pretty excited about that. Spent the first full year just working on my craft so it's been almost a full year since [I've] started actually working. And I've auditioned for a lot, so this isn't the first role that I came in for and then boom! got it. There's been a lot of things I've struck out on, the Marvel Thor, Spartacus for Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Conan for Conan the Barbarian. I auditioned for all these roles and didn't get them. But each one developed a new aspect of learning something.

"And when I went in for Spartacus...I just ended up being too young for the role...And the next month I read for Almighty Thor, and just the level of confidence that I had walking to that big studio...I knew I could land this smaller low budget Asylum flick. Although I was still nervous and still green in a lot of ways.

"But that what I love about The Asylum, that they do give young actors a chance to showcase their talent...I had a vision that I wanted to star in a film but it's really hard to do that. I'm one of the rare actors that has hit so soon...

"...So I starred in my film, that was an intention up front, awesome, okay, that happened, the impossible happened. I also decided I'm going to do anything in my power to try to make this the highest-viewed Syfy original film in Syfy's history. I think they've had over 200 Syfy films. And again, an impossible goal, everybody dreams of having Syfy's highest numbers. Who knows what's going to happen this Saturday. But the cool thing is, it seems like people who have watched Syfy's films for a really long time are saying that this is one of the best films they've seen and they're saying that this has everything going for it that could lead to it potentially doing just that.

"And this was even The Asylum or Syfy even jumped on board with thinking this film was going to do anything. And so it's very weird to see all this come together but it's very powerful too because I want everybody to know whatever I'm doing, I'm no different than anybody else. I just again feel like I've just kind of embraced that light inside me and I'm not going to dim it for anybody. I'm just going to keep being me. I think this is a perfect moment for all of us to just be ourselves. And I want my story to always help bring people out of their shell and be who they are, not be afraid to show all their colors.

Photo by Robert John Kley
"And so if this ends up being Syfy's biggest numbers , it really could show that I could garner box office numbers, too. And that's...a whole new level. And that is really exciting to think about, that people are remotely contemplating that it could possibly secure the highest numbers...It was so farfetched when I started, so it is just really, really humbling to think about."

Deal has worked hard to help promote his projects. "I originally just thought, "You know, I need to promote myself out there." Everybody said "You're too new to get a publicist; you don't need to promote yourself, you need to just get out there and work." And I just said "No, I need to promote this film." You don't star in a film every day that's going to air on Syfy. So I found this publicist...and he booked a couple of things but it just really let me see how a publicist works and I realized I worked ten thousand times harder than that publicist. And I said I can do this myself...And one thing led to another and it just seems like through the power of social media, I met more and more people. It just seemed like certain people showed up at the right time, it seemed like each gig led to the next. And I...had dozens of online exclusive interviews, where it takes me two hours to fill out these interviews because I want them to be so detailed and authentic and I don't want them to just be rehashes of a repeat story. So I always start from scratch. So I've put in a lot of sweat."

It's important Deal thinks, to work hard on his projects in all aspects. "I always [feel] like people ask "Well, you're not a producer, you're not getting back end profits on this, why are you doing all this?" It's just because every single film I do from the beginning to be as successful as possible. From the beginning, start to finish, I'm going to put in just like I put in all my work during the production, I'm trying to put in all the work I can after the production. And I think any person in this business will see that when they hire me on and go, you know, "this guy is not only halfway decent of an actor but he can market himself like crazy. Let's get him going!" "

Almighty Thor has definitely gotten exposure, especially with the trailer. "When the trailer went up it got over 125,000 hits in five days. And for a film that had zero advertising dollars going into it whatsoever, The Asylum and Syfy were like "What?" So then they realized everything that I was doing and that's when they got on board. And thankfully they got on board and are creating a [greater] amount of exposure. They did that Syfy press junket with me and the director...and they set up a couple other exclusive interviews and The Asylum is also setting up certain interviews for me, and it's great to see that they started really backing this film just as much as I [was]."

Unlike the Marvel version of the myth, Almighty Thor is not really a superhero story. It takes place before Thor became who we know him as. "This story is just basically about an origin story of Thor, and it says on the DVD cover "the legend is born," so it kind of gives you an understanding of how he became the ultimate hero and the superhero that we all know. And so it's an underdog story and Thor is tested at a very early age and around that time it really makes him question if he's really this god, if he really has inside him what's necessary to move forward. He kind of has an arrogant passion that he can defeat Loki throughout most of the film but he realizes more and more that he's just really not ready and certain circumstances make him have to step up. And things happen, just how I think in life certain things show up at the right time to make us have the strength to do the things we need to do.

Photo by Tom Cullis
"And so you're going to see Thor struggle, which is cool because like in Norse mythology...he's the god of thunder; his father is Odin. And so it's part of, you know, paganism, polytheism. It's kind of like a lot like Christianity because the first thirty three years of Jesus' life is not documented in the Bible, and he shows up to get baptized in the Jordan river by John the Baptist and he's just Jesus Christ. He's already at full power; he knows who he is, he doesn't question it, and I've always found it interesting...So I kind of just took that idea into the god of thunder, into the Norse mythology because just like Christianity, Thor isn't documented of how he becomes this ultimate Thor we know, and actually the Marvel Thor – I saw it even before mine, I just saw it two days ago – and it starts where Thor is in full power. He has an arrogant understanding of exactly who he is and he kind of flaunts around because he knows who he is. He's very secure.

"And so with this you have these first years that [aren't] documented in the religion. Thor is just a god that we all know and that humans worshipped back in the day, before Christianity, and the Christians ended up knocking out Norse mythology anyway by the Christian crusades, but before that you get a chance to see, like, this human struggle that I wanted to give to make him relatable to an audience, to human beings, because that's who would be watching the film. And so it was definitely a fun role to play [a] god."

Almighty Thor could almost serve as a prequel to the Marvel movie. "I agree like Jamie (Ruby; SciFi Vision) wrote in her review that this could be a prequel. Thor goes from being the air of youth to coming into his own. When Marvel's Thor starts he's this arrogant dude that's about to be crowned king and then he's cast down to Earth and finds who he is again. And in between Almighty Thor and Marvel's Thor something happens that makes him go from this humble almighty God to this arrogant God about to be crowned king. And I thought it would be interesting, what happens between if this is the prequel and that's the sequel. I know they'll match up identically, but it's a cool perspective going in like that. Maybe it's just me because I auditioned for both films for them to correlate. But I think any Thor fan will like seeing him at two different points in his life."

As Almighty Thor is an origin story, it's about the first time people get to see Thor for who he really is. As someone so new to acting, the story somewhat parallels Deal's life and resonates with him. "Eric Forsberg, who wrote this, I felt like he didn't know me before the script or the role. The Asylum didn't either, I just came in. I was a regular actor who just came in, was submitted by my agent. They liked my headshot and they called me in. But after reading the full script I really felt like it resonated from beginning to end. Kind of my own back story, where I've come from a very small town in Kansas and I've had to let go, you know, what you can or can't accomplish coming from such a small America town and I had to kind of let go of that idea and embrace a new idea, a new concept of myself kind of like Thor has to. I think Thor's story doesn't just resonate with my own but resonates with all of us. I think we all have a greatness inside us that we try to latch on and it's a human struggle and we see our divinity, we see our greatness but then it leaves us. And thankfully because Thor is a god and because it's a movie, you kind of get to see him ultimately embrace who he is in the end. Hopefully to save the planet, I'm not going to give that away.

Photo by Tom Cullis
"It ran so parallel. And it allowed me to really personalize the role...You see Thor and what he's going through, so it's like real moments on screen that this guy is actually going through, and I think that's what creates the best acting. I'm still new at this, I don't think I have all the answers about the craft. In fact I feel like I can't even do a left-handed layup in basketball. I feel like I'm still uncoordinated; I still wobble when I act. But for a first film I can't not pat myself on the back and hold my head high, and be thankful for where I stand, because I know it's only going to get better and better every stop of the way I go."

Deal enjoyed working with the cast, including Kevin Nash, of whom he was already a big fan. "I watched him when I was growing up, I watched him being Diesel and WWF with Razor Ramone and it turned to Kevin Nash and the wolfpack and NWO and all this stuff. I know his back-story...I was the kid who had all the kids over from his small town, I had the Pay Per View matches and watched the Pay Per Views and everything like that.

"And so doing a movie with him was kind of like doing a movie with Brad Pitt. I mean because although he's not known as an actor, to me he was this guy I had watched in TV for years as a young boy. Doing a movie with him I was a little like hmmm, I didn't know how to be. Plus he's gigantic; he makes me look like a normal human being or a small boy."

Deal himself is well built, which works great for a role like Thor. "For an actor, I'm very big. I'm a little bit bigger-scaled than most actors so I don't look as proportionate on screen, so I'm very selective in the roles that I take on. So that's a plus and a minus. I obviously am not having a problem procuring work with this size so I'm maintaining it unless [I] have to lose it and trim down for something else."

Deal also enjoyed working with the rest of the cast. His mother was quite a fan of Richard Grieco. "It was more my mom who was star struck on that one. She didn't see him or meet him, she was back in Kansas, but she was a big Richard fan rather than a Johnny Depp fan back there in the 21 Jump Street days. She just...thought he was the sexiest man on the planet."

Deal also had great chemistry with his love interest in the film, Patricia Velasquez. "I thought she was the sexiest woman on the planet when I was thirteen when The Mummy came out, so when I saw her I was like "Okay, this is cool." But I knew I had to be professional! She and I actually hit it off really well and I think like Jamie said in her review, it was really cool that she picked up on how the chemistry that's between Thor and Jarnsaxa is there and makes for really interesting moments and I'm really happy to hear that. I'm really happy to hear that my acting possibly withstood some of these individuals who have been doing it for years. That's such an overwhelming and like sincere appreciation for being at a level that I just still don't think I'm at."

Photo by Tom Cullis
Deal has two favorite scenes that he filmed in the movie. "One was the sword fighting with the Tree of Life because it's action, and it was just fun to just do all that, because we actually do one take the whole fight scene and it was just a rush.

"The other is, something happens to Thor's father that's very devistating, and it's pretty hard for him to handle. And it was very cool to me, because after I got done with that scene, everyone was very complementary, hugged me, shook my hand, told me I did a great job, from Kevin Nash saying, "It was so believable I really thought you were going through this." The guy playing my brother (Jess Allen) saying, "This is why I do this to work with people like you." It was not something I was used to. It was like the first time I hit the game winning shot in a basketball game and the crowd goes wild. It's the same rush, and I never thought I'd get that in acting so it was very cool for me personally."

The hardest part of filming for Deal was having to imagine what was in front of him. "The hardest part with the whole film was the blue screen, because you had to create this environment around you, like this is really happening to you. Thor has lava coming all around him and...it's very difficult to see, but that's why the imagination comes into play, and the senses and stuff like that and you can create some real stuff, which is great, but that was very difficult."

Getting to use weapons in the film was also fun, but challenging. "The weaponry that we use, they're modified weapons, but you can very easily get damaged or hurt, severely.


"The sword fighting was - I'd never picked up a sword in my life - and so that was very hard to do and develop because we only had a week of training. And I end of wielding two swords in the film, so,and it's very challenging."

The stunts in the movie deal performed himself, which ended up being the scariest part of filming. "A stunt actually went terribly wrong, and this is rare that this happens, that the wired snapped. I was propelled twenty feet in the air, and then as the rope came down and tension was tight, the rope snapped around ten feet, and there was concrete below. Thankfully we had a small pad, but I still felt when my knee hit, that I also had a big ass hammer in my hand that could have came up and hit me in the face or something, but thankfully it came out the way it did. I had an injured knee and SAG shut us down for about two or three days for stunts, because it was reported that it was an unsafe stunt, but truthfully, I think it was fine, it just was an unfortunate event, but that was the scariest thing. And I had to get back in the harness one more time after that, and I was a little cautious and I made sure to ask three hundred questions before I got back up in that thing."

Photo by Tom Cullis
Deal has his own blog site, Hollywood and Beyond, where he talks about his journey to where he is now. He wants to share it and hope he inspires others. "I always want my life to be an inspirational story for anybody. I just remember being in Kansas and not knowing anything about anything and I started reading books because I wanted to get a perspective of how someone else viewed the world and take away from that. And I always thought that maybe someone in my shoes in Kansas would stumble across my blog site and say, "You know what? If this guy can do it, maybe I can." And I always just want my story to be able to be used as signposts to help people along their journey. I don't want people to see the world as I've come to see it, I want people to come see the world as they what resonates with them as a person and what makes them happy."

Deal is ready for anything that life throws his way. "I'm ready for anything that is in my path. But again we all have weak moments and...there were times on this film that I just really didn't think I could do it. And I had an acting coach - the casting director is actually my acting coach – and he pulled me aside and said "Dude, you were the guy hired for this, you can do it, yada yada yada." And I just want to share that because I just want to let everyone know that we're all human, we all have high moments and low moments and we all have full belief in ourselves and doubt ourselves and I just want people to know that it's okay to doubt yourself. It actually probably helps you get to the place where you need to be to overcome those obstacles in your life."

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