“Oh, who knows?” Warcraft: The Beginning star Paula Patton exclaims as she’s asked what she thinks fans reaction will be to her new film based on the hit videogame franchise. “How can you tell? People ask me that and I tell them fans will love it, but you don’t know you just hope so. We certainly put our heart and soul into it, and it was a labour of love, so I hope they will like it.”
Having been in the making for 10 years, a lot of hope was riding on the film. Many wanted it to be Hollywood’s answer to the question: “Is there a good film to be based on a video-game?” Many critics argued it was a generic fantasy film with no bite, but for some fans it was exactly what they had hoped for. MyM Buzz was one of the publications that saw the film’s potential (read our review here), citing its incredible animation and imaginative landscape as its main strengths despite problems with the narrative. And with the Blu-ray and DVD being released on Monday (10 October) in the UK the film is already undergoing reassessment.
We sat down with the film’s two leads Paula Patton (who plays half-orc-half-human Garona) and Travis Fimmel (who is lead human Anduin Lothar) to find out more behind-the-scenes details about the film.
MyM: Let’s start off by talking about the training side of things. What kind of physical training was involved for both of you?
Paula Patton: “There was quite a bit for both of us. They wanted me to potentially look like I could be half-orc, so aesthetically that meant I had to do a lot of training, eat a lot of protein and go through two-and-a-half hours training a day. Then we added stunt training, learning how to use the swords and sticks, being able to ride horses and running around being a warrior. That proved very beneficial in finding a character in Garona.”
MyM: You’re the only orc character that’s not actually in a motion-capture suit aren’t you?
Paula Patton: “This is true, very true.”
Travis Fimmel: “Yea, that’s a real six-pack there.”
Were they ever considering having you in a motion-capture suit?
Paula Patton: “I don’t know. I had heard rumours but when I was asked to read the script it was always going to be me. That’s what scared me! I remember Duncan and I had this great meeting, and in the room we both said that I would be great as Garona but when I got in my car I asked myself, ‘Oh god, what have I done? How can I be half-orc, half-human?’ I’d heard all these horror stories about hair and make-up, and I was really worried but this role has changed my life in every way you can imagine.”
Travis Fimmel: “There’s going to be a lot of teenage boys with some green posters in their room! Some adults too.”
MyM: How long did the physical transformation take into becoming Garona?
Paula Patton: “Well they didn’t have to paint me green, that was the amazing thing. Right before we started shooting the film I thought I would have to go through that and I started to wonder how I could walk around set painted green. But I didn’t because that’s how quickly technology has advanced; they told me it would be much easier to do everything in post production because they could see the pores of my skin and they would be able to tell if I was hot, or I was cold, or if I was crying. If they did it afterwards that would make it lifelike and real, so I’m very thankful that I didn’t have to go through that.
“Other than that, I still had to do quite a bit of make-up and I wore these contacts that really obscured my vision so I had no peripheral vision and it made me really feel inhuman. That helped quite a bit in becoming Garona.”
MyM: How comfortable were those teeth to wear? Because they look really uncomfortable.
Paula Patton: “They were something I had to get used to honestly. There was always leakage problems where there would be a little dribble, and speaking clearly was difficult. I had to wear them quite a bit to make sure I could talk well and not dribble everywhere!”
MyM: Did you have any injuries with it?
Paula Patton: “I cut myself a couple of times. At first it was uncomfortable and then it became something I loved and I didn’t feel like Garona until I had them in. I wish I’d kept a pair – it makes me feel different when I wear them.”
MyM: You had to speak Orc in this film. Was that difficult?
Paula Patton: “Very challenging! It was hard because they took it so very seriously, every word mattered and I had to get a dialect coach because I had to say it all in a certain way. So it was absolutely like learning another language, and it was very challenging.”
MyM: How much did you have to study for it?
Paula Patton: “Oh gosh, I don’t remember! We made it such a long time ago now. Sometimes you take things in sections, so I guess two and a half months before the film starts you start going through training and getting your body physically ready for the role. Then I had to learn to be able to do what some of my character was able to do physically, then there was a moment where I would think, ‘Okay, orc language is coming up!’ There’s so much to do so you have to take it in sections. Let’s say I had four weeks or something like that to learn it.”
MyM: Were there any other fantasy worlds that influenced how you played your characters?
Travis Fimmel: “I really think that if you like The Lord Of The Rings or Avatar then you’re going to enjoy this film. In terms of acting, though, I feel as if every character is different, so you play it on how they are described in the script and then put your own spin on it.”
Paula Patton: “I don’t take other worlds into consideration. For me, at least, when I create a character it is completely different to anything else out there.”
Travis Fimmel: “It’s pretty boring as an actor if you’re trying to copy someone. In Vikings I didn’t do any research either; the character had children and his own family so you just pull from your own life really.”
MyM: How familiar were you with Warcraft before you came on board? And did you need a lot of convincing before joining such a massive project?
Travis Fimmel: “I didn’t have any better offers at the time! We both weren’t familiar with it, but luckily to have Duncan as a director and is a huge fan of the game worked, and Rob [Kazinsky] – who played one of the orcs – was in the Top 10 in the world at one stage; he used to play 18 hours a day. He was single at the time.”
MyM: How does it compare to Vikings?
Travis Fimmel: “Well on Vikings you get to go on real boats, and when we film it it’s sort of done; they just edit and put music on it. But with this it’s such a long process, but we were so lucky to have actors like Toby Kebbel there and it was great that we could still act with people most of the time. I’m still blown away about the fact that you’re acting with Toby, and he’s in a motion capture suit and then you see the film two years later and there’s an orc there – it’s incredible. I mean, with these creatures you really feel for them, as it’s humans playing them and its his real eyes. Duncan went to great lengths to make sure that there wasn’t a typical villain in the film, there’s good and bad on both sides and it’s not one-dimensional.”
MyM: What was it like working with Ben Foster?
Travis Fimmel: “He’s great, but how do you describe him? He’s different. Where is he right now? He must be working because he hasn’t been doing much of this.”
Paula Patton: “He’s an incredible actor, the dedication he has to his work is amazing. It’s always fun to act with someone who wants to get into the role as much as you do, and he’s certainly that actor.”
MyM: Toby must have been quite a help, since he was doing motion capture in Planet Of The Apes as well.
Travis Fimmel: “Yea, I think a lot of the actors who wear motion capture suits went to him for advice. He’s such a great actor too.”
MyM: What was it like on set?
Travis Fimmel: “Oh, he was a wanker on set. No, it was great. So much was special effects, but a lot was hand-built as well. You walk into these sheds in Vancouver, and they’ve built these forests and you get to ride horses through them and it’s great. In Vikings you spend a lot of time hiking up hills and it’s pissing down with rain, but everything is indoors here and it’s great.”
Paula Patton: “It’s kind of an Alice In Wonderland moment – you open a tin door and suddenly you are in another universe. It’s quite outrageous and surreal, you would be having lunch and you’d forget that you were even in Vancouver.”
Travis Fimmel: “We spent six months in those sheds.”
Paula Patton: “Yeah, the people that made these sets are real artists. Everyone that worked on the set designs, props, and costumes were amazing. It’s a collaborative art form filmmaking and it takes all those people doing their job at the best they can to make a film like this. What happens is all these personalities come together to make this collective dream. It takes so much more than one person, and of course you work with the director but it’s only when you watch the movie that you realise how important all the decisions he made were. You’ve always seen orcs and they’ve been ugly and he’s made them beautiful; there’s a choice in the way that all the things look and it’s great to see it all on screen. It felt so unique to other films I’ve seen in terms of perspective and it takes a lot of people to make that.”\
MyM: When did you actually shoot it?
Travis Fimmel: “A couple of years ago.”
MyM: It must be pretty weird then seeing the finished product after working on it so long ago.
Travis Fimmel: “Yeah, it was pretty weird.”
Paula Patton: “It was very weird.”
Travis Fimmel: “My griffin thing was just a broomstick half the time and some poor fellow wondering what he was doing with his life is just poking me with it and we’re both trying not to laugh. ILM, who did the special effects, are amazing. Seeing what they did with the film I really think people will get immersed in it because what they have done is incredible.”
MyM: Since you mentioned the guy with a stick, were there any other weird or fun moments on set like that?
Travis Fimmel: “It’s always funny having a group of actors on horses. I was the only one that fell off mine, though, which was embarrassing. I was the only one that owned a horse, and the only one that fell off it.”
Paula Patton: “I’ve never done it before.”
MyM: Are you both interested in doing a sequel?
Travis Fimmel: “I’m broke so I have to! No, really she won’t kiss me off-screen so I may as well make another movie.”
MyM: How does the directing differ on such an effects heavy movie compared to your other work? Do you find that it is the same process as actors or do you find it harder?
Paula Patton: “I don’t think it’s the directing as much as what needs to happen technically.”
Travis Fimmel: “It’s a bit different, but Duncan has to visualise the film before anyone else does so it’s a bit difficult in that sense. He had the vision of the film two-and-a-half years ago. When we’re on the set we don’t know what’s happening so we really rely on him to tell us. ”
MyM: It’s interesting how he did two quite small movies before, and then he’s made this leap to a giant blockbuster like this.
Travis Fimmel: “He must have been scared; he had so much responsibility. I wouldn’t want to do it!”
Paula Patton: “I think that’s what made him perfect for it. At some point you have to let go of the scale and grandeur, and have to go into the small emotional parts of the story because if you can’t connect to the audience emotionally then you don’t really have much at all, you need both to make the film good.”
MyM: Would you do a sequel without him?
Travis Fimmel: “I already signed a contract so I have to!”
Paula Patton: “It would be a shame not to though because he knows how to tell this story and this world. It was such an enjoyable experience so I hope we would get to work with him again. But he’s right, legally we really have no choice.”
MyM: What are your future plans? I heard you want to own a farm Travis?
Travis Fimmel: “I do but that’s still far into the future because I’m still broke. I grew up on a farm and still have that, but I want my own.”
Paula Patton: “I don’t know what I want to do, I am happy but I think it’s really important to enjoy the moment and there’s so many things I want to explore, see, and do so I think even saying it would put a limitation on it because who knows. For me this film was a journey because it was a big marker in my life, and changed it significantly in so many ways. One of the important things is to enjoy what you’re doing right now truly, and I really am grateful to be in this movie and that our effort turned out the way it did.”
Travis Fimmel: “Her answer is better than mine!”
Warcraft The Beginning is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Monday 10 October.