Sorry about missing the last two weeks. It's because... oh, hell. It's gonna happen. You understand.
Monday night's episode was 311, "The Eclipse, part 2," wherein Sylar and HRG beat each other senseless. The scene culminates in a nasty collision of box cutter and jugular -- which, as any parent can tell you, is just not safe. This is the scene I wrote about several weeks (months?) ago in which Zach Quinto and I engage in fisticuffs for eight hours. Having not seen the episode yet, I don't know how long the sequence lasts, but I can tell you that however long it is, lots of it remains on the cutting room floor. (This expression, like so many others, is a charming anachronism. Heroes isn't assembled on film. Although shot on 35 millimeter film, it is edited digitally.)
Our stunt coordinator, Tim Gilbert, couldn't be there on that day, so his brother Troy filled in for him. The Gilberts are stunt royalty. Their father, Mickey, was Robert Redford's stunt double forever, and may still be, I don't know. Mickey is the one leaping off the cliff into the river in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. These guys are such pros; they're a pleasure to work with. Troy, having not been on our show, had little interest in trying to figure out why in the world anyone would be called HRG. So he made it easy for himself by referring to me as KGB. From there it was a natural progression to misname Zach's character as well. Thus it was that Sylar and HRG became, at least for one memorable day, Skylar and KGB. For eight hours it went on and for eight hours it never failed to amuse. So if you haven't watched it yet or you plan to watch it again, any time the violence gets too much, just consider the endless giggles we had that day when we were Skylar and KGB.
Here's the thing about stunts and stuntmen. Yes, stunts are dangerous and, no, stuntmen don't have a death wish. They are athletes and actors and this is their stage. They go to great lengths to lessen the danger, for themselves, and especially, for actors. I shared a house for several years with Kane Hodder, who has been a stuntman and actor for as long as I have been around, which is to say, since the LaBrea Tar Pits were active (that's a joke about dinosaurs).
Kane was Jason Voorhees in I don't know how many Friday the 13th movies. He also acted in and coordinated Monster with Charlize Theron. Nothing used to annoy him more than when people assumed he had some sort of death wish. I learned a lot from Kane, most importantly, that actors should never take a stunt adjustment from stunt performers. Most stunt performers get paid a paltry daily rate. They make their money on stunt adjustments, which are rates paid according to the danger and difficulty of the particular stunt in question. Even when I really want to do a stunt, I always suggest my double do it first and then I'll try it. That way, if it works with me, great, but either way he gets paid.
My double on the show is Rick Marcus. Rick doubled Hugh Jackman in The Prestige. Rick is my favorite double ever. He's physically a great match for me, he's an actor as well, which always helps, he's obviously a skilled stuntman, and he's a calm, cerebral presence. Nothing is more agitating than stunt performers who are too gung-ho. Sometimes guys get all geeked up and are in your face about how, when and why to do... everything. I'm usually geeked up enough for both of us, so if there's any real danger, I want someone calm and cool. Rick is great that way. Tell me what I need to know and walk away. If it really requires that much instruction, chances are I ain't doing it in the first place. As Hayden delights in telling me, I'm very scary on television but "a wee bit wimpy" in real life. I know, can you believe it? And she's not really my daughter so I can't send her to her room.
In addition to the cage match with Zach, there was also the scene at the end of the episode when Sylar and Elle come to the house and he telekinetically pins me above the fireplace. That was Rick being ratcheted backwards across the room and then me going the last few feet and hitting the wall. It's a common stunt that Rick did in this scene, but he could get really hurt if it went wrong. Although, I was stuck to the wall for a while, my biggest danger was hyperventilating. This is an occupational hazard of acting scenes in which you need to be out of breath when you really aren't. You huff and you puff and your head caves in.
Grunny and I had a number of scenes like that the other day. We're locked in an intense mental interrogation, both of us breathless, both trying not to pass out. At the end of one take Grunny gingerly sits down in a chair and says he almost went down on that one. See, there are all kinds of ways to get hurt in this business. Not all of them are psychological.
I often get confused writing this blog because in most cases I haven't seen the episode about which I am writing until after I write about it. And since we filmed it so long ago, my memory is taxed trying to recall exactly what happened. In general, on a serial television show the job of the writers is macro, the job of the actors is micro. Writers always need to keep the big picture in mind -- where are we going? When do we get there? What are the overarching themes of this volume?
The actors, on the other hand, live moment to moment, charged with breathing life into the story line by line, shot by shot. Sometimes, though, we actors need to remind those in charge of the big picture that if, for example, you put Suresh and Ando in a scene together, they need to be introduced. They have never been in a scene together. These are the sort of continuity issues that often fall to us thespians. This isn't sloppiness on the part of the writers. It is just what happens sometimes on a sprawling, serial show like ours.
Having said that, I remember really enjoying episode 311. Holly Dale, a veteran of such shows as Cold Case and Life directed her first episode of Heroes and did a fantastic job, I think. I loved the stuff in the alley where I am hunting the powerless Sylar and Elle. Holly did some cool crane shots. You see me on one side of the fence, Elle and Sylar on the other. Sometimes the most dramatic shots aren't extreme close-ups but wide shots that give you both geography and psychology. In this shot we see hunter and hunted, neither visible to the other but both visible to the audience. Very cinematic. I also had one of my favorite badass shots where I eject the empty cartridge and reload my .45 all the while keeping a keen eye up the alley. A "wee bit wimpy" in real life, perhaps, but don't mess with KGB in a blind alley!
Next time: More on episode 17, which we nearly are done filming. Presently known as "Cold Wars," it is the HRG intensive episode referred to above, wherein Grunny and I almost pass out simultaneously. A very intense episode, it won't air until late February, I believe. I finally have some meaty scenes with Adrian!
Speaking of which, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. For those of you "ferners" who do not partake, I am sorry for you. Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday, Christmas having spiraled out of control long ago and Arbor Day never quite catching on the way I thought it would. An orgy of food and drink (what could be more American?) with no presents and no decorating, I become more and more fond of Thanksgiving the older and more gluttonous I become. As my buddy Jay Acovone likes to say, "I'm eating myself right out of the business."
Watch full episodes of Heroes at NBC.com.
MOST RECENT POSTS
Warning: file(http://forums.televisionwithoutpity.com//index.php?act=rssout&id=101) [function.file]: failed to open stream: HTTP request failed! in /var/www/mte41/mt41-blogs.televisionwithoutpity.com/blogs/guest/the-hrg-files/volume-8----skylar-and-kgb-at.php on line 343
Warning: implode() [function.implode]: Invalid arguments passed in /var/www/mte41/mt41-blogs.televisionwithoutpity.com/blogs/guest/the-hrg-files/volume-8----skylar-and-kgb-at.php on line 343
Warning: DOMDocument::loadXML() [function.DOMDocument-loadXML]: Empty string supplied as input in /var/www/mte41/mt41-blogs.televisionwithoutpity.com/blogs/guest/the-hrg-files/volume-8----skylar-and-kgb-at.php on line 345