Daniel Cudmore Talks, Halo, Twilight and Superman?
Newsarama: Daniel, we understand you’re not really a gamer, so how did Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn come about?
Daniel Cudmore: I am and I’m not. It all depends on the game. Some games will get me and I’ll play them for X amount of time. Some games, I get bored quite easily of them. Getting involved with Halo was kind of funny. I was in L.A. auditioning and trying to get work. I had a stunt co-ordinator from Vancouver that I worked with sending me these somewhat cryptic text messages about this possible project that was shooting in Vancouver. He wasn’t at liberty to tell me exactly what it was, so it went like this for a while. I’m trying to guess what it is, but had no clue. It started coming down to where they actually wanted to use me. Once I signed on, I got introduced to what it actually was, which was the first live-action series for Halo.
Nrama: This certainly isn’t some voiceover gig where you are secluded in a booth.
Cudmore: No, it’s a full live-action, standalone movie by itself. All of these young, up-and-coming actors were amazing. You had some more seasoned actors also. Then I’m in this suit doing all the physical acting and the dialogue at the same time, so that each actor has something to work off of.
Nrama: What can you tell me about your character, Master Chief, and the game’s storyline?
Cudmore: It’s really the beginning of the Human Covenant War. He goes to this academy where it’s been under attack and is there to try and help anyone left on this planet. Not really knowing it, he shows this young cadet this heroism and valor, and what he is made of from leading by example. He has this young cadet go down a different path than he thought he was going to go down.
Nrama: You get to set and they have the Chief’s armor all laid out. What was your initial impression of it and how did it help you get into character?
Cudmore: I was in L.A. and went over to Legacy Effects, which are the guys who designed it. They also did little pictures like Iron Man. I got a full 3-D body scan and eventually they were making the rough model of it. I got to put it on for the first time when it wasn’t even painted. It was a raw black and it looked really badass. You can’t help but feel almost invincible with this massive helmet, the padding and that sheen of the reflecting orange across the mask. It’s such a cool thing.
Nrama: After all the Halo games, the books and properties, how have they further developed Master Chief’s personality and mythology in this project?
Cudmore: That’s the thing. In a video game, it’s always tough, because you are the Master Chief in most of them. You create who you think he is and who he is to you. That’s always a tough thing to re-create as an actor. When I was reading some of the fiction that was written, it really broke down where he came from. It gave me an idea of the amount of training, and the only thing he knows is the military. He’s so thoroughly devoted to the mission, the military and everything it stands for. He doesn’t really know anything different. He hasn’t seen much life. It really helped me understand the psyche of where he is, which I could hopefully translate throughout this project.
Nrama: Next up, you have the last Twilight instalment, Breaking Dawn – Part 2. How has this franchise changed your life?
Cudmore: I’m not going to say all of a sudden I’m a millionaire and I’m in every picture I want to be in. I think the way it has changed my life is I’ve had a job for four movies, which is amazing in the world of an actor, just knowing there’s going to be another and another one. At the same time, all I’ve been really wanting, especially as an actor, is just to be able to get in those doors. Again, a lot of the times, the hardest thing is to get through that door to prove you can actually act and be somebody who can be hired. That’s been the biggest thing for me. I’ve been able to get into those audition rooms and meet certain directors and casting directors. That franchise really helped me because of the massive size.
Nrama: In their last encounter, there seems to be some flirtation between your character Felix and Bella. In this sequel, how does he see her? Is Felix sympathetic to Bella’s situation?
Cudmore: Not really. Felix doesn’t feel. He doesn’t think too far into things like that. Maybe on an animalistic front, he’s like, ‘Ah, she’s cute.’ He doesn’t think too much into people’s situations. That’s probably why he’s such a good killer and so good at what he does.
Nrama: The Breaking Dawn – Part 2 trailer promises an epic battle between the Volturi, Edward, Bella and company. How physical do things get for you?
Cudmore: Not too bad. I get to have a little fun. I remember all the shooting we did in Baton Rouge and the days on days of rehearsing and redoing battle scenes. I enjoy the physicality aspect of filming, especially when it comes to fights. I grew up playing sports and everything under the sun, so I don’t mind it that much. Sometimes it feels like you got a good day of work in. You’re actually sore the next day. So yeah, I get to have a little bit of fun in this final battle. At the same time, there’s a million and one actors, so it’s not strictly going to be a giant fight scene with Felix.
Nrama: Is this where your stunt background comes in handy? Do they play up to your strengths?
Cudmore: Absolutely. I’m kind of an anomaly by the fact I’m a 6’6” actor. It’s hard to get roles and then it’s even harder to find a stunt double. The stunts I just sort of fell into because when I would be working on an acting piece, they would ask me, ‘Hey, have you ever done this? Do you want to try this?’ ‘Okay.’ I’m game for trying to do something as long as it looks good. If there’s something I know I can’t do, bring in the professionals. They train night-in, night-out.
Nrama: Were you surprised so many Twilight fans were aghast by the beating Felix gave Edward last time?
Cudmore: I think it was great. I had a feeling there was going to be some minor backlash, but it was all in good fun. At the same time, I wanted a backlash. I wanted people to feel strongly against that fight scene. It meant all the hard work from me, Rob [Pattinson], the stunt co-ordinator, the fight choreographer was appreciated.
Nrama: That old expression goes, “Pick on someone your own size.” How would a brawl between Felix and Kellan Lutz’s Emmett go down?
Cudmore: It would be interesting. They are both very similar characters. I think it would be a pretty deadly fight. The thing is, Felix has been handpicked from every vampire out there to do what he does best, and has been doing it for a very, very, very long time. So it’s kind of like that veteran versus the young up-and-comer. Emmett would be out of the gate like a madman, but Felix would use that to his advantage, let him tire and the next thing you know, his head is off.
Nrama: Looking back at the X-Men franchise and your role as Colossus, was the plan always to have him become a major player in Last Stand?
Cudmore: I don’t know. I don’t know those intricate details when it came to that. I know when I did it first, they were toying with the idea of “What do we do with the next one? Are we going to grow the character?” I was all for it. Colossus has so much more story, history and things that can be used in the film.
Again, I don’t make those decisions. When X3 rolled around, I believe there was a bit of a bigger role, but it really just got down to….It’s like a totem pole and depending on where you rank on that, you get more screen time or less screen time. I know there was supposed to be more, but it got cut and changed around. At the end of the day, I’m happy I’m working. I don’t have the clout to be able to throw a hissy fit or voice my opinion as much. I would love to see more of Colossus and what he’s all about, as opposed to quick little cameos.
Nrama: In the movies, Colossus is the strong, but silent type. Did they ever ask you to practice a Russian accent?
Cudmore: At first, I had a cattle call for X-Men 2, and this was at the very beginning of my career. After the cattle call and [after] they started to break down who the character was, I started to do my research. I rehearsed a Russian accent. Then when I got to shooting, maybe my Russian accent at the time wasn’t so great. Or, maybe it was the fact that Bryan Singer is not a big fan of accents. Every film he’s done, he’s had people do more of their natural accent, as opposed to trying to put on whatever it may be, so it doesn’t take away from their acting. Pyro was supposed to be Australian, Wolverine is supposed to be more Canadian and Storm was South African.
Nrama: At any point, was there talk about developing the iconic Peter/Kitty relationship?
Cudmore: There were talks about that and then it sort of evolved into Iceman and Kitty. Again, totem pole and who has a bigger role. Sometimes, it’s who has a bigger name and maybe they see it more happening that way. I was so fresh and new, I didn’t even know what was happening.
Nrama: Reportedly, there were too many cooks in the kitchen for X-Men 3. Did you ever get the sense of that while filming?
Cudmore: I don’t know. I don’t think I was there enough to really get the understanding of how the inner workings were going. Again, it was more of a cameo. I was there just doing my thing. I wasn’t there as much as some of the other actors were to get the inside of what was happening.
Nrama: It felt like Colossus, Kitty and Iceman were being groomed for a new generation of X-Men movies. Was that your impression as well?
Cudmore: I started getting the feeling that maybe they might be going further. I think they decided to go in a different direction, and too bad. I would love to play him again, but where does he fit in the timeline and of which film?
Nrama: You auditioned for Superman Returns. What do you recall about doing that?
Cudmore: I auditioned for the one with Brandon Routh, which was not the greatest audition because I left acting for a year to pursue some sports. It was one of these auditions where my agent was like, “Just please go.” I was not in the headspace for acting. I needed some time away and I think the audition was probably just absolutely terrible. Then I auditioned for Man of Steel that is coming out. Really, I wanted them to see a good audition. I wasn’t having these aspirations of being the lead character.
Nrama: Lastly Daniel, what have you learned from being part of these blockbuster franchises such as X-Men, Twilight and Halo, which all have these rabid fan bases?
Cudmore: What you learn is you try and do your research as much as possible, work your ass off and try to capture these characters. You want to do them justice. And at the same time, you hope the fans like it. You say they are rabid and strong-willed fans, and that’s great. As someone who is an artist and wants to put stuff out there, if you can get a positive reaction from a large amount of people, that’s probably the best thing you can ask for.