A few days ago, I got the chance to interview Chris Pang about his role in “Tomorrow, When The War Began”, which was released in the UK a couple of weeks ago. Here, he talks about his experiences on set and how he got into acting.
Hey Chris! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. I’ve just seen “Tomorrow When The War Began”, and I must say – what a big surprise it was!…It seems to be getting great reviews here too!
Oh good! I haven’t checked the numbers yet, but you guys love Neighbours and Home and Away over there right? So I’m sure seeing Caitlin Stasey and Lincoln Lewis blowing things up would have helped!
Of course, for anyone who hasn’t seen the film yet, what’s the general plotline?
It’s about a bunch of young Aussie mates exploring their exciting hormone charged youth on a camping trip together. However, when they return home they find out that Australia has been invaded! And they form this little guerrilla group to fight back. Romance, car chases, explosions, guns – it’s all in there.
’Tomorrow’ is based on a book written by John Marsden – do you think the adaptation from book to screen was 100%, or do you think it left out important things which could have been developed more – and if so, what (in your mind) were they?
It delivers an extremely faithful screen adaptation of the book, and fans and even John Marsden himself – (you can’t get much better than that) – have been happy with the transition. Some lines were even taken directly from the book, but since a book can take days to read (I’m a slow reader) naturally things have to be left out. There was a sub-plot that was skipped over because of time restrictions. But then again some things Stuart changed worked better than in the book itself!
Were you a fan of the book before you signed on?
Hell yeah! It’s an entire series and “Tomorrow When The War Began” is… well I want to say the beginning, but… it’s more when it began. It was a school text that I studied when I was younger and that automatically made it dull in my mind. But after I started reading it, I realized it was actually enjoyable and I went on to read the rest of the series. I was very excited when I heard they were making a film!
You play the role of Lee. How would you say his character develops over the course of the film?
Lee is a sheltered quiet kid who spends more time at home talking to his piano than talking to real people. By the end of the film he kind of becomes the guy he idolizes with the added bonus of being with the girl he dreams of!
There’s a great scene involving you in a ….I dunno, what can we call it, trash dumpster? What was it like filming that?
Oh yeah, that was frikkin awesome! They treated us like snowflakes on set and wouldn’t let us do this and that for safety, but we all wanted to be in every shot that we could and I can tell you it’s pretty scary being in that dumpster shovel with 10 AK-47’s going off at you and squibs and sparks exploding everywhere. A lot of it was done in the studio with blue screen, but the location shots I could have done forever!
What was it like working with Stuart Beattie? He’s known for Pirates Of The Caribbean…
Yeah he’s known for a lot of other great projects too, but during the shoot I think he was most known for being a great guy. He’s just one of the loveliest people you’ll ever meet and was so good at his job! Stuart knew exactly what he wanted and he was very clear in his communication as to how he wanted things done.
What was it like working with your co-stars? Being young adults, I thought it was great the way you seemingly interacted with each other around campfires, etc. It was almost like you had known each other for years…
Those scenes were really just us chilling and having fun by a campfire – so I’d love to say it’s because of our awesome superior acting abilities, but it was the time we spent in the month of rehearsals showing through.
There’s a few more ’Tomorrow’ films coming out in the next few years. Are you looking forward to continuing your character’s development? What can you say about the next two instalments?
Well I can’t say anything plot-wise that can’t be found in the books, but I’m very excited about the development of Lee. He goes to a very dark place and does bad things. It’ll be stacks of fun to play.
If your hometown got invaded by a military power, what would you do? Hide or fight?
I’d like to say I’d fight and save people and be a hero but you never know what happens until it happens, right? I did pop down to the gun range last week though and I have to say I enjoyed shooting guns a bit too much. I guess shooting paper robbers and zombies isn’t quite the same.
Let’s talk a bit about you Chris. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
It’s just fun! It’s always been something I’ve loved doing since I was small but I started more seriously after being an extra on a large film. There was this energy on set – I dunno if it was the 200 people running around, the big cameras or even the gorgeous women that excited me but I knew I wanted more.
What kind of roles interest you as an actor?
I’d give anything a go. Of course, as an actor I’d want great characters and meaty scripts, but what kind of roles? If I had a choice I’d love to do action/ drama stuff like a heist film or something. With guns. Many of them.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue an acting career?
Well if it was easy, everyone would do it right? The hardest part about acting as a career is not the actual acting itself but the waiting. It can be months between auditions let alone jobs, so you need to keep yourself motivated and moving all the time. Anyone wanting to pursue acting: the basic first step is to go take classes.
What else is coming up for you in 2011?
I’m in LA right now and I have a few projects in development. Hopefully this trip will open some doors but either way I’ll be working on some stories I have floating around in my head. Relax, only one has mass guns in it.
Thanks very much for the interview!