I recently got the opportunity to talk to Phillip DeVona about his role in ‘Quarantine 2: Terminal’. Here, Phillip talks about what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set and about his new film, ‘Freerunner’…
Hey Phillip. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me – ‘Quarantine 2: Terminal’ is having it’s DVD premiere in the UK on 15th August 2011.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
Survival. The story follows everyday people traveling in what quickly becomes an extraordinary situation. My wife and I are about eight months pregnant and on our way to visit family. What begins as just another day quickly becomes an encounter none of us are prepared for.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
Nial Burritz is an egomaniacal, loud, obnoxiously crude and demeaning man. He’s all about the money and his net worth and material possessions make him think he’s better than everybody else. Basically, he’s insecure.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
My agent sent me the material. I was pretty busy and didn’t thoroughly look at it right away. A day later I was talking to a friend who was scheduled to read for the same part and I asked him what he knew about it. He said there were a few meaty scenes, (great for an actor) so I decided to revisit the e-mail – only to find I was scheduled to read for two roles, one of the CDC Officers and Nial. Joy Pervis, (my agent) put me on tape and after reading the role of Nial, she looked at me and said, “You’re going to get this one.” I guess I have a little Nial in me.
I’ve seen the trailer – how would you say this film is different to other horror films? It’s shot very much like ‘Rec’ and ‘Cloverfield’ isn’t it?
Well, contrary to popular belief, ‘Quarantine 2’ isn’t really a “horror” film. It has elements of anticipation and unexpected surprise, but Q2 is more of a non-stop, action packed, suspense-horror-thriller. The ride doesn’t stop, literally! ‘Rec’ is a great film and I enjoyed ‘Cloverfield’, but cinematographer Matt Irving’s work speaks for itself. John Pogue’s vision and Matt Irving’s eyes create the visual experience as a character. One that is just as important as the one’s that talk.
The film stars Mercedes Masohn, Josh Cooke, Mattie Liptak, Noree Victoria and Bre Blair – with John Pogue onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew? I imagine it must have been pretty confined in places…
It was hot! We shot in Griffin, Georgia, mid-July, in an abandoned towel mill for eight to twelve hours a day, but who’s complaining? I wouldn’t of had it any other way. The heat and tight quarters created a few uncomfortable situations, but everybody brought their A game everyday. No ego’s, no diva’s, just a bunch of folks having a great time doing what we love to do. The cast and crew were phenomenal. It’s truly an ensemble piece and we really came together on this one. John assembled a great team. He’s fun to work with, easy-going, open to suggestions and trusts his actors. It doesn’t get much better than that. John Pogue and his Q2 crew are the real blood, sweat, and tears.
Let’s talk a bit about you Phillip. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
Fear. I’ve always had a fear of speaking in front of people, but putting yourself out there is incredibly liberating. Sure you’re afraid, but of what? Growing? I decided to grow. Storytelling has a unique way of allowing an audience to subconsciously see a situation they or people they’re close to are experiencing. Sometimes we need to see things from a different perspective in order to make adjustments in our own lives. If what I do enables someone to feel, see, or realize something they didn’t before… if my work inadvertently opens a chamber that was sealed shut, I did my job. I love my job.
What movies and actors have inspired you as an artist?
I enjoy a character driven story. One of my favorite films is the original ’12 Angry Men’. Black and white – it stars the real-deals, Henry Fonda, Jack Klugman, Ed Begley, Lee Cobb, Martin Balsom, and E.G Marshall, and all takes place in one room. ‘Slingblade’ is another. The uncomfortable situations Billy Bob created were paralyzing. The scene at the dinner table where Dwight Yokum is being down right nasty leaves us begging for a cut away, but Billy Bob lets us sit in the uncomfortable. I love that. ‘Napoleon Dynamite’! An outside the box movie that is truly character driven. One of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen is Julian Schnabel’s, ‘The Diving Bell And The Butterfly’. The actors that inspire me are the one’s who truly transform, are always genuine, and at the core, are always who they are: Sam Rockwell, Meryl Streep, John Malkovich, Gary Oldman, the list goes on and on.
You’ve had a number of roles in different projects – who has been your favorite actor to work with so far and what has been your favorite TV series to guest star on?
I have had the pleasure of working with a number of professionals who have had an impact on me. He probably doesn’t know it, but while working on an ESPN television movie with Sam Shepard and Nicholas Pryor (the dad from ‘Risky Business’), Mr. Pryor offered me some advice when he noticed I was struggling on set one day. He said, “It takes ten years to get out of your own way”. What I got out of that was we’re our own worst enemies, that we sabotage our greatness and limit ourselves with fear. In a room with Pulitzer Prize Winner Sam Shepard and the dad from ‘Risky Business’ with a massive camera lens twenty inches from my face – I will never forget that. Another guy who had a great impact on me is a gentleman by the name of Richie Montgomery. He instilled in me the importance of having common courtesy and respect for everyone involved in a production, and in life for that matter. What impressed me most is he shared this without saying a word. He did it. And the energy he put out is exactly what came back. As for my favorite TV series? ‘Army Wives’. What started out as a one-day, co-star role ended up becoming an eight episode recurring role. The night before we shot the first episode I had dinner with the Unit Production Manager, Barbara D’Alessandro and her husband Joe. I distinctly remember asking Barbara what the chances were of bringing Sergeant Larson back. She assured me it would never happened. A few weeks later I got a call to come back.
If I gave you a room to decorate, what color would you paint it and why?
Sky blue. It’s open to opportunity.
What is currently on your I-Pod?
I’ve been listening to Ben Lovett. He’s gritty, gravely and a genuine talent. I met Ben at a recent premiere for his latest project, ‘Ghost Of Old Highways’. Rich stuff. Others on my I-Pod, Theatre Fire, Frank Lee White, Johnny Cash, Jay Z, Metallica, and Kirk Franklin.
I’ve just seen a project that you’re in called ‘Freerunner’ – that‘s coming out soon – it looks great – if not a bit ‘Crank’ and ‘Battle Royale’-ish to say the least – what can you tell us about this project? Did you have an ahem, blast working on it?
A friend of mine, Jeremy Sklar – (who happened to be the writer and LA unit director of the film) called me and said he had a role for me. I didn’t have to think twice about it once I heard the character’s name, you just don’t say no to a character named Wallstreet. ‘Freerunner’ revolves around uber wealthy men placing bets on unassuming parkour-adventurists in a race that will determine their fate. All I can say is don’t lose your head.
What else is coming up for you in 2011?
I just wrapped a feature called ‘Crackerjack’ which was written and directed by Bryan Coley and executive produced by Jeff Foxworthy. The story follows Bill “Crackerjack” Baily, (Wes Murphy) on his journey toward responsibility via way of an organized church softball league. I play team leader, Boomer Byrd. I’m currently working with writer/director Cole Claassen on an independent comedy along the lines of ‘Sideways’ meets ‘Little Miss Sunshine’. I play Miles Worth, an odd dude hell-bent on playing in a doubles exhibition match at the US Open. It’s been great fun so far. Otherwise I’m collaborating with friends and have a few other irons in the fire falling under my 8 Cylinder Productions banner, it’s an exciting time in my life. Sometimes I get caught up and lose sight of it, but a dear friend pointed it out to me the other day. I’m living my dream.
Thanks for the interview!