I recently got the chance to talk to Brett Baker about his role in ‘Big Miracle’. Here, Brett talks about what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set and which three people he would invite to dinner…
Hey Brett. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘Big Miracle’.
What’s the general plot line surrounding the film?
In small town Alaska, a news reporter recruits his ex-girlfriend – a Greenpeace volunteer – on a campaign to save a family of gray whales trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle. This is a feel-good family film. It’s hard to imagine a Hollywood movie, sans the sex, violence and cursing. This is great for the kids.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play an Atlanta-based news reporter attempting to deliver the news during a winter storm. I believe I’m the only reporter wearing a candy-apple red snow suit, so you can’t miss me. The wind is howling, the snow is blowing and it’s 40 below. 3/4 of the way into the film, John Krasinski and Kristen Bell’s characters are desperately trying to find a generator to help melt the ice for the whales. They decide to steal the generator that is supplying the electrical power to my live report. It’s quick, and hopefully the audience will laugh.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I originally auditioned for the film in Los Angeles. I flew myself to Alaska and also auditioned there. It was a gamble, but I figured I’d increase my odds, by putting myself in front of as many people as possible. This is my first studio picture, so I’m thrilled that the gamble paid-off. I have a small supporting role, but I feel fortunate to have made the final cut. Some of my friends didn’t make it into the movie. The prolific American actor, Alan Fudge once told me, “…in Hollywood there is no such thing as a ‘small role”. I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. Getting an audition is hard enough, but actually booking a job requires an act of God and a posse of angels.
The film stars Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, John Pingayak, Andrew Daly and Ted Danson – with Ken Kwapis onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
The film is directed by Ken Kwapis, whose directing style and comedic sensibility cannot be denied. Ken has directed many successful seasons of ‘The Office’, which is one of my favourite shows. At the premiere I found Ken and thanked him for keeping me in the film. He said that John Krasinski insisted they keep my scene in the movie because it made him laugh. I thought that was so cool. So John if you’re reading this – thank you.
Let’s talk a bit about you Brett. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
As a kid, I remember watching the Academy Awards with my mother and sister. They were thrilled with the glamour and fashion. I studied the Martial Arts from age 11 to 18. I fought competitively and performed katas in front of large tournament crowds. I enjoy the spirit of competition. Those early years, as a young martial artist, helped form my fighting spirit. I used to watch Bruce Lee films with buddy David Okamoto. We watched all his films many times. In my mind, the karate master and the actor were somehow related. I was either going to be a shaman, an actor or a priest. I became an actor. Perhaps someday I’ll be an action star, delivering great one-liners and kicking everyone’s ass; that makes perfect sense.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the industry?
If you can do anything else, do it. Becoming a working actor is a long and tough road. This has been my experience. If you have the skin of a rhinoceros, the tenacity of a hyena and the endurance of a cheetah, then I say go for it. Jon Voight once told me, “if you need to be an actor, then you will be, if you need to be, I wish you many blessings along the path”.
What is currently on your I-Pod?
Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash. Neil Young, Levon Helm and Radiohead.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
- Jim Morrison – to discuss his process for writing “Wilderness”. One of my favourite collections of American poetry.
- Gary Oldman – to discuss the difference between creating a character for stage and creating roles for film.
- Willie Nelson – after dinner he’d play “Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground”.
What is your favourite word?
While studying improvisation at Cornish College of the Arts, I had to riff on the word ‘mellifluous’, which means to have a smooth, rich, honey-like-flow. I love this word.
What’s coming up for you in 2012?
I’m really excited for the release of ‘The Frozen Ground’, which has a tentative release date of December 2012. This is a film based on the true story of Alaska’s only serial predator, Robert Hansen. In the late 70’s and early 80’s he made a ‘hobby’ of kidnapping strippers and prostitutes. He would fly them to the Alaska wilderness outside Anchorage, rape them in a cabin, free them, then hunt them down from his plane and kill them. John Cusack is playing Hansen. Nic Cage is playing Glenn Flothe, the Alaska State Trooper who eventually brings him down. I play Lt. Pat Kasnick, who finds the evidence, which ultimately convicts him. This is the first time I’ve portrayed a character based on a living person. Though I’ve never had the opportunity to meet the real Pat Kasnick, I think we have a slight resemblance. This is going to be a really scary film. I’ve read the script. Hold on to your seat. You’re in for a wild ride.
Thanks for the interview!