By Prutha S. Patel (@PSPatel)
Chad Michael Collins talks about his third outing as Brandon Beckett in Sony Pictures' Sniper series, Sniper: Ghost Shooter, Howlers, BYUtv's Extinct and more!
Alright! Here we go! Firstly, congratulations on another film in the Sniper series! For anyone who hasn’t seen the films yet, can you give us a bit of an introduction to the Sniper films and where we are in the storyline when Sniper: Ghost Shooter starts up?
The Sony Pictures Sniper franchise has been around since the early '90s, going back to the original Sniper film that starred Tom Berenger as elite Marine sniper Thomas Beckett, who was paired with world-class bi-athlete shooter Richard Miller played by Billy Zane. Berenger went on to do Snipers 2 & 3, then the franchise was shelved for about a decade, and Sony rebooted it with Sniper: Reloaded, where I was introduced as Brandon Beckett, the son of Thomas Beckett. Over the course of the three films I've done, Brandon has gone from an infantry Marine who's forced to learn the way of the long gun in Reloaded, and is then reunited with his father who passes the elite shooter mantle to me in Sniper: Legacy. With Sniper: Ghost Shooter, Brandon stands alone as a hero-on-loan who leads his own unit, and takes orders from Zane's Miller and Dennis Haysbert's The Colonel, as we are assigned to a mission to protect a precious gas pipeline overseas from terrorist threat.
What makes Ghost Shooter a welcome addition to the series? In what ways did this particular story appeal to you personally?
Ghost Shooter follows Brandon on his sniper journey, as he wrestles with the moral implications and judgments that come with the territory and justifying what he does and why he does it. He continues to try and find the balance between the greater good that will be served and the body count that's left in the wake. Ghost Shooter explores issues of terrorism, child soldiers, and controversial drone technology - is it better, is it good, and what are the implications of having an all-seeing eye-in-the-sky? The film looks beautiful and epic, with fantastic action sequences and a global feel in terms of the locations and environments; in this one, you've got the Black Sea coast, sun and sand, mountaintops, snow, dense forest, and the crowded streets of Istanbul. It transports the audience to another world, and I think Director Don Michael Paul and everyone at Sony and UFO Films created something visually incredible for all to enjoy.
Ghost Shooter is also your third outing as Brandon Beckett! What about these films and the character has made it so fun for you to return for another round?
These films are inherently fun for me because of the action, always, whether its shoot-em-up or hand-to-hand fight sequences. But it's also been a blast to fill Brandon's shoes as he's taken this journey from living under his father's shadow to becoming his own man and creating his own legacy, and doing it his way more or less. The character has elements of being honorable like a samurai, a good soldier, but that conflicts with his willingness to defy orders and the chain of command and follow his gut. He's part knight, party cowboy and that's always fun to wrestle with.
What would you say was the toughest and/or scariest part about filming the Sniper films?
The toughest part of these films is the fact that they are very physically demanding, whether its the running, sprinting, diving, falling and fighting or being in the baking sun or on top of a bitter cold mountaintop. Every day is a workout, and every day is packed with an aggressive shooting schedule since we do these films in less than a month. So, that's challenging at times all around, for the cast and crew. Any time you work with guns or fight choreography or stunts, there's always the occupational hazard of error, and I've got some stories and collected a fair share of bumps, bruises and lacerations! But the stunt teams are fantastic, always, as are the military technical advisers you get to work with, so we get through it and it always turns out great.
What kind of scenes did you love working on in these films, or perhaps opening it up to an even broader aspect, in general?
As Brandon has grown as a man and a soldier, it's been fun for me as an actor to see him go from an out-of-his-element "Captain Obvious" asking general questions and not knowing his place in the overall landscape to calling the shots and letting the weight of pulling the trigger resonate within him. He's more layered, more complicated, and all at once conflicted and full of conviction. That's been nice to explore, and the scripts seem to do that journey justice with the dialogue and how he interacts with other characters in this film as opposed to the first one I did.
Over the past few years, you’ve worked very closely with Billy Zane, what has that been like?
Billy is great, and his character is Brandon's mentor and commanding officer, so their relationship is one of teacher-student and friendship, with the boss-underling dynamic sometimes trumping that. Billy is a blast to work with, because he's super-talented and experienced as an actor, but he also keeps it light and fun on set, so it's the best of all worlds. He infuses Miller with empathy, levity and tough love, and that's why he's an audience favorite. I mean, c'mon...it's Billy Zane!
You are set to appear in Howlers as Colt, can you tell us a bit more about the film and the character?
Howlers is a great indie action-horror film written and directed by the fantastic Josh Ridgway. He dreamed up a John Carpenter-eque story that features me starring as an old West cowboy werewolf slayer who is transported to the present to finish off a pack of bloodthirsty lycans he thought he vanquished a lifetime ago. It's got a ton of action, the requisite blood and gore, great FX, and lots of laughs as well. Sean Patrick Flanery is hilarious in it, and such a great dude in general. And of course, I got to fulfill a bucket list item by rocking a cowboy hat, boots and duster all while giving some nasty werewolves the business. I'm excited for this one to come out next year, as it looks amazing, is a lot of fun, and has something for everyone.
A totally different genre compared to the Sniper films, what are you most excited about in terms of appearing in that film?
With Sniper, we deal with serious, global subject matter - terrorism, drone technology, and justified warfare. With Howlers, its fantastical and doesn't take itself too seriously, which I always think makes for the most enjoyable types of horror films. Colt has heart and earnestness mixed with an all-business hunter; the bad guys are funny and likable even as they feast on innocents. And while Colt isn't reaching for yuks, the fact that he's from the Civil War era now figuring out the modern world, well, hilarious things are going to happen when he sees a cell phone or a truck for the first time!
Can you think of examples of other shows or movies whose fans will really be into Howlers once they give it a shot?
What's great about Howlers is that it is genre-crossing in nature. Dig westerns? Check. Fans of sci-fi and the supernatural will dig it because of the werewolves and mysticism. Action diehards will be very pleased, as we play with revolvers and other guns, crossbows, axes, fangs, claws, fists, feet, hot rods and motorcycles. I've never shot so many fight sequences in my career, under the masterful direction of Executive Producer/Stunt Coordinator Freddie Poole - who's a world-class martial artist - and his great team of stunt guys. No one will be bored by this film, I guarantee!
Mr. Busy Bee! You’ve also recently joined the cast of BYUtv’s Extinct, can you tell us a bit more about that?
Yes, we shot the pilot episode for a great new sci-fi series created by an awesome group of people - Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston of Taleswapper, Ryan Little and Adam Abel of GO Films - up in Utah recently. The status of the series is under wraps for now as we wait to hear about a season one order, but episode one turned out great! It's got a Stargate-meets-The Walking Dead-lite feel to it, as a small group of people find themselves "reborn" 400 years into the future after an alien race exterminated the mankind. They try to get a grip on where they are, what happened, the lives they left behind, and what it means to be given a second chance all while trying to survive and rebuild civilization. It's a great, family-friendly project about hope, redemption, and the meaning of life all while exploring unbelievable circumstances. It's got action and adventure, awesome visual FX, and gorgeous Utah backdrops. I'm excited for this project, as we've got a super-talented creative team and cast. More details to come...
Watchtivist was created “for the active watchers of entertainment.” I’d love to know what shows/movies you’re currently hooked on. What are YOU binge-ing right now?
Ah, if there were only more hours in a day to watch all that I'd love to see! But right now, I'm enjoying the new season of Ray Donovan - Liev Schreiber and Jon Voigt put on an acting showcase - and I'm catching up season two of Fear the Walking Dead, starring my friend and Sniper: Legacy co-star Mercedes Mason. In general, I really dig Game of Thrones (read all the books!), The Walking Dead, Billions, Daredevil, Preacher, and probably a dozen more. I'm looking forward to watching Stranger Things before the internets completely spoils everything, but in general I'll see any movie that has to do with comic books - I plan on watching Suicide Squad very soon! The fun thing is, as an actor, watching hours of TV and film can always be justified as "research".
Right on! If you could be on any one of those/join the cast of any of them, which would it be? What type of character on that show and why that show/character?
Honestly, it's always been my dream as an actor to play in both the soldier and the sci-fi arenas. So, any show or film where those two things beautifully merge would always be ideal for me, which is why shows like Battlestar Galactica are my among my all-time favorites. I'd love to play in TWD or FTWD universe, or in the Star Wars or Trek universe, something so immersive and critically and commercially top-flight. It's funny, because one of the creators of Extinct confided in me that when he watched the audition tape for my character, Ezra, his wife told him "well, you wanted an Andrew Lincoln type...there you go!" Which was great to hear, because that was what I was going for, and Rick in TWD is one of my favorite characters, from the comic books to the screen. But in general, I've been fortunate in that I've predominantly played in those military and sci-fi worlds as an actor.
And lastly, anything else you would like to say to the readers and viewers?
To all the readers and viewers, I'd love to say thank you not only for reading this and watching some of the great projects I've been blessed to be a part of, but keep on watchin' - its because of all of you that a simple country boy now gets to play pretend for a living and be a part of projects that keep people entertained. Much appreciation, and much love!