Pacific Rim the 2013 Guillermo Del Toro giant robots punching giant monsters movie took the sci-fi fantasy world by storm. Blending classic monster movie mayhem with modern Japanese anime aesthetics and dialling the visual effects up to a whole new level. Five years later its sequel, Pacific Rim Uprising is about to be unleashed and it’s hoping to deliver the goods on being bigger, bolder and brasher than the first.
Director Steven S. De Knight (Marvel’s Daredevil, Spartacus) and stars of the film John Boyega (Star Wars, Attack The Block) and Scott Eastwood (Fast & Furious 8, The Longest Ride) landed in Sydney to kick off their world press tour promoting the movie, in particular since a large portion of the filming was done in the city. And to celebrate Universal Pictures in conjunction with Supanova Comic Con and Gaming held a fan event at Event Cinemas George Street, as well as at cinemas in Brisbane and Melbourne. The event included screening excerpts of the movie as well as fan question and answers, so here’s five things we learnt from the Pacific Rim Uprising fan event.
How much of John Boyega is in Jake Pentecost, and what drives Scott Eastwood’s character Nate Lambert?
John: “I’ve always wanted to have a good time, I’m optimistic about life but I don’t steal Jaeger parts. He doesn’t care about the PPDC (Pan Pacific Defence Corps) but this movie carries him on a journey of self discovery and basically become what his father was, which is a hero. He’s a certain type of hero but he’s a Pentecost nonetheless.”
Scott: “Nate is a product of the PPDC, the new young cadets that he has to prepare for another war is what drives him. Every character I play starts with a dissection of who they are, what they think. Nate is a pilot, I also happen to be a pilot so I drew from that and then I worked with John and Steven to build a character who is very different to Jake Pentecost, in the sense that they had gone two different paths.”
Steven S. De Knight has carved out a hugely successful career in television, so how does he go from small scale television to big scale film production
Steven: “I have a button on my keyboard, it says “big”, I just press that and everything just expands!
Honestly that’s not far from the truth, everything I did in TV I applied to this movie, it’s just bigger. My stunt coordinator on Daredevil came over and helped choreograph some of the fights, one works hand in hand with the other, it’s really just a much much bigger version of what I’ve been doing. So getting robots that weigh thousands of tonnes to move requires a combination of tools. Having stunt men move slowly doesn’t work so they choreograph the fights at normal speed and then when it’s transferred into CGI there’s an algorithm for it called “heft and jiggle” to make them look bigger and heavier.”
With names like Gipsy Avenger, November Ajax, Saber Athena …. who comes up with the names of the Jaegers?
Steven: “I wish there was an online name generator, we had a writer’s room for two weeks and out of that there were two whole days dedicated to trying to come up with naming them and the Kaiju. We had a bunch of rejected names, my favourite was “Murder Witch.”
John: “My favourite of the names is Saber Athena.”
Scott: “Really? You’re gonna do a dirty like that? What about Gipsy?!?”
For Steven, as a director, what was his biggest challenge? And for John and Scott, how hard was it working in a CGI green-screen heavy environment?
Steven: “Everything was a challenge, but time was the biggest. Usually a movie like this takes three or more years to do, because of release dates and actor schedules we had only two years to do it, so it was a flat out sprint from start to finish. We filmed a lot on location in Sydney, a lot of visual effects were based on plate shots, and there was a lot of on-ground shooting. We also have to put the robots in at some point!”
John: “Working on sci-fi I love it, it’s imagination and you get to be a kid again. It’s an actor’s job to imagine and we actually had a practical set for the Jaeger head, inside was built inside a compod that was built on hydraulics so it moved the same way as the head does, as well as a blue-screen treadmill. So it wasn’t hard to imagine the dopeness.”
Scott: “When you’re doing it, it’s not that hard, you do base it in reality and try to keep it grounded. So getting to watch the film for the first time is a treat and seeing what has happened after all the post production.”
John Boyega has his own production company, UpperRoom Entertainment Limited, and is running double duty as an executive producer on Pacific Rim Uprising
John: “I founded my company in 2015 after Star Wars, and wanted the opportunity to expand and do some cool stuff. I went to Legendary for a general meeting and they already had Pacific Rim Uprising as a pitch and everything just seemed great. It was really good to collaborate with Steven, and our other producing partners, to agree or disagree and try to make the best movie we can. To a certain extent there were conversations about changes, for me the way I lead with all this stuff is that I wanted to put things into the movie that I know fans want to see, and Steve wanted the same thing, like Jaeger on Jaeger fights, swifter robots, new technology.”
What was the motivation to film in Australia?
Steven: “When I was working on the script we needed a place to put the headquarters for the Pan Pacific Defence Corp (PPDC) and it needed to be obviously on the Pacific Rim. I looked at a bunch of places on a map that had to be iconic and had to have many factors for the story. And for the production it had to have the right weather for when we would be shooting, it had to have a great crew, dare I say it, a tax incentive, and also we had already written Sydney into the movie. So when we looked at everything we just thought, well why don’t we just shoot in Sydney? And I’m so glad we did, it was a fantastic experience here.”
If you could drift with anybody in the world, who would it be?
John: “It would have to be Idris Elba”
Steven: “I think that requires a two part answer, first would have to be my lovely wife, and second I’d have to pick James Cameron, just to be able to pick his brain”
Scott: “You guys said some really profound things and now my answer is going to sound shallow”
John” *laughing* “Did you want to drift with yourself?”
Scott” “No, I was going to say Adriana Lima, Victoria’s Secret Model”
John: “Why do you want to drift with her?”
Scott” “Ohhh I just would like to get to know her better”
Would John Boyega keep the Millennium Falcon or a Jaeger?
After a very long pause, a lot of grimacing and wincing and some thinking time.
John: “Oh man that question is so cold, but I have to keep the Falcon mate I can’t lie, she’s a spaceship, she can go anywhere.”