Wentworth Miller Resident Evil Afterlife Interview

Posted by: Sheila Roberts

In a world ravaged by a virus infection, turning its victims into the Undead, Alice (Milla Jovovich) continues on her journey to find survivors and lead them to safety. Her deadly battle with the Umbrella Corporation reaches new heights, but Alice gets some unexpected help from an old friend. A new lead that promises a safe haven from the Undead takes them to Los Angeles, but when they arrive the city is overrun by thousands of Undead and Alice and her comrades are about to step into a deadly trap.

MoviesOnline sat down at Comic Con with Wentworth Miller to talk about his role in the upcoming “Resident Evil: Afterlife.” The 3D science fiction action horror film is written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson and is the fourth installment in a series of film adaptations based on Capcom's survival horror video game series Resident Evil. Wentworth plays Chris Redfield, Claire's (Ali Larter) older brother, who is working with an unnamed military organization combating the infected. Chris and his unit were using a Los Angeles prison as a base of operations until it was overrun and he was imprisoned.

Wentworth talked to us about what it’s like to be a writer trapped in an actor’s body, how four years of stunt work and choreography on “Prison Break” prepared him for his role in “Resident Evil: Afterlife,” and how he goes with what inspires him when it comes to choosing roles whether it’s in film, television or theater. He also updated us on his upcoming projects. Here’s what he had to tell us about

MoviesOnline: I think I read somewhere you were recently described as a writer trapped in an actor’s body. Is that a fair assessment of how you see yourself?

Wentworth Miller: I’d like to believe that there’s lots of things I could do, lots of different things I could do in this business. The temptation is certainly strong. Acting’s been great, but there’s only so much control you have over the story you’re a part of. So the temptation is there, to explore other capacities if you’re allowed to, if you got the opportunity and the timing.

MoviesOnline: But you sent your scripts out under a pseudonym?

Wentworth Miller: I did. That wasn’t about protecting my identity so much as I felt it was important for the scripts to sink or swim on their own. I just thought that seeing my name on the cover might create static of some kind; maybe positive, maybe negative, but it just wasn’t something that I wanted to factor into the equation. I wanted them to stand on their own two feet or go back in the drawer.

MoviesOnline: And you have Stoker, but you also wrote a prequel to it?

Wentworth Miller: There’s a prequel called Uncle Charlie.

MoviesOnline: Is that a tip of the hat to Shadow of a Doubt?

Wentworth Miller: Absolutely. There’s a leaping off point in Stoker that was directly inspired by Shadow of a Doubt, so there’s a character named Uncle Charlie, and the prequel is called Uncle Charlie, so that’s our tip of the hat.

MoviesOnline: Did you have any special training for this movie?

Wentworth Miller: You know what, I got my training on Prison Break. It was four years of stunt work and choreography and all of that came into play very specifically with Resident Evil.

MoviesOnline: Whenever we talked to you during Prison Break you were actually saying you didn’t want to do movies at the same time. So now with your first movie after Prison Break, how carefully did you choose what was coming your way and why did you pick this?

Wentworth Miller: Well, the first thing I did after Prison Break was actually an episode of Law and Order, which was a show I want to be a part of in some small way. I think that was a pretty clear indication of where my head was at as far as – there’s a certain well-worn narrative in this industry about a TV actor who wraps up a series that put him on the map, and now it’s time to throw your hat into the feature film ring. I don’t subscribe to that narrative, it’s not my story. For me, a role is a role is a role, and whether that’s TV, film or theater, I just have to go with what inspires me.

MoviesOnline: So are you a gamer at all?

Wentworth Miller: I am not. My family put an emphasis on education so it was all about homework. There wasn’t much time for comic books or video games, so this is kind of my chance to have a second childhood. It’s like a do-over.

MoviesOnline: Did you get a crash course in the series? Like for Resident Evil, the games, or the other films?

Wentworth Miller: I did. I had to do my homework. I was aware of the series and I remember specifically the trailer for the third movie with that shot over Vegas, and it’s buried in the sand, it was very iconic and arresting. I asked the producers to put together a montage of significant sequences from the video game that explained or spoke to my character’s history or mythology. That was part of my research.

MoviesOnline: How was it, working with all the kick-ass women on this film? Were you able to keep up with the gun-wielding?

Wentworth Miller: Yeah, she’s pretty bad-ass, and she slips into this part like a second skin at this point. I enjoy being part of something that is inherently female-driven. I come from a show that was about – let’s throw a bunch of alpha males in a box and shake it, see who comes out on top – so this was a nice change, definitely.

MoviesOnline: How different is your character from the video game to the movie? Doesn’t the character have biceps the size of his head in the video game?

Wentworth Miller: Oh yeah, that’s the first difference. In preparing for the role, I felt the need to respect what was already out there, in terms of the video game mythology, and I did my research online, going to fan sites and blogs to find out what the conversation was about this character, what the expectations might be. But then I had to balance that with who I am as an actor, and what I inherently bring to the table, and who is the Chris Redfield that Paul W.S. Anderson establishes in this movie. He’s very specific to the feature film interpretation of Resident Evil, rather than the video game. It was a question of balancing all three influences, and I’d like to think that I did my best.

MoviesOnline: So when you did your research on fan sites and blogs, were they also reacting to your casting as well?

Wentworth Miller: I didn’t read those reactions. I felt like I already knew what they were going to be. I imagine that the reception is going to be across the board, it’s only natural, and people become attached to a certain story or a certain character. They invest deeply, so they care when they finally see that character up on screen. They’re going to have opinions, and that’s to be expected.

MoviesOnline: Ali was telling us about some of the mishaps with the 3D cameras either freezing or steaming or having to be precise and do things a different way. Were you adaptive to that? Have you done a TV series where so much is quick and on the fly?

Wentworth Miller: Well, the pace felt decadent, to be honest. On Prison Break we’d hammer out five pages in a day, and on this movie we spent two days on one page. It definitely felt like a lot of time and attention was being taken, especially with the new technology, I think the cast and crew were trying to wrap their heads around it on the fly, as quickly as possible. I’m not the kind of actor who geeks out on the technical. I’ve always been more interested in the story we’re telling, as opposed to how it’s being told. So when I show up on set, I’m really just thinking about the story and the character, how I fit into the action, and if I’m not doing something right, something that’s not working with the technology, there’s definitely a team of people who will pull me in place and say, “You need to be standing two feet to your right.”

MoviesOnline: Can you tell us a little bit more about Stoker? I know it has Carey Mulligan and Jodie Foster attached, is there a male lead attached? What is the story about?

Wentworth Miller: I wish I could give you all kinds of details. It’s still in development. I have to say when I hear some of these names, it’s pretty exciting. There’s some incredibly talented people taking an active interest, so I’m very hopeful that it’s going to come together in a powerful way.

MoviesOnline: Are you in it also?

Wentworth Miller: I’m not in it, no.

MoviesOnline: By design?

Wentworth Miller: You know, writing it was probably the most creatively satisfying experience I’ve had, hands down. Just on a personal level, regardless of where these two movies go, or two scripts go. In a way, that was the main event for me, putting pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboard, as it were. As soon as I was done with both scripts, I really just wanted to hand them off to someone else, and say “See ya!” at the premiere, show up, and get my big bucket of popcorn and watch someone else’s interpretation of what I’ve laid out there on the page.

MoviesOnline: Was writing a common experience on the daily TV stuff that you did?

Wentworth Miller: The answer is yes and no. The process is kind of a frenzy for me. The story showed up one day, and the idea had been percolating for a long time. I actually spent four years telling myself that I didn’t know how to write a script, and then four weeks actually sitting down and proving myself wrong. So that was maybe ten or twelve hour days over the course of four weeks. It was a very intense experience, but at the same time there was something calming about it, because it was completely self-generated, which is not an experience I’ve had, working in TV or film. We were waiting for a hundred other people to do their job first, so you get a chance to do yours.

MoviesOnline: What’s the last you’ve heard from the Prison Break gang, Dominic Purcell, and Amaury Nolasco?

Wentworth Miller: It’s been a while since I’ve been in touch with those cats. It was like that intense summer camp experience where we all come together and have this complex moment, and then afterward there’s breathing room. I imagine there will be a reunion of some sort down the road, but for the moment, I think everyone’s just taking a break and looking around and seeing what’s next.

MoviesOnline: Do you have some perspective now, not only on the success of Prison Break, but on the celebrity that comes with it?

Wentworth Miller: Things look different in hindsight. While you’re in it, it’s hard to maintain objectivity, but it was a tremendous learning experience for everyone involved, myself included. The past year has been spent processing that, unpacking that to a degree, and choosing to write, as opposed to jumping right back into another TV series, for example. There’s maybe a way of letting that lie fallow for a bit, so that I could return to it with renewed interest and passion.

MoviesOnline: This isn’t your first video game connection, because they released the first Prison Break video game.

Wentworth Miller: Yeah, I worked with them on my character’s appearance, certainly, and also lent my voice to the narration and the voice-over for the various characters. It’s strange to think of people repeatedly killing me on the small screen, but I’m kind of tickled to be part of it at the same time.

MoviesOnline: Were you ever in touch with the BioShock movie?

Wentworth Miller: That was a rumor that showed up one day and took a while to go away. No connection with that.

“Resident Evil: Afterlife” opens in theaters on September 10, 2010.

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