Video:District 9 - Sharlto Copley Interview, Comic Conwith Rebecca Murray
Sharlto Copley probably couldn't have chosen a more intense project to make his feature film acting debut with. Copley's in nearly every scene in 'District 9,' a sci-fi drama directed by Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson.See Transcript
Transcript:District 9 - Sharlto Copley Interview, Comic ConColumbia Pictures' District 9 at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con.
Sharlto Copley - 'Wikus Van De Merwe' in District 9
I saw it last and I can honestly say that the trailer doesn't give away anything about it. How tough is it to talk about this movie without giving away any twists?
Sharlto Copley: "You know, it's difficult and it was definitely something that we specifically wanted. We didn't want to have to give everything away in the trailer. And I think the fact that the film is as different as it is, it's sort of outside of the Hollywood system but being able to come into the Hollywood system, it gives us a little bit of a unique position in that way. But there's a lot about the film that we can and do talk about now. So, I'm not finding it that difficult. There's just some key story points."
There's a lot of things that I'd like to ask you that I'd better not ask.
Sharlto Copley: "You can ask away. If I can't answer, I'll say. That's no problem. Ask anything you like."
Working opposite the aliens, what is actually there? Those are CGI, right?
Sharlto Copley: "Yes. All the aliens are CGI. I did have Jason Cope, who's a friend of mine and Neill's as well, was playing basically all the aliens. And so in the intimate scenes, I was opposite him. [Laughing] 'In the intimate scenes with the aliens...' But in the scenes with him I was able to bounce off an actor, but in the lot of them there was nothing there. It wasn't this traditional visual effects thing where you can only move this far because the alien's head is there, whatever. They were very flexible in being able to put the aliens around me and I would just play off nothing."
You mentioned you improv'd a lot. Did that also help in that they could add stuff in later?
Sharlto Copley: "Yes. A lot of the time I could decide what the alien was going to do, rather than the other way around."
And the guy who directed this is your friend. You've been friends for a long time. How is that collaboration?
Sharlto Copley: "The fact that Neill and I are friends could have gone either way. I think we could have not been friends by the end, but it worked really well. We actually didn't have a single argument during the film. It's been awesome. It's just a real blessing to have."
Your character goes through a heck of an arc in this. Was it more fun to play him toward the beginning of the film when he's sort of sweet and innocent, or more toward the end of the film?
Sharlto Copley: "I enjoyed my guy more in the beginning. It was a lot more fun and humorous stuff to play, where once he starts going through the transformation, it gets a lot more heavier and a lot more serious - physically and emotionally. The beginning was the lighter bit for me and it was kind of more fun to do."
Is this guy based on anybody that you know, the lighter bit?
Sharlto Copley: "Not really. It's kind of by osmosis you kind of meet people, so there's a lot of different people I suppose that I kind of put into him unconsciously when I look back at what the character did. I just like start with a voice and then the character comes from there."
It's amazing to me that it was made for $30 million because it looks so big scale. What was it actually like physically on the set?
Sharlto Copley: "We had sort of a full size crew available, but we did very little lighting. And we had, wherever possible, we had the smallest possible skeleton crew around us, trying to sort of recreate the situation that we had when we made the short films prior to this that it's kind of based on. And we didn't always succeed. We had five people when we were making the short and this time we had more. But wherever possible we tried to limit the crew size."
When you made the short, you knew you were going to make it into a feature film. Or did you not know at that point?
Sharlto Copley: "No, we didn't know. It was something Neill started to develop that it might be nice and that he really wanted to do. At the time of the short we had no idea."
When you were making the short, did you have any idea what direction you would eventually go with the story, if you did anything more with it? Is this a character you wanted to find out more about and do more with?
Sharlto Copley: "Well, just to clarify. The first short, 2005: Alive in Joburg, my character didn't even exist. And subsequently we shot two more sort of test pieces where it was designed to kind of work out who my character was as a test for my character. So for the first one, no, but two other shorts that haven't been released yet, they were very much a part of the development process in what the film is now that you see."
It kind of sets it up for a sequel.
Sharlto Copley: "Yeah, yeah. There's definitely that. A whole world has been created so there's plenty of scope for sequels. It's a really developed world with a really developed backstory."
Is it a character you want to visit again?
Sharlto Copley: "I loved him. I loved playing the guy and just going through the experience of this guy who sort of loses so much and finds himself in the process was really cool."