Paul Salfen interviewed Red Dawn’s Josh Peck and Adrian Palicki on the closing night of Fantastic Fest 2012, and asked the actors about the inevitable comparison of this movie with the original 1984 Red Dawn. In this two-part interview, Josh and Adrian talk first about the making of Red Dawn, and next about the acting profession itself. They give a few tips for aspiring actors, and what it takes to be successful.

Red Dawn is a re-boot of the 1984 box office cult-classic hit film that made stars of Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson, Jennifer Grey, C. Thomas Howell, Darren Dalton, Brad Savage and Powers Booth. The timing on the release of that action film couldn’t have been better; it was in an era when the Cold War was still kicking and then-President Ronald Reagan was calling the Soviet Union the “evil empire.” Now under the direction of first-time director Dan Bradley, the 2012 release boasts a cast of Hollywood’s new up and coming actors including Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Isabel Lucas, Connor Cruise and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

Producer Tripp Vinson says, “The re-boot is heavily inspired by the original. There are a lot of fans out there that loved the original, but we spent a lot of time thinking about the story and how to augment it to make it work in today’s world. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of it.”

The contemporary action thriller is directed by Dan Bradley (Quantum of Solace as second unit director) and is produced by Beau Flynn (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, The Guardian) and Tripp Vinson (The Guardian). Kevin Halloran (Tooth Fairy) and Vince Newman (A Man Apart) served as executive producers. The screenplay was written by Carl Ellsworth (Disturbia), Jeremy Passmore (Special) and Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton). Richard Pearson (Iron Man 2) edited, with a score by Ramin Djawadi (Iron Man).

The cast features Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Snow White And the Huntsman, Avengers, Star Trek), Josh Peck (The Wackness), Adrianne Palicki (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, TV’s “Friday Night Lights”), Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island), Connor Cruise (Seven), Isabel Lucas (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), Edwin Hodge (“Young Americans”), Alyssa Diaz (Oh Baby!), Julian Alcaraz (Becoming Eduardo), Will Yun Lee (Elektra), Brett Cullen (Reunion), Michael Beach (Hell Ride) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen, The Possession and ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy”).

We often hear phrases like “a film by” with a director’s name attached. But anyone who has ever been on a movie set or around movie production knows full well that there is never one man who does everything. Sometimes the most exciting scenes in a movie – especially an action-packed film – comes from the significantly more physically challenging work of the second unit, often undertaken using stunt doubles and a technician who specialize in what this unit delivers. And the work of that unit is created, choreographed and shot by a second unit director. In the case of Red Dawn, premiere second unit director and stunt coordinator, Dan Bradley, was chosen to helm the re-boot of the 1984 classic cult film. That should tell you a little bit about the direction the film is taking. He’s a director that’s always trying to improve himself and give the audiences something fresh that they’ve never seen before. His credits include: “Quantum of Solace,” “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” “Lions for Lambs,” “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “Spider-Man 3” to name but a few of his recent hits, and these are what made him the perfect choice to direct the 2012 version of Red Dawn. When you go out to invent a franchise you look for ways to make it better than the source material. But today there are many more tools available to filmmakers, which means taking the action to a whole different place – and that’s where Dan Bradley slid right in. Additionally, from a design point of view, the set pieces and some of the practical locations are massive, exciting and emotional all at once, driving the story forward.

“I have to admit, I’m a big fan of John Milius’. The first movie that I ever wanted to own was Milius’ “The Wind and the Lion.” And for me, the original Red Dawn has always been a compelling guilty pleasure,” says director Dan Bradley, adding, “Not to sound grandiose, but in many ways, and for many of us, it feels that the things we hold most dear as Americans, just don’t seem as secure as they once were. Frankly, an invasion is a fantasy but it is an apt metaphor for how many people feel about the world today.”

The decision to re-boot Red Dawn at this time had a lot to do with a multitude of political situations in the world today. According to producer Beau Flynn, “In the eighties, we all had that Cold War fear and the tension built-up between Russia and the United States. But right now, it can feel like we’re living in an erratic world and with the fear that anything can happen. People now think they need to be prepared and ready for something. And that’s what I think Red Dawn taps into; the idea of fighting for what you believe in and fighting for your home. What would you do if your hometown or your country was invaded: Do you fight or do you flee? And that to me is really what this film is about.”

In order to sustain reality, the filmmakers wanted the cast to be fully prepared for the physical challenges they were facing going into the film, and that included the technical skills needed to handle weapons: including AK-47’s, rockets, and grenade launchers.

According to producer Beau Flynn, “We tracked down this guy named John Barton. He’s this big, tough, super-cool ex-marine who even served in Iraq for a while, and now serves as a consultant. He put together a great program for us, and it was a terrific bonding experience for the Wolverines. We put all nine Wolverines through this boot-camp for a week and got them in shape. He had them eating authentic military rations, putting together weapons from scratch and cleaning their own weapons. He also put them in ‘Kill Town’ where they were fighting against five or six real marines with pellet guns. These guys got hit by pellets and have the bruises to show it and that was more than enough for them to know they were only getting a fraction of what it means to be a real Marine. It made them really respect it and appreciate it. And at the same time, they took it on as if they were a real fighting force, as if they were guerillas. You’ll see that reality in the movie: teenager Connor Cruise and Josh Hutcherson holding sawed-off shot guns and weapons in a real way.

Producer Tripp Vinson was a big fan of the original movie, which had a big impact on him. “When the opportunity came up to re-boot the film, I was excited and a little scared. There’s a huge fan-base for the original Red Dawn so we had to be very smart about the way we approached our film. We knew that the expectations were going to be very high, and we wanted to do the original justice and keep our film at that level. And that was a bit of a challenge. We ended up having to give it a lot of thought on how to approach this film, how to up-date it for today’s world. We spent a lot of time looking at the original and seeing what worked and what didn’t work and trying to determine what would work better. So we addressed all of those issues while we were in script development.”

The filmmakers needed to separate 2012’s version of the film from the 1984 original “Red Dawn”. According to Vinson, “2012 is a completely different world than it was in 1984. So the fundamental geo-political world had to be recognized in our movie. And we accomplished that. Also, the scale of this movie is significantly bigger than what they did in the original movie. Ours had a lot more urban kind of action feel to it. The original was kind of rural. And I would argue that we spent a little bit more time with character development than they did in the original movie.”

Chris Hemsworth, who plays Jed, the leader of the Wolverines, said “I’d heard about the film and had seen the original version years ago, and could vaguely remember it and sort of liking the idea it…but then I read this script and just loved it. You know, Jed was a great character. There were a bunch of different levels and things going on, and for me it was a story about brothers and friends and family. And I’ve got two brothers, so having that in my life, it was definitely something I could draw from for the film. And I think finding the truths of the journey of my character, and in relationship to the other characters in the movie, was definitely interesting to work with.”

Hemsworth, like the rest of the cast, found boot camp invaluable. “Watching what happened at boot camp when everyone came together was fantastic because we were supposed to have been friends for a long time, so the time we spent together in boot camp was helpful in propelling that intimacy. More important than anything were the individual relationships that developed out of it, and almost the weapon training was secondary – nevertheless critical. What a dividend!” But Hemsworth’s character is complex: His relationship with his brother Matt, played by Josh Peck, has its highs and lows, which is normal for any loving, brotherly relationship. But more than that, he’s described in the script “twenty-three years old and world-weary.” Hemsworth explains: “When my character left home to go into the military he was a great football player and had a bunch of thing going on for him. But, he threw them away for various reasons, including the disillusion of his family structure. There’s a lot of regret and lots of guilt for having done that. And he carries all of that around with him. Plus, who knows what he’s seen overseas, as well as through his war experiences. And then he returns home, goes to his brother’s football game, and the next morning all hell breaks loose and all of his training kicks in…and the rest is this remarkable journey.”

Josh Peck, who plays Matt, Jed’s younger brother, said, “My interest in the Red Dawn re-boot was completely rooted in Charlie Sheen. I’ve always wanted his approval, in a big way. I’m a big fan of his work and I just wanted Charlie to be proud of me. And Charlie and I don’t know each other, like person to person. But emotionally, I would say we have some kind of connection. If you want to label that, I would call it soul mates. But Charlie and me…we’ve never met.”

Adrianne Palicki, who plays Toni, Jed’s love interest, was drawn to Red Dawn for a couple of reasons. “First of all, the script is pretty great. And the chance to do an action film, which I’ve never done before, was a great impetus for me to hop on the train. And Toni – my character – is a badass. I mean, she’s a really strong female. And so I was really drawn to my character.” It’s a little unusual to have a full-throttle action-packed movie and still find heart and the arc for every main character.

CHRIS HEMSWORTH (Jed Eckert) has become one of the most sought after actors in Hollywood. He recently starred in the 3rd highest grossing film of all time, Marvel’s THE AVENGERS, alongside an all-star cast including Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson. He also starred in Universal’s SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN opposite Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron, which debuted at #1 at the box office. Earlier this year, Hemsworth shot the lead role in Ron Howard’s drama, RUSH, in which he plays British Formula One driver James Hunt.

Last year, Hemsworth was introduced to audiences as the title character in Marvel’s THOR, directed by Kenneth Branagh. He is currently in production in London on the franchise’s next installment, THOR 2. Recently, Hemsworth was in the Joss Whedon scripted CABIN IN THE WOODS and also appears in Dan Bradley’s remake of RED DAWN in the role originated by Patrick Swayze.

Hemsworth made his US film debut in JJ Abrams’ STAR TREK, playing the pivotal role of ‘George Kirk’ alongside Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana. His previous films include Relativity Media/Rogue Pictures’ A PERFECT GETAWAY opposite Timothy Olyphant and CA$H opposite Sean Bean.
Hemsworth was born and raised in Australia. He supports the Australian Childhood Foundation.

JOSH PECK (Matt Eckert) has established himself as one of Hollywood’s rising talents making the seamless transition from child actor to leading man. From the small screen to the big screen Peck continues to capture audiences of all ages.
Earlier this year, he completed the indie thriller THE TIMBER opposite James Ransone. THE TIMBER is an apocalyptic Western-thriller written and directed by Anthony O’Brien. Peck and Ransone play brothers seeking their missing father in the harsh backdrop of the 1898 Yukon gold rush. The film is currently in post-production.

Next up, Peck stars in Screen Gems’ BATTLE OF THE YEAR: THE DREAM TEAM opposite Josh Holloway. With compelling characters and vibrant dance sequences, BATTLE OF THE YEAR is set in the international world of B-boying . With the help of their tough coach and his assistant (Peck), the team overcomes struggles to reach their dreams at the world dance battle in Paris. Screen Gems is set to release the film September 13th, 2013.

In 2008, Peck wowed critics in Jonathan Levine’s THE WACKNESS opposite Sir Ben Kingsley and Olivia Thirlby. Winning the Audience Award at 2008 Sundance Film Festival, Peck played a young man coming of age in the summer of 1994. In 2004, Peck received critical acclaim and a Special Distinction Award with his co-stars at the Independent Spirit Awards for MEAN CREEK, alongside Rory Culkin, Ryan Kelley, and Trevor Morgan.

Additional film credits include, ATM, HAVOC, SPECIAL, and WHAT GOES UP. He has also lent his voice to the ICE AGE blockbuster franchise as the character of ‘Eddie’ as well as in ALIENS IN THE ATTIC, in which he plays the voice of the character, Sparks. On television, he is best known for his role of ‘Josh’ on the Nickelodeon series DRAKE & JOSH; Peck received a 2008 Kid’s Choice Award nomination for the hit series. In 2008, he starred in Nickelodeon’s highly-rated TV movie, MERRY CHRISTMAS DRAKE & JOSH.

ADRIANNE PALICKI (Toni) is best known for her critically acclaimed role on NBC’s “Friday Night Lights,” but will soon be seen in the remake of “Red Dawn” where she stars as ‘Toni,’ the role originated by Jennifer Grey. In an ensemble cast including Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck and Connor Cruise, the film follows a group of teenagers looking to save their town from an invasion of North Korean soldiers. Distributed by Paramount Pictures, the film will release on November 21, 2012.

Palicki will also be seen on the big screen in Jon M. Chu’s “G.I. Joe Retaliation” as ‘Lady Jaye.’ The film also stars D.J. Cotrona, Ray Stevenson, Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson. The sequel follows the G.I. Joes, who have been wrongfully terminated, as they fight off against Zartan and his accomplices. Lorenzo di Bonaventura is the producer on the sequel and will be released worldwide on March 29, 2013.

In 2010, she was seen starring in Sony Pictures’ epic film “Legion.” Paul Bettany stars as the archangel ‘Michael,’ the only one standing between mankind and an apocalypse after God loses faith in humanity. Man’s lone hope rests with a group of strangers who must deliver a baby that they realize is Christ in his second coming. Palicki plays ‘Charlie,’ the woman carrying the child. The cast also includes Dennis Quaid, Kate Walsh and Lucas Black.

Palicki also starred in the 2009 independent comedy “Women In Trouble” opposite Carla Gugino, Josh Brolin, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Connie Britton and Marley Shelton. She has also completed production on “Elektraluxx” a sequel to “Women in Trouble.”

From 2006-2009, Palicki starred as a series regular in the first three seasons of the acclaimed NBC drama series “Friday Night Lights,” opposite Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton. “Friday Night Lights” is based on the book and film by the same name which follows a small-town, top-ranked high school football team and the lives surrounding it. Adrianne portrayed “Tyra Collette” and received critical praise for the role.

Palicki was born and raised in Ohio. She made the decision to move to Los Angeles when she decided to pursue an acting career. Her first project was director John Woo’s television remake of the classic program “Lost in Space,” where she played Judy Robinson. Among her television credits are “North Shore,” South Beach” and “CSI.” She had a recurring role as “Super Girl” on “Smallville,” and continues to appear in a recurring role on “Supernatural.”
Palicki loves to paint and collects and reads comic books. She resides in Los Angeles.


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