When we join the battle against the Kaiju at the start of Pacific Rim, things aren’t going so well. The Jaeger program is in a bad way too, and pretty soon there’s just a few of these giant mecha left.
The most modern and sophisticated of these is Striker Eureka, piloted by the father and son team of Herc and Chuck.
Chuck is played by Rob Kazinsky, a man who almost played a dwarf in The Hobbit, has a recurring role on True Blood and put a nice long stretch on Eastenders under his belt. When Kazinsky’s not on duty though, he’s… well, he uses a few particular terms to describe his love of genre films and TV. I’ll let you read on to find out what they were.
So, here’s some of what Kazinsky had to tell me, about Pacific Rim, working with Guillermo Del Toro and being a fan of sci-fi and fantasy.
Guillermo found me via The Hobbit. He saw my tapes when I was doing that, and then I sent in a regular audition tape for this, and he was like “That guy! I know that guy, he’s available?” So I did a whole slew of different auditions for Pacific Rim, and then he flew over to London and we sat down for coffee and talked about the movie and he said “You’re gonna do it” and I was like “Am I?! That’s amazing! Alright fine, if you twist my arm.”
Max Martini [who plays Chuck’s father, Herc] had been cast before me, and if you see what he looks like, we could absolutely be family. It really does work. So when they found me, Guillermo Del Toro said, “You’re not going to believe this, but this is the guy playing your dad,” brought him up on the computer screen and I could totally see it right away.
It was fortunate circumstances that Max had been cast first, because we totally look like father and son. He hates playing my father because he’s only like 13 years older than me, and he’s used to playing young tough guys but here is playing the father to the young tough guy. So he doesn’t like it at all.
Me and Max are family in real life. We became so close, and I still think of him as family and I see him all the time, I care about his kids. We became very very close out there, more than most other people on the film, I think. We would work all day together then we’d go out and have dinner, we’d go to the gym together. We are just very similar people – which is probably why I’ll look like him in 13 years. And we both ride motorbikes, we both come from the same kind of place in the world. It was an absolute gift. The whole movie’s a gift to me. Who knew? Who thought this was going to happen?
I’m a nerd, I’m a gamer, I’m a Browncoat. I have Star Trek outfits for god’s sake and original artwork. Because I am a nerd. And these two guys, Del Toro and Travis Beacham, they’re not doing it for money or fame, they’re doing it because they’re making the movies they want to watch. They’re doing it because they love doing it. I don’t want to sound jaded because I’m new to this but it is hard to find a studio like the combination of Legendary and Warner Brothers that will just back them. This is a project without source material and it’s not the 17th sequel in an already tired franchise. It’s new and it’s their passion. Guillermo only makes things that he’s really passionate about, and it shows.
There must have been 30 rewrites, and Guillermo did at least 25 of them. And then, we would sit down with Guillermo and talk over the scenes and then he would rewrite them in the room, and we would come up with suggestions of what we would like to see and he actually listened. Do you know how rare that is, to have an Oscar-nominated director in charge of a movie like this, listening to ‘this guy’? And he would actually go “Yeah that might work” and then put stuff in. The script that we ended up shooting with was very very different to the script that we started with. Not in terms of structure but in terms of character. We all created the characters and Guillermo ran with it.
Even on the day, Guillermo would be like “Just say this.” He was very fluid, he just wants the film to be the best film it can possibly be. I’ve worked on a lot of projects where you work on somebody else’s character, from the script somebody else has written. But Guillermo lets you create your own character and I feel like I know Chuck, I own Chuck, he’s my buddy.
To understand Chuck, you have to understand Herc. Herc was a soldier who was retiring and living with his wife and son in Melbourne when the Kaiju attacked, and he lost his wife in that attack. He had the choice of either leaving the military and raising his son, or raising his son in the military from when he was 9. And so he raised Chuck in the military. He was raised from youth to be Jaeger pilot. He knows their every bolt, every schematic, every capability. He knows more about Jaegers and Kaiju than pretty much anybody else. He is a living, breathing, created weapon of the time. And he’s the best.
But they don’t talk. Chuck and Herc have a very bad relationship, a very fractious relationship. They only really “talk” when they’re in the drift. That’s how they communicate. And they communicate via their dog as well. It’s a very difficult father-son relationship. There’s a line in one scene, that might be in the Director’s Cut, where I say “We’re not friends, we aren’t partners, the only time we’re family is when we’re in the drift.” They need the drift to be able to have this relationship. You’ve got Chuck who is an egotist, and who the world needs more than ever, and he’s been allowed to behave a certain way. It’s a toxic combination. If you’ve seen Top Gun, he is Iceman and Charlie Hunnam is Maverick. It’s that relationship.
The theatrical relase is the Director’s Cut. When I say Director’s Cut, I mean an Extended Cut. It’s coming, there’s a lot in it. But this iteration is the best version.
I love Pacific Rim. I’m not only saying that because I’m in it, I’m saying that because I’ve wanted to see this film since I was a kid. There’s been a lot of monster movies and robot movies that just haven’t done it. He’s captured a sense of scale that I’ve never seen before. It’s not like Cloverfield, it’s not like Transformers, it’s not like Godzilla. It’s completely new and unique, with a new technology that’s never been used. They didn’t do what Transformers did and use motion capture to capture the robots. They went and completely built them with in ILM’s computer graphics.
Like every Guillermo Del Toro movie, it’s not just a spectacle, it’s grounded in character. Because if you don’t care about the character, you’re not going to care when they’re in danger. So every character is well rounded, and well created, and they play well off each other. There’s a story. It’s not clean and crisp, it’s dirty and gritty.
I remember when I was about 8 years old and Jurassic Park came out. I remember going to the cinema when there were less films and every film was an event. ET stayed in the cinema for 14 months. Now they come and go. When I was a kid I remember you would go to the cinema and it would be a special thing. I remember how hard Jurassic Park hit the world, it changed everything. This is one of those movies. I think it’s genre defining. It’s original source material. This should stop going to tired sequels, and it might make people start to use their imaginations again.
People don’t want CGI laden, special effects movies anymore. Thank you Batman, because it raised the bar on what a Summer Blockbuster should be. I was bored of just smash smash smash. I love them like anybody, but Batman changed the landscape for everything. Now like Iron Man, you need a good leading man. You need a likeable character. So with the adverts for Pacific Rim, the subject matter is just so in your face but straight at you. And some people may have just said “Oh another CGI film.” But I am absolutely 100% confident, knowing what the film is like, and about the characters and the performances, and the story that underlies it, that this film will find its audience. Even it doesn’t open big on the first weekend, I know that word of mouth will change that.
A lot of people are in this industry for the wrong reason, they’re in it for personal gain, fame, wealth. The point is, the thing that is always important to remember, is that we don’t make movies or TV shows for ourselves. That’s not why we do it, we do it for everybody else, for the audience. That’s what we do it for.
I have a few films in the pipeline. I have another movie called Siren which we’ve already shot. That’s doing the festival route at the minute. It’s another fantasy movie. The director is Jesse Pyronel, and it’s his directorial debut. A really great film with me and Vinessa Shaw. There’s a few other things in the pipeline but nothing signed. People are waiting to see me in this film before they start offering me jobs.
I think he’s about to start getting those offers.
Thanks again to Rob Kazinsky for talking to me.
Incidentally, Guillermo Del Toro told me something very different about an “extended cut” but more on that later.
Pacific Rim is in UK cinemas from tomorrow, but here’s some unexpected, great news for those of you in the US. Over in the States, screenings of the film have been brought forward to 7pm tonight. Go find it and see it. It’s brilliant.