Sean Patrick Flanery Discusses Mongolian Death Worm
" Sean Patrick Flanery of Boondock Saints fame is heading to the small screen with the new TV movie Mongolian Death Worm, which premieres Saturday May 8th at 9PM ET on the SyFy Network. Flanery recently held a conference call to discuss his role in the new TV film and here's what he had to say.
With all the roles that you've had Sean this character role seems so different. How did you prepare for this role?
Sean Patrick Flanery Hmm. Well, you know to be perfectly honest my preparation kind of in everything I keep completely to the script. I don't - I'm not a big method actor or anything like that. I think pretty much every bit of information that you need to go in and make a movie is contained in the script itself. So it was just a product of you know, myself and Steven reading the script and coming up with what we thought really worked. And you know, I definitely wanted to add an aspect of humor to the guy because I think it's a very fine line. You know when I read the script I think you know, this could be kind of tongue in cheek and yet, kind of scary at the same time, and all of those things. And you know, I think we've pulled it off you know. So, really there is no great secret I don't go to the farthest corner of Malibu and meditate or anything like that. You know, it's really - it's really all script based. My research for every film I've ever done starts on Page 1 and ends at fadeout. It really does. And then a series of questions directed at all the collaborators, you know, the director, the writer, and we come up with you know, something that we want to shoot for. And you know, it some movies you pull it off, some you don't. And I really think we hit it on this one.
What did you find the most challenging about playing this role?
Sean Patrick Flanery The Texas heat.
You were raised in Texas.
Sean Patrick Flanery Yes, I was so - that was a joke. Really the most challenging aspect of this is a technical issue. And literally every piece of recorded dialogue in the film you watched had to be looped. The audio was completely useless. So I'll tell you this it's - you know, an actor's nightmare is whenever he has to go in and he has to loop lines and he has to re-record lines. Just because the emotional tone whether it is comedy, theater, anger you know, any of that it's really hard to replicate on a sound stage when you're not physically going through the motions. And in this film literally every line had to be looped. So I was petrified at that. I didn't know if we could even come close to replicating you know, what we did on the day. So that was the most challenging aspect. Without question it was on the soundstage trying to replicate this and audio.
Well what made the audio unable to be used originally?
Sean Patrick Flanery I don't know. I don't know if it was a technical thing, if it was a frequency thing. I don't know. But we had to redo absolutely everything which was - it was difficult it really was. But you know, in the end I - you know, I'm proud of the project - so. But I think it you know, would have been much easier and you know, we would have stayed to you know, the authentic original you know, what we captured on the day it would have been much, much easier. But I think we still got there it just took a lot more effort you know, in post production.
I just listened to what you were saying about how you stick to the script and the scene with the power plant worker where you kind of take his gun away from him where you confused him, it felt very improv to me.
Sean Patrick Flanery Yes, it did.
It didn't feel scripted and it was a really a fun - a great scene it was one of my favorites and I was wondering if you could talk about that for a sec.
Sean Patrick Flanery Well thanks, yes. I pretty much made that all up on the day. You know, those are the moments where I really felt like we had to add some humor there. And to be honest I'd love to do a project that was nothing but that. And this is a great opportunity to do some of that. To interject some humor and some you know, so I mean the shows that I really liked were you know, like Raiders Of The Lost Ark where it was deadly serious but he was funny as well. And you could see that this guy really, really enjoyed what he did. You know, he just relished every moment of the day. And you know, and I wanted to try my best - obviously not to compare this to Harrison Ford by any stretch of the imagination, but you know, to sort of bring some of that you know, that joie de vivre to him. You know, I mean, he just loved every moment. Everything was exciting you know, he was following his dream chasing these artifacts. And everything was - there was a moment for humor in everything. You know, he didn't take himself seriously, and there was a element of you know, this character being a little self deprecating which I always find you know, disarming you know, in a certain way. And I've always wanted to do a film like that, and I certainly liked to do one you know, from start to finish like that. But yes, we made that up on the day. I just - there was a couple other moments whenever he breaks character when he is turning the valves on and off. You know, I made that up on the day as well. It was just - we were really just having fun.
Clockwise, no, no, the other way.
Sean Patrick Flanery Yes, yes, yes. And then it completely breaks character and he goes, no, no, seriously because I tried it one time and it didn't work - you know. Those moments are just you know, I mean, and working with Steven was a great opportunity because he was open to that. You know, he really was. If we found something that worked we kind of latched on to it. And it was really cool, it really was I had a wonderful time.
What is it about these low budget seat of your pants movies like Mongolian Death Worm that speak to you that get so much cool energy from you?
Sean Patrick Flanery I'll tell you very concisely it's the freedom to do what you want. The bigger budget stuff there is 15 cooks in the kitchen and everybody wants something done incredibly specifically, and precisely. There is no freedom to improvise just like what we were talking about. You know, some of the favorite scenes are completely made up on the day. There is no ego's, you know the writer is not going to go well, I didn't write that so don't do it. You know, somebody on the set is going wait a minute, that works lets do it, you know. It's just more collaborative completely collaborative. You know, you have to improvise with a lot of things not just in the acting but you have to improvise with the way you like things. You know, sometimes you got to move an indoor set to outdoor, you know. And everybody finds something the best it's just you know, I - that's, I completely agree with your assessment you know, some of the smaller budgets stuff you end up being the most creative because everybody really has to dig deep and pull something out. And if something works everybody agrees and latches on to it as opposed to you know, 19 executives saying well you know, we need to get that approved and we need five signed agreements before you make a decision. It's just a more - it's just, I mean it breeds creativity it really just does and I think that kind of you know, micromanagement stipples creativity. Which it really doesn't matter if you have you know, the best script on the planet to star with then you can micromanage and see it and realize it. But if there is any problems and if a script is not 100% perfect then I think everybody needs to have the freedom to you know, at least have something - be able to approach you know, the director you know, the upper management to say what if this, you know, without being shut down. You know and I think the smaller budget stuff they do that because people are there because they love it. You know, people aren't there because they are getting a paycheck, people are there because they really thought wow, this could be kind of cool - you know. Because on a project like this you know, obviously nobody got rich, you know. People did it because we read it, and we were like that could be kind of fun, you know. And people that are there for that reason are usually really ready to work. And they really are hoping to make something really good in quality.
What is about the Scoundrel - particularly the good scoundrel that speaks to you?
Sean Patrick Flanery You know, I don't know. I'm not really sure. But like I said earlier I like there to be some redeeming quality in the character. You know, for some reason that okay, this guy is only out for himself. But there is for some reason you kind of like him, you know. And I enjoy that you know. I enjoy that mischievous nature of boyhood, you know and the fact that some adults can retain it. A lot like you know, Harrison in Raiders, you know. I thought this guy is a boy you know, although he is a 40 year old man chasing artifacts he is a boy, you know. And he is just really appealing you know, he's disarming you know, he just has just a way of getting what he wants without really offending anybody. And I really enjoy - I enjoy playing that. I enjoy you know, exploring that, you know. I think you know, a lot of characters take themselves way too seriously. And so you know, in respect of that I just really find that appealing and enjoyable to portray.
So can you tell us kind of how you got the part. I mean, did you audition or were you asked to do it?
Sean Patrick Flanery Really Steven called me and said hey, I was thinking about you for this role would you give it a read. And I did, and I said let's go and do it, this would be really, really cool, you know. It's - you know, it is, it's a different kind of Sci-Fi Movie and realistically that's the kind of Sci-Fi Movie that I could do over and over again. I'd do a series like that to play a character like that chasing stuff like that, that's - I just find it really, really appealing. It's not the dead serious you know, where at DEFCON 5 and the space blizzards are going to attack in 13 seconds. You know, it's not that it's just, it had a real magical feel about it. And you know, I immediately you know, called Steven after reading it and I said you know, I see it this way you know, a little you know, a little funny and tongue and cheek. And he is like absolutely, absolutely. So we saw eye to eye on it and went on and made it, that was it.
So I'm guessing with the Worm and everything you did a lot of green screen. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Sean Patrick Flanery Yes, you know it was - the real Worm was obviously never there, so it was all green screen which is something that I'm not that foreign to. Because you know, on the The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles in the early 90s we did pretty much the first green - well it was the blue screen back then on television period. You know, ILM developed all that technology. So yes, I mean you know, you talk about where the Worm is, what the worm is going to do, and you let your imagination run wild, you know. It's just you know, somebody is going to say this is what the worm is going to do, it's going to reach in, that is where it's going to be, you're going to point the gun, you're going to fire at it. And you have to just, you have to just shut your eyes and believe it you know. And then hope when the post production artist and special affects guys get in there they make a neat looking worm. And I was pleasantly surprised with the worms. I mean I thought a lot of that stuff where the worm was hanging on the ceiling and yanked the character from the ground up I thought that looked amazing - I really did. And you know, but you never know you know, you always kind of rolling the dice whenever you don't know if you know, somebody's interpretation of the worm is going to be hokey or what not. But this looked killer, I was really happy with that. But it's not nearly as difficult as people say. I mean, you know, lets be honest I mean acting is pretend, it is, you know. When somebody says well I can't really do it because the person is not here, it's like honey, when the person is really there it's not really the person it's an actor, you know. And so let's not act like you really have to speak to the president, you know, it's not really the president, you know. So you know, I think you all just have to pretend and be kids again. And on the day I pretended that there was worms there, you know. And it was fun, you know. And that's pretty much it, you know. It's not difficult at all. It's fun.
I also wanted to know have you heard of this creature prior to signing on to the film. Like did you know about the Mongolian Death Worm?
Sean Patrick Flanery Absolutely nothing. I thought it was made up, I mean I did. I was like, oh my God, wow that's kind of cool. You know, there really is this story about the Mongolian Death Worm - yes. But no, I never had.
We were wondering if you could tell us a bit about the process of filming Saw VII 3D. We understand it was - it was a long shoot.
Sean Patrick Flanery Yes it was a long shoot. But - well I mean technically they had to recalibrate the camera's like literally every time they moved the camera. So I mean that was you know, one detriment to doing it in 3D. I haven't said that that's the first time that they've ever used these cameras in a horror film. So it's pretty neat. It looks pretty ridiculously cool. I'll say that. I've never done anything in 3D, I've never seen myself in 3D so that was a wonderful experience. But you know, it's like you know with the digital age. You know, when everybody used to shoot film in celluloid you know, they took a lot more time preparing you know, the scene and the angles and the composition before they actually turned the camera on. And in digital you know, they just shoot the rehearsal, then the change the thing, shoot it again, shoot it again, shoot it again. So the ratio of amount of footage that you shoot to the closing film went way up with the digital age. Well, we reverted back to kind of the celluloid feel in this because it took so long to set it up. So we had to make sure we got it right. So it technically was a very different shoot because it you know, the set up for the next scene took so long and it was so involved that we had to make sure we got it right the first time. So we didn't have a lot of time to do you know, 19 - 20 takes. So for that reason it was different. But other than that it was a regular movie, you know. We had a great time and I think it'll be really horrific, you know.
Going back to Mongolian Death Worm, was there any scene or anything that you guys filmed that like you didn't use you wish they had left in, or, maybe a scene that you did film you'd wish they had left out.
Sean Patrick Flanery No, there is a lot of stuff that we improvised that you know, I'm sure for editorial purposes that you know, didn't make the grade because of time constraints or what not. But we shot a lot of funny stuff - we did man. I mean we shot a lot of - it could have been, it could have been more tongue in cheeky and more funny. But I'm really happy with the finished product - I am. But there is all kind of stuff. There is some quality stuff on the cutting room floor that you know, there always is you know. But yes, I'm happy with the way it ended up.
I read that you directed a movie before. Are you still interested in that, like do you ever plan on - would be interested in writing your own show, you know, creating something in like that aspect?
Sean Patrick Flanery Yes, yes absolutely. I have a thing right now that I'm trying to get set up that I wrote - had a published article in a magazine that a number of companies tried to get the rights too. And subsequently I scripted it myself, I'm trying to set that up as we speak.
You can watch Sean Patrick Flanery star in the brand new SyFy movie Mongolian Death Worm, which premieres Saturday May 8th at 9PM ET on the SyFy Network.