Interviews

Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick Interview: Wayne

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Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick YouTube Premium Wayne

While it doesn't yet have the clout of Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime, YouTube Premium (formerly known as YouTube Red) is building an impressive portfolio of binge-worthy hits. From Cobra Kai and Origin to Champaign ILL and Sideswiped, YouTube is quickly amassing a formidable roster of must-see programming.

The latest surefire hit for the streaming service is Wayne, an action comedy about a teenage vigilante (Sing Street's Mark McKenna) with an unshakable sense of justice. He and his new friend, Del (Ciara Bravo), find themselves on a road trip from Massachusetts to Florida to steal back his father's prized car which was unjustly stolen years ago. The two teens are on decidedly punk rock coming-of-age story, complete with salty language, righteous fisticuffs, and a sizzling rock and roll soundtrack.

Related: Wayne Trailer: YouTube Premium’s Comedic Antihero From Deadpool Writers

We spoke with showrunners Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who have made a name for themselves with atypical blockbusters like Zombieland and Deadpool, making them absolutely perfect for a show like Wayne. They shared some fun insight into their creative process, talked about the creative freedom afforded by working with YouTube, and even shared some of their hype regarding the upcoming Zombieland sequel.

All ten episodes of Wayne debut January 16 on YouTube Premium.

Wayne Poster YouTube Premium

Can you tell me a bit about the inception of this show? Where did it come from? Is it something you guys have been sitting on for a long time?

Paul: It was brought to us. It was created by a writer named Shawn Simmons, who grew up in Brockton. It had sat with him for the last 35 or 40 years or more. It was brewing, and he put it to paper, and it came to us through a friend of our who we worked with many times named Kirk Ward, an actor/writer/producer who is in the series. He executive produced it and also wrote on it. Anyway, he brought us the spec pilot, and we immediately said, "how do we get involved, we love it so much!" It fit squarely within our brand, if Rhett and I have a brand. It combined action and comedy and heart and drama in a way we like to do in our other projects, and we sold it to YouTube. They flipped out over it.

A big part of this show's inevitable success will be these two young leads, Mark McKenna and Ciara Bravo. Can you tell me about the casting of these two amazing young people?

Rhett: We found Mark and Ciara through our casting director. The audition process wasn't easy; they were pretty hard to find. Our creator, Shawn, had a very specific vision in his head of who these people were. They had to be tough, they had to be stoic, but also show emotion around the edges. They had to have Boston accents. Mark is from Ireland. He was in Sing Street, the John Carney movie, and when he auditioned, everyone fell in love with everything about him. The only worry was the accent. When he first came in, he hadn't nailed the Boston accent, but only because it's a tough one to nail. He didn't have a dialect coach or anything. The only question was, can we get him to do the accent a little bit better? He took it on with a vengeance and got great at it. It became very clear to us that he was the guy. And Ciara is just a force of nature. She's so good, also mastered the accent very quickly. They did chemistry reads together, they were great together. It just felt like a slam dunk.

I love Stephen Kearin as the sheriff. He's so funny and I just love his oblivious perspective. You've got amazing character actors like him, Mike O'Malley, and Dean Winters. Can you tell me a bit about writing a character and then presenting that to an actor who might want to take them to places you didn't think about? What's that collaboration like?

Rhett: Every actor brings something fresh to a part. Once you get their voice in your head, you know who you're writing to, you find it that much easier. Mike O'Malley, he's got a very specific voice. He's from that area. He's got a toughness combined with a vulnerability, and a kind of mopey-but-lovable side to him. It makes it that much easier to write the principal. And Dean Winters, he has a real toughness and edge to him. That was the easy part; what was wonderful was to discover that there's more to him than that. I think Shawn worked to bleed that into the character so he's not just a cardboard cutout villain. You learn more about the character and his relationship with his wife and stuff. It's always a two-way street with actors. You're always informing them, and they're always informing you in return.

Wayne and Del YouTube Premium Originals

I love so much the idea of the teenage vigilante. He's like an Old West gunslinger or a superhero or something. He sees bad people doing bad things and decides he's going to do something about it. Can you tell me about writing characters and situations with a degree of moral ambiguity that just gets cut through by Wayne's black and white perspective?

Paul: We've done it before. Deadpool, Wade Wilson, is the perfect example of the anti-hero who you root for. He kind of rides that moral line of, well, yeah, he's wrong for doing it, but I kind of see why he's doing it, and I'm rooting for him to do it. The best way I've heard this series described is, it's John Wick meets John Hughes. It's a coming of age story of this boy who is finding his way in the world, and yet he's been taught or has this compass to right the world of its wrongs. He's a character, I think, in the wish-fulfillment world, that we all want to be. There's not a moment that goes by that I don't want to teach somebody a lesson! You know?

Another thing I love about this show is, while it's definitely got its slow-burn plotlines that develop across the season, every episode tells a complete story. That's something I think not enough binge-worthy shows do. Oh, and most of those stories involve Wayne taking on someone who deserves a righteous beating. How much fun do you have coming up with creative ways to do that? Like, "how's he going to beat this person up?"

Rhett: It's a ton of fun. We had a writers' room, and we all sit around trying to figure out where the show goes. You're right, it is a serial story, but we really do like beginnings, middles, and ends to our episodes; Shawn Simmons, our creator, really believes in that, as do we. We always like to take our audience on a journey where they're thrilled, they're having fun, and there's a climax to the episode, but at the end, we're pulling at their heartstrings. We always like the heart at the end. We try to do that in everything we do. We tried that in Zombieland and we tried that in Deadpool. For Shawn, that's very much his credo: "I want to make somebody laugh, I want to thrill them, but at the end, I want them to have a lump in their throat." When we heard that, we thought, yeah, that's exactly what we like to do! It felt like we were brothers from another mother. For the creative violence, that's a thrill. That's something we do in almost all of our movies. There's nothing we love more than thinking of fun ways for people to beat the crap out of each other. We're action writers at heart, so that's fun, too!

Building off that, were there any ideas that you had for the show that you had to ditch for one reason or another? Or are they being saved for season 2?

Rhett: We definitely had to lose things over our budget. We had grander visions for some of the fights that you'll see in the second half of the season. The show gets bigger, that's for sure, but we always had budget constraints. I think, more than anything, you get limited, a little bit, by the toys you have in the sandbox. A fight can only be so grand on a show where you just don't have major blockbuster money. I think that's where we're the most constrained, or where things hit the cutting room floor. In terms of stuff we wanted that we couldn't get in, I don't think there's anything we felt huge regret over. We usually found some version, even if it was cheaper than what we originally envisioned, of what we wanted in the show.

Okay, I've got to ask: Deadpool 3 and X-Force. Maybe it's too early to ask, but are you tackling both of these movies simultaneously? Or is X-Force the next chapter?

Rhett: According to the chronology that we've established, X-Force will be next, before Deadpool 3. It's a bit of the "Iron Man 1, Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3" model, in that sense. X-Force isn't being written by us. It's being written and directed by Drew Goddard, or at least that's the plan right now. We're not involved with that one. We do anticipate there will be a Deadpool 3 at some point, but it's just a little premature, because it will definitely take a backseat to X-Force for the time being.

Paul: We're constantly in touch with Ryan (Reynolds), and we're always throwing ideas back and forth via text and phone conversations. So, it's always at the front of our minds. We'll get there when the time is right, but as of right now, X-Force is next up.

More immediately would be Zombieland 2, or as IMDB is calling it, Zombieland Too.

Rhett: Yeah, that's not the title. I don't know why that's on IMDB. Sometimes we just scratch our heads over how things like that happen. But Zombieland 2 starts shooting in January in Atlanta, Georgia. All the principals are back. We're very excited. We think we finally got to a place where we think we got a sequel that's worthy of the first movie. Time will tell if that's the case, but it will come out sometime in October or November, or something like that. Later this year. It's a blast to get that particular band back together. A lot of people who worked on Zombieland, including us, think of it as one of their favorite formative projects. To be able to return, ten years later, from when the first one came out, it's a blessing that none of us thought was going to happen. To have it come together like this, it feels like capturing lightning in a bottle.

Does the movie have an official title you can share?

Rhett: We do have a title, but we can't share it yet. But it's not Zombieland Too.

Fair enough! So, Wayne is a YouTube Premium show. The impression I get is that YouTube gives creators a lot of freedom to make shows without the restrictions of regular TV. Has that been your experience? Do you have executives breathing down your necks? Or do they say, "Here's some money, come back with a show."

Paul: YouTube has given us the creative freedom to make the show we want to make. They've given us notes that have made the show better. They're not creatively oppressive by any stretch; quite the opposite! We got to make the show we all wanted to make, and were given the creative freedom to do so. It's been a wonderful experience. All the executives over there have been wonderful to work with. We feel very fortunate and privileged to be on YouTube. There's an audience there; you've seen it in Cobra Kai. They can reach an audience that nobody else can, pretty much. Fifty million-plus people watched the pilot of Cobra Kai! That just doesn't happen anywhere else, in streaming or network TV. We're given creative freedom and access to an audience that's really unmatched in this art.

Del in Wayne YouTube Premium Originals

That's awesome. I especially love, with this show, the 30-minute runtime. It feels like a sweet spot where there's no fat on any episode but you get to say everything you want to say.

Rhett: Yeah, and we don't have to fit the twenty-three minute network restriction in terms of our episodes. They can be a little longer. Not quite an hour, but they give us enough real estate to really tell our story. We're just so proud of Wayne. We really are. They've been great to us, and I think they're very happy. We would work with these guys forever. Just, like, for instance, one episode... Shawn Simmons wanted to do an episode that didn't have Wayne, in a show called Wayne! You can just imagine how most networks or most creative outlets would react to something like that: "Well, maybe for season 3 or 4 we could try something like that, but not in the first season! People haven't gotten their feet underneath them enough to have a show called Wayne without a character named Wayne for one episode." Quite the contrary, they were fully supportive of that, and we think it's our favorite episode. That's not to take anything away from Mark McKenna, since he's not in it (laughs), but I think it's the most solid, heartfelt, funny, crazy, sad, bittersweet episode we have. That's YouTube giving us the freedom to think outside the box of networks or even cable networks.

Are there any plans for season 2?

Paul: Yeah. Shawn's got great ideas. I think he's already in the midst of writing the first episode of season 2. Fingers crossed; if people love it as much as we do, we'll be off to the races!

More: Fred Savage Interview: Once Upon A Deadpool

Aquaman: Our Interview with Patrick Wilson

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Warning: SPOILERS for Aquaman

When director James Wan signed on to direct Aquaman, some fans dared to hope that his Insidious and Conjuring star Patrick Wilson might follow. And fortunately, Wilson's portrayal of Aquaman's iconic half-brother and rival Ocean Master lived up to the task of going toe-to-toe with star Jason Momoa.

Screen Rant had the chance to interview Aquaman star Patrick Wilson ahead of the film's release, to learn about the process of making this one of a kind fantasy, working with Jason Momoa, and bringing a refreshingly not-so-evil villain to life in the DCEU. Now that audiences around the world have gotten to see the movie for themselves, it's time to ask the villain what he hopes comes next for the Aquaman series - and whether a path back towards heroism may be possible in Ocean Master's future.

RELATED: Aquaman is Black Panther, But With The RIGHT Ending

You've had experience with comic book adaptations starting with Watchmen, where much of that film was a case of recreating comic book panels exactly as they appear on the page. How different is it going from that, to some of the visuals in Aquaman where so much of it is VFX, it's hard to imagine anyone but James Wan knowing what it's going to end up looking like?

Right. Well, there's a lot of... before each scene, even in that all VFX world of Atlantis, we get what's called a pre-vis, so we had a previsualization which looked like sort of an archaic '80s video game almost [laughs], of what it's going to be. And then he's got great artists that he works with and surround him, so you get to see the artwork so you understand the world, that would help. And then just your imagination. That would set the tone more than anything.

As far as going back and looking at certain panels of the comic, it actually was super important. Because while we didn't pull the direct storyline from one specific comic, one thing that's pretty clear, certainly with the New 52, is any time Orm is on screen as Ocean Master with that mask on, you just see this grit... these teeth... and this fight, you know? So that was something that we could really use from a very technical perspective. Sort of, 'Look at this panel, look at his face, look at how much he's contorting in it,' you know. That is important. I'm sure if I was playing Judge Dredd it would be the same thing, 'How do you act with your mouth?' So that's important, you know? That's hugely valuable. So from that perspective it was similar to Watchmen, where you're going back and looking at panels.

Was that as freeing for you as it is for Orm? In the story he is very buttoned up, very in control. Then by that third act he is just in a rage, at times.

Yeah, it was a lot of screaming that we would have to sort of temper and only give a few takes and do it in post production and... that becomes pretty taxing. Because you also just want to make it very--being angry for the sake of being angry is sort of stupid. So everything just had to be motivated. And you needed to be motivated by your actions.

In contrast to that, it struck me in Orm's formal introduction scene - in the golden armor, with the cape, in this enormous cathedral, and Arthur chained in front of him. The movie even pulls back to show you how epic this moment really is...

Yeah.

What is it like working those scenes with Jason Momoa? Because Orm and Arthur's moments are very personal, despite the scale of the surroundings.

That's right. Yeah. Well... welcome to James Wan. I mean, that is--listen, I knew on the first Insidious movie. I could go back to a few scenes there. I could go back to a scene in Conjuring where it's me and Ron Livingston under a hood with a scene on the page or even to most, no disrespect, most studio heads, would go, 'What is this scene doing? There's no action, there's no scare, c'mon, move it along.' And he fights for those scenes because he knows that you have to be invested in the character and plot will come, plot is easy. Think of any Western, you really need the character moments. And so it's easy to find why Arthur and Orm would fight. That's easy. That's simple. That's a given situation. What's more interesting is find the moments where you wish you could get along, try to convince your half-brother that he's doing the wrong thing, change his mind, be active, you know? Those were the things that were fun to play. And like you just said, we did not have a lot of real estate in doing that. You're talking really about two scenes, two or three scenes where Orm has to be very real in those moments: 'Please leave, you're not going to win this.' Which... he's not! You're basically saying, 'As big as you are, as tough as you are, this is not your world, trust me. Get out, go home, don't come back.' And he knows he can't. He knows his brother can't.

So those moments, I think that's what's fun to show the scope. Especially in that throne room, to see this [laughs]... this huge, mammoth room. And that actually was a giant sound stage. I actually was sitting on the throne, they did build that throne. And then they're flying me down on--I mean that was all practical. I didn't, obviously you had to go, 'Wait why are we in this giant room, what's going to happen? Oh there's going to be hundreds of soldiers around you... What?' So then you understand the scene. And he really does fly right up to me with those chains, within about a foot, and that was all very practical. Very real.

RELATED: James Wan Calls Aquaman Oscar Snub 'F***ing Disgrace'

That scene you allude to, in the Ring of Fire, I can't remember another time where a superhero and their villain are both saying, 'Neither of us wants this to happen.'

That's right, yeah.

That really informs Orm's arc over the rest of the movie. He gets an ending most villains don't where he's defeated without being dishonored. He gets to live, you know? Did that feel like an important decision for you and James? To cast Orm as not necessarily wrong or evil?

Right. Well, I think you'd have to speak to James on why he chose this, and why he chose that, but I can try to be objective and look at me. And when you cast me [laughs], you know, I'm pretty opposite physically to Jason. At least in being this, you know, very clean-cut, white guy. And I think there's an earnestness you know, that you get to payoff with Orm. And having his mother there, as well is you see... because remember, the way that we've set him up is being very--he's an ecowarrior. He's pissed at what the surface has done to his world. I don't think anybody would argue with that.

Now how he goes about avenging that? Sure, I'd rather he not take over the whole planet or kill the surface world. But you understand where he's coming from. So by the end you do want him to have that payoff, which I think you do get in the movie. And of course in Orm's eyes he would rather die by the sword, or the trident. That's very Shakespearean of him. That... mercy is for the weak, I guess, if I'm quoting Cobra Kai.

I also think the movie makes it clear that this is not the end of Orm's story. He was wrong in his actions but not his heart, maybe.

Yeah. I agree.

I won't bother asking if you would come back to play the character, but do you think there is enough there in the film to believe that they could meet in the middle, Arthur and Orm? Or is there another step for him that would make more sense to you?

I think it would be interesting to see where he goes. I do. I mean even in the comic, even when he is jailed and breaks out of jail. I think winning over his armies may be a difficult journey [laughs]. But I think because they're blood-related, that there is always some hope there. That's the journey. so I would be very interested to see his relationship with Arthur in the future. More interested in that, honestly, than like what he would be like with a group of supervillains. I don't think he would get along with anybody, you know?

Now that you've been able to see the finished film, is there a moment that stood out for you? Not necessarily one of Orm's scenes, but as a movie fan or just a fan of James Wan's that sticks in your memory?

Yeah, two things. One, for the sake of the movie I think the opening seeing Nicole and Temuera Morrison sets the tone, sets the heart, sets this fun, tongue-in-cheek at times world [laughs]. And she just... they're both so fantastic. They really are, I love it. So for me, the opening.

And then, I believe there's some music--the score of the whole thing is amazing, but I know Joe Bishara, our lovely Conjuring and Insidious composer and villain, had some music in the Trench sequence. That's pretty classic Wan there of just scary, surprise moments to those creatures, that's a little nod to the horror world. And that shot of them going down with the red light, and you just see thousands of those. I mean he showed me that about a year and a half, long before we started shooting, it was, 'I have this idea for the Trench and there's this shot of them going down with the flare' and I was like, 'Ahh that gives me the creeps!'

Well I am so thankful for your time. I applaud your Orm, I applaud his ever-changing fashion sense...

[Laughs]

I won't ask you to pick a favorite because you couldn't.

Stay tuned to Screen Rant for more coverage of Aquaman with insights from the cast and crew.

MORE: Patrick Wilson May Be Zack Snyder's Best Defender

Aquaman: Our Interview with Patrick Wilson

0

Warning: SPOILERS for Aquaman

When director James Wan signed on to direct Aquaman, some fans dared to hope that his Insidious and Conjuring star Patrick Wilson might follow. And fortunately, Wilson's portrayal of Aquaman's iconic half-brother and rival Ocean Master lived up to the task of going toe-to-toe with star Jason Momoa.

Screen Rant had the chance to interview Aquaman star Patrick Wilson ahead of the film's release, to learn about the process of making this one of a kind fantasy, working with Jason Momoa, and bringing a refreshingly not-so-evil villain to life in the DCEU. Now that audiences around the world have gotten to see the movie for themselves, it's time to ask the villain what he hopes comes next for the Aquaman series - and whether a path back towards heroism may be possible in Ocean Master's future.

RELATED: Aquaman is Black Panther, But With The RIGHT Ending

You've had experience with comic book adaptations starting with Watchmen, where much of that film was a case of recreating comic book panels exactly as they appear on the page. How different is it going from that, to some of the visuals in Aquaman where so much of it is VFX, it's hard to imagine anyone but James Wan knowing what it's going to end up looking like?

Right. Well, there's a lot of... before each scene, even in that all VFX world of Atlantis, we get what's called a pre-vis, so we had a previsualization which looked like sort of an archaic '80s video game almost [laughs], of what it's going to be. And then he's got great artists that he works with and surround him, so you get to see the artwork so you understand the world, that would help. And then just your imagination. That would set the tone more than anything.

As far as going back and looking at certain panels of the comic, it actually was super important. Because while we didn't pull the direct storyline from one specific comic, one thing that's pretty clear, certainly with the New 52, is any time Orm is on screen as Ocean Master with that mask on, you just see this grit... these teeth... and this fight, you know? So that was something that we could really use from a very technical perspective. Sort of, 'Look at this panel, look at his face, look at how much he's contorting in it,' you know. That is important. I'm sure if I was playing Judge Dredd it would be the same thing, 'How do you act with your mouth?' So that's important, you know? That's hugely valuable. So from that perspective it was similar to Watchmen, where you're going back and looking at panels.

Was that as freeing for you as it is for Orm? In the story he is very buttoned up, very in control. Then by that third act he is just in a rage, at times.

Yeah, it was a lot of screaming that we would have to sort of temper and only give a few takes and do it in post production and... that becomes pretty taxing. Because you also just want to make it very--being angry for the sake of being angry is sort of stupid. So everything just had to be motivated. And you needed to be motivated by your actions.

In contrast to that, it struck me in Orm's formal introduction scene - in the golden armor, with the cape, in this enormous cathedral, and Arthur chained in front of him. The movie even pulls back to show you how epic this moment really is...

Yeah.

What is it like working those scenes with Jason Momoa? Because Orm and Arthur's moments are very personal, despite the scale of the surroundings.

That's right. Yeah. Well... welcome to James Wan. I mean, that is--listen, I knew on the first Insidious movie. I could go back to a few scenes there. I could go back to a scene in Conjuring where it's me and Ron Livingston under a hood with a scene on the page or even to most, no disrespect, most studio heads, would go, 'What is this scene doing? There's no action, there's no scare, c'mon, move it along.' And he fights for those scenes because he knows that you have to be invested in the character and plot will come, plot is easy. Think of any Western, you really need the character moments. And so it's easy to find why Arthur and Orm would fight. That's easy. That's simple. That's a given situation. What's more interesting is find the moments where you wish you could get along, try to convince your half-brother that he's doing the wrong thing, change his mind, be active, you know? Those were the things that were fun to play. And like you just said, we did not have a lot of real estate in doing that. You're talking really about two scenes, two or three scenes where Orm has to be very real in those moments: 'Please leave, you're not going to win this.' Which... he's not! You're basically saying, 'As big as you are, as tough as you are, this is not your world, trust me. Get out, go home, don't come back.' And he knows he can't. He knows his brother can't.

So those moments, I think that's what's fun to show the scope. Especially in that throne room, to see this [laughs]... this huge, mammoth room. And that actually was a giant sound stage. I actually was sitting on the throne, they did build that throne. And then they're flying me down on--I mean that was all practical. I didn't, obviously you had to go, 'Wait why are we in this giant room, what's going to happen? Oh there's going to be hundreds of soldiers around you... What?' So then you understand the scene. And he really does fly right up to me with those chains, within about a foot, and that was all very practical. Very real.

RELATED: James Wan Calls Aquaman Oscar Snub 'F***ing Disgrace'

That scene you allude to, in the Ring of Fire, I can't remember another time where a superhero and their villain are both saying, 'Neither of us wants this to happen.'

That's right, yeah.

That really informs Orm's arc over the rest of the movie. He gets an ending most villains don't where he's defeated without being dishonored. He gets to live, you know? Did that feel like an important decision for you and James? To cast Orm as not necessarily wrong or evil?

Right. Well, I think you'd have to speak to James on why he chose this, and why he chose that, but I can try to be objective and look at me. And when you cast me [laughs], you know, I'm pretty opposite physically to Jason. At least in being this, you know, very clean-cut, white guy. And I think there's an earnestness you know, that you get to payoff with Orm. And having his mother there, as well is you see... because remember, the way that we've set him up is being very--he's an ecowarrior. He's pissed at what the surface has done to his world. I don't think anybody would argue with that.

Now how he goes about avenging that? Sure, I'd rather he not take over the whole planet or kill the surface world. But you understand where he's coming from. So by the end you do want him to have that payoff, which I think you do get in the movie. And of course in Orm's eyes he would rather die by the sword, or the trident. That's very Shakespearean of him. That... mercy is for the weak, I guess, if I'm quoting Cobra Kai.

I also think the movie makes it clear that this is not the end of Orm's story. He was wrong in his actions but not his heart, maybe.

Yeah. I agree.

I won't bother asking if you would come back to play the character, but do you think there is enough there in the film to believe that they could meet in the middle, Arthur and Orm? Or is there another step for him that would make more sense to you?

I think it would be interesting to see where he goes. I do. I mean even in the comic, even when he is jailed and breaks out of jail. I think winning over his armies may be a difficult journey [laughs]. But I think because they're blood-related, that there is always some hope there. That's the journey. so I would be very interested to see his relationship with Arthur in the future. More interested in that, honestly, than like what he would be like with a group of supervillains. I don't think he would get along with anybody, you know?

Now that you've been able to see the finished film, is there a moment that stood out for you? Not necessarily one of Orm's scenes, but as a movie fan or just a fan of James Wan's that sticks in your memory?

Yeah, two things. One, for the sake of the movie I think the opening seeing Nicole and Temuera Morrison sets the tone, sets the heart, sets this fun, tongue-in-cheek at times world [laughs]. And she just... they're both so fantastic. They really are, I love it. So for me, the opening.

And then, I believe there's some music--the score of the whole thing is amazing, but I know Joe Bishara, our lovely Conjuring and Insidious composer and villain, had some music in the Trench sequence. That's pretty classic Wan there of just scary, surprise moments to those creatures, that's a little nod to the horror world. And that shot of them going down with the red light, and you just see thousands of those. I mean he showed me that about a year and a half, long before we started shooting, it was, 'I have this idea for the Trench and there's this shot of them going down with the flare' and I was like, 'Ahh that gives me the creeps!'

Well I am so thankful for your time. I applaud your Orm, I applaud his ever-changing fashion sense...

[Laughs]

I won't ask you to pick a favorite because you couldn't.

Stay tuned to Screen Rant for more coverage of Aquaman with insights from the cast and crew.

MORE: Patrick Wilson May Be Zack Snyder's Best Defender

John Ortiz Interview: Replicas

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John Ortiz is a prolific actor best known for his role of Arturo Braga in The Fast & The Furious franchise.  However, he is also the co-founder of the LAByrinth Theater Company, a non-profit, Off-Broadway theater company based in New York City.  Ortiz’s most recent film is the sci-fi thriller Replicas, playing opposite Keanu Reeves. He plays Jones, the boss of Reeve’s character William Foster.

Screen Rant: John, congratulations on the film. It's been a busy time for you. Bumblebee and Replicas now. Chat me up about Jones. Who is Jones?

John Ortiz: Well, Jones is the CEO of this company, this bio lab, cutting edge technology science company, that are doing this work into DNA and neuro science world, that Keanu Reeves works for. And he's his superior. He works for him. And he's a man who's driven by business and is very focused on the bottom line. And I kind of worked in there that he's got a little military background as well. And so, he's had a shift in his life from being of service and a regimented structure, life in the military, to someone who's in the business world, in the corporate world.

Screen Rant: And possible dealings with shadier people.

John Ortiz: Yeah. And a little more ambiguous stuff there. So, I thought that was a cool trajectory. And he's got a couple of surprises up his sleeve.

Screen Rant: Now, what was it about the story, the concept or ideas that really drew you in to this?

John Ortiz: Well, I think the fundamental question of, “If we had the capability to keep someone around, who we have to say goodbye to prematurely, would we?” Is a fascinating question.

Screen Rant: Straight morality question.

John Ortiz: Yeah. And ethics. Absolutely. And so, that's really juicy in and of itself and set in the sci-fi world with technology thrown in. It's exciting and there's many different ways one can explore this question. And shooting in Puerto Rico, where my family's from, was another big factor for me. And working with Keanu.

Screen Rant: Speaking of Puerto Rico, it's beautiful. At least, it's very beautiful on screen. Is this before the hurricane?

John Ortiz: Yeah.

Screen Rant: Wow.

John Ortiz: Yeah, it was a year before.

Screen Rant: It's great that you guys shot there too. Hopefully it gets tourism back and everything back on their feet. I think that's really cool.

John Ortiz: Yeah, I hope so too.

Screen Rant: Now speaking of science fiction, we're getting into a place where science is catching up to science-fiction. And with sci-fi you are able to tell these cautionary tales to an audience. What are you hoping people take away from this?

John Ortiz: Well, I think they take away that-- I hope that they take away that we should ponder things that are presented before us a little more before diving all in. And to really explore the implications of what it may mean to have this cutting-edge technology be a part of our everyday lives.

Screen Rant: Well cloning is something that really fascinates me for a couple of different reasons. Because is it right or wrong? Right? Where do you stand on the idea of cloning?

John Ortiz: You know, I think I'm in the middle.

I like to think more like, “You know what? I'm not going to get involved.” And there's a bigger purpose in life. There's a bigger thing that's happening around all of us. And it shared, and we should respect that, and nature is beautiful. And if it goes wrong, then that's nature, and we just adapt. However, I'm torn, because if we have the ability to help heal…

Screen Rant: Like regrow limbs or whatever, it may be.

John Ortiz: Exactly. Then why not. And I may contemplate it a little more when it comes to that.

Screen Rant: How much research did you do into cloning or studying? Because it is such a fascinating science at this point.

John Ortiz: Yeah, I did a little. But Jones, my guy, was more of a guy who didn't really care too much about the details of things. He just cared about the result. And the character was ignorant when it came to the specifics. So, I thought there was something valuable in and living in that space as the actor. So, to me, it was more about the power, the business, the greed, and the outcome. And not necessarily about the process.

Screen Rant: The monetary gain of science.

John Ortiz: Yes.

Screen Rant: John, congratulations on the film. Thanks so much.

John Ortiz: Thanks so much. Pleasure meeting you.

More: Keanu Reeves & Alice Eve Interview for Replicas

Bumblebee Interview: John Cena

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John Cena in Bumblebee

Outta nowhere, Bumblebee has become one of the holiday season's most beloved films, and at its humorous core is John Cena. The wrestler has taken an unexpected route into movies compared to some of his predecessors, with a breakout turn in Trainwreck making way for a slew of comedy roles. This is, surprisingly, also true of Agent Burns, the Sector Seven goon Cena plays in Bumblebee; although the antagonist for much of the film, he's made likable by a deft sense of humor.

This is what Screen Rant discussed when we sat down with Cena to discuss Bumblebee, along with how the movie evolved during production, where he sees the character going in the future, and what the box office really means.

This is a movie unlike anything else you've really done before - the scale, the characters. What surprised you the most about it?

I mean, we're in the creative profession and all they're asking me to do is use your imagination. And I know everybody's methods are different and for some it may be difficult to imagine this transforming robot from a stick on a ball, but I didn't have any problems with it. I really thought the environment was awesome because everyone on set, people who'd worked on Transformers in the past, everyone was comfortable with that environment and noone made you feel stupid for acting out these scenes with a PVC pipe and a tennis ball.

Your character, Burns, was originally reported as a proper villain in the story. The role you have in Sector Seven is definitely as an antagonist, but he's so likable from the very start and at the end does the right thing. What was the character like when you first read for it? Did anything change during the process?

Hats off to Travis for being observant. It was written pretty straightforward and we began to perform it pretty straightforward. And like I said, Travis was extremely prepared and I do my best every day to be prepared as well. So a lot of these times we would have these giant setups and Travis would have what he wanted in two takes, and he would just come out from behind the curtain and be like "hey man, why don't you just go for one". And that's all I needed to hear. I usually try to take those moments to make the crew laugh or have fun for myself, because I'm given that one take. But a lot of that, he really observed that, "Hey, I can't use what you just said in the movie, but I can use your sentiment in the movie. So give me the same tone, just don't curse as much." And that's kinda where we got the mold for the new Agent Burns.

You've done quite a lot of comedy stuff - last year's Blockers was a riot - and you get some great jokes in this. How many were written in the script and how much can from this collaborative process?

Well, because the character was pretty straightforward at the start, none of it came from the script. It was all a collaboration. Everybody watching and seeing and like, "Hey, I don't know if this will make the movie but at least we have it." And it was interesting to see a lot of the comedy making the movie. The movie is action-packed, but as an entire body of work, the movie is light-hearted as well. There's a lot of comedic scenes between Hailee and Bumblebee, Hailee and George as well. I think the movie as might have in its construction, Travis might have looked at all the footage and realized he has a very nice, light-hearted piece.

There have been reports of a scene shot with Megatron in the Hoover Dam that you were involved. Could you talk about it?

No, that never happened.

That never happened?

I love the fact that there are rumors about that because that means people are interested, still, meaning hopefully we can make another one. But, no, that never happened.

Were there any scenes you were in that didn't make the final cut you wish had?

No, no man. They were overly gracious putting so much stuff in the movie. This was one where I really, I enjoyed reading it, enjoyed performing it, never thought the stuff that was on screen would make the movie, was happy to see, and again, happy to find out that critics and audiences like it. I don't know how many of these I'll have in my acting career, but I'm very proud of this movie and very proud that everybody who seems to see it feels the same way.

Speaking of other movies, do you see a future for yourself in the Transformers universe?

Oh no, of course. I don't really make decisions based on the name of a product, it's much more about the product itself. Like I said, I was drawn to Bumblebee for the story, not because it was a Transformers movie. It was a good movie and in the script, so, if they do decide to do another one, and the story is good, then I'm all for it.

Where would you like to take Burns from here? You have a proper good guy on the side of the Autobots now.

Well, you can loosely follow the path of the evolution of Sector Seven which could be fun. But at the same time, every movie does need a good bad guy. You never know. I think it's wide open because of the amount of time between this movie set in the 80s and this installment of Transformers, it really is an open playing field. I've been asked journalists, is your character the foundation of G.I. Joe. I think, even the concept of that, that's a hell of a story if you want to tell it. But, that's not up to me. That's up to the creative minds who hand me that book that I'd read and say, "Well, I like this, I'd like to be part of it." The cool thing, I think, is there's options. And that's something great, and I don't think one direction is definite, so we'll see.

John Cena and GI Joe in Bumblebee

You mention the G.I. Joe theory which has been around pretty much since you were cast, and has been really stoked by the fact your character's called "Agent Burns". No first name, mysterious past. Did you discuss with Travis or anyone what your full name is? Anything more than being the mysterious Sector Seven guy?

No, especially because of the way it was written. It was very straightforward, almost like the Dragnet guys. That's kinda how it was written. And like I said, from there, I was lucky enough to get a few free takes and a lot of that stuff made the movie. So it's a weird combination of, you have this mysterious character, but in the script it makes perfect sense. Then you decide to give him a little bit of a dynamic personality profile and now it's more intriguing. That's a good problem, when people want to know more about your character, that's a really good problem to have.

One of the saddest things about the movie has been that the box office is rather slow. It's got really good legs but it's not running at the same pace as other entries. I wonder if you have any thoughts on that. Do you feel a different release window, away from all this competition, would have helped the movie?

I don't think... you could speculate that this would have been a better week or that would have been a better month. I'm all for when we came out, and I'm all for... we really didn't spend as much as they did on the other Transformers movies. The movies that do well financially for the studio, I think you can always do better. And if people feel we could have done better, the only way to fix that is to go back, look at the information and try to come up with some logical answers. But I'm very glad with how we're doing and we're remaining consistent and still a healthy box office week after week after week. There's always going to be competition. In the world of WWE, there's always something that can take... they can give a consumer another way to buy a ticket. So I'm used to a very competitive atmosphere and I don't... you never want to... you never don't want competition. I think competition is good for all movies, and it's good for moviegoers. So I'm very happy with what it's done.

Next: Bumblebee Interview: Hailee Steinfeld

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