The Sci-fi channel or as they call it today, SyFy, was a huge part of my childhood and teenage years. Shows such as Farscape and Stargate SG-1 took my mind away from the normal everyday life into new and exciting galactic adventures that every fan like myself couldn’t stop watching. Ben Browder is one of the few actors that is able to transition into many different characters through television and film that really makes him a stand out actor and one to keep your eye on. I am not only a huge fan of his work, but I am also inspired by his project choices and his humble charisma. He is an actor that cares about his craft and works extremely hard to portray that in every project he is associated with.
Today, I get to sit down and talk with Ben about his newest film, Outlaws and Angels, a western film about outlaws that overrun an honest frontier family in New Mexico, and what can ensue when there is bloodshed.
Cinephellas (CP) Hello Ben! I really loved your performance in Outlaws and Angels and am a huge fan of your work.
Ben Browder (BB): Thanks man! I saw the film last night for the first time and watched it through my fingers and was a hard thing to watch. It was difficult material and after reading the script for the first time, I was like “Do I really want to do this?” And that was the major reason I ended up doing the film because it was a character that I have not played before and the material scared the crap out of me. I give credit to JT Mollner, the director who hired me for the part, most people wouldn’t think I could play that part. You get grimy, dirty, and ugly as an actor where you get to stretch in ways that you didn’t think you could do. I have deep gratitude for JT in hiring me for the role of George Tildon.
CP: How did you get involved with this project?
(BB): I read the script and knew they were looking around for someone to play George and get it cast. I got in touch with JT and we had an hour and half conversation about the movie, the script, and how he wanted to shoot it. He took a leap of faith with me and hired me for the role. If you look at George and the critical scenes that happen to him in the film, it would almost be impossible to audition for that part. In the audition, George’s parts are really difficult to read for in that setting. It came out of the conversation between JT and myself and if I was interested in playing that role. It was a good conversation and he had a good take on this type of western film. Artistically, it was a fun project to be a part of.
CP: I always wondered the audition process for western type films. Do you go in with a cowboy hat and a shotgun?
(BB): HAHAHA, I don’t know how one goes into an audition for a western. I usually don’t dress up for auditions other than wearing decent clothes. I have seen people show up to auditions wearing what the character would wear, which I think is a little strange. I prefer to have other people dress me up on set opposed to playing dress up myself.
CP: How many months did it take to film the movie?
(BB): The movie was shot in 18 days which is incredibly quick! We were rolling 35 mm cameras shooting it in techniscope film for all the film geeks out there. It was great to be working on film again and haven’t done that in four to five years, since everything is done digitally now, and was a great experience. As for the script, I got it and read it, a week later I had a conversation with JT, then I was on a plane out to New Mexico.
CP: The film is very gritty and you can feel the intensity of New Mexico. What was a normal day on set like with the blazing heat?
(BB): Sante Fe was really nice and go further down south it’s really hot. But Sante Fe and the upper regions of New Mexico was really nice. We were also shooting a lot of the film at night, so we had these beautiful evenings with thunder and lightning storms, and really enjoyed my time. New Mexico is a beautiful country and I want to go back someday.
CP: Were there any funny stories from the set with the cast and crew?
(BB): Other than the danger of chickens, we were working in a shack, and had a bunch of chickens on set. I had to lay down on the bed and there was a chicken on a pillow right next to me, and they told me to be careful of my eyes. And I was like “what?” Well when they get agitated they like to peck at your eyes. Wait a minute, why does this chicken have to be right next to me? Where is my stunt double for the chicken pecking scene?
CP: Are you a professional chicken wrangler now?
(BB): Yes, I am professional wrangler now and my best work has been with chickens, hahaha. They should have put that in the ending credits scene as my name with the title “Professional Chicken Wrangler.” I have worked with puppets, green screen critters, motion capture, but my best work has been with chickens and they are AMAZING actors! While watching the movie last night for the first time, I thought “that chicken is going to peck my eyes out.” JT Mollner one upped Quentin Taratino by having a mans eyes gouged out by a chicken. RIP
CP: Was there any preparation to get into this specific character such as watching old Clint Eastwood flicks?
(BB): I actually had this conversation with the director, I am a fan of the spaghetti westerns and I think they are amazing films. I actually got to shoot an episode of Dr. Who a few years back in La Marina, Spain where they filmed The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. You have to own movies like that if you are serious about film! That really isn’t research, but the love of that film genre. One of my favorite films of all time is Jeremiah Johnson and enjoy that kind of slow paced western, but didn’t prepare me for the role of George Tildon. George is a character that is hard to get into and was difficult to find him from all the movies I have watched. From a research standpoint, you do a bit of reading to understand what the frontier was like, but mainly what was on screen was from JT’s script and his vision for the character. As an actor, it’s my job to do my best with the material.
CP: This film was on the top 20 films to see at Sundance Film festival this year, why do you think Outlaws and Angels stands out compared to other films of it’s genre. For instance, The Hateful 8 and The Magnificent Seven?
(BB): A fair number of the westerns that have been done well are large blockbusters with a huge budget. To a certain degree, they had a lot of money shoved out for the project, but what JT did with this film is use real film on a small budget. It’s a low budget film and in doing so he is casting back to the indie scene of the 60’s and 70’s. In many ways it’s authentically retro and has a dark vision of morality and violence. It’s a deeply twisted feminist story and what I think he was trying to do was showing there are still western stories to be told that are relevant today. To people who like these type of films, it really works. It’s not something that’s just nihilistic entertainment. You take the restrictions you have with a small budget film that films in 18 days and respond to the limitations. You have long takes and have a lot of shots done in two takes because that’s what required to make the film, it also informs the process. You are doing one scene that is 11 or 12 pages from the script. It informs the entire process and has an effect on the entire story. I think JT was being really true to independent film!
CP: Do you have any upcoming projects in 2016/2017?
(BB): I do! But I have a NDA on one project that I can’t talk about. And another project I am waiting on the paperwork that I should have at the end of the month. I will be working from August through September on that project which is great. When I did Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, I couldn’t talk about it until it came out. I was doing nine months of motion capture, but with the NDA I couldn’t talk about it. I have one big picture in Hollywood that I am really excited about, but that will be announced later.
CP: I read on-line that you are in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Is this true? If so, can you give me some insight on your character in the film and what it was like working with James Gunn?
(SH): I don’t know? That is something that I can’t confirm or deny☺ Wouldn’t that be something, I loved the first film! No comment on that until the non-disclosure is released☺ I am going to go Google myself right now!
Special thanks to Ben Browder for taking the time to sit down with Cinephellas. We’re really excited for Outlaws and Angels as well as all of his upcoming projects!
Outlaws and Angels will be released in Theaters and VOD on July 15th, 2016.
You can find Ben Browder and Outlaws and Angels on Social Media:
JT Mollner’s No Remake Pictures: https://www.facebook.com/noremake/