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"Alien: Ore" (2019) Q & A, Steven Stiller, part one

As part of my ongoing Q & A series on "Alien: Ore" (2019) this multi-part interview will be with Steven Stiller, the actor who played Kolton Brown. Here is part one of the interview. 

"Alien: Ore" Interview, Steven Stiller

Nick: My name is Nicholas van der Waard. I have my MA in English Studies: the Gothic, and run a movie blog centered on Gothic horror, Nick’s Movie Insights. Joining me for this interview is Steven Stiller, who played Kolton Brown, in "Alien: Ore."

(to Steven): Apart from being an actor, what else do you do professionally?

Steven: I am also a filmmaker, having made a number of short films over the last eight years or so, and recently directed my first feature film.


Nick:  How long have you been acting? Can you tell me about some of your past experiences?

Steven: I have been acting since the early 1990s. I actually started out acting in children's theatre back in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. I then moved on to more challenging works like Shakespeare and dramatic contemporary plays, but I always had a fascination with film. So in 1999 I moved to Vancouver and started pursuing films roles.

Steven with Turner Stewart, his director of photography for his upcoming feature length film, With Friends Like These (TBA; photo courtesy of Jeremy Hannaford).

Nick: Do you have a favorite actor/actress that made you want to act? 

Steven: There are so many actors both male and female that have influenced me over the years but I  was actually watching a Christian Slater film and saw this guy (Slater) close to my age playing this real cool and complex character. From that point on I became obsessed with the challenge of acting


Nick: Team Scott or Team Cameron?

Steven: Definitely team Scott. Don't get me wrong they are both brilliant filmmakers but the original Alien (1979) film was the first one I saw and is still one of my favourite movies. It has this slow burn intensity and shows a real restraint and delicate hand.


Nick: What was your first Alien experience? Can you describe the first time you saw an Alien movie, and which one it was?

Steven: My first Alien experience. I remember I was a young kid and a friend of mine got a copy of it. I rode my bike to his house and a group of us watched it together.  I remember when that alien first burst through the guy's chest and we all jumped.  We were on the edge of our seats for the rest of the film.

On Kolton Brown

Nick: I love the Alien franchise for its role diversity. Sure, it gives women the chance to be strong and overcome tremendous adversity. It also has a wide-range of male characters. Some are bonafide heroes, like Hicks or Janek; some are more reluctant.

Kolton reminded me of some of the more comical characters in the Alien movies: Parker and Brett; Hudson; Fifield and Milburn. He's not in charge, and, judging by his shirt, has something of a party attitude. Did you model Kolton after any of the aforementioned characters?

Steven: I love all those characters so much, especially Hudson. I tried my best not to model Kolton too much on any one of those guys.  I wanted to bring something a little different.  Yeah, I gathered, that Kolton probably likes knock a few back and it would have been fun to explore that a bit more— show a bit of his comedic/fun side.


Kolton's character shot (courtesy of Shimon Photo).

Nick: Did Kailey and Sam have a pretty clear idea of how they wanted the character to behave? Were you allowed to bring your own ideas to the table, in regards to Kolton's on-screen persona?

Steven: I think Kailey and Sam  had a strong vision of what the character is all about, but they are such open  filmmakers that they allowed me to add some layers and my [unique] spin on old Kolton.


Nick: Given the limited screen-time, are there any ways you would have developed your character further, had you been given more scenes and lines?

Steven: I think, in that limited screen time, I got to be in some real intense scenes which is always great to play with. But with more screen time I think it would've been nice to have some lighter moments, maybe show or how Kolton interacts with the group more.


Nick: On that note, were there any lines of yours that didn't make it into the final cut?

Steven: Nothing really comes to mind that was omitted. What was in the script for Kolton pretty much made it onto the screen.


Nick: In the script, did Kolton have a set physical description. For example, was he originally supposed to be bald, or was that something you added to the character, going in?

Steven: He was just described as "weathered." The "bald thing" is just what you get when you cast me. With that said, I think that look suits my character. [editor's note: Absolutely. I have to add, it's nice to see a bald character in an Alien movie besides Alien 3 (1993).]

Steven Stiller, out of character (courtesy of Jeremy Hannaford).

Nick: Were the roles pretty ironed out, pre-application? For example, Hanks strikes me as a gender-neutral name (as many names in the Alien franchise are); was the android always meant to be a woman, or was there an option for you to apply for any role you liked, including Hanks?

Steven: I'm not entirely sure if the roles had been completely ironed out in that way. I came into the auditions pretty late in the game. I was actually just emailing Sam and Kailey seeing if there were any of my resources they may need for their shoot and casually asked them how their auditions had gone. Up to this point, I had taken a huge break from acting to focus more on filmmaking and hadn't really thought about any acting projects. Through our conversations I know they were still looking for a Kolton. They asked if I would be interested in auditioning so I quickly recorded one in my garage; they invited me to the call backs and they submitted [my audition tape] to Fox for approval and here we are.


Nick: Is there any role you could have applied for that you weren't actually interested in playing? In other words, did you "gravitate" towards Kolton Brown, or was he the hand you were dealt?

Steven: It's kind of a bit of both. Kolton was available, but looking back, I think it's probably the one I would have asked to audition for, regardless.

Getting the Role

Nick: Did you hear about the project beforehand and audition for it, or were you approached for the role?

Steven: Yes, and sorta yes. I had heard about the project because I have known Sam and Kailey for awhile now and we always try and keep track of each others projects. I was mostly just volunteering any of my contacts and resources to them when the we talked about auditions and they asked if I would be interested in auditioning. Of course I jumped at the chance to work with them.


Nick: How did you feel when you heard about the contest, and when you actually got the job?

Steven: When I heard about it, Sam and Kailey had already been chosen and I thought it was a great idea and they would be perfect for it. When I heard I had officially been cast, I thought, "This was going to be such a fun project to be apart of." To play in the Alien universe was amazing.

Kolton and the Bowen's Landing gang (courtesy of Suzanne Friesen).

Nick: How hard did you prepare for the role? Did you have to, or otherwise felt compelled to do, any physical training?

Steven: Preparing for the role was  more about getting into the groove of acting again, and mostly getting into the head space of my character. Most of Kolton's scenes were of the intense variety— finding his friend killed, telling the others about it and finally facing the creature, itself.  So I had to try and stay in that heightened state. Physically I was already starting a process of getting back into shape and I think I used this role as an excuse to do more heavy lifting. I wanted Kolton to look like a guy who might be able to hold his own when things go side ways [editor's note: A bit like Parker—a big guy, but not cartoonishly muscular]. I don't think many would have a real chance when taking on a xenomorph, but I wanted to have that look of someone who might getting in a few good shots, haha.



Nick: To get into character did you read any books, or watch the original movies?

Steven: I did rewatch Alien and Aliens. I also looked up a few details online just to get reacquainted with that world.

***

This concludes part one. Stay tuned for part two, next Friday at 2 p.m., EST.

If you liked this interview, check out all my interviews on "Alien: Ore." For even more details on "Alien: Ore," watch my lengthy analysis.

Many thanks to Fox for allowing these interviews; to the interview subjects; and to Kailey and Sam for being so friendly, enthusiastic and helpful

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