Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies head 'Into the Storm'

"We are the opposite of a summer superhero movie," Sarah Wayne Callies told UPI about the ordinary characters she and co-star Richard Armitage play in the disaster movie.
By Karen Butler  |  Aug. 4, 2014 at 11:29 PM
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NEW YORK, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Sarah Wayne Callies and Richard Armitage say they were committed to creating characters audiences will care about in director Steven Quale's action-packed tornado flick Into the Storm.

In the movie, Callies plays Allison, a professional storm-chaser who -- along with her team -- crosses paths with Armitage's Gary, a high school vice principal searching for his teen-age son and his friend, as a massive tornado roars through their mid-western town.

"We all kind of have a background in different sort of effects-heavy [projects.] This is what [Quale] does and The Walking Dead was kind of high concept and The Hobbit and everything, and I think maybe we all recognized, through the course of those experiences, that the effects don't matter if they are not grounded in something human. And, so, when I first got to the set, you know, Steve and I had dinner and it was this great collaboration of sort of me saying: 'These are the three moments I need. I don't care where they come in the movie and I don't care how we get there, but if I have these three moments, I can build you a person and then you can do everything else; you can do the rest of that world.' It was a great collaboration because we were on the same page about it and Steve was really open to it," Callies told UPI in New York Monday.

"It's something that is quite hard to write in a script, as well. So, the script was a good framework, but it wasn't until the actors came around that the real relationships started to form. And, even on the day of shooting, something might have happened in a moment that you couldn't necessarily put into a script, which [Quale] facilitated, and I think it was being open to all of those things that kept it feeling really real," Armitage added.

"Also, because we had a lot of long takes in the film, we spent a lot more time rehearsing scenes before we actually starting shooting them. And that was when we had this great collaborative effort with everybody, including the camera operator, myself, the actors and we really got a sense of what felt real for the characters because -- as silly as it may sound to an outsider -- blocking and staging are so important to understand the realities because anything that makes something seem false... You want to make it feel real, not like a cinematic movie, and so that was great.

"I also liked casting Richard sort of against type. With The Hobbit, you play such a strong, powerful, small person," Quale addressed Armitage, who was sitting beside him. "And, here, you can play somebody who is just at the mercy of a person who is in charge of this bureaucracy and all that, and trying to work all those details in. You're not the guy who has the final say, but, yet, you have to rise up and try to help these people and I just think that reluctant hero aspect was very intriguing. The everyday, ordinary person."

"We are the opposite of a summer superhero movie," Callies quipped.

The trio went on to say they were never seriously tempted to do any real-life storm-chasing to prepare for the film.

"Those guys are crazy in the sense of risking their lives in getting so close to that," Quale noted. "I'm one that likes to have an adrenaline rush and have fun, but, at the same time, I know my boundaries."

"If you had phoned and gone: 'Rich, there's a storm coming. We're going to chase it, would you come?' Of course, I would have been there," Armitage said. "And that must be what it's like. The phone goes in the middle of the night and there's a storm coming and we're going to go photograph it. Of course, you go."

So, they understand the psychology that drives some scientists and TV personalities to chase storms?

"It's like looking into the Medusa," Callies observed. "You can't take your eyes off them. They are so beautiful. They are deadly, but they are absolutely gorgeous. Maybe part of it is we live in a world that is so controlled. Our climate inside and our phones and everything, then along comes something that can level a 200-year-old city in 11 seconds. I think there is something primal in us that you just fall on your knees in front of it."

"It's plagues and pestilence. It is biblical," Armitage offered.

Quale also acknowledged that the popularity of the film Twister -- and even the more recent Sharknado TV movies -- suggests people love a good disaster movie.

"Of course, they are going to compare it to Twister, because Twister was a seminal film. But our film is a little different in the sense that it is a group of townspeople, a father and a storm chaser, and it's all these people getting together that have no common interest or no common connection and they just sort of bond and survive and live through it. So, it's more of this survival aspect as opposed to the just -- we're chasing it to try to capture the tornado [on film.] It's what they do and how they respond to live through it."

"There is no twist in our twister. There are no sharks in it," Armitage joked, referring to the Sharknado movies. "Although we've got a few ideas." "Zombie-nadoes," Callies said, giving a nod to her former series The Walking Dead.

"And I just thought, maybe, orc-nadoes," chimed in Armitage, referencing the villains in his Hobbit trilogy. "There are infinite possibilities."

Co-starring Matt Walsh, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Arlen Escarpeta, Max Deacon, Jeremy Sumpter, Kyle Davis and Jon Reep, Into the Storm opens nationwide Friday.

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