Nicholas Turturro throws out the ceremonial first pitch before a baseball game between Chicago Cubs and Miami Marlins at Wrigley Field in 2017 in Chicago. File Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/UPI | License Photo
NEW YORK, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- William Katt says his former Greatest American Hero co-star Robert Culp was an inspiration for his performance in the new action-thriller Overrun.
"I play Detective Dobbs, who is kind of a curmudgeonly character. I used a little bit of characters I've known in the past like the late, great Robert Culp," Katt told UPI in a recent phone interview.
Culp was the actor who played Katt's young teacher-superhero character's impatient FBI handler on the iconic 1980s TV show.
"The story arc for my character was fun because he is a good guy, but he's also a bad guy. Those are always the most fun to play," Katt said about Dobbs. "He is a broken man. That's for sure."
Overrun is the directorial debut of stunt performer and coordinator Josh Tessier, who has worked on The Mandorian and The Thundermans. The independent film is set for release Tuesday on video-on-demand and digital platforms.
At the center of the story is ex-military extraction specialist Marcus Lombardi (Omid Zader), who was forced by gangsters to track down a mysterious briefcase in exchange for the life of his informant sister, Reyna (Chelsey Goldsmith).
Dobbs is one of the cops involved in the case. Nicholas Turturro plays Marcus' resourceful friend Doc, and Bruce Dern plays crime boss Arkadi Dubkova. The ensemble also includes Johnny Messner, Jack Griffo and Christopher Troy.
"A role like Dobbs is not something that Bill would have played years ago because he was the hero," Tessier said of Katt. "He was a leading man, he's charming, he's affable."
Overrun subverts the audience's expectations about who Katt's character is.
"You're like, 'I want to like this guy, but he does some dastardly things.' So, it conflicts the audience," Tessier said.
Tessier and Katt have known each other for more than a decade, collaborating over the years on a wide variety of film, TV and music projects. Katt even wrote a song that is played during the end credits for Overrun.
Having people he trusted -- among them seasoned actors like Katt, Dern, Turturro and Messner -- made Tessier's first outing as a feature film director a lot easier.
"I try to get Bill in everything that I do just because he makes me comfortable. Doing my first movie, just having him there with Bruce Dern put me at ease. Bill is an established actor. People know who he is and they like him," Tessier said.
Katt said he was honored to share the screen with Dern, a multiple Oscar nominee with a career that dates back to the 1960s.
"Josh Tessier was lucky enough to get him," Katt said. "The material warranted an actor of that caliber to be in the film and, obviously, Bruce saw something in the film that made him want to be a part of it."
The actor praised Tessier and mixed martial artist-street fighter Zader for setting up and executing the film's memorable action sequences, which take place at a breakneck pace through a mausoleum, mannequin factory and junkyard.
The cast and crew only had 15 days and little money to make the movie, but Tessier said it wasn't that hard since he, Zader and most of the team come from stunt backgrounds, know how to work fast and have contacts in the industry to help them with locations.
"A little bit more money and [the set pieces] would have been even bigger, but I feel like we achieved what we were trying to achieve with these fights," Tessier said.
The movie is an expansion of the short film, Raw Brute, which Zader and Tessier made in 2013.
"We both come from a stunt background, but our next natural progression was for him to direct, me to act and us to produce together," Zader said in a separate Zoom interview.
The film intentionally mixes genres, combining action with drama, humor and heart.
Zader said he will consider his mission accomplished if viewers have fun for the 1 hour, 45 minutes they watch the movie.
"Josh and I don't take ourselves too seriously," Zader said. "We just want you to be entertained."
Turturro was hired to bring some much-needed comedy to tense scenes in which assassins try to kill Marcus at the junkyard where Doc works.
"I was just trying to bring a sense of energy, play somebody who could be authentic and funny," Turturro said. "It seemed like Doc was somebody Marcus could rely on, that Marcus looked up to a little bit."
"There's only a handful of people in Marcus' life he truly loves and cares for. One of them is his sister, Reyna, and Auggie, which is my little tech wizard, who Jack Griffo plays, and Nick's character, Doc. I see him as the father figure," Zader said.
Turturro, whose career has spanned decades, is comfortable moving into the mentor role, whether that is to younger characters on screen or in real life with actors and filmmakers who are just beginning their careers.
"It's a lot of fun for me because I was the younger guy when I first started out. On NYPD Blue, I was looking up to David Caruso," Turturro recalled.
"I learned a lot from him, even though he was a little crazy. As I've gotten older, I've become that other guy," he added. "I've been there and back, and I feel like I have that [experience] to offer. ... I won't say I know everything, but I know a lot, and I'm still learning."