This article was last modified on February 25, 2015.


Interview with Grant Bowler, “Killer Elite” and “Remains”

Grant Bowler is a New Zealand-born actor who has worked in American, Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian film, television and theater. He is known for playing the role of Constable Wayne Patterson in “Blue Heelers” from 1993-1996 and Wolfgang West in “Outrageous Fortune”. He also appeared as Wilhelmina Slater’s love interest Connor Owens in “Ugly Betty” from 2008-2009, as well as having recurring roles in “Lost” (Captain Gault) and “True Blood” (Cooter). He currently stars as Joshua Nolan on the Syfy television series “Defiance”.

We chatted way back in 2011 about two films: “Killer Elite” and “Remains”. The first one stars Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Dominic Purcell and Robert DeNiro and was praised by Roger Ebert with 3 out of 4 stars. Ebert said the film “understands that action is better when it’s structured around character and plot, and doesn’t rely on simple sensation.” The second, “Remains”, is a zombie film set in Reno written by Steve Niles (“30 Days of Night”) and co-stars Miko Hughes (“Pet Sematary”). Unfortunately (or fortunately?), he had not yet co-starred with Lindsay Lohan.

Grant was a joy to talk to and it’s a pleasure to finally share this discussion.

GS: Howdy, Grant. I wanted to start this interview off with some “Lost” and “True Blood” questions, but it seems like they’ve all been asked.

GB: (laughs) I’m not surprised.

GS: So, here’s one I’m sure nobody’s asked — between the two shows, who had the better craft services?

GB: That’s a great question. It’s “True Blood”, hands down. Because on “Lost”, I was on that bloody freighter and your craft services options are very limited on a boat. “True Blood” was shot in LA, which is on land. And craft services on land beat craft services at sea any day of the week.

GS: You appear in “Atlas Shrugged”, which is based on a very political book. Was there any concern about appearing a film that might be polarizing for some people?

GB: What I’ve always found amazing, especially in the States, is how an actor can go off and play a pedophile or a serial killer and nobody even blinks at it. But they do something political, and all of a sudden it’s a major concern. Maybe it’s just me and I’m foreign, but I look at it like killing people and eating them or touching young kids is a lot more of a concern than somebody’s politics. It’s crazy how if you do something political it becomes this really big hot potato. So the issue crossing my mind? It did and it didn’t. We have a democracy, and there’s a very spirited conversation going on. In a totalitarian regime, there’s no conversation going on. So, in that light, whether I agree with “Atlas Shrugged” or not, I still think debate is healthy. I don’t see anything unhealthy about debate.

GS: Obviously, with “Killer Elite”, the first thing a viewer will notice is the incredible cast. What can you say about working alongside these heavyweights?

GB: When I was first approached by director Gary McKendry on “Killer Elite”, it didn’t have quite as phenomenal a cast. Jason Statham was involved at that point, and I was absolutely thrilled to work with Mr. Statham. After the third time I talked to Gary, I found that Clive Owen had signed on. Much later, maybe four weeks before shooting, Robert DeNiro signed on. So things just kept on getting better and better and better. I would have done it if it was Gary Coleman and a kid from “Jersey Shore”, because the script was so good. But the cast getting as good as it did? That was a bonus, that was unreal.

GS: If they were able to get Gary Coleman, that would be a pretty good feat.

GB: (laughs) God bless him.

GS: You’re Captain James Cregg. How does he fit in with these other guys?

GB: The mercenaries fit in at the center of the film, and they’re going after three guys who are either former or current members of the British Special Forces. My guy is one of the three guys they’re going after, and he’s actually the most high-profile of the three. He’s a kind of hero, the most dangerous one to go after. The plot is like juggling three balls in the air: the third is a group of individuals hired by the government to watch the Special Forces and make sure they’re not targeted. You have to put it in the context that at the time, the Special Air Service had done a lot of work in Northern Ireland and there was real concern about these threats occurring.

GS: Sounds like a lot of potential twists and turns.

GB: My favorite part of the movie is that it is very complex, very intelligent. There’s still lots of “crashing and bashing”, but the story is excellent and one I haven’t seen before.

GS: On that note, I’m going to challenge you. How if your other film, “Remains”, different from every zombie film we’ve seen before?

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GB: (laughs heartily) I suppose one could ask how one romantic comedy is different from any other romantic comedy. But to answer you, the zombies are different, more interesting. I like Steve Niles’ take on zombies. He and director Colin Theys have them in the context of an evolutionary world. It’s kind of Darwinistic, not just the slow, shuffling “Night of the Living Dead” zombies you can walk away from. These evolve by being competitive among each other. This results in the survivors getting increasingly dangerous as they go along. That’s something I really, really like. The other thing I really liked was the focus. Often the human survivors are all exceptional in some way, or at least have an exceptional ability to learn, cope and adapt. With “Remains” those who survive are kind of the couch potatoes of society. The ones that, well… the mere fact they survive the beginning of the apocalypse has to do more with their not being high-functioning rather than anything else. They’re not super ninjas, they don’t have access to automatic weapons.

GS: Co-starring with you is Miko Hughes?

GB: Yeah, the kid from “Pet Sematary”! He’s a great guy, Miko. I was fascinated by him, working with him. I came into acting as an adult and never really wanted to act until I did it. So I’m fascinated with ex-child actors, and want to put them under the microscope. Like Gary Coleman, bless his little heart. So I was fascinated by Miko, because I remember him from “Pet Sematary” and he scared the hell out of me. But he’s a great guy and a real fine actor. It was a trip, you know? He was “the kid” in a bunch of stuff. “Kindergarten Cop”, “Apollo 13”, “New Nightmare”. Having grown up in it, he has this innate sense, and he understands the mechanics of shooting very naturally, very organically. I know so many people who have found the transition difficult, and there is a sort of shame attached. But Miko is well-adjusted and a fine actor.

GS: So now you’ve done horror, sci-fi, drama, action… have you found one you prefer, or do you just have a passion for acting in general?

GB: I actually have a bucket list of genres. And you’re right, I’ve been able to check the action box lately, as well as the zombie box. I’m about to go down to Australia and shoot a false imprisonment movie. That will be great, because I’ve never done that. So I’ve got my genres. But at the same time, I really do just love acting. I’ve played everything from a werewolf to Jesus Christ. That’s the new one, “186 Dollars to Freedom”. He’s a lovely character.

GS: Thank you for your time, sir!

GB: I appreciate it, Gavin, and we’ll talk again. Look after yourself.

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