A few weeks back the name Joseph Gatt made headlines everywhere when it was reported that he had been cast into a “secret role” for the upcoming Thor movie. We knew nothing more about it other than his history of work and guesses as to which character from the Thor comics he could be playing.
I had a chance to speak with Joe Gatt over the holidays and briefly again on Monday after the first day of Thor’s principal photography where I tried to get some hints on what character he could be playing in the movie. In our discussion, we talked about the Thor movie and his character, how he got into the business, his diverse background which includes working as a motion capture actor in some triple-A video game titles, and his favorite films.
From what I’ve gathered, Joe will be playing an Asgardian character with some sweet gear and weapons who shares screentime with both Thor and Loki. To see the hints, the details and our thoughts, check it out below.
Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for us.
No problem. It’s my pleasure.
Looking through your history, you’re a “Jack of all trades” so to speak with acting work in television and film, modeling for some major brands as well as motion capture work on multiple triple-A video game titles. I’ve also read about some dancing and singing on your part. What do you like doing best and is there any one focus that you would like to do more of moving forward in your career?
To be honest, the direction my career has taken since inception (watching Star Wars and Raiders Of The Lost Ark as a child) has been completely fate driven. Nothing has really been planned. I wanted to be Han Solo or Indiana Jones and ended up studying music theater and working on stage in musicals for the best part of 10 years. Musical theater is awesome and I loved it and would love to go back to it some day! During that time I began working in TV, doing modeling work, and also motion capture. My first Mocap job was Driver 2 back in 1995 I think. I feel privileged to have been part of the genesis of the whole mocap industry and am still working on amazing triple-A titles to this day. I don’t think i will ever stop doing mocap, no matter how successful an actor I become…it’s just too damned fun! But, between the modeling, mocap, singing, theater, TV and Film, ultimately film is my medium. I LOVE the movie making process. Not just the acting, but the whole amazing machine that makes this thing happen. When I’m on set I hardly ever disappear into my trailer… I love to stay on set and watch everything happening!
It says in your biography that since watching Star Wars as a child, you knew in your mind that you wanted to act and you’ve made that happen. What are some other favorite films of yours and what’s the best you’ve seen so far this year?
Well, some of my first film memories were watching classic movies with my father, and he introduced me to the greats: Ben Hur, Spartacus, The Great Escape, Cleopatra, It’s A Wonderful Life, etc. But then I saw Star Wars and my whole world exploded. I knew then that I had to be involved in whatever this was. I had no idea what film making and acting were back then… I just knew I had to be part of it. Raiders Of The Lost Ark cemented that dream! I love all kinds of movies from most genres, but there is always one underlying factor that has to be strong in all of them… I need to care! I want and need to care about the hero and their journey. There seems to be a trend at the moment to make movies with heroes or lead characters who are reprehensible. I have no interest in watching a 2-hour movie about someone (or sometimes a whole cast) who I don’t care about at all and have no empathy with. I want to cheer, cry, and laugh with their journey. My fave movie of the moment has to be AVATAR! James Cameron has somehow made us care for almost every character… even the villains!! He’s a genius!!
As a physical presence on screen and behind the scenes (in the case of video games), what workout regiment and diet do you follow to stay in top shape?
I don’t really think about it as a regiment or regime. It’s just a way of life. I’ve been doing it so long that being healthy the majority of the time (I love my ice cream and chocolate) and working out (martial arts, weights, acro, etc.) have just become as natural as eating and breathing. I try to balance my exercise between weights, resistance, flexibility, martial arts, and acro so my body is fit in as whole and rounded a way possible. This benefits my work and play! My diet is pretty simple… I just avoid dairy and wheat products as much as possible and keep sweet things to a minimum. I work very hard but try not to feel imprisoned by my body. The idea is to feel empowered and freed by your body.
Looking at the list of projects you’ve been involved with, Driv3r is listed as your first experience with motion capture work on a video game. How did you land the gig and were you seeking work in the video game industry?
Actually it was Driver 2. Way back in 1995 I think. I became involved purely by accident. A friend of mine (who was capturing the lead character of Tanner) asked me if I could come to the studios and help out by being the supporting characters. We were shooting at a place called Haliford Studios just outside London, run by a company called Centroid 3D. They were pioneers in mocap and were so far ahead of the game that when I moved to the USA in 2004, people were still catching up with the technology Centroid were using years earlier! After 2 weeks of shooting were completed, I was called back to recapture all of Tanners stuff. I was told that my friend just didn’t look right, where as I was much more agile and athletic, and together with my military experience and gun handling knowledge just looked much more natural and realistic as a hardened cop. We recaptured two weeks of mocap in 2 days! They were LONG days!! I worked for Centroid many more times in England, culminating in mocaping the lead and several other roles in the totally CG remake of the Captain Scarlet TV series.
Did you ever expect to be involved with so many major video games afterward and is it something you’ll continue pursuing in the future?
I Love mocap work. It’s so freeing and fun. You really can do anything, and watching your movements transferred to a CGI character is so exciting. The most exciting stuff I’ve done recently are some secret face capture tests for SCEA, for a couple of new games, that just look out of this world! This technology is jumping ahead exponentially!!
Are you a gamer yourself and if so, what titles are your favorite and what might we find Joe Gatt playing currently?
I’m not really a gamer. The reason is that I just love video games and would play continuously. So, in order to protect my wallet, career, and health, I decided never to own a games system… I just play at my friends over the holidays! That way I can just put it down and leave. My fave games have always been simulators of some kind, cars, planes, submarines, etc. But a good first person beat’em’up or shoot’em’up like Halo or God of War is always a fun time. The only game I’m playing right now is Solitaire on my iPhone!
With the highly anticipated release of God of War III coming early this year, for which you are again working motion capture with as the main character Kratos, are you in the loop for any updates on the God of War film project and is there potential for your involvement?
I had an amazing time working with SCEA on the GOW titles. The Sony teams at Mira Mesa and Santa Monica are the best fun. I have heard rumours regarding the movie, and speculation has been thrown about regarding the cast, but nothing is in concrete, and I’m sure they will be looking for a major star to play Kratos… But if they ask me, it would be awesome.
I was a proponent of voice actor and character model David Bateson of Hitman fame playing the lead role in the film adaptation (instead we got Tim Olyphant) so I’m all for it!
Your name made some major headlines the other week for what’s being dubbed a secret part in the Marvel Studios production of Thor. How did you get involved with the Kenneth Branagh-directed project?
My manager, Leigh Cohen, called me saying that Randi Hiller (the casting director) had asked to see me for a role in Thor. I went in and read, and 2 days later my manager got a call saying I had booked the role! I was ecstatic. The next thing I know I’m being fitted and thrown into rehearsals!
Are you by any chance a reader of comics and if so, what books interest you?
I used to read comics a lot as a kid, and the Marvel ones were always my favorites, X-Men and Thor being the best! These days I don’t read so much due to time constraints, but occasionally I pick up a graphic novel like Watchmen.
Good answer. These are definitely my faves too. We know your involvement in Thor is being kept under wraps for the time being, but are there any hints what we may see from you on screen?
Marvel are really into secrecy and protecting their scripts and characters, so there’s not much I can say except that I’m playing a bad guy with a lot of action.
Any scenes with the God of Thunder?
Yes, my character gives him a lot of grief ;)
How about Loki?
Now you’re fishing for clues. Yes, Tom Hiddleston is a great guy.
With your role in the Thor film, is there any chance that you may be involved with motion capture work for the tie-in Thor video game?
I would love to be involved in production of the game, but nothing has been discussed yet.
Aside from the next God of War game coming out in the spring and the Thor film a few years away from release, where might we see you next?
My main focus is on Thor right now, which has a release date of early 2011. Other than that, there are a couple of other projects my manager is negotiating which I would begin work on this summer. Currently you can see me starring in a vampire web series called “Dark Path Chronicles” on Fearnet.com, directed by Mary Lambert, the director of Pet Cemetery.
After getting a better idea of Joe’s role in the movie and once production began Monday, I spoke to him briefly again and I fired a few fun questions his way to see if we could get any more hints about this character.
Do you get to wear your own Asgardian outfit? Do you get any cool weapons?
Yes, My costume is awesome and i get some seriously mean weapons!!!!
We’ve been hearing nothing but praise about the extravagant set designs from some high profile folks including Jon Favreau. What can you tell us about the recreation of Asgard and the other character costumes?
The sets are huge and truly beautiful, some of the best i’ve ever seen. All the characters have amazing costumes. The designers have done an extraordinary job at maintaining the traditional Marvel looks all the fans are expecting, but adding their own new style.
We expect Thor to make a big splash at San Diego Comic-Con next year. Any chance you may be attending?
I will be there without a doubt!
Of the Marvel films coming out, our readers know that Thor is the one I have always been most excited for and I’m excited that you’ll be involved. Good look going forward and we hope to talk to you again soon!
Cheers, Rob, it’s been fun answering your questions.
So there you have it. For obvious reasons, Gatt cannot reveal details of his character or the production as Marvel is keeping things appropriately secretive but from what we gather from his responses, the rumors online and Joe’s background and expertise, we can take a stab at who he may be playing.
Let’s look at what we know:
- He’s a villain
- Action-oriented role
- Gives Thor lots of trouble
- Has scenes with Loki
- Has sweet weapons
- Is an Asgardian warrior
Combining that with Gatt’s physical prowess and expertise with weapons and combat, not too mention his appearance, I have a pretty good feeling that he’ll be playing Skurge the Executioner, as some of us Screen Ranters have guessed at behind the scenes and who’s been frequently speculated at online.
In the books, Skurge has the superhuman strength and durability greater than most Asgardians and he acquired his powerful name after duking it out with Storm giants. He commonly fought for Amora, the Enchantress due to his feelings for her and her manipulation of him and he is loyal to Thor’s nemesis and half-brother Loki who uses him to attack Thor.
Thor’s father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) banished him to Earth where he fought against the Avengers. Skurge’s history and appearances in the books spans across many stories and he faces off with and against many key characters including Mandarin, the Fantastic Four, Doctor Doom and many others. If Gatt is in fact playing Skurge, I can’t wait to see what he looks like and we’re hopefully he has a chance at re-playing the character in another Marvel project in the future. That is, if Thor doesn’t hammer him too badly. Perhaps he could be on of the Avengers villains?
What do you think? Is Skurge the character or do you have any other guess?
Stay tuned for more Thor news soon!
Thor takes over Spider-Man 4 for a new release date of May 5, 2011.
Artwork by Marko Djurdjević.