While appearing at San Diego Comic-Con last month, esteemed character actor Jackie Earle Haley spoke to Screen Rant about the unique experience of filming on Robert Rodriguez's upcoming Alita: Battle Angel adaptation.
Alita: Battle Angel is an extremely ambitious risk for a $200 million dollar Hollywood blockbuster. An adaptation of popular 1990s sci-fi anime series Battle Angel Alita, the film is directed by Robert Rodriguez (Sin City) and is a passion project for sci-fi legend James Cameron (The Terminator, Aliens, Avatar), who wrote and produced the film. It's expected that the adaptation will embrace the originality of the anime, which is set in a post-apocalyptic future and follows an amnesiac cyborg girl (played by Rose Salazar) who has impeccable skills as a bounty hunter, puts it on the radar of anticipated films for next summer.
One of the cast members of the adaptation, Jackie Earle Haley, was at San Diego Comic-Con in late July to promote his role in Amazon's The Tick TV series. Best known to audiences as the violent vigilante Rorschach in Zack Snyder's Watchmen film, the actor spoke to Screen Rant at the convention about the role he plays in the adaptation, and how different and surreal the shoot was when compared to a typical production:
"What can I tell you about it? That was a completely new experience for me. And I’ll tell you why. At my age, I feel like I have done everything in production. It’s like I know what’s going on in just about every department and the director. You know I am a director as well. And so I get on this thing and my character is completely CGI. I am playing a very massive robot dude and it’s a really good script. It was great working with Robert. Met James and he is a sweetheart, but working with Robert and the cast was really fun. Everybody did a good job, but it was a really different trip doing motion capture. I am wearing a helmet and a bodysuit the whole time and sometimes there was actual movie cameras and sometimes there was none. But even when there was movie cameras, there were other cameras pointing at me for reference and infrared things everywhere. You can find out how they did it online, but it was a trip doing that. Yeah. Different. Really different."
Haley is relatively experienced with acting in major productions, as beyond Watchmen he's starred as the new Freddy Krueger in the 2010 A Nightmare on Elm Street reboot and appeared in the RoboCop remake, Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island, Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, Tim Burton's Dark Shadows, and this weekend's The Dark Tower adaptation. Even with all of those credits, it sounds like that the Alita shoot presented unique challenges for the actor, having to work in the motion capture capacity for the first time.
The film sounds like it'll continue the trend of this year's Ghost in the Shell in adapting anime for American audiences. While that film just had Scarlett Johansson, however, there are more recognizable names in Alita, including Haley, Christoph Waltz, Mahershala Ali (in two roles), Jennifer Connelly, Michelle Rodriguez, and Baby Driver's Eiza Gonzalez. Still, it still remains to be seen if general audiences will embrace Alita: Battle Angel when it comes out next July, as they've rejected ambitious science-fiction adaptations in the recent past.
- Alita Battle Angel (2019) release date: Feb 14, 2019