'Into the Storm': Sarah Wayne Callies Talks CGI Tornadoes & Extreme Circumstances

Richard Armitage and Sarah Wayne Callies in 'Into the Storm'

Set in a rural community, Silverton, Into the Storm follows a group of townspeople and extreme weather chasers as they encounter one of the most dangerous storms in U.S. history. When group of powerful tornados pummel the town, Gary Morris (Richard Armitage), father and vice-principal of the local high school must race through deteriorating conditions to find his lost son.

Along the way Gary encounters professor of Climatology and Meteorology, Allison Stone (Sarah Wayne Callies), and her tornado chasing friends, but as the storm intensifies, becoming one of the biggest weather systems to hit U.S. soil, even the experts are put in grave danger. Allison has her own motivations - study the biggest storm in history - but, when push comes to shove, will she really be able to put lives at risk (even if it means she'll be able to collect weather data that might save more lives down the line)?

In our on-set chat with Callies, the actress offers new details about her character (and her motivations), that challenge of performing against a CGI tornado, as well as how extreme circumstances can reveal the best in people.

Check out the trailer for Into the Storm below (followed by the complete interviews with Quale and Garner):

Tell us about Allison.

SWC: She’s a professor of Climatology and Meteorology, so I got to look up thirty words I had never seen before. And now I wake up and literally start watching the weather channel.  She starts with a group of storm chasers and the question is will she eventually switch over from the storm people to the human people. She is the one through whom we tell the story balance between science and people. Pete comes down on one side of that and Gary represents a different side and she kind of gets pulled in between.  The two most important people in the story to Allison, is her daughter who doesn’t appear in the movie. She has a five year old kid she’s trying to get back to so the person heaviest in Allison’s heart, we never see. And the second person is by the end of the movie; Gary and Allison have become enormously significant in each others’ lives because they’ve saved one another’s lives. And she’s helped him try and save his son.

What appealed to you about the story?

SWC: What I loved about it is that it’s a story of how in crisis, people who are strangers can become incredibly vital to one another in a space of six hours. And if these two people had not encountered one another in these circumstances, it could take years for them to develop that trust. We learn who we are when we’re in the most extreme circumstances and we spend the rest of the time contemplating who we think we really are. Then something massive happens and you learn in a space of thirty seconds whether you run towards it or away from it or if you stand still and let it come to you.

Describe the level of intimacy between Allison and Gary?

SWC: To me it’s an intimacy of trust. There are times in your life and sometimes it’s when you fall in love with someone, or sometimes it’s when someone saves your life, and when you choose to trust someone.  There’s something intuitive that happens.  You just chose to bypass all the other paces that we put other people through before we are willing to trust them. There is a lot of literature out there about people who experience near death experiences together. There is a kind of a bond. I call it an intimacy.

How challenging is it acting against a make believe tornado?

SWC: The green screen can be really intimidating and I watched a ton of green screen movies beforehand to sort of go, “that didn’t work,” or “I’m stealing that, that’s great.” But it’s kind of like doing theater. You need a big imagination!  The challenge is syncing it up with everyone… “How big is your tornado?” And then of course there are takes where Steve goes: “You were all looking in different directions!” Then some poor PA gets the job of standing there with a tennis ball on a stick trying to be invisible.

Do you have any wire work?

SWC: I did wire rehearsal where they put me in a harness which only fits on my hips and they had me walk in a straight line in front of the hundred a mile an hour fan. It’s extraordinary. They just blew me right off of my feet. It’s so much fun! I love big explosions, cars flipping and guns and things. You feel like a teenager on set.

Matt says there is tension between your characters because it’s been your responsibility to secure this shot of the tornado…

SWC: Yeah, Matt and I argue about this all the time. The tension between our characters from my perspective is that his character is an asshole! It’s a relationship between a woman of science whose job it is to get some date and a bit of a maverick filmmaker who is willing to take much bigger risks. I think from her perspective he can take all the risks he wants but she feels responsible for the lives of everybody involved. She’s the one who makes the call and in her mind she would rather side with safety and not get the shot for the movie, if it means everybody goes home alive at the end of the day.

If the end goal of this escapade to get into the eye of the tornado, what is Allison’s ambition?

SWC: The end game is to get my instruments on Titus into the middle of that tornado but I want everybody to come back safely. For her it’s much more about the significance of tornado data then it is a shot that’s going to impress people. She supports Pete’s agenda but he has a single mindedness that she finds a little frustrating.


NEXT: Set Tour of Into the Storm


Into the Storm arrives in U.S. theaters on August 8th, 2014.

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