Wyatt Russell, Iain De Caestecker & John Magaro Interview: Overlord

Wyatt Russell is an actor and former professional hockey player who has appeared in multiple films including Cowboys & Aliens, This is 40, and 22 Jump Street. In the war horror film Overlord he plays Corporal Ford, a paratrooper whose team is caught behind enemy lines and discover dangerous and horrifying creatures created from Nazi experiments.  Iain De Caestecker is best known as Agent Fitz on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  In Overlord he plays Chase, a war correspondent who is caught up in the horror.  John Magaro has appeared in multiple films and television shows including David Chase’s Not Fade Away, Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, and Amazon’s Jack Ryan.  He plays the paratrooper Tibbet in Overlord.

Screen Rant: Congratulations on this film. It's a lot of fun.  Who who'd have thought that a World War II epic and monster movies would make such a fun ride.

Iain De Caestecker: It’s a cool mashup, yeah.

Screen Rant: Cool mashup. So, when you guys are reading through the script, what kind of got you excited about this project? That was like, ‘You know what, I'm on board for this.’

Wyatt Russell: For me, it was the element of, honestly, J.J. [Abrams] and Julius [Avery].  I’d seen what Julius had done with Son of a Gun. There was a visceral element to the script, that was important that you were going to feel like you were placed in World War II, but in an alternate reality version of it. And that team of J.J. and Julius felt like that they were going to do a great job of it. And then, for me personally, if I was going to be able to add to it, that maybe I could do it justice, and lean on them a little bit to get it correctly.

John Magaro: And also, with our writers, Billy Ray and Mark Smith. I mean they have made amazing movies, but nothing like this. You have Captain Phillips with Billy Ray and you have The Revenant with Mark and many others. Obviously, many others. But like having these minds come together and create this kind of thing was just.

Iain De Caestecker: Yeah. And I think you also mentioned earlier that like when we, before we got the offer, we didn't get to read the script.  We just got like certain seasons. So, I think that's the power of Julius and J.J.’s name. J.J. Abrams is kind of like the Spielberg of our age really, isn't he? So, you would sign on to do something without reading the script.  Just because you trust him.

Screen Rant: So, Wyatt, you play the hard-nosed commander of the team. Did you draw any inspiration from any real-life figures?

Wyatt Russell: No, I didn't. I mean, what I did was I watched a lot. I would work out and like run on the elliptical and then I'd watched like the American history channel or military channel and the World War II documentaries run like 24/7. And the only way I can think of it was going, ‘Okay, if this is what they were doing,’ you got to see how real people were. The essence of somebody that was really there. And let that kind of sink in.  And there was nothing really that you could compare it to, that specifically. And I also didn't want to make it seem like I'm trying to rip something off or trying to copy somebody, that's always sort of a trap you can fall into. So, I sort of just watched documentaries, like a lot of documentaries.

Screen Rant: And your character goes through quite a transformation in the film. It's in the trailer, so I don't want to spoil too much. How did you prepare for that though?

Iain De Caestecker: I don’t know if you can really.  It's such a strange, bizarre thing to enact. I mean, Julius talked before and during. The thing with a character like Chase, he's not confrontational. He's a war correspondent. And his, I think for him, his camera is really his weapon. So, he's probably quite idealistic in that sense, you know.  He's not really prepared for war. And he's not dangerous, certainly in a military sense, against the backdrop of World War II. So, I think we kind of talked to the idea, if you can build that up enough convincingly, right? Hopefully then there is a switch [snaps fingers] that comes in there that hopefully is all the more shocking.

Wyatt Russell in Overlord

Screen Rant: And John, you have a great bonding experience with the kid in this film, which I love. But can you talk to me about some of-- most war films, I always hear about the cast having a really bonding experience. Can you talk to me about the bonding experience maybe your cast had?

John Magaro: Yeah. We were really all thrown into this. We showed up in London about a year ago. And right away they threw us into a van and sent us out to the country and we had a sergeant, Freddy Joe Farnsworth who kicked our ass. Got out of the van, had to build our camp, had to build our fire, had to go through a week-long boot camp. And that forced us to bond right away and forced us to become a team.  I mean it was, it was funny to watch. We all sort of started taking on our roles. We all started helping each other out. I mean, there's nothing like spending a week in the woods in s*** with a bunch of strangers to draw you guys together as friends.

Screen Rant: I mean, that's crazy because the chemistry of you guys, it works so well.  And you almost forget that, especially in the war stuff, you almost forget that you're watching a movie. Just like, these guys have known each other.

John Magaro: That's great.

Iain De Caestecker: And that was the cool thing about the boot camp.  It gave us a history together which you couldn’t manufacture otherwise. Because you really.

Wyatt Russell: Yeah.

Screen Rant: So, what was one of the hardest scenes to film? Mainly because obviously I'm sure the boot camp wasn't easy, but what were some of the hardest scenes to film in this?

John Magaro: I think we all agree that-- I mean we all have, probably different scenes that were hard for each of us for different reasons. But I think, for the collective experience that was the most difficult, was the plane sequence.

Screen Rant: It's intense too. It starts off so intense.

John Magaro: It’s intense. It’s in a little space.  They recreated the fuselage and we were all stuck in there together, with not just the soldiers but with a camera crew as well. And it was hot and you're wearing all the gear that those guys had during the war, which as paratroopers was very heavy. And it was difficult.

Wyatt Russell: Yeah. That was hard.

Iain De Caestecker and John Magaro in Overlord

Screen Rant: How much freedom did you guys have on set to collab with the director, and the backstories of your characters? Because we know the backstories of your characters that are told onscreen.  But offscreen, I'm sure, especially your character Chase, seems like there's a lot more to him with being the photographer and stuff like that.

Iain De Caestecker: Yeah, I mean he's the least war ready of the group. I'd say least prepared for the inevitable horrors of war. But Julius and Mark, the writer who was on set as well, and they were very, they had a very clear and specific ideas of what they wanted and what they wanted to do. But they were also very accepting of, I mean, John's a brilliant improvisor on set and he was always coming up with-- Every take was something new. And a lot of those bets from the movies and they were very accepting of that and encouraged it a lot. Which was a really cool environment to have. So, you felt very safe on the one hand. Very free to try stuff out.

Screen Rant: I mean, this movie has a lot of charm too.  It reminds me a lot of a video game. It's like fight this boss, you level up.  But the backdrop of the World War II thing I think is so, so unique. You guys did a great job in this film.  Now, last question is, if you weren't the character that you played, which character do you most relate to?

Wyatt Russell: That’s a good question.

John Magaro: Yeah, that’s a good question.

Wyatt Russell: Uuuh, Chase for me. Yeah. Weirdly enough.

Iain De Caestecker: Go to sleep.  I would like to be Ford, because he's like so different from me. And you know, that’s why it’s so great for Wyatt, because he’s so different from him as well.

John Magaro: He said, who you're most like, not who you want to be.

Iain De Caestecker: Oh, I’m probably just as clumsy as Chase. I mean we all know that he's just as much of an asshole as Tibbet [laughs].

John Magaro: I would actually say I’d be Private Bonerack. Rosenfeld we used to call Bonerack [laughs].

Iain De Caestecker: Yeah, our military advisor Freddy Joe, who was like brilliant, but a bit of a ball breaker.

John Magaro: He’s a Marine.  He’s a--

Iain De Caestecker: He just gave everyone nicknames and so Dom, he's got quite a slender, nice frame and immediately—

Wyatt Russell: Turn sideways and you might miss him.

Iain De Caestecker: He’d just shout Bonerack [laughs].  It’s like one of the first things he said.

More: Watch the Final Overlord Trailer

Key Release Dates
  • Overlord (2018) release date: Nov 09, 2018
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