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Burn Gorman Interview: Pacific Rim Uprising

In Pacific Rim Uprising, Burn Gorman reprises his role as Dr. Hermann Gottlieb. In the 10 years that have passed since the first film, Hermann has continued to work with the Government, researching the Kaiju’s to help protect the world from another attack. We had the chance to sit down with Burn recently and speak to him about his experience working with Steven DeKnight vs Guillermo Del Toro, where his character is now, working in sci-fi, and briefly touches upon his time in the Doctor Who Universe where he appeared on Torchwood as Owen Harper.

Screen Rant: So, first of all, obviously, this movie is a lot of fun. Just so much fun to be a part of Were you a fan of mech stuff growing up, at all?

Burn Gorman: Yeah, I mean, I'm very aware of the sort of homage that’s paid, really, to the whole Toho universe and the monsterverse. It was much more for me, like, you know, obviously Guillermo was really influenced by that in the first film. And I feel like there’s echoes of that in this, in the second film as well, so yeah.

SR: Yeah, I mean the one thing I love about this film, is that, because I love the first film. By the way, I went to go see it twice in theaters. I saw it, you know, in regular seats but then I wanted the scale so I sat in the first row just because I wanted to see the size of the Kaijus and stuff. The one thing I love about this new one is that you introduce us or they introduce us to this whole new generation of Rangers now and it's this big worldly thing so the scale’s grown significantly. Now, obviously you're from from the U.K….

BG: Yeah, I was born here.

SR: Were you really?

BG: Yeah, my dad was a teacher at UCLA so I stayed here until I was five or six.

SR: Really?

BG: Yeah yeah.

SR: That’s crazy. In the U.K. is the tokosatsu and mech culture big?

BG: Sure.

SR: Is it?!

BG: Well, it's not underground, I wouldn’t say that but if you go to any conventions, which I do occasionally, the march is always imported in but there is an extremely diehard, you know, scene there which is great actually. And you know, it's interesting, as things go on, I don't know if you know, it's from the Oscars there was, like, “In Memoriam”, there was the first actor who played the suited Godzilla, you know? You can sorta look back on that and sort of go, “Oh God, you know, look at that, it’s ridiculous" but it's so interesting to see how with technology that in the film world it's still around. You know, it's not just a one trick pony, as it were. This thing has a great legacy to it, this sense of these huge, monsters and kaiju and now my kids are getting into it so it goes on, you know, it’s great.

SR: Now, I love your character Hermann, he’s such a-

BG: Oh, thank you, he was strange.

SR: [Laughs] He's such a quirky guy but like-,

BG: He’s a jerk. No, I’m kidding.

SR: With you and Charlie, you guys have such great chemistry…

BG: Thanks man.

SR: Is it easy for you to put on those socks and be Hermann again, like, is it easy just to step back into that role?

BG: When in the first film Guillermo was quite clear about what he wanted and I got, you know, backstory about the character and stuff like that. Because of the scale of the movie I also think the performance level of Hermann is quite high, quite theatrical, which is not everyone's cup of tea but I found that with Charlie it's very much like a bit of a tennis match. He sort of throws out ideas and we sort of, it's very fluid and actually that's a real pleasure to come to work and do and Steven was quite encouraging about you know, it sort of creates chemistry.

SR: With Guillermo helming the first film, what did you learn from him? And obviously, with Steven doing the second one, is there anything you took from him as well?

BG: Well, both of them are visually extremely brave. I don't know if you know this but Guillermo, I mean, his fingerprints are all over the second film as well as the first one. There was a city scene where it was all being smashed up, you could go into the set, you go into a restaurant that was never on camera and there would be a fully detailed Kaiju part menu, beautifully bound and that’s Guillermo to a T. The attention to detail, the design-led choices are what I think what draws people to his sumptuous work and hopefully, that his influences are also seen in the second one. Steven’s a really cool guy and I know he was very much in touch with Guillermo, but the tone of the thing, it didn’t feel any different working with him, it was very much like [snaps] picked up like that from Guillermo.

SR: Yeah, it's interesting that you say that because Charlie essentially said the same thing, like, it's interesting because I personally think Steven is a great choice to the follow in Guillermo’s footsteps and play in his sandbox because I felt like Guillermo could have directed this one too as well.

BG: Yeah, I mean Steven, if you look at just his experience alone, you might say, “Oh it's a first-time director” but this is a guy who was extremely involved in the Buffyverse, was it, you know, the whole Daredevil, you know, Marvel world, he was a showrunner, created Spartacus. He's an extremely creatively-led guy and he's also very cool to be around, he's very sort of relaxed and calm which is all you can ask for really.

SR: Now, with with your character Hermann when you talk to Steven did he already have an idea for what he wanted to do with your character and when he pitched it to you when you found out about the sequel.

BG: No, Steven was very honoring really of what we've come up with in the first one. I don’t think he didn't want to mess around with that. I'm sure if he'd have had, if I'd have had any strong ideas that he disagreed with he would have told me but no, actually, it was all there in the scripts about what the progression would be. I was really interested in how Charlie's character changes as well, to see the dark side, you know, it's a bit of a twist. And also, if anything in this film, although it's still a very heightened relationship, I hoped that you sort of get to see the real bond that they have, the real sort of fondness of a work colleague of many, many years, you know, and perhaps more that that, a friendship which is always been a bit brittle and unusual but genuinely, they care for each other, you know?

SR: Well, you see that Hermann obviously has this compassion for what happens later on in the film to Newt. I feel like if there is a third one, it would focus a lot of those two and their relationship. What do you think about that?

BG: Yeah, I mean, I would love to explore this world further. You know, if it happens that would be, you know, the icing on the cake really to what’s gone on before. You never know what's going to happen with these films but I was also encouraged by John [Boyega’s] involvement. You know, we said before, I am actually a massive Star Wars fan and I was like, I suppose, really, really pleased that John was like, “No, this is also a cool project, I can be involved there and make some choices as a producer and as an actor.” It didn't feel like he was doing that, it just felt like he was just another actor giving you his all, his one hundred percent every day.

SR: That's interesting that you say that because I thought that John was the perfect choice to be in this film, he brings this sense of comedic timing for that character that I think is needed. I think that John was brilliant but I didn’t know that you had such a love of Star Wars.

BG: Yeah, I mean this is sort of original for me, you know? The first thing that you go and see that’s this new universe at a very young age. I'm a massive fan, I mean, you know every time another film-, I'm glad that it's moving on, Disney has taken it on. Every time there is a new film moved to be done, like, I wonder if I could get in, just as a little alien, in the back or something. But I’m sort of really excited to see what happens, you know, particularly, you know, I mean can you imagine if they ever get round to doing a Boba Fett movie and stuff like that, you know?

SR: I thought that they were going to do a Boba Fett movie mainly because, I know that Josh Trank, it seems like that’s what he was brought on for. I’d love to see a Boba Fett movie. So we can start campaigning now, Burn Gorman for the Boba Fett movie.

BG: Yeah, I mean, just literally an alien passing in the back of a shot would do me. It’s a world I love passionately.

SR: You know, you pop up in a lot of my favorite things but obviously I've seen you a lot in sci-fi, I'm a huge Torchwood fan.

BG: Oh, you weirdo.

SR: [Laughs]

BG: I mean, the Torchwood fans are very interesting people. They're always the best fun at the bar, you know, they’re that type of people. I mean, great taste but they're also pretty funny.

SR: I’m a big Torchwood guy because it got me into, I mean Doctor Who is great, but I see that your fingerprints are on sci-fi. Is that is a genre you feel comfortable in or is that something that just kind of naturally happens with your role choices?

BG: It’s a bit like, you take a look at what is on offer and I suppose I'd be lying if I didn't say that when when you get a call to say something like Game Of Thrones for example, which I was a huge fan of the books anyway, you’re literally like, “Look, if there’s any way that there's a part in this…” You know, I’m not too bothered about size of part, for me it’s always about working with really motivated creatives on this particular world, you know? So I'd be lying if I didn't say that it always excites me to be involved in something, you know, like the Dark Knight Trilogy. Again, whatever that part was to work with Christopher Nolan is about as good as it gets. It's just, I think I've been very lucky more than anything else and I mean, I'm eternally grateful for those opportunities.

SR: Now, as an actor I'm sure you learn something from every set that you're on, every director you work with, every actor you work with. What is it that you can take away from Pacific Rim: Uprising as an actor or even as Burn, just the human?

BG: Well, I didn't do too much CGI which I think we talked about. I was, you know, lots of practical things but it's interesting because I felt like Steven ran a very tight ship, you know? It was very organized and very, very creative but there was a lot of youthful energy in this, like the younger members of the cast have come in, some of their first films. Like, Cailee’s first film, she was completely unfazed, she came ready to work, ready to kick ass every day, and it was actually really inspiring if nothing else to go, “Okay, there’s a great new breed coming up”, you know? And the story does rest on their shoulders and you know, it's all just really just encouraging to see that talent in the industry.

SR: That’s actually something I wanted to talk to you about because, like, we were talking about the young Hollywood coming in from this film, was there any advice you had for a lot of these young actors? Because there's a ton of them in this film.

BG: Yeah, I mean, I didn't get to work with a lot of the cadets but I worked with Cailee and what I got in a sense in her is that was very open to learn but she wasn't fazed by things like she didn't go around all kind of, you know, timid and whatever. She was like, “What do I need to do in order to make this scene work?” And I think, you know, if you got that attitude you're going to win because it's a sort of attitude of, “Teach me and then let me kick ass”.

SR: It's a great work ethic to have.

BG: I agree.

SR: Now final question is, I think I actually asked you this a little bit earlier, where would you like to see Hermann go from here?

BG: I mean, I really would love to see Hermann in a Jaeger. I'm not sure he'd be great at manipulating it but you know what I mean? I just think for him to get in one and to have some part of, you know, just like kicking ass would be loads of fun.

SR: Awesome, well thanks.

BG: Thank you.

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Key Release Dates
  • Pacific Rim Uprising (2018) release date: Mar 23, 2018
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