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Charlie Day Interview: Pacific Rim Uprising

Pacific Rim Charlie Day Newt Geiszler

This post contains spoilers for Pacific Rim Uprising

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Charlie Day returned to the role of Newt Geiszler for the sequel to Pacific Rim, Pacific Rim Uprising. In the time between the two films, Newt has left the government agency and started working for a private firm that mass produces Jaegers. Speaking to Screen Rant, he discusses becoming the villain of the new film, being a fan of Guillermo Del Toro’s work, and reuniting with Burn Gorman and the relationship between his character Hermann and Charlie’s Newt.

Screen Rant: So, I was just talking to [Pacific Rim: Uprising director Steven S. DeKnight] and he told me about how he went to lunch with you and he said that he told you that he wanted you to be the villain but you already knew from [Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro]. Is that true?

Charlie Day: Uh, that’s what he said?

SR: That’s what he told me.

CD: I forget. I mean, well when I first met Guillermo from the very first movie, he sat me down and he talked about this world and where the characters go and I think yes, I think he had mentioned to me that he thought I would become a villain in the second one. But then I had Guillermo come do It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and he was telling me what he was working on for the second movie and he was not going down that road.

SR: Oh wow.

CD: I don’t think he had written it, I think he was still sort of spitballing potential ideas. And then I guess he and Steven most of somehow gotten back on that page. So I was familiar with that idea could happen.

SR: With the first one it kind of lays the groundwork for it to happen though but we're not necessarily sure. And by the way I love this movie and I love the franchise and it's one of those things where when I was a kid I just loved the big mech robots and stuff so this was so much fun to me.

CD: You know, it’s the kind of thing where you have to love that kind of stuff. Like, that's who this movie is for. If you really are wanting to see, you know, Shakespeare in Love this is not that movie.

SR: Exactly, no because the first one I saw it, you know, with a regular audience like in a regular seat but I went back the second time to sit in the first row and I just did it just to get the scope of, like, the fights.

CD: Oh, that's cool.

SR: I love it and this is like my thing.

CD: That's gotta be the way to see it.

SR: That is, it's huge. But what attracted you to this franchise?

CD: The same kind of thing. And I'll admit that I'm not a huge sci-fi fan or even giant movie fan but there's enough of them that you have seen that I'm sure reached me as a child or even now where you see great big movies and the idea of being in one of these was very appealing. Of course, the thing that really brought me in the first time was Guillermo because I was a big fan of his from Pan's Labyrinth and his smaller movies and I just wanted to work with him. And so, in the second movie getting to just be part of this thing that he created, I wanted to stay part of the world.

SR: Now, getting back into the role of Newt, is it easy the second time around getting into those shoes? Does it take a little prep? 

CD: It takes a little prep, believe it or not. Even doing It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia where you think I'm just, like, being myself and in some ways I am and in some ways, every year I forget and I’m like, “Okay, wait, how do I do this?” I don't know if it's self-consciousness or what it is but yeah, it takes a little bit of work to say, “Okay, how am I going to pull this off?"

SR: Well, that's something with Always Sunny too, like, it must be a little bit more difficult writing it and seeing how you play it out in your head and then getting on a stage and actually doing it.

CD: Well, yeah, the writing it is the hardest part but the good news is when by the time you finish writing an episode you know so thoroughly what you're going for that you don't have to do as much work as an actor versus as an actor, someone just gives you a piece of script and then you have to learn it in a way that you don't have to learn when you’ve written it.

SR: Now with the first film, and second from I guess, what did you learn from Guillermo since he's such a talented director, he just won an Oscar. What did you learn from him and in contrast, what did you also learn from Steven on this one?

CD: I learned an incredible amount from Guillermo. His attention to detail is is just awe-inspiring, his demeanor on set is wonderful, and his love of cinema, in general, and the gargantuan effort he puts into just working and I just learned so much from him. There were camera moves that he did on the first movie that I stole for episodes of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

SR: Oh really?

CD: Yeah! Just little things where I thought, “Well, I loved that he did that, let's just try it on Sunny!” And we wound up using all of them. Yeah and I still am learning from that guy, you know, just watching The Shape Of Water and learning more about following his passion, you know? And he really makes movies because he is wanting to tell these stories, he’s not just doing it because he's trying to be successful. Really, these are important stories for him to tell.

With Steven too, what I learned from him was… Gosh, you now, it’s almost a thankless job to take, right? To follow in the footsteps of Guillermo del Toro, people are just gonna come after you. But he really took this movie and he did the movie he wanted to do and there's a huge risk in that because people will say, “Well, you have to do exactly what Guillermo did or you have to honor it” and he would not have been successful in doing that. He was only able to make his version of this and he never wavered in that. He said, “Look I know what I'm going to try to make.” So I think what’s inspiring with both those guys is taking that stand in something you believe in and sort of living and dying with it, you know? You say, “Look, people are going to love it or they're going to hate it but this is what I want to make.” And at the end of the day as any kind of artist, that's all you really can do or should do.

SR: I completely agree with you. Funny thing is though, even after watching this movie, I thought that Steven was the perfect choice to direct it because the playing in the Guillermo del Toro sandbox he did such a great job with setting up the future of this franchise but also introducing you to a whole new, like, generation of what this franchise can be which I think is brilliant. Now, if there is a third film, which I hope there is, because I can I can't get enough of a giant mech robots fighting…

CD: Yeah, why not?

SR: Right, I've assumed that your character would be a lot of the focus mainly because there's still this redemption that needs to happen, I feel like.

CD: It would be cool! Yeah I mean, if they do a third one it would seem odd not to write to what's going on there. However, you know, you never know. I'm sure they could do it without me. But if they did do it third one, I'd love to be a part of it.

SR: Now, I loved the relationship that you and Herman, Burn’s character have. How much of your actual performance is on the page and how much is it actually just you improving and shooting around?

CD: I mean most of that's on the page. You know,  I have a tendency to sometimes come to set with a couple ideas and that's just based on the years of writing experience and knowing myself as a performer where I might say to Steven, “Hey, look, I have an idea. Why don't I throw a little something like this?” And Steven’s very collaborative, he’ll say, “Go for it”. There's one big scene between Herman and I at the end you know where-, I can say spoilers, right?

SR: Yes, I'm going to put this out after [the film premieres].

CD: Well, the scene I was most concerned about is where, is the reveal scene where you reveal that I’m being controlled by the Kaiju and and I turn on Herman and Steven was very collaborative in that which I was appreciative of. And we had lots of conversations about how to do that and there were certain things that I said, “I really feel strongly that if I say this this way it will… I can see that from a performance standpoint and from a blocking standpoint, you know?” We had a lot of conversations about like, “Well, what if I go after Herman here?” And so what's great is between Burn and Steven and myself, we were really able to talk through that moment which for me as an actor, you feel very protected in the sense that, okay, we're going to take the care to make sure that this moment happens in the right way.

And then also it's great to have that baked into the story that I'm sort of torn between how I feel about this guy and what's going on with my character so that there's that conflict there something that actually builds extra layers that are very helpful, something to hang your hat on.

SR: You're obviously an accomplished writer, you’re a great writer. Have you ever thought about taking on a challenge like Pacific Rim?

CD: No! God no! I'm very happy to show up for Pacific Rim just as an actor but I never would want to try to write anything, first of all, I'm too sarcastic. I would never be able to get through a draft without throwing a bunch of jokes in there.

SR: I’d love to see that draft by the way!

CD: Yeah that could be pretty funny and maybe a comedy version of a movie like that but gosh it is uh, I mean, it is a Herculean task to direct a movie like this. Just months and months and months and you shoot like a page a day, I’d go crazy.

SR: Yeah, well thank you so much for your time man.

CD: Alright, yeah, thank you man, it was a great interview.

SR: Thank you!

CD: Yeah, you’re good at what you do.

SR: I barely started doing this…

CD: Alright!

MORE: Burn Gorman Pacific Rim Uprising Interview

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