In Pacific Rim Uprising, actor Levi Meaden battled against the invading Kaiju, and for James McTeigue’s recently released home invasion thriller, he has to take on a determined mom played by Gabrielle Union. Regardless of his cinematic foes, Meaden is certainly enjoying 2018 thus far, and Daily Dead recently caught up with him to discuss his experience working on his recent projects.
Breaking In is currently in theaters, and Pacific Rim: Uprising will hit digital platforms on June 5th before arriving on Blu-ray and DVD a few weeks later on June 19th.
Congrats on both Pacific Rim Uprising and Breaking In. Seems like you’re having a lot of fun this year and keeping busy, and those are both good things. So, going into Pacific Rim, how familiar were you with this world before you came aboard the sequel, and then how did you end up immersing yourself in everything? Because there is a lot of mythology in terms of the Kaiju, the different Jaegers, and then everything else in this world.
Levi Meaden: Oh, yeah. I saw the original one opening day with my friend, so I was right there on board when the first one came out. But when it comes to this sequel, we had about a two-week rehearsal period way before shooting started where all the cadets and everybody came together in Australia just to meet with Steven [S. DeKnight, director] and with each other to build up our characters. It was there that we all started looking at the mythology, we started looking at the comic books and into all the different types of monsters, all the different breaches, and the timeline of these stories. I think we all knew the history of the world we were in pretty well. And then, in terms of the Jaegers from the first films, we all looked at them as if they were the heroes of this series, and that’s how we treated them.
So, I'd say we got pretty immersed in it. I remember the first day we stepped on set and we were actually in the Jaeger and in the army base, the sets just felt so massive. That's what made me really feel like I was actually living in this world.
Oh, that's really awesome, because I was going to ask when you guys were filming those scenes inside the Jaeger if you had to contend with a lot of green screen stuff. So, it’s great to hear that they gave you real environments to play around in.
Levi Meaden: I mean, obviously looking out into the cityscape or outside of the Jaeger, that was all green screen. But us in the actual cockpit, they built pretty much the head of every Jaeger. And they all had very specific identities, so they had different styles to them. Some of them had this fighter-type machinery where it was a little bit rougher in how they were built, and some of them were sleeker. So, everybody had kind of their own identity when you stepped into it. But, yeah, we really got to play around in those things.
There’s this whole concept to how the Jaegers work, where multiple entities have to work in tandem together on a physical level and mentally, too. How did you and Karan [Brar] work out that rhythm? And how much does it change your performance on a physical level when you are doing all these different things with the Jaegers?
Levi Meaden: We had a long training session where we met in person, just on gym mats, learning all the fight choreography and trying to get in sync. So, it was almost like a dance, where we had our stunt coordinator just doing claps that were on the beats that we moved on. It was like "1, 2, 1, 2." So that got us in the same place as far as miming each other. But as soon as we got on the treadmills where we actually had to do our fights, we found that our height difference was a bit of a problem.
So, there were a lot of adjustments with him having to make longer strides and me having to shorten up my strides just so we could stay in sync when we're running. So, it kind of changed a lot of our movements. We had to minimize them or make them bigger, depending on who was doing what. But we were also lucky. Karan and I had a good rapport right off the bat. We had the same sense of humor and could play off each other, which really helped us once we were actually in those scenes. We were together shooting them for a couple of days, so it was a good amount of time.
For Breaking In, can you talk about what your impressions of that project were coming into it and how your character fits into everything?
Levi Meaden: This is a genre I've always been a big fan of, whether it's a film like Panic Room or Hostage. These home invasion stories feel like they're smaller, more intimate, and I think that’s why they're easier to connect with, which is just a lot of fun to watch. So, when I heard about it, I was like, "Oh great, I would love to be a part of one of these, playing the bad guy that's invading this house." But when I got through the script and everything and realized I was the bad guy, but also was this moral center to the bad guys, that duplicity to it intrigued me, and it seemed like a fun role to take on.
And how was it working with James McTeigue? With both V for Vendetta and Ninja Assassin, I think he's directed some really interesting stuff, but this seems like more of a controlled project to me.
Levi Meaden: It's interesting to me, because both of those films were bigger and could rely on a lot of CGI if they had to. So, for Breaking In, I thought it was cool watching him work on a smaller genre film because he knew exactly what he wanted, so he was able to get a lot of coverage when we were shooting so he could have some options. But, having watched the film, I went out to see it with a big group, just because it’s the type of movie where you have to see everybody react to it, and it was just a lot of fun. I think James did a great job, and even though I was in it, he still took me along for the ride.