Michael DeVorzon Hitting the BIG SCREEN with Hollywood Icon Bruce Willis in Deadlock!

Michael DeVorzon - side photo-minDeadlock is a December release. Tell me about the film.
Deadlock is an action movie starring Patrick Muldoon and Bruce Willis, and I was lucky enough to play the role of Smith. If I was to sum the movie up in one sentence, I would say it’s about a man, a father’s destructive attempted vengeance, and that character’s Ron, which is played by Bruce Willis.

Let’s talk about your character Smith. I mean, he’s all over the film. This guy’s everywhere. Really?
Thanks. Yeah, actually, when I saw it, I watched it a couple of times. The first time I went through it pretty quickly, and then the second time I sat and I watched the whole thing. I would come in for a scene and then I would go, Well, I guess I won’t see myself to the very end of the film. Then I would be there again, I go, Hey, wait, I’m there again. So it was even a surprise to me how involved he was, I guess, just because, I shot it back in January, February, and you kind of forget, and you get lost in the story. I was really honored.

When you were filming it, did it feel like it was just an itty bitty roll?
No, no, it didn’t. But, I knew he was very involved and once Bruce’s character floods this energy plant, I’m in the room with him throughout the entire movie

I knew I had a lot of stuff coming off of a few of the films that I have found recently, where I was the lead, I was involved so much. And I was very grateful for the role, but I was like, okay, so I’m moderately involved. And then, when you actually come back to watch the movie, you’re like, I filmed it.

I remember I had that scene with, what’s his name and then you don’t know exactly what’s going to make it in, what might be cut or what might be slimmed down. So I wasn’t sure. And I guess I just kind of let it go because we filmed it back then. To see how involved he was and how much they kept coming back to him was great.

Is there something you brought to the character, like a piece of you?
Well, I always bring a piece of myself to every character that I do. It needs to feel real for me and personal. I need to bring whatever light, whatever color, whatever shade of myself that I have that can connect to that character.

For Smith, I knew what my objective was and what the stakes were. I knew they were really high, as people were losing their lives, and that more people were going to lose their lives. And I just put myself in that situation and tried to stay as present as I could in every scene with the actors that I was working opposite of and just let my instincts take over.

deadlock - poster-minSo you basically got to be face to face with Bruce Willis. I mean, it’s not every day you get to act alongside someone like Bruce. Tell me about that experience.
Oh Man, it was like a dream come true. I was just so excited and also a little bit afraid at the same time, thinking, “This is amazing. Oh, shit,” it was kind of a combination of those two things, but more excited. I happen to be the first actor when Bruce arrived. On his first day of filming, I happened to be the first actor that got called to set to do a scene with him. Now ask me if I wanted that to happen.

The answer is no. I was thinking send in some other actors to do some scenes with him. Let them get warmed up. Let me think, but they’re like Bruce on set. Okay, Michael, we need you and I thought I was gonna have a little more time to basically lose my mind in anticipation of working opposite Bruce Willis.

So we walked to set and I just said okay, here we go. Oh, this is it, this is it, the big man is gonna be in that building, waiting for me. So I just came in and fortunately, he’s very gracious and very down to earth. And I just kind of tried to keep my feet grounded into the earth and we started doing our scenes, and we had a lot of fun and it was cool. Ultimately, you look across the table, and it’s just another human being and another actor, doing the best that they can. Once I got my feet wet, then I wasn’t so intimidated. After doing the scene, I would come back to where we all were, and I would see some of the actors looking pretty crazy, because they’re about to go work opposite of Bruce. So I tried to lend a supporting word or two on that, basically, when it comes down to it, we’re all humans we’re all doing the best we can.

I think the thing with Bruce is he’s got this reputation for these intense films. There’s a huge catalogue of intense films. So you picture him as this almost like a superhero kind of actor. So that can be intimidating.
Absolutely, yes. He’s a mega movie star. I really admire his work. I remember the first time I met him, it was at my friend’s birthday party. It was a small gathering of about 30 people, and he was holding my friend’s newborn baby on a balcony of a hotel in Hollywood. I was watching him and I was like, the guy is so cool that even when he’s holding a baby, he looks like a superhero.

So I introduced myself to him, and I said, How do you do it? And what I meant was, basically, how are you so incredible on screen? And how are you so cool? Like, you’re just, you’re just that. That’s what I meant. But I think he thought I meant how do you hold babies? Because he said, a lot of practice. (laughter) I should have been a little more specific with that question.

I think a lot of the press that’s going to evolve around this movie is that Bruce is the bad guy. He’s the Hans Gruber, of this movie. And it’s coming out in December. Die Hard was a December film, so I threw the Hans Gruber comparison in there, just because it’s really odd to see him in the bad evil character almost. What was that like on set? That’s different for him, right?
You’re absolutely right. When I think of Bruce, I always think of him as the hero saving the day. The badass hero, who’s saving the day. I think he’s probably played a bad guy occasionally. But it’s pretty rare. So that was something that really appealed to me on the script and on the project was something different. We always see Bruce as this hero, and now he’s gonna play a very, disturbing kind of bad guy that’s on a quest for vengeance. He has his reasons, and it’s relatable as to why someone would be so upset but yeah, I thought that was really an interesting thing to be part of a movie where Bruce was going to be the villain and not the hero. So on set I would just focus on my side of the street, I was just trying to fulfill what I needed to do and help facilitate when we were doing scenes together to help get the most real and honest performance that we can get out of them. When we yell cut, he’d be kind of cracking a smile or a joke and we did do a little improvising with our scenes and they kept some of it. So that was cool. There was no difference whether he was playing the hero or the villain, we were just approaching it scene by scene.

Deadlock - screenshot1-minTell me about one of the improvs that made it.
There are two, the one that I can remember immediately off the top of my head, which is in the trailer, which you only hear my voice, and we had a scene that was going back and forth, back and forth. Some of that same guy got cut. But my last line to him is, “You’re crazy man”, and he basically just in the moment improvised. “You should try a little bit of crazy” in your life and they kept that in there. I can’t remember the other one.

This movie had a fairly decent budget. Is this one of your larger productions?
It is. Yes.

What are some of the differences that you noticed from the big budgets compared to the much lower ones?
Well, usually, time is always the thing that everybody wants and needs, and you need money, to have time. In addition to your sets, how many locations and all of that stuff. The more time you have, the more you can put into getting these scenes exactly, the way you want them, or the way that the director and the actors work together to get them.

If you don’t have the time, you just have to move at a much swifter pace. Now, this was a bigger budget movie. A big part of that reason is having Bruce on board, but we still had to really move quickly in this movie, so we didn’t necessarily have the luxury of time that you would sometimes get in some bigger budgets.

We shot with two cameras. So coverage was happening simultaneously having multiple actors. So you had to really stay prepared, and stay flexible, and scenes could be changed like that, we’re going to do this scene instead of that one.

So I had kind of been groomed in the last couple of years in doing some of these films, where we moved really quickly, very efficient, and you had to stay flexible. This was still that experience, staying on your toes and staying prepared.

I noticed not all actors, but many actors always pay attention when they’re on set, and they’ve learned something from each set. Did you learn anything from this one?
What was so great about this one, I mean, I’ve been really lucky to last a couple of years, to be on a roll, to have done eight movies in the last two years, and working with great people, and very down to earth people that all had just a common goal, which was to get the best piece of work that we could do with the time that we have.

This one was just an elevated level of incredible people from the wardrobe, people in hair and makeup, the producers, the cinematographer, the camera people, the stunt guy, all the actors and the director, Jared Cohen, who I’ve had the luxury of doing a number of films with where everybody there had a really high quality level of work and professionalism, combined with no ego. I didn’t see ego once the entire film.

Everybody was just cool with a great attitude. It was really great to be in that kind of environment. Learning, the biggest thing for me I learned a lot in relation to where I am and where the camera is and different little things and I learned a lot from working opposite other actors sometimes. I have quite a few scenes with Matthew Marsden, who’s an actor from the UK.

We got on famously but he was very interesting to work with and it was a dance. So I learned a lot from working with my other actors as well.

Was there a fun or funny moment that you had onset that you can share?
Let’s see, there was no shortage of laughs. We always have a laugh. I’m always looking for the laugh, no matter how serious the material is.

The thing that stands out to me is Matthew who plays one of the main bad guys that’s working with Bruce. We just got along really well. We always had the comedic banter going on with us.

There was a scene coming up and we were thinking of a way that we could bring some humor into it. Since we were just riffing and improving together, we went to the director and said, Hey, what do you think about in this scene, which is a very dramatic scene, we do this? And he was like, No, but I like you guys in a buddy comedy adventure, you know?

Other than that, I remember the door, anytime when Bruce came to set, the energy just went up. I remember we were getting ready to do a scene and someone was rushing to get to the set, because no one wants to keep the big man waiting. Right? I mean, this is just a perspective. But I happened to be standing on the other side of the door, and the door just flew open and it hit me. I don’t remember where it hit me. But it left a mark. And I thought, Ah, okay, do not stand in front of that door anymore.

That goes right back to the superhero, Bruce Willis, we were talking about everybody has to be on. It’s like that crazy energy.
Yeah, it was so interesting to watch that happen and how real it was of starting the film, filming a couple of days. And then Bruce is arriving today. And then Bruce is on set today. And then suddenly, I just thought, god that is so interesting. We were all affected by it, and everybody wanted to make sure that he felt at ease with us, and that we were all doing our jobs. So yeah, it’s amazing how that happens.

Alien Conquest - poster-minI want to ask about the film “War the Worlds” 2021, A.K.A “Alien Conquest” is what it was called, as well. I love alien movies. And of course, the HG Wells original story is just incredible. What do you remember about that film and making it?
It was a lot of fun. I play the dad of the lead girl, and we have a daughter together. It was a supporting role. But, I had some good scenes and I just remember that we were taking it scene by scene.

They did a really good job with special effects in that movie, which of course, I didn’t get to see a lot of it but there is one scene where in defense I kill an alien. I was working with thin air, basically, until they put that in. But it was fun.

I do remember we shot one day at some ranch in Malibu, early in the morning, and it was cold. California cold, you may say because you’re in Canada, but I’m telling you, their lips were turning blue, and their teeth were chattering, it was cold. So I remember that I was looking at the girls who played the daughter and my wife, and they were freezing and I’m like, it’s legitimately cold, isn’t it? But we did the scene that way. Just said, let’s go.

Tell me about the Alien and the killing. It’s got to be hard acting when it’s all special effects?
We had scenes looking out the car window and seeing the aliens there. So that’s not difficult, right? They’re quite a ways away and then you have other reaction shots where the alien is coming at the window and starting to slither in.

You have to kind of pretend like the alien is coming even though in the moment, there’s nothing happening. And when I attack the alien, like I said, I’m attacking thin air. But the stakes were really high, my daughter is yelling. When we went into that scene, the stakes are really high, the energy was really high, so I just pretended there was an invader coming in, whether it was an alien or not, and that I was going to attack this invader to protect my daughter.

If you have a chance to do more films, would you choose Sci-Fi or Action, if you could just choose one genre?
Shooting from the cuff, I’m open, but I would probably say action.

What is it about the action films?
Not in all action films, but in a lot of them, I think of cars. And I love cars. I love driving. I’m a pretty good driver. I’ve done some stunt driving. So that’s one thing that comes to mind is the action movie that I did prior to this called “Fast and Fierce: Death Race”. It’s an action movie centered around cars. Action fun because you really get your adrenaline going. But I’m all about a great role, where I can show some different colors as a character, as a human. That’s the most appealing, so whether it’s a sci-fi or was an action, or it was a love story, or was it drama. I would like to do more comedy, because I haven’t had a chance to do that much comedy. I’m a big fan of comedy. Comedy is actually what made me want to be an actor.

Is comedy more difficult? Is that why it just never falls in your lap?
I do think it’s more difficult. Yeah, absolutely. I think what actors that are really, really good with comedy are able to do, it’s a different muscle. It’s a special kind of gift of timing. I think they are more difficult to get those roles in comedies, but I think you know, there’s different levels. They’s sitcom comedy, like Frasier and Seinfeld, and stuff like that. Then there’s “The Hangover”, which is like a comedy adventure. I think that would be an easier jump or something like that. But what they do on those sitcoms, it’s a special kind of thing that they do. I’m a big fan of the old Pink Panther movies. That’s what made me want to be an actor. Some people think I’m funny, I go, Sure. I’d love to get a chance to exercise that muscle a little bit.

When you first started out, you had parts in shows like Melrose Place, Beverly Hills 90210, some of those types of shows. What was the production that changed that route because you could have permanently ended up in that route?
I was lucky enough to have my first job on the show Melrose Place. I worked in production for three seasons and learned a little bit about the TV business and what goes on behind the scenes and ironically enough, met Patrick Muldoon on one of those seasons he was on the show. He was the lead in this movie “Deadlock”, and after all these years to be doing a movie with him was really surreal to be in Georgia with him. I hadn’t seen him in 16 years. It was fun doing those shows “90210”, “Melrose Place” and “Charmed”.

My career has been kind of unusual in the sense of, it’s been unpredictable. There hasn’t been a really clear path of doing one thing, I’ve kind of just been open, and I’ve done what’s come down the road. I’ve done some really big commercials that got me a lot of exposure.

I never had a vision exactly like I want to do just action movies and stuff like that, and I don’t want to do TV. You just never know when your break is going to come or when your rise is going to come.

I think that’s the big lesson is if someone’s an actor, and they want to do this more than anything, hang in there, keep showing up, do the work. And you wait for your moment.

A lot of it has to do with luck, it’s being in the right place at the right time. But once that door opens, it can really lead to a lot of other things. And that’s what happened to me a couple of years ago as I auditioned for this movie, and I kinda was a little bit at a dead end with my career, I was actually focusing more on writing.

I’ve written four screenplays now. At the time, I was really focused on this one screenplay that I had written to get it produced. And acting was kind of like secondary and if the phone rang great, but I decided to audition for this movie, and that started the momentum of eight movies. Eight movies later, I’m on a career high demand, working on a movie with Bruce Willis.

A Stalker In The House - poster-minWe talked about the big budget of the Bruce Willis film, your current film, “A Stalker in the House” is on the other end of that spectrum. But it turned out really well. There’s a lot of intensity in that film. A lot of those stalker movies can have such crazy intense scenes, and I think this one captured it really well. Tell me about that film.
You saw that one? Okay. So “Stalker in the House” is basically about boy meets girl, and things don’t go exactly as one party would like it to go, and then the stalking ensues. I knew the two actors that played those roles.

We did a movie together before and I’ve worked with the director, Jerry Cohen again. I had a supporting role. I don’t want to say easy, it wasn’t easy, I take everything I do, whether it’s a supporting role, lead role very seriously, and I want to do as good of work as I can do. So I definitely threw myself into it.

But I was watching them and how much work they had to do. And I was really feeling them. Because I was like, Are you guys losing your mind yet? I was sitting around a lot of the time. I’d come in and do a little scene, relax, come in and do a little scene.

In that character, I’m the, the ex-boyfriend who comes back into the picture with the female lead, and ultimately has a face off with the stalker. Approaching that role, I just wanted to come in initially and be a good guy, and to be a guy who had made a mistake and leaving this woman and to try to make peace with her and try to make it work and to sort of really show that that loving romantic leading man type work.

That was one part of it, and then the other part of it was when I faceoff with a stalker, then you see another side of this character, which is, I’m going to defend myself, I’m going to defend my girl and don’t mess with me. Again that one we were shooting real quickly I’m pretty sure we had two cameras going on. Anytime you have two cameras going, you can just move through scenes a lot quicker. So we had two cameras going and it was fun. Every character is fun. I learned something doing every character.

You briefly touched on what I want to ask next. But you were talking about the other characters in that movie and how intense they were getting. Have you ever had a role where you were done the scene but the emotion stayed with you for a while?
Definitely, I would say that happened on “Fast and Furious: Death Race”, where I was the lead actor, and there are some very emotional, poignant scenes in that movie, even though it’s an action movie with lots of action, driving, guns and madness.

Fast & Fierce Death Race - poster-minI felt like, I’m going to be okay with these action scenes and the driving but these scenes are going to require some pretty serious emotion.

There’s an emotional scene in that movie where someone dies in my character’s arms. I gave it everything I had, and we were moving so quickly, so I didn’t have a lot of time and the emotion was there. I was very grateful that the emotion was there.

I recall that evening after we wrapped and we were driving home, as I was driving offset, I had tears running down my face and they stayed with me for a while.

I think it was part of going through such an emotional scene and also part just being so grateful that the emotion was there when I needed it to be.

Then I did a horror thriller film called “Nix” which is coming up I think next year, and there were some emotional scenes in that and I remember driving home from that set and getting choked up as well.

Let’s liven it up a little bit. I want to go back to your very first time on set as an actor. What was it and what do you remember?
Oh God, Oh God, where is the footage of that? What great footage that would be. So my very first role that ended up getting cut was on Melrose Place.

I’ve been on production for a few years and they knew I was studying acting and that I wanted to be an actor, so they gave me a shot to do this role. It was a really small role of a delivery guy with a couple of lines and it was literally my first time ever doing a roll, on a show with a camera.

I had a clipboard and I had a pencil and I was delivering a package to two of the leads. I think it was Andrew Shue, but I said okay, here we go, I’ve got my clipboard I’ve got my pencil, these are the other actors and when they yell action I’m going to go in, I’m going to say my lines ‘I’ve got a delivery for so and so’, I have them sign it here and I’m going to walk away and we’re going to live happily ever after.

So what happened on the first take was they yelled action and I walked into set and said my line and I think I had the actress sign the clipboard and then I dropped the pencil on the floor and you know, I’m in the moment, I dropped the pencil on the floor.

So I leaned down and I picked the pencil up and then I walk off. But anyways, when I dropped the pencil, the whole crew started just laughing.

I knew they loved me and I loved that we were like family, so I wasn’t offended, but they did genuinely start laughing and they said, Okay, let’s do it again and try not to drop the pencil this time.

On the second take, I did it, and I didn’t drop the pencil.

That’s one of those funny things because you think about it in real life. A delivery guy could drop the pencil. Right? But on TV? You can’t ever. The guy’s not gonna drop the pencil.

Nix - poster-minYou mentioned “Nix”, what is up next for you, after “Deadlock”?
“A Stalker in the House”, as you know, came out. There’s a new thriller that I did called “A Daughter’s Deceit”, that is supposed to be coming out. I think it’ll probably come out next year.

I don’t know exactly what the plans are with that. But I think it’ll be a pretty good movie. We got a good cast, and that was a lot of fun. So there’s “Nix” which is should be coming out in 2022. I just did a small part on an Eric Roberts kind of monster movie. Not a monster movie like a giant killer snake. It’s called “Mega Boa”. I think that actually comes at the end of December.

There was a small role they wrote in after they finished principal photography. But it was a really good scene. I liked it a lot. So that should be coming out in December. Other than that, I just finished my fourth screenplay, which is a thriller, and talking to the guys, we’re trying to move forward with that. I’m really looking to spend more time writing right now and also staying open to the possibilities of acting.

So what kind of stuff do you write? This one’s a thriller.
The first thing I wrote was a drama with some really strong Cuckoo’s Nest type comedic moments. But definitely a very serious drama. That was the first screenplay I wrote. The second one is a buddy comedy adventure.

There’s your comedy film.
Yeah, and I’m supposed to be in it. I keep telling the guys I think the script is so good. Let’s just step out of it and see if we can get it made with some really big actors.
But that movie is called “Manila Meltdown”. It takes place in the Philippines. It’s a really fun script. Its like “The Hangover” meets “Rounders” type movie. That was the second one I wrote.

The third one I wrote is a Hallmark love story. It’s a small town love story, something different, something I’ve never done before.

So I kind of studied that mold of those Hallmark Christmas stories and love stories and tried to write something that was like that. Then the fourth one, which is also the first time is an attempt to write a thriller.

And it’s a thriller where the female is the villain.

 

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