This week we've got a man with a direct line to some of the most fearsome threats on the intergalactic front, and a woman who's managed to warm the heart of one of the undead.
Neville Page: Bringing Extraterrestrials Down to Earth in Hollywood
Neville Page is a real-life alien overlord.
Having created some of the most iconic extraterrestrials of the moment, he's one of Hollywood's most in-demand creature designers--his A-list alien concepts have populated the worlds of Avatar, Green Lantern, Prometheus and Oblivion, among others. Page, who also serves as a judge on SyFy's makeup competition series Face Off, is perhaps most renowned for his ongoing collaborations with Bad Robot's J.J. Abrams in films including Cloverfield, Super 8 and the two Star Trek films.
A former industrial design consultant and art instructor, Page's signature works demonstrate both a keen biological, evolutionary sensibility and a canny sense of belonging to the specific fictional universe they populate. In the case of Star Trek, says Page, "at the end of the day, J.J.'s going to pick and choose what he feels is the envelope to push. However in terms of the franchise and the canon you still are being thoughtful to the audience, because a Star Trek creature is different than a Star Wars creature or a Men in Black creature."
Given the opportunity to reimagine the Klingons for Star Trek Into Darkness, Page says he relished the opportunity to learn the now-thriving Klingon language and study virtually every visual interpretation of the warrior race from Trek's nearly five-decade history.
"I just made sure that I knew everything I possibly could," Page explains of the four-month process that encompassed the Klingon rethinking, "so that when J.J. or the writers asked a question, I'd have an answer. I'll supply reasonable solutions and then J.J. can pick like, 'That one's way out there, Neville – I won't want to go that far. That one's too conservative, and this one – that's the one!'"
Page hopes the Klingons will get more screen time in future movies. "There's a lot of thought put into those Klingons. You do not see the rest of his body, the back of his head. And it is such a shame because there's so much fun stuff on there for legitimate reasons." One tip: look closely at the piercings lining the lead Klingon's forehead ridges: "They're Birds of Prey-inspired piercings," he reveals. "Take a very close look and you can kind of start to see the original Bird of Prey."
He reveals that the new Nibiru race that appears in the film's opening sequence was initially envisioned as a fully digital creation. But when budget dollars had to be shifted around to accommodate other sequences, Page and Abrams envisioned hiring young aspiring female models to play the tall, rail-thin male warriors. "In the end, we hired one guy who became our Nibiran," he says, and he used various makeup schemes to create an off-kilter effect for the almost-but-not-quite-look-alike aliens.
Page's partnership with Abrams began while he was working with director James Cameron on Avatar. He began to receive a series of calls from the writer-director, then better known for his TV efforts – but not to Page, who routinely blew him off until he finally Googled Abrams, thinking him an aspiring filmmaker. "I realized, 'You f***ing idiot, Neville – do your research!" he laughs now. "I had no idea who J.J. Abrams was. I didn't know Felicity or LOST."
Page is crossing his fingers that his particular like mind will be tapped for Abrams' next project, the highly anticipated sequel to George Lucas' Star Wars films. Even if the gig doesn't end up as his, "the one request I will make of J.J. is just please, let me come on set one day," he says. "If there's a Death Star or if there's a Tatooine or even if there's a C-3PO –I just want to come by and stand there and look at it. That's all."
Teresa Palmer: Hoping Warm Bodies Enjoys an Afterglow
While you're waiting for the Australian actress Teresa Palmer to make her next big-screen appearance (you can see her now in this week's well-received limited-release Wish You Were Here, and later this year opposite Christian Bale and Natalie Portman in director Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups), check out her zombie romantic comedy Warm Bodies, one of the most inventive, endearing films of the year out now on Blu-ray.
"The script made me laugh," Palmer says of the tale of two star-crossed lovers in a postapocalyptic world, one of whom (Nicholas Hoult) happens to be one of the walking dead. "I thought it was such an interesting concept, something that I've never seen done before. I loved it didn't take itself too seriously, yet it still had a lot to say about society and what's going on today in a really fun and underlying way. My character is sassy and brave and she's like the heartbeat of this world. She really still has that light inside of her which hasn't been dimmed despite this dismal community she's living in. And I love that they breathe life back into each other, and it's just a beautiful love story."
Palmer hopes the film continues to move audiences. "From my interactions with people over Twitter and on the street – everyone seems to have been really moved and touched by this movie. And if it ends up being a cult classic, I'll be so happy. It is the film that I'm most proud of that I've done, and it has such a place in my heart. Who knows? One day, it would be nice if there ever was a Warm Bodies 2. You'd get to see what happens to Julie and R again."
Until then, she returned to the world of the fantastic mixed with the intimate in the indie Parts Per Billion, which centers on the reality-shaking consequences of an epic man-made biological disaster. "It's about these three couples at different stages of their lives who are facing this impending doom, and what that does to our love, and it really is a love story," she explains. "It was heartfelt and special, and writer-director Brian Horiuchi really let me inject a lot of my own essence and spirit into this character."