In this week’s BAM! POW! ZAP! breakout star Robert Kazinsky goes big with Pacific Rim and True Blood, and Nerdists’s the Course of the Force hits the road to Comic-Con in the name of a good cause.
Rob Kazinsky: Faerie, Jaeger and Rising Star
“It’s not a bad year,” says Robert Kazinsky, the British actor who’s suddenly one of the hottest breakout stars of genre-based Hollywood, with eye-catching turns on the big screen with Pacific Rim and on TV with True Blood. “It's been all right – I'm not complaining!”
The 29-year-old actor, who made his name on the BBC One soap EastEnders, began catching the eyes of American audiences earlier this summer with his addition to the cast of True Blood, playing… well, if you haven’t seen the big reveal yet, we won’t spoil it. But he’s just as excited about his role as the cocky Jaeger pilot behind one of the giant monster-fighting robots in director Guillermo del Toro’s giddily slam-bang film, which as a fan of blockbuster spectacle Kazinsky promises is the rare film that actually exceeds expectations. "Guillermo del Toro hasn't done a movie in four years, and this is going to blow everything out of the water.”
Kazinsky agrees the venerable giant monster/giant robot genre, harkening back to the Godzilla films of the Japanese studio Toho, is hard to do right. "Matthew Broderick's Godzilla back then was okay, Cloverfield was good but done from a different perspective, and Transformers is Transformers but those things all have great scale. You'll never see a sense of scale like this – I mean, throwing a 25-story tall alien through a building, and then that building collapsing: that's an insane visual that can only exist in the mind of somebody like Guillermo. And it comes off on-screen so very, very well… I'm big into my Korean, Japanese films, I'm a big fan of giant robots in general, and this gets it. I mean these robots are absolutely badass.”
Then there’s his season-long stint as Ben, Sookie Stackhouse’s new love interest…or something, as the show recently revealed. “He has a very dark side which you'll find out about,” Kazinski hints. He checked any skittishness over the show's infamous sex scenes at the door. “I gave up on that in the first minute!” he laughs. “I have gay sex scenes, straight sex scenes, and I wasn't prepared for any of them at all. I mean the nudity is so in your face as well. I've never done anything like that before. It was a massive step or me, but once you've done it once it's fine.”
Binding the Galaxy Together
As the fanboy/fangirl faithful prep for Comic-Con International in San Diego next week, the folks at Nerdist Industries are making the trek even more worthwhile with their second annual Course of the Force, a fun-filled lightsaber relay down the California coast to raise funds for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Last year the run to the world’s biggest fantasy fest fulfilled over 1,000 real-life dreams for children facing life-threatening illnesses.
And with the blessing of Lucasfilm, this year the Star Wars-themed relay will kick off July 9 at the earthbound portal to George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away. “This year we get to start at Skywalker Ranch – the spiritual home place, if you will, of a lightsaber,” says Nerdist Industries CEO Peter Levin. “Last year, we started in Santa Monica which was ambitious, one, but the fact that we get to begin this journey at Skywalker ranch is very, very exciting – mind-blowing.”
Course of the Force was Levin’s brainchild, an effort to raise charitable funds while drawing out the joy of the Con. “I was attending my 18th Comic-Con two years ago when I came up with the idea,” he says. Having run with the Olympic torch in '96 and with a lightsaber-obsessed son, "I thought, why don't we do an Olympic torch-style lightsaber relay?"
The power of the Force is hard to resist, Levin admits. “Last year I was running on the street at Venice in a Chewbacca costume in a Kings' Jersey – just to celebrate the championship – my wife was dressed as Princess Leia, my son was Anakin,” he recalls. "Over here was Jabba's pleasure barge on the back of a flatbed truck, you've got these 50-foot raft RVs carrying Yoda and Obi-Wan. It was nuts! It was absolutely nuts!”
This year Course of the Fource has legs in San Francisco, Santa Monica, Huntington Beach, Oceanside and San Diego through July 16 – along with themed, celebratory “Conivals” featuring live entertainment, expo booths, giveaways and more – with 100% of the $150 registration fees benefitting Make-a-Wish (to participate, visit http://www.starwars.com/courseoftheforce for details).