Friday, June 1, 2018

|Podcast| Rampage - Jason Liles Interview


Photo Credit: Brian Parillo

Born in Memphis, TN on the 4th of July, 6'9" JASON LILES and his older brother, Jordan, were film fanatics from an early age. As kids, they acted on their passion by making dozens of short films -- many outstanding -- regularly as kids with a handycam. It wasn't until 2008 that he began studying theatre in college and declared it his major. He moved to New York in 2009 to pursue a career in the arts.

The first gig that Jason booked was with seven-time Oscar®winning makeup artist Rick Baker on “Men In Black III” playing several aliens throughout the production. Jason joined the union shortly after he was cast in a national Allstate commercial just before the SAG-AFTRA merger in 2012. This also landed him his first representation, both theatrical and commercial.

Jason's roles in “MIB III” created a niche for him as a creature actor and helped him book over a dozen roles the following year getting to work side by side on a film with his hero, Doug Jones ("The Shape of Water," “Pan's Labyrinth"). His inspiration from Jones and singular Andy Serkis (Planet of the Apes franchise) is seen in Liles' detailed performances and exceptional effectiveness.



JEANBOOKNERD PODCAST 2018: EPISODE TWO
JOURNALIST: MARK JOHNSON
GUEST: JASON LILES
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Before production began in April of 2017, Liles dedicated himself to a full 6 months of preparation: studying gorillas' physicality, their psyche, their modes of both vocal and non-vocal communication, and training on ape "arm extensions" in the Santa Monica Mountains at the hand of King Kong himself, Terry Notary perfecting the art of a character enhanced by motion capture. He soon became the frontrunner for the incredibly demanding role of 'George,' best friend to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's primatologist 'Davis Okoye' in the forthcoming Warner Bros.' blockbuster, Rampage, directed by Brad Peyton (“San Andreas”) helms from a screenplay by Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J. Condal, and Adam Sztykiel with a story by Ryan Engle. Jason has earned critical raves for his performance. 

In the film, Johnson portrays a primatologist who keeps people at a distance, but shares a bond with Jason's character, 'George,' a silverback gorilla who has been in his care since birth. But a rogue genetic experiment mutates the gentle ape into a raging creature of enormous size — along with other similarly altered animals across North America, destroying everything in their path. #1 at the box office over its opening weekend worldwide, "Rampage," which also stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Joe Manganiello, Naomie Harris and Malin Akerman alongside P.J. Byrne, Marley Shelton, Breanne Hill, Jack Quaid, and Jake Lacey, is expected to dominate for weeks to come.



What The Critics are Saying... about JASON LILES ('George') in RAMPAGE

"An emotional and stellar performance as 'George' in “Rampage” [directly] next to one of the biggest and most bankable actors currently working in Hollywood [Dwayne Johnson]. Beatrice Verhoeven, The Wrap

"...Jason Liles is the heart and soul of this film." Rafael Motomayor, Flickering Myth

[Liles is "incredibly gifted with comedic timing" Dave Trumbore, Collider

- "best since Andy Serkis' King Kong" Chris Klimek, NPR "Liles’ performance capture is really good...it’s one of 'Rampage’s' strengths. Fred Topel, Monsters and Critics

..."hard not to love [George], thanks to the performance-capture magic of actor Jason Liles. Peter Travers, Rolling Stone 

"The best video game movie ever....Johnson and his gorilla pal (played by Jason Liles via motion-capture) share genuine chemistry. Scott Mendelson, Forbes

"[Jason Liles as] 'George' is fantastic, fueling the movie forward with his indelible relationship with The Rock's character." Movie Fone

"Jason has been studying gorillas for months preparing for this role maserinng movement, body language, and all emotions - joy, pain, sadness, love, aggression etc. It's insane when you get around this man and how he's able to brilliantly embody a gorilla. (sic)." "The Rock" to Landmark Cinemas

"Rampage is massive, 'Rampage' is fun, but the one thing that 'Rampage is about more than anything is the one thing that makes the difference which is the relationship I have with my best friend, 'George,' played absolutely brilliantly and to perfection by Jason Liles." Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson on Jimmy Kimmel


'RAMPAGE' STAR JASON LILES TELLS US WHY DWAYNE JOHNSON WAS HIS 'HAN SOLO'

 George from “Rampage” isn’t just another CGI monster. There’s a real actor breathing life into the albino gorilla. And what motion capture performer Jason Liles had to endure in Dwayne Johnson’s latest film was sheer agony, he told TheWrap. 

“I started studying my butt off,” Liles said. “Watching hours of docs, going to the zoo, watching behind-thescenes shots of ‘Planet of the Apes,’ and anything Andy Serkis and Terry Notary were in.”

Weeks and months went by before Liles got a phone call to meet with Notary, an accomplished mo-cap actor who joined the project as choreographer, to train for the part. Once they got together, it became clear that Liles was more than prepared. After Notary gave him homework, Liles would say, “Yeah, I’ve already done that.”

“This wasn’t pretending to be a gorilla,” Liles explained. “We’re so close at our core to apes that what we have to do is ask ourselves, ‘what makes us human?’ It’s our training — how we interact with people and taking them and we just have the shed that training until we get down to a blank slate to what used to be an ape. And then we built a character from there.”

Both the physical and mental training to play George was strenuous, Liles said. In one scene, primatologist David Okoye (played by Johnson) discovers that his beloved gorilla friend George had grown dramatically over night. And of course, George doesn’t understand what’s going on with his body. To capture the emotion of confusion, Liles had to stage a panic attack, which, he said, took a toll.

“I’m one percent of a panic attack at the beginning of this scene and then I’m at 100 percent, take after take after take,” he said. “It was 15 hours, then 19 hours, of manifesting a panic attack, feeling like an alien chest burster was coming out of your chest. I had panic attacks as a kid so I knew where to draw from. George’s DNA is mutating and that has to hurt. He’s doubled in size and weight overnight, and he’s aghast, in pain, and constantly questioning himself: ‘Did I do something to deserve this?’ That’d be terrifying.”



RAMPAGE' STAR WENT METHOD TO PLAY GORILLA
Jason Liles studied apes for months before playing George, and he stayed in character between takes: "I would stare down people until they were uncomfortable."

Rampage star Jason Liles really went ape for his latest role.

For his emotional performance-capture role as George, an albino gorilla who's best friends with The Rock, Liles studied gorillas for months and even stayed in character on set between takes.

Liles worked with stars he admires like Dwayne Johnson (primatologist Davis Okoye) and Oscar-nominee Naomie Harris (Dr. Kate Caldwell), but he didn't have time to pal around with his co-stars on set. He had to tackle demanding scenes in which director Brad Peyton asked him to play a gorilla who's not only having a panic attack while inside a cage, but also is freaked out because he's growing to an incredible size after some genetic experimentation.

"[It was] very Daniel Day Lewis-esque. Not to that extent where it's 24/7, but there were scenes where it was hours and hours — crying, snot coming out of my face — and just holding it and staying in a pan ic attack. It was exhausting," says the actor of staying in character. "Makeup would come over and try to clean me up. I would just brush their hand away. 'Leave it. Leave it alone if it's not messing up the makeup.'"

Liles, who is six-foot-nine, got the role in part thanks to Colin Strause, the film's visual effects supervisor. The two worked together on Netflix's Death Note, and Strause advocated for Liles to play George. Before filming, Liles spent months studying gorillas, and then moved on to three weeks of training with Kong: Skull Island's Terry Notary in the Santa Monica mountains.
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