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“The greatest video game trailer of all time!” isn’t a
phrase that you hear often. But that title was stamped earlier this year on the
DEAD ISLAND trailer (which doesn’t contain actual game footage) that sparked a
global phenomenon, attracting millions within its first few days on YouTube
(see it below).
It has been a unique experience watching all this mayhem
from a fan’s point of view, but what about for those who were involved? You
don’t really think about it, but the CGI trailer had to start with real human
actors who were later digitized. Fango had the pleasure of catching up with one
of those unsung heroes, Drew Horsley, who is credited as the “Badass Dad.“
FANGORIA: Pretend we have no idea what DEAD ISLAND is; would
you explain it to us?
DREW HORSLEY: DEAD ISLAND is the massively anticipated
zombie computer game from Techland. The announcement trailer in which I play
the “Badass Dad” was released on the Internet a month ago to an astounding
reception. So far, it has accrued 3.9 million hits on YouTube, had very
positive global press coverage and set the computer world alight.
FANG: That’s some accomplishments for a game that hasn’t
even come out yet! So tell us a little about yourself and how you got the role of
HORSLEY: I am a British film actor, 34, and from Newcastle
in the North of England. I started my career the ‘90s as a classical stage
actor performing with theater companies, such as the Royal Shakespeare Company,
but, these days, my focus is mainly on film work. I usually play dark as sin
characters, so the DEAD ISLAND trailer was right up my street. My most notable
role is probably the gritty British drama IN OUR NAME, starring alongside Mel
Raido, [THE INFORMERS] and Joanne Froggatt [ROBIN HOOD, LIFE ON MARS]. I was
approached out of the blue by Axis animation. They had seen my photo on-line
and thought I could be a zombie-slaying Dad. They were, of course, totally
FANG: Where did filming take place and how long did it all
HORSLEY: The actual filming took two days and was filmed in
a warehouse in Oxford, England. However, the real magic was performed by the
guys at Axis. It took them months of solid work to produce what turned out to
be a global success and work of bloody genius.
FANG: Did anyone involved expect the trailer to be such a
HORSLEY: Certainly not in the beginning. I don’t think
anyone could have predicted how it took the Internet by storm. As far as I
knew, the game was to have a limited release in America by a small gaming firm.
This was blown out of the water, however, when the trailer was unleashed on the
unsuspecting public. There have been rumors of a major Hollywood blockbuster,
and the game itself is set to become one of the best selling Xbox games ever.
To be fair, though, it deserves every accolade it gets. It is a remarkable
piece of work.
FANG: Tell us the process you had to go through to become a
badass CGI dad. I assume there was a lot of motion capture going on?
HORSLEY: The whole thing was done as motion capture. Which
is the technique used in many major blockbuster films like IRON MAN, KING
KONG, THE LORD OF THE RINGS and countless others. Every character was played by
a highly experienced actor. They were masters of their craft and made it a very
real and frightening environment.
We acted out the action in a warehouse on a grid wearing
black lycra catsuits covered in luminous bobbles which allowed the specialized
cameras to track our every movement and convert it to CGI. In essence, the
process was very much the same as shooting a film. We rehearsed and
choreographed the scene on set and then performed the whole thing again and
again until the director finally called a wrap.
It was, as you can imagine, a pretty intense and physically
demanding role to play, especially when you consider that my daughter was
played, not by a little girl, but by a petite stuntwomen.
The ax was actually a snooker cue with foam taped to the
end, but I still managed to kick serious zombie ass with it.
Then we did facial capture. This basically entails
standing/sitting very still with cameras all round your head and acting out the
whole scene just in your face, i.e. the emotional journey. This is a fairly new
innovation in cinematic media. It is very challenging for the actor, but
The whole process was highly realistic and the actors were
on the top of their game. To be honest, it was pretty bloody freaky in there.
FANG: Has this opened any acting doors for you?
HORSLEY: This is the real kicker. Even though the trailer
has gone global and is astronomically successful, the offers are not rolling
in. The harsh truth is no one has any idea who the actors are, or even that
actors were used and are an integral part of the equation. We are the silent
heroes of DEAD ISLAND! If you want to see the Badass Dad in the game, then make
your voices heard! As for reprising the role on film? I would love the
opportunity to get a second chance to kick the ever-loving crap out of those
undead mothers. If Hollywood does come a knocking, like the zombie badass dad
is trying to avoid becoming, I will bite their hands off!
FANG: Do you have any upcoming projects?
HORSLEY: Got a few films and commercials in the pipeline.
Still waiting for George Romero to call, though!
FANG: Speaking of which, what are some of your favorite
HORSLEY: Like all horror film fans, I want to be scared out
of my tiny little mind. Suspense is the key for me. Kubrick’s THE SHINING is a
master class in building tension, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON is a bloody
classic and, of course, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE is seminal. Guillermo del
Toro has made a few great horrors. THE ORPHANAGE was fantastic. The first SAW
film was a nerve shredder. And the French epic, BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF, was an
FANG: What about favorite video games?
HORSLEY: DOOM and DUKE NUKEM were mind-blowing at the time,
but at the moment, HALO 3 and SILENT HILL are where my head is at.
FANG: How you would survive a zombie apocalypse?
HORSLEY: Who you gonna call? Zombiebusters! My ax is
sharpened and I am ready and waiting for the brain-dead freaks.
FANG: Is there anything else you’d like to say to the fans?
HORSLEY: Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who watched
the trailer! You guys made it worthwhile. I would also ask you to continue your
support by calling for the Badass family to be in the game. It would be crazy
for them not get their revenge on the porter and bikini girl!
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