Exclusive: Joe Reegan talks Alien Outpost and Super Heroes

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This week, ComicBook.com caught up with Joe Reegan (The Crazies, Chicago P.D.) for an exclusive interview to discuss his new IFC film, Alien Outpost, and of course a little bit about super heroes.

I've been looking at this Alien Outpost film. The effects look awesome, the plot looks intense. You're all over it. I can probably describe what it's about from seeing the trailer and reading the synopsis, but I think we all would rather hear it from your perspective. What's it about? And what is your characters role?

Basically, the back story of the film is that it's set about 15 years into the future, so not that far off into some crazy 100 years from now, it's set in 2030. The back story of the film and where it starts off is after a mass genocide of the human race because this unidentified alien species trying to inhabit Earth. And because of that, all of the nations, all over the world, are kind of band together into one whole army and form this organization called USDF, which stands for United Space Defense Force, basically to defeat this species that tries to attack Earth. So, the "heavies" as they're referred to in the film retreat, but there are thousands of their soldiers still left inhabiting Earth, kind of in, I guess you can make a direct parallel to sleep cells, you know? Throughout Earth. The USDS sets up a series of outposts all over the world to help protect the Earth's atmosphere and set up, almost a forcefield, like a shield to prevent any sort of unidentified objects or creatures from coming and invading Earth again. So basically, then, the story follows a small unit of elite USDS marine soldiers o this journey to this one specific outpost in one of the more dangerous regions of the world. We follow the journey of these 5 or 6 guys. It's a great ensemble cast. You get to know a lot of the soldiers much more than I think it eludes to in the trailer. You get to see these guys and what it's like in this post-apocalyptic world. It's more of a character study than I think people will initially think.

What is your characters role exactly? It looks like he's in the army fighting off this last horde of aliens, what is his role? Is he a specialist of any kind?

You know what is great? Jabbar and Blake who wrote the script.. The dialogue and the back story of my character, who's name is Alex Omohundro, they left a lot of it up to me to decide. Obviously, they wrote in the script some very specific stuff, but I end up playing a marine who has gone through all of the simulations, all of the tactical training, and pretty much everything one could do as a member of the USDF, except action on the battlefield. So, when you meet my character, I'm deployed to a very specific area, specifically Outpost 37, which is one of the most dangerous areas to be deployed to. The arc of the character, you know, I'm in a little over my head at the beginning of the film, and as the film progresses, I get my feet wet and slowly arc into becoming somewhat of a leader of this group of misfits and ragtag group of soldiers that are left over. So it's cool. You know, I think Jabbar and I specifically talked about this- my character struggles with a lot of the moral conflicts that any war film tackles, as far as what is the right thing to do in situations like this that involve mass genocide? Is there a right thing to do in where? Is it as simple as good guys versus bad guys? I think it's very similar to what's happening today in the Middle East and what stance we take on war and if we're truly doing the right thing if another side has an equal or valid reason for what they're doing and I think my character struggles with that. On top of being the eyes for the audience in order for them to get into this world, a lot of it from my character's perspective is observing how Earth and this specific outpost and these group of men have assimilated to the given circumstances.

It sounds like it's packed with a lot of great elements. I'm definitely going to watch it. I've looked at a lot of what you've done and nothing on your resume is nearly as effects heavy as this film. I know Jabbar has an effects Emmy Award for Game of Thrones, so how was it working with so many special effects? Did you have to spark you imagination a lot more as an actor?

It does actually. The audition process… I, as well, after reading the script was debriefed on Jabbar and how involved he was with Game of Thrones and how involved he was with some of the aspects of the Marvel films like Iron Man and with Predator, so after reading the script, from actors point of view, when you get a sense that this is going to be a true indie film, this a really cool format and way to tell a story because you always have post-apocaylptic films with a huge budget. But when I read I thought this a really cool way to tell the story and with Jabbar on board and his pedigree in the effects.

When he and I met, it was very clear from day one, I mean in the audition room, I was running down the halls, diving from explosions, shooting at stuff that wasn't there, you know, calling out orders. It was probably one of the most physical, in-depth auditions I've ever had in my entire life, but it was great. It was great that I knew the casting directors because they were completely on-board. When I finally got onto the last bit and we were thinking about working together, they were like "We just wanna shoot some stuff," they brought their cameras and it was just me diving and tumbling down this office hallway. That was very much what it was like filming the movie, except for, all of the explosions and all of the gunfire that you see in this film is 100% real. Jabbar and Blake really made it clear to me that they wanted to, even though that this film has aliens it, they're families are both heavily involved in military background, and they wanted to give it that military feel. So, the nice thing was is that, when there are these massive explosions going on, there is no acting required. There's debris, your ears are absolutely ringing. You're really glad that you spent, you know, several hours choreographing these fight scenes out, which is new to me.

You get blocking ore basic blocking in any television or film that you're doing, but the specificity and the blocking that goes into "creating chaos" is so complicated in the sense that, you hear "action," and you count to 3 and you know this huge explosions gonna go off and you don't know how big it's gonna be, usually bigger than you expected. Then you have to get from point A to point B, firing only 6 shots in this direction because the camera needs to catch, then dive over to another area, fire off 5 shots, keep track of how many bullets you're shooting, then you gotta change mags at a specific time… It was intense. So, from that aspect, there was not a lot of "make believe." And like I said, we didn't have a Michael Bay budget for 100 million budget and this is such a hugely ambitious project to do on an independent film budget. But meeting Jabbar, I was like, this will not be Jabbar's one and only movie. It was such a passion project for he and Blake Clifton, that I was like, yeah, guys absolutely, 100% do it. Everything was 100% real. They didn't go in with the CGI and over accentuate the explosions like you see in a lot of movies. Of course, the aliens weren't real, but…

You guys didn't have real aliens? Come on!

You know what? For this interview, I'm gonna say we got real aliens! Everything was real, bullets, aliens, everything was real.

Okay! I'm gonna quote you, there's my headline: "They Got Real Aliens."

Yeah, we did, we got real aliens in there and that's what made it what it was! But yeah, I'm a big call of duty fan, and I'm a big gamer, so what was cool was, from the plot line, it basically follows a crew, two guys, that are a documentary crew that follow us. It's definitely not a found-footage film. It's shot in a full documentary style. What was really unique for m was, as I described to you, we're having these really intense explosion scenes and choreography, and you know, if you were the cameraman I would actually grab you and be like, "Dude, we gotta f—ing go! Move, move, move!" And I'm actually breaking the fourth wall and talking directly into camera and I'm pulling the camera man along, who at the time was Blake Clifton, and I don't know how Blake did it because I was barely able to make my way to safety, but Blake's peripheral is through this little lens and he's in full stunt pads and everything like that, but I'm grabbing him, and pulling the camera, and we're diving to the ground and literally real debris is blowing over.

So, that was… That took a little bit of getting used to, because you're trained to be aware of the camera but you're never trained to literally look straight into the lens and grab the guy and bring him with you. You don't know who that's gonna play out. Having an IFC screening for us last week, it definitely has that call of duty feel to it. It's that first person gamer feel which I think is great. I'm a fan of that type of video game. It came out really cool. And shooting in that format allowed us to make what we made on the budget that we made it on. Really having one or two cameras just in the action with us at all times.

That must be a great feeling, accomplishing so much on the small budget. So, all things considered, everything you've described, what should people expect when they sit down to watch Alien Outpost?

What people should expect is to have a great time watching a really cool film about a group of guys that are tying their best to save the world. You're gonna get a really character driven story, some really cool explosions, some amazing effects, and at the end of the day, a great film that you'll have a great time sitting back enjoying the highly choreographed chaos of it all. And on a side note, I think it's also poignant to what's happening today in the world, in the Middle East, that'll make you think about, "What are we doing? What is the right thing to do in war?" More than anything, I think you'll have a fun time watching it. It's a format I don't think has been done before and it unravels in a really interesting way that I think people will be surprised in which the story is told and the way the character is revealed.

Cool. Congratulations, man, I hope to see you in more roles like this. I'm going to watch Alien Outpost when I get a chance. But, we are ComicBook.com, so I have to ask you… You've worked with Jabbar who's worked with Marvel… If you could play one super hero or a villain, who would be and why?

You know, I'm a huge X-Men fan… And I know Nightcrawler has already been played in them movies, but I think growing up, as a kid, Nightcrawler was always my go-to. Coolest powers, everything.

Cool. A good choice.

I would actually like to be a hybrid between Nightcrawler and Wolverine.

That wouldn't even be fair! You'd be practically invincible.

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I'd like to be able to disappear and reappear and have some claws. And teleport. Why not?

Alien Outpost is available On Demand now through iTunes and Amazon Instant Video.