Q&A Interview with Bruce Greenwood of “The River” (for the DVD release of “The River – The Complete First Season”) (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)
May 14, 2012 by Dennis Amith
The horror/drama series known as “The River” is coming out on DVD via “The River – The Complete First Season”.
“The River” was created by horror filmmaker/writer Oren Peli (“Paranormal Activity” films, “Chernobyl Diaries”, “Area 51″),veteran TV writer Michael R. Perry (“Millennium”, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”, “The Guardian”) and veteran TV writer Michael Green (“Smallville”, “Heroes”, “Everwood”, “Green Lantern”). The series also features Steven Spielberg as the executive producer.
With the upcoming DVD release of “The River – The Complete First Season”, J!-ENT will be featuring Q&A with the several cast members of “The River”.
We kick things off with actor Bruce Greenwood, who plays the character role of the famous explorer Dr. Emmet Cole.
Bruce Greenwood has appeared in many films including “Star Trek”, “i, Robot”, “Deja Vu” and “National Treasure: Book of Secrets”. His voice can also be heard as Batman/Bruce Wayne on the animated series “Young Justice” and the video “Batman: Under the Red Hood” and the video game “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” as the Overlord.
In “The River”, Greenwood plays the role of the famous explorer Dr. Emmet Cole, who has gone missing on an expedition. His disappearance has been a mystery but after six months since his disappearance, an emergency beacon has gone off. This prompts his wife, son and a television crew to go to the Amazon jungle to find out what had happened to him and find out if he’s dead or alive.
Through this media Q&A we learn of how Bruce Greenwood got the role and the research he done in playing the role of Dr. Cole plus his feeling of filming the series in Hawaii.
Why did you decide to sign up for the role of Dr. Emmet Cole in The River?
BRUCE GREENWOOD: I signed up for The River because the character of Dr. Emmet Cole was very different from anything I’ve played before. I play a lot of guys in suits, but this character was something new. It’s nice to play a man who is not a ‘cat in a suit’ with a hidden agenda.
Did you base your portrayal of Dr. Emmet Cole on any wildlife experts or conservationists in particular?
BRUCE GREENWOOD: No, not really. I watched a lot of nature shows as a kid, so I had an idea in my mind about who I wanted Cole to be. However, my portrayal of this character isn’t based on anyone in particular.
Did you research the animals and environments that your character is familiar with?
BRUCE GREENWOOD: With this show, you never know what you’re going to get handed on any given episode. Cole goes from knowing a great deal about the animals, the flora and fauna of the area to discovering more about the legends of the region, which is something he isn’t too familiar with.
Dr. Emmet Cole clearly has a passion for animals, but are you naturally good with them?
BRUCE GREENWOOD: I am good with animals. In fact, I really like animals. I can calm them and they calm me. Do I have any pets? It’s a constant source of anguish for me, but I travel so much that I don’t have any animals at home. It’s a shame because I’d love to have pets. I just can’t right now.
The show’s pilot was filmed in Puerto Rico, but the rest of the series was shot in Hawaii. What were the major differences between the two locations?
BRUCE GREENWOOD: Practically speaking, Puerto Rico is much further away in terms of time zones and mileage when you’re trying to run a show from Hollywood. In Puerto Rico, there was food that I’ve never had before, which was really interesting, but it made sense to shoot from Hawaii on a whole lot of levels, especially when a lot of your team hails from the West Coast.
Did you move to Hawaii when the show was filmed there?
BRUCE GREENWOOD: I got to Hawaii in August 2011. I took off my shoes and socks, and I didn’t wear them again until November. It was awesome. My wife and I were looking at each other saying: “Wow, Hawaii!” And now we’re home again, my wife is now saying: “We could go back there for a while you know.”
The characters searching for Cole in the show find lots of old videos of him along the way. What was it like to film those short and often chilling pieces?
BRUCE GREENWOOD: It was a completely new experience for me, especially as I had to hold the camera for many of the shots. We used all kinds of cameras, from big ones to little video cams, and sometimes it’s even strapped to our arms. All of the actors on The River get to shoot a little with the handheld cameras, which is really fun. It’s intense to try and balance what you have to do emotionally with what you have to do practically and logistically with the camera, though.
How does that affect your performance?
BRUCE GREENWOOD: There’s a little more juggling involved than you’re used to. However, once you get the rhythm down, you can operate the camera and you can have part of your brain go: ‘I want to frame this is in a wonky way.’ You want to frame everything so it doesn’t feel perfect, but you also don’t want to be shooting right up your nose.
The River has a very international, diverse cast with actors from Germany, Mexico, Canada and Britain. Does that make it a different filming experience?
BRUCE GREENWOOD: Yes, because everybody comes with a little bit of his or her culture to the set. It’s a really great mix and they’re all wonderful people too. We’ve had a blast shooting the show.
How often do you get to work with the rest of the cast, especially as your character is lost and everyone his hunting for him?
BRUCE GREENWOOD: I’m not sure how much I want to give away by answering this question. For the first few episodes, I was definitely alone – but as I worked on the flashback scenes, I had the experience of working with the cast. Ultimately, we ended up working quite a bit together – but you’re going to have to watch the show if you want to know exactly what happens.
What tempted you to consider a TV series when you usually work on movies?
BRUCE GREENWOOD: If I’m told it’s a TV script, I usually say: “I’m busy. I’m busy. I’m canoeing.” But I talked to series creator Michael R. Perry and he talked to me thematically. The big themes that we’re trying to explore ultimately through the course of this series are things that I find really interesting. There are really large, classical themes like life and death, and what it means to be here. Is there a collective unconscious? There’s also a big father-son component to the arc of my character and Joe Anderson’s character – and those hold a special interest for me. Overall, it reached out to a lot of the things that I find really interesting. And then you get to work and you realize you’re making a scary show and it’s very different. It’s been a wonderful experience.
“The River – The Complete First Season” will be released on DVD on May 22nd.
Images courtesy of ABC Studios.
(Note: The Q&A’s were conducted before the recent announcement that ABC had canceled the series.)
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